Let start in verse 15. "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For 'the two,' He says, 'shall become one flesh.' But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
A lot of people think that Christians are afraid to talk about sexuality. And a lot of 'em are right. A lot of them are afraid to talk about it. But God invented sex. It was His idea, it was His design. He created it as something not dirty at all, but very, very beautiful, and sex is not dirty in it's proper place. It's very beautiful and it's an expression that God has given to man, to His creatures to demonstrate the full extent of love. God has placed within all of us a drive for certain things. And they're all normal drives. We've spoke about this before- God's placed within us a hunger drive, a water drive, we get thirsty, uh, you get hungry, and there's a sex drive. God placed that within each of us. Now that's a normal, natural function of the body. And when God places a desire within us like that, He intends to fulfill it. But He intends to do it His way. The problem is that when we seek to fulfill those drives that God has given us in an unscriptural way, outside of God's design, that it becomes wrong. But God invented it. He placed that drive and it's not evil to have a sex drive. The problem is when it gets out of control and it begins to drive me and I'm not in control of it anymore. It's like a fire that burns out of control. Now fire is very beneficial. Fire can heat my home, it can cook my food, but if it gets out of control, it can burn my house down. So it is with passion. God has given it to us. It's good, but if it gets out of control and it starts driving people like it's driving the human race today, then it's wrong. It's evil. But God has a place for sexuality. In and of itself, it's not evil. God intends to fulfill that.
Let me give you an example. Dirt, soil, is beautiful in its right place. You go out into a garden and you see a beautiful, you know, dirt and fertilizer, and it's deep, dark, brown and it looks good amongst the garden. But take that in on somebody's white shag carpet. Go work in the garden sometime, man, and track in some of that beautiful dirt all over your wive's carpet after she just vacuumed and she won't think it's very beautiful, will she? Because it's out of place. It has a proper place, but if we take it out of it's proper place, then it's evil, then it's wrong. So it is with sex. God created it, He designed it, and never forget that. That it was His idea, but that He intended it to fulfill in the way in which it's written in the scripture. Now, the proper place for sexuality is in marriage. That's what the scripture says. That's just a plain bottom line. When we take that three-letter word, "sex" and we take it out of marriage, it becomes another three-letter word: sin. And the scripture has guidelines for it. Now, today in the 1980s, you and I live in a, in a time of sexual revolution, sexual looseness. People are leaning toward sexual freedom. And you see it everywhere you look. You drive down the street, you see it on billboards, you turn on the television, you see it on TV. Most of the movies are rated R, or PG, PG-13. Most of them are enticing some way sexually. You can now have plugged in, piped in cable TV with all sorts of hardcore, X-rated movies in your home. And even prime time television, there's sitcoms about sexual looseness, homosexuality, adultery, and we are almost forced, if we look at it, to laugh at it, to make fun of it. Humor is centered around those kind of themes. And we're leaning toward a real sexual looseness. You know, we don't want the entrapments of society, or the entrapments of God or to be held down. We want to express ourselves in a free kind of a way. Actually, it's been going on for a long time. It's nothing new at all.
Now the scripture talks about several different kinds of love. The kind of love that we're dealing with is a love called eros. The Bible speaks about it. It's love on the physical plain. It's love in which we use our bodies to express it. Eros or er-oh-s, however you wanna pronounce it. Hollywood has taken that concept and perverted it. So we have erotic movies, erotic books. You can go down any main street in a city in the United States and see pornography shops with that word, "erotic". Taking the godly form of sexual expression and perverting it. And to many people it just becomes license because it's so widespread and people are leaning in that direction.
The 1980s, you know you guys, we live in a time that is very volatile. Because, especially this theme of sexuality and immorality has become more overt than it used to become. In 1939, there was a movie called "Gone With the Wind". When that movie came out, people were so upset because one four-letter word was used in the movie. And it just shook America. Now, you can hardly find a movie without one, today. I mean, one four-letter word in a movie would be a joke to many people. It's now become much more overt. The songs that come out on the radio on the rock-and-roll radio are filled with this stuff. Blatant, overt sexuality. We have become preoccupied with sex. It's become a god that we worship and it's just almost identical to the situation in Corinth. There's not a whole lot of difference. And because there is such a preoccupation with sexuality and a perversion by the devil, I can't think of a better text to go through than this, that's more applicable to the 1980s than, "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."
Corinth was a city that worshipped sex. As we said at the beginning of this series, there was a temple, as you go inside the city of Corinth, called the Temple to Aphrodite. In that temple were a thousands priestesses, which was a nice, religious term for prostitutes, who would come out into the city and seduce men and take the money from their harlotries and give it to the temple. Sex was part of their worship. They were also in that sense preoccupied with sexuality. The Greeks had a interesting philosophy on life. They thought the soul of a person was the most important and the body was not important at all. Now, because of that kind of mentality, they had the attitude that you can do whatever you want with the body, since it's not important. Since this fleshly part of us is not important at all, let the sexual drives just be taken anywhere they want to. Do what you want with it. And it was a very loose society, sexually. IN the light of this, Paul gives instruction, and I wanna look at that first, in verse 18.
First of all, he says, "Flee sexual immorality." The word sexual immorality is a word that describes not just fornication, but all types of sexual sin done by male or females. In fact, look at verse 9. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?" Now listen to this list, "Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites." He goes on to say, "thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you." In other words, Paul was writing to a group of Christians who were taken right out of this kind of a society. Just like a lot of you and I have been taken out of this society. A perverted society. Such were some of us. Now we're saved. In the light of that, Paul says, "Flee sexual immorality." Now he's writing to the church. He's not writing to unbelievers. He's speaking to Christians and by the way, he's speaking to the whole church, not just a tiny segment. He's not just writing this to singles. We would read this and say, "Oh this sure applies to single people, doesn't it?" And a lot of people have this mistake and belief that once you're married, you're not tempted anymore. That temptation is only for single people and if you can just get married, whew, alright. That's great. No temptation in that area. Now you who are married know better, don't you? More Christians are ripped off in the area of sexuality than probably any other area that I know. It happens to be a weak spot, a very weak point of so many people. And the devil is not an idiot. He knows our weak spots. He's not as dumb as you think he is. He knows what weak spots you have and so he can sort of use those against you. And it's not just the lay people. But it's also the ministry that is being attacked in this area just as much. Billy Graham once said, "There's three things that can kill a ministry: money, pride and women," in the sense of illicit sexuality, speaking to a man who is in the ministry. He said, "that can ruin a minister and it has ruined it so often." Money gets in, pride gets in the way, or he starts looking for an affair. It's in the ministry. And he's writing to the whole church here, not just a tiny segment. His instruction is, "flee from sexual immorality." Better translation would be "run away" or "keep on running from sexual immorality." Another translation says this, I kind of like it, "Avoid sexual immorality like the plague." That puts it right, doesn't it? Avoid it like the plague. And I think that's really applicable to 1980 because it's become a plague. With a disease that's rampant because of promiscuity. Listen to this: every fifteen seconds, every fifteen seconds in the United States, someone is contracting herpes or venereal disease. Every fifteen seconds. Avoid it like the plague because it's become a plague. AIDS. That unknown disease that, at one time, people thought in the midst of homosexuals, has become a rampant disease everywhere. Anyone who is promiscuous, who's loose sexually has a good chance of getting it. I'd like to quote something to you by a physician. He says this, "Who is most likely to become an AIDS victim?" This is what he quotes, "The one empirical fact that we know about AIDS is that it's associated with promiscuity. Any sexual contact is an inherent risk and the more tickets you buy in the lottery, the more likely you are to get the prize." Doctors are admitting something that Christians knew a long time ago, that the only way to really curb these sexual plagues and diseases is a monogamous marriage. That is, being married to one person all of your life and having relations with one person all of your life, which is the way God intended it. And now, after all these years, you know some of these scientists are finally wising up and just agreeing with what God said in the beginning, "Flee sexual immorality." All these types of sexual sins, avoid it like the plague.
One of the best examples in scripture that I know of someone who actually was running from sexual immorality was Joseph. We covered this story. Remember, Joseph was in Potiphar's house? He was sort of the ruler of the guards there in Egypt. And Potiphar's wife really was just casting her eyes at Joseph, just thought he was a good-looking guy. And obviously her husband didn't pay much attention to her. And she would always entice him day after day and go, "Hey Joseph, come on in and lie with me today, would you?" And he's say, "No, I'm not gonna sin against God or against Potiphar." And he would go outside, he would just run away. One day there was no one in the house. She was all alone, all the guards were, left. Joseph came in, didn't see her, turned around, and she held on to him. And she said, "Lie with me." and she grabbed onto him tightly. Joseph turned around and he split out the door while she was holding his garment. I mean, he literally streaked (laughter) out the door. She was there enticing him saying, "Come lie with me," and he says, "no," and even risking his integrity, he left his garment and he split out the door. He literally was running away from sexual immorality and that's not a bad idea to do. He knew that he was probably weak in that area and he says, "The only safety that I have is to split out the door and keep running." And I think that's what we have to do. Even in our thought life. Let me give you an example. Let's say you're driving down the street. As you're driving down the street you see an alluring billboard or a good-looking girl walking by. And of course this is to you, men, that I'm speaking to. And I don't think I've ever met a man that doesn't have this problem. Well, I've met some that don't have the problem, they've got other problems (light laughter). But you're going down the street and something catches your eye. Now you can do one of two things in that case. You can look, you can dwell on that figure or that person and you can lust in your mind and you've already committed sin, for Jesus said, "If you look upon another woman or you lust after her, you've already committed sin, adultery, in your heart." The verdicts been passed. Or, when your eye catches the glimpse of that beautiful figure walking across the street, you can say, "No, I'm going to resist that in the name of Jesus Christ. I'm going to bring every thought into the captivity of Christ. I'm not going to look." And you can resist it right there. But you say, "What if it, what if it keeps coming back? What if the thought keeps coming back or more alluring figures enter my mind or my sight?" Keep resisting. "Well, what if the temptation comes back again?" Keep resisting again and again and again and again. You see, taking a stand against the devil isn't a one-time stand. "Yes, I accepted Christ, I made my stand against the devil." But it's a continuous, constant thing, where we're making a stand and resisting him. Running, fleeing from sexual immorality, like Joseph did. And our thought life is perhaps in greatest jeopardy. Run from sexual immorality, or avoid it like the plague.
And by the way, don't be afraid to run, even if it's literally run, from a situation. See that Satan will come and say, "Oh, don't be a chicken. Stand up strong spiritually. Just stay here and let's show that you have guts and you can stand up to this thing." No, if you're in a situation where you're getting those desires sexually that are harmful to you and there's an excitement and an enticement in that situation. Say, you that are single, you're in a car somewhere, you're talking, you're parked. And those desires start coming up and welling up inside you. Hey, even if you have to climb out the window (light laughter), do it. Don't let anything jeopardize that. Flee from it. You see, because Satan is a liar. And he'll come to you and he'll say you, "Hey, don't don't sweat it. You won't go any further. Just stay right here. Just, just don't move. It's okay." And you go, "Okay, devil, whatever you say." And you'll hang out. And a little later on, he'll tap you and go, "Hey, go a little further." He'll always lie to you. And sometimes it's important to just flee from sexual immorality. Now you might not believe that this is very important. And you might think, "Oh, don't make a big deal out of this." Hey, just ask the thousands who haven't done it, who've fallen into the trap, who've been caught by it. They'll tell you themselves. After they've been through it, after they've played the game, after it's all over. You can just ask them. It's important to flee sexual immorality.
Flee sexual immorality. He says, "Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." Now, Paul gives the reasons that we should do this. First of all, it can ruin you, it can destroy you. "Every sin that is outside the body," or every other sin, literally, "is outside the body that a man does, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." Sexual looseness is different than a lot of other sins because the body becomes the very tool or instrument of sin. Let's take some of the other famous sins and compare them. Drunkenness or drugs or obesity or whatever. Although you're damaging your body in those things, the very instrument of sin is the alcohol, or the instrument of sin is the drug- it ruins your body. But in sexual immorality, your body becomes the instrument or the tool of defilement. It's the source. "Every other sin that is done is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." It's the tool. Another translation says, "Every other sin hurts somebody else, but he who commits sexual immorality is hurting himself." Sexual looseness can destroy and can ruin a person. And I've known it to ruin a person and immobilize a person for life in some cases. Paul says it can hurt you. The other sins can hurt other people, but it can hurt you. You see, there are consequences to loose living. If you play, you pay. And some people are paying a very high price for that looseness with teenage pregnancies, venereal disease, increased divorce rate, and so on. In New York City alone, one out of three babies that are born are born to unwed mothers. In the United States this year, in 1986 that we're looking at in the next few months, one million teenagers, teenage girls, will get pregnant. Fifty to seventy-five percent of those girls will abort their child. It's ruining us. America is paying the consequences for sexual immorality. Our situation is not much different from that of Corinth. The Corinthians had the same problem back then. You see, sex outside of marriage is like a guy who it robbing bank. Oh, he may get something, he may take something, but it's not really his. And he's going to pay for it later on. Sex within a marriage is like someone storing up money in the bank. There's security, there's safety in that bank, and he's going to reap dividends from it later on. It'll build up his relationship. But outside of marriage it can ruin a person. You see, our bodies, God wants them to be tools for His kingdom. God intends our bodies – our hands, our feet, everything to be a tool for His glory, not a tool for Satan to use that can destroy us, that we can pay consequences with.
So first of all, Paul gives a reason that it can ruin us. The second reason Paul gives is that God lives inside of us. Look at verse 19. He says, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?" You and I are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Now I wonder how many of us are really conscious of that fact, honestly. Honestly conscious of the fact that we really think that God lives in us. I bet that that is a tough thing for us to swallow, that we have trouble with the fact that God lives in us. I mean, after all, why would a holy God want to live inside of us? And I don't have a good answer for that one. I don't know why God would want to live inside some of us. But He does. He delights in it. And we become a temple, or a house, of God. "You are the temple," He says, "of the Holy Spirit." In the Old Testament, God dwelt amongst His people in a temple or in a tabernacle. People would come to that temple or tabernacle and they would come in reverence and awe before the Lord, in humility, worshipping God while He was in the temple. God actually dwelt there amongst His people. Literally dwelt in that temple. Now God makes His home in people. You and I are the apartment house, or the temple of the God on the earth. He lives inside of us. So the question would be, then, what is His house like? If you and I are His house, what is that house like? Paul told the Ephesians, he said, "Christ wants to dwell in your hearts, by faith," which is a word that means He wants to settle down and make Himself feel at home in you. Does Jesus feel at home in us? Can He settle down and just feel right at home inside of us? As the Lord comes in and He looks around at all the pictures on the walls of our minds, does He feel at home? Does it slightly embarrass you to realize that God knows every thought that you ever think? Every time we toy with certain thing, that God knows them. I think some of us are embarrassed by that. When Jesus wants to come in and make Himself feel at home, is He at home there? Does He feel at home in your life? Now anytime anyone moves into a new house, they always want to spiff it up a little bit, don't they? They just don't keep it the way it is. They want to have it's own personality. And it seems that no matter where you live, even if you get a real junko house, you can make it look nice. You can see wallpaper here and woodwork here and a picture here. A little vacuuming here and cleaning. Change the tile. It'll look great. But there needs the rearranging so that you can settle down and feel at home. One time I lived in a garage. And I'm serious about this. In California, I rented a garage. It cost me five dollars a month. And then the rate-rent was doubled to ten dollars a month, almost broke me. But, when I went into this garage, it was just a big, empty thing with a cement floor and a garage door on it. But I decided, hey, I can't beat the deal. I put carpet in it. I hung pictures up in it. I put a desk, a little TV, some books, couch. And I really made that thing like a home. I settled down in it. And you can take the worst situation and make something beautiful out of it. The only bummer about it was that someone would knock on my door, the whole wall, of course, would move up (laughter). It's like having the walls on your home move up and down. But you can take anything and feel at home in it, it seems. And God is looking to make Himself at home within our lives. We're His temple. He lives within us, but how does He feel inside of us? What kind of reading material do we fill our lives with? What kind of things do our eyes look at? What kind of things do our minds play with? Is Jesus Christ really at home there? You're the temple of the Holy Spirit. Or another translation would say, you're the shrine of the Holy Spirit. You're the shrine of God. In other words, God just doesn't live within you, but He wants you to show Him off to the world; a display. Now Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, was contrasting the shrine of Aphrodite, which was up on a high hill. It was the temple, it was the shrine. Everyone saw it when they came into town. Paul says, "In contrast to that pagan shrine, you are the temple and the shrine of the Holy Spirit. He's living within you and He should be shining forth from your life. So the reasons against sexual immorality is that number one, it can ruin you, number two, God lives within you.
Now look at the end of verse 19. He says, "and you are not your own. For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." God owns you. Now we mentioned that we had trouble with the other concept, that God lives within us. How about this one? God owns you. You're not your own. Better translation, "You're not your own master any longer." Now some of you would sort of be a little hesitant at that one. And say, "Nobody owns me. I'm my own boss. I make my own decisions. I'm my own master." Are you really? For even if you don't know the Lord, I think you're being controlled, somewhat. You might think, "Oh, I control my own destiny, I make my own decisions." But according to Ephesians, it says that we once walked according to the course of the world, according to the prince of the power of the heir, the one who now works in the children of disobedience, that is Satan. So you might be fooled into believing there's no strings attached, that you can control your own life, but not so. You're having help from one source or the other. But now Paul says to Christians, "You're not your own master any longer. You belong to God." God bought you with a price. He owns you. The message here is, take your hands off of God's property. That's yourself. Don't attempt to rule your own life and make your own decisions apart from God. You've got no right. He bought you. And at what price did He buy you? The blood of His son Jesus Christ. The most valuable commodity in the entire world. The blood of His Son. It cost God giving His Son so that you could become His property. It cost Jesus not only physical pain, but spiritual pain. For it says He became sin. He took upon Himself our sins, even our sexual sins. And so now God owns us. God lives within us and God owns us. And let me tell you something. I can't think of anything more comforting to know that God owns me. Some people retaliate, "Nobody owns me." And they think that they're just gonna make, you know, their own life and be a self-made man. I am stoked that God owns me. I am excited that He owns me. Because I know what it's like when I begin to take my life into my own hands and say, "I can run the show, Lord, I'd rather do it myself. I know exactly what it's going to turn out to be." And I am grateful that God would want to own me. He'd want to pay a price to get me. That still blows my mind. What would he want with me? But God owns me, and it's comforting.
Now, in conclusion, Paul says this, verse 20. "Therefore," here's the bottom line of the whole issue, "glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." Now before we get into this, he's talking about the body. Your body is a temple. He says, "Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit." I wanna draw your attention to something here. The word in this verse, "your body is the temple," the word "your" is plural. He's speaking to a group of people. And the word "temple" and "body" is singular. In other words, Paul isn't just saying your body individually is the temple of the Holy Spirit, but your body, the local body of Christ, is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God lives within you corporately as a group of people. Every local assembly is a body of Christ. Which means that purity is not just a private, personal matter between just me and the Lord. Personal purity is a group project. It affects everybody. Our behavior individually affects people corporately. Do you agree with that? That my action individually can affect the body of Christ at large. Do we really agree with that? Look at Chapter 6, or Chapter 5, verse 1. Let's just clear that up. "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality is not even named among gentiles. That a man has," (clears throat) excuse me, "his father's wife." Case of incest. "And you are puffed up and have not rather mourned that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For indeed as absent in body but present in spirit, I have already judged as though I were present according or concerning him who has done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. For don't you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" It's a group issue. A little leaven leavens the whole lump, the lump being the church, the leaven being the sin. A little leaven is going to permeate, it's gonna get bigger and bigger. And Paul says if we don't deal with it, it's going to destroy everyone. It's going to leaven the whole lump. Which means, then, that, you and I have a responsibility to one another and an accountability to one another in this matter of purity. Which means we need to be watchmen for each other. Lovingly approaching people who are overtaken in some of these things and to help to bring them back into the Lord. Now be careful. Let's not become the soul patrol in this, and just be lording over people, watching every move or, "I saw you look over there, brother. That's a sin. I saw what you did. I saw you looking at her." Well, how do you know? But, we need to lovingly and compassionately watch over our brother and sister. The scripture says, "if your brother's overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." So he's speaking to the body at large also as well as to the personal body. Now, in closing it off, in verse 20, Paul says, "Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." This is not a suggestion, this is a command. He doesn't say, "Listen, if you guys are in the mood and all, why don't you give God glory in your body." It's a commandment. It's not a suggestion at all. Now when every time God gives us a commandment, He gives us the power to fulfill it. He never says do something unless He gives us the ability to do it. Glorify God. Or better translation, "Give God honor with your body as well as your spirit." You know, a lot of times you say, "Well, I serve the Lord. I worship God on Sunday. I give Him worship from my spirit. I love Him spiritually. I serve Him spiritually." But he says honor God with your body and your spirit. Your body's apart of this thing, too. Give God glory with your body.