Dr. John B. MacDonald
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The young woman pronounced that it was her body, and she would use it anyway she wanted.

In our modern western culture, “it’s my body” is a popular assertion thought to be incontrovertible. The Corinthian equivalent was “all things are permissible for me” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

God’s assertion is quite different.

Where we left off

It the previous posts we were exploring some dynamics of the Spirit's work of our human metamorphosis. The Spirit of God invites us to actively cooperate with him in transforming us more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

We're examining clusters of texts in the Corinthian letters that mention the Holy Spirit. In "Changing how you think," we discovered ways in which we can cooperate with our minds, and in our thinking.

The next cluster of texts mentioning the work of the Spirit is 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. Take a moment to refamiliarize yourself with this short section.

The importance of our bodies

Some have the idea that the spirit is all-important, and the body is secondary – even a hindrance.

Our bodies are a necessary component of our humanity. Emphasizing this point, Paul Stevens says, "we do not have a spirit, we are spirit; we do not have a body, we are body."

The apostle Paul declares that the body is part of our humanity into the unending future. As the Lord Jesus was resurrected, so shall we (6:14):

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

He then continues with three pointed arguments, each introduced with the phrase, "don't you know?"

1. An abhorrent thought

First, Paul writes (6:15):

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” 

For a follower of Jesus, this means that using your body in an activity, by extension, is engaging Christ in that activity. 

David Garland comments on the implications of this text:

Every relationship in life is affected by this union with Christ. To have sexual relations with a prostitute is to be guilty of what is unthinkable, to snatch away a member of Christ and join that member to one personifying rebellion against God.”

If you engage in sexual immorality as a “member of Christ,” you involve Christ in that activity.

Paul expresses his abhorrence at this thought.

2. Two becoming one

Next, we read (6:16-18):

“Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body”

"All sexual relations create a one-flesh union," writes Garland. God intends the one-flesh union solely for the relationship of one man and one woman in the life-long covenant of marriage.

In any other relationship, a human engaging in a one-flesh union sins against his or her own body, and the purpose for which the body has been designed.

3.  You are naos

Paul concludes with (6:19-20):

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

Here is a positive way in which we can cooperate with the Spirit.

In the Greek language, there are two words for “temple.”

One is heiros which refers to the whole temple structure and its enclosure.

The other word is naos which refers to the inner sanctum, or the holy of holies – the dwelling place of God. In this text, Paul uses naos.

In the Old Testament, God is portrayed as dwelling in the naos of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35), and later of Solomon's temple (1 Kings 8:10-11).

Now, as a follower of Jesus, your body is a temple, a naos, of the Holy Spirit.

Changing how you use your body

As a Christian, you are invited to cooperate with the Spirit in His work of making you more and more like Jesus.

Part of that cooperation is intentionally living in the awareness that your body is the dwelling place of God.

What differences does it make when you realize your body is God's intimate dwelling place? How will you choose to use your body? 

Take time to ponder what Paul has written. How does it equip you to cooperate more with the Spirit's work of your metamorphosis

“Lord, make me more aware that what I do with my body is what I do with your holy place. Direct me to be more intentional about my choices that I will use my body in ways that honor your empowering presence.” 

Let me know some specific practices that encourage you in cooperating with the Spirit in how you use your body.

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Photo credit: Sketch by Michaelangelo of the "Libyan Sibyl" (ca. 1511).

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