Sermon: “One Spirit with the Lord” (1 Corinthians 6:15-17)
Listen to the Sermon:
“12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 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 prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.”, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, ESV
When I was in Middle School, I had what was one of the really only memorable science class lessons that has stuck with me to this day. As I tell people, I avoided all the science that I was allowed to whenever I went to school. Science was just nothing that ever clicked with me. However, I remember in 7th grade, in Mrs. Carn’s classroom, one day she explained the way that different blood types worked. I mean I was vaguely aware that there was a type A and B and AB and O, but I didn’t really understand which ones you could give in to the others and which ones you weren’t allowed to do that and all the problems that would cause.
She illustrated it very simply. She poured, not different vials of blood thankfully because we were 7th graders and that would have been horrifying, of water and then added color. So, the type O blood was represented without any color, just totally clear water. The type A blood was represented by red color in the water. Type B blood was represented by blue color in the water. Then the type AB blood was purple.
So, the point of the exercise was to make sure you don’t change the color of the different kinds of blood, because if you add the wrong kind of blood into a person and it changes the color that can be very serious. In fact, the person can die from that, so you have to keep the clear blood, the O blood, clear. You can’t have any of the colors change; the red has to stay red, but you can add clear that won’t change it. The blue has to say blue, you can’t add red, but you can add clear. With the purple you can add both red and blue as well as that clear to it and course if you add the purple to it.
There was exhibited to me all of the differences of the various blood types. Now what we do with our bodies, I learned from this can be a matter of life and death. Again, you can’t add the wrong colors the wrong blood type. I’m type O positive. If you are O positive and O Negative please consider giving blood because while I’m a universal donor for those with every type except O negative, I can only receive type O if I had a very bad accident.
It’s not just blood type, think about something serious like an organ donation. An organ donor has to be a precise genetic match, or the body is going to reject the organ transplants and you’re going to be in a worse position than when you started. What we do with our bodies can be a matter of life and death, but not just in those health instances. What the Scripture teaches everywhere, and especially in the passage that we’re looking at today, is that just as there are physical consequences of certain sins; there are also spiritual consequences of what we do with our body particularly in the area of human sexuality.
The big idea today is this, The Holy Spirit joins us as one Spirit with Christ.
The reason Paul telling us this is to warn us away from committing two kinds of sins namely the sins of sexual immorality which can bring that Union we have but holy spirit of Christ into Jeopardy we’re going to see this in three points.
- One body
- One flesh
- One spirit
We start with the idea of one body. In verse fifteen Paul writes, “Do you not know”. We’ve seen this phrase of question again and again. It’s a critical, meaning, you do know that you should know this, if you forgotten this pay attention, you’ve got to know this because it’s so important. “Do you not know”, Paul says “that your bodies are members of Christ?”
The phrase your bodies is plural. Paul says your bodies have been taken from all of their individual distinctions and all the divisions between you, and all of your various bodies have been brought in and made into the members of one body. In Christ all of the bodies become one body. In Christ, Paul says, it’s very explicit the same language in Romans 12:4-5,
“4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”Romans 12:4-5, ESV
We talk about this a lot at Harvest. We talked about how we are many stories. People of different backgrounds, many different gifts, many different family histories and life histories. Wherever we’re coming from, many stories have been brought together as the many members of one body in Christ.
What does it mean to become a member of the body of Christ? It’s not a casual involvement. This isn’t that come and go as you please kind of event. This is a vital union of the many members of our own bodies, one to another. He’s talking about the limbs and the organs of Christ is Anthony Disselton talks about in his commentary. There’s a vital connection, everything works together, the head bone’s connected to the neck bone and all of that. All of your systems are working together, and everything is functioning all together for the functioning of the one body. Your hand is different than your foot, which is different than your eye, but everything is working together.
The many bodies, spiritually, have been taken and been made into one body in Christ. That’s why Paul start by leading us on that point, by explaining this significant point. Then he asks this devastating question he says,
“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 prostitute? Never!” 1 Corinthians 6:15, ESV
The idea here, it’s a horrifying image. It’s the idea of dismembering a hand or harvesting in organ and taking those out of the body of Christ to transplant them onto a prostitute. This word for prostitute it’s hard to see in English but it’s very closely related to the word for sexual immorality. This can mean someone with there’s an exchange of money or just a sexually immoral person.
What Paul is saying is that any kind of sexual immorality, when you are joining with an illegal, unethical way, understand that you are ripping members away from Christ and transplanting them to someone that you have no right to do that. This is especially a vivid and horrifying image when we think of what Jesus told us in Matthew chapter five.
In Matthew chapter five Jesus says do whatever you can to avoid sexual immorality. Even if it means gouging out your physical eye, if it causes you to stumble. Even if it means cutting off your physical hand, if it causes you to stumble. Maim your physical body but don’t maim the spiritual body of Jesus Christ. Paul says never, or in the King James it’s kind of paraphrased as God forbid, don’t let this happen. God created us to be one body physically and spiritually united with Christ. What he is saying here is that sexual immorality threatens that vital union.
Why is that the case? Why is what we do with our bodies so damaging? Paul tells us in verse sixteen that in sexual intimacy there is a join or a bond that is formed between people that makes them into one flesh. So, we looked at this idea of one body and when we get to verse sixteen, we talk about one flesh. Look at what he says in verse sixteen,
“16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 1 Corinthians 6:16, ESV
The idea here of joining, it’s a word that if you’re talking about woodworking it means to glue pieces of wood together. If you’re talking about metalworking it means to weld those pieces of metal together. There’s nothing casual about this relationship. Paul is referring to Genesis 2:24. This idea that where we first find out about the institution of marriage.
“24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24, ESV
That’s what Paul goes on to quote that very end of that verse. So, as it is written the two will become one flesh.
If you were here last week we talked about the difference between food and sexual immorality. You see if you look at verse thirteen Paul was citing apparently a slogan that have been going around in Corinth, “the food is meant for the stomach and the stomach is for food, so in the same way our bodies are made for sex and sex for the body.” Basically, we can do whatever we want. Paul says no, food was so different. Food was only physical; it really is something you do with your body that doesn’t even pass through your heart and soul but through you and then passes out of you all together.
Under the Old Covenant there was reasons given to forbid you from eating unclean foods and to command that you only at clean foods because God was giving a picture. It was an external physical picture that showed you something of the internal spiritual holiness that God wanted from his people. That he still wants today. But the purpose of that picture was always a person. As soon as that person came into the world, the person of Jesus Christ, those pictures were no longer necessary. That gave way to Jesus Christ himself, he said you’ll have holiness but not by what you ate but through faith in Jesus Christ. So, food is no longer forbidden.
But sexual morality is different because food is something that comes from outside of us. But sexual immorality is something that you don’t do primarily physically but spiritual. Jesus says this in Mark 7:23
“20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:20-23, ESV
All of these evil things come from the sin within us and they defile a person, so sexual immorality is not something that we do with our bodies. It is primarily something that we are doing spiritually. This is a union that God has blessed and sanctified in the context of marriage, but not in other contexts. So, while it is good for a husband to cleave to his wife so that the two become one flesh, the same kind of thing is happening in sexual immorality.
It’s the same effect but to a very different result. Just as you can’t mix some of the waters depending on the blood donation type, you can only enjoy sexual intimacy in the context of marriage. You can’t do it in any other context. The same effect will happen but with a very different result. What God has blessed in one area he curses in another, what God sanctifies in one area he defiles in another. As one commentator said, “there’s no such thing as casual sex.”
The dietary laws ultimately weren’t that important. Food give us a picture that pointed us to the person of Jesus Christ. Eventually that person, Jesus Christ, came into the world. We didn’t need to worry about food laws anymore. Paul says there is still a spiritual significance to the way we use our body in sexual intimacy. The reason for this is that the one flesh sexual union of marriage points to something else and also gives us a picture. It also points us to the person of Jesus Christ.
What Paul’s going to say in the next verse is about the one spirit union that God intends for us to join with Christ. God wants us to be one with Christ. The way that you use your body effects that. So, holding fast to the Lord is incompatible with holding fast to someone in sexual immorality.
“17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 1 Corinthians 6:17, ESV
We see again this word “joined”. First to talk about one flesh, one body in verses sixteen through seventeen. Paul is talking about the spiritual reality that this physical picture is pointing to, holding fast to the Lord spiritually. The same word “holding fast” in Genesis 2:24
“24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24, ESV
That word for cleave or cling or holdfast is also a word that shows up again and again to talk about the way we relate to God or to false gods in worship. If you have an ESV you can just look at the footnote and see the two different examples of this. In Deuteronomy 10:20 that’s the other verse that is listed there.
20 You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.”
Deuteronomy 10:20, ESV
This is more than just a physical reality, there is a spiritual component to this that gives us a picture of the spiritual relationship we are to have with Christ through the Holy Spirit. So what is this spiritual union give us? What does it mean when we speak about a union? A union is a relationship that maintains distinctions and differences but eliminates divisions. So, in our God we are still distinct from him. We don’t become one with God, whatever that might mean. We are all so different from him, we are creatures and we are finite, and we are limited. We can’t become God. But where distinctions and differences are maintained, there is no longer any division between us and the Lord in the spiritual unity we have as Paul describes is it here
We are to be one spirit with the Lord, no division, no separations. We are to be united to the Lord in a way that the humankind lost at the fall. Since then we have all been trying to make sense of this profound loneliness in our lives. Of the crippling fears that we face the debilitating anxiety, the horrifying sorrows, and the crushing depression that we face because of the fact that we have been spiritually ripped apart from the Lord. We are divided from him. We need to be united with him again.
The union of a husband and wife, while they’re still distinct, their differences are maintained. One is still a man and one is still a woman, but they are united so that there is no division. This gives us a physical picture of the spiritual union we are to have with the Lord. Brothers and sisters listen to me very carefully, it is for this reason that sexual immorality is such a besetting temptation, because sexual immorality is something that gives us the closest picture on this earth to the relationship we were created to enjoy with God. Let me tell you it is a convincing counterfeit. It looks like what we were created for and yes, it is a lie. It is only a picture; it is a false picture. Sex is always meant to be a picture that points to the person of Jesus Christ.
Paul says when you engage in sexual immorality, not only do you not get the person, you only have the picture. In fact, by doing this you are ripping yourself away from the person that this picture points to. This is why it’s so confusing. That’s why it’s so tempting in this direction. This is why each one of us has to be on perpetual guard against temptation, because sexual immorality is such a convincing counterfeit.
- Believe the Gospel. The Gospel on this note is such good news. In the Gospel, let me tell you what the Gospel tells us. Let me put this in terms that maybe you haven’t thought through totally.In the Gospel, what we are being told in the word of God is that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit stopped at nothing to pursue union and communion with you. Not even the cost of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. You see, our God exist in union with himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A deeper, more eternal, infinite unity that we really can’t imagine because while in God there is no division. We serve one God without parts. He is not divided in any sense, but we also say that he exists in the form of three persons. Their distinctions between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It’s not one person it’s three persons and yet in one undivided God.
Even in our relationship with the Lord and our marriage relationship, where differences are maintained, there are differences between us as the members of Christ. We all have different functions from one another. However, when you’re talking about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they’re not different they are the same in substance, equal in the power and glory, as what the Westminster Larger Catechism says.
See our God has his profound, infinite, unity that he’s enjoyed before the foundations of the world were laid. From eternity past all the way into eternity in the future. There’s a relationship of unfathomable joy and union and communion. God stopped at nothing, including by condemning his own son on the cross for you. God did this for you. The Father sent the Son into the world, the Son obeyed in his incarnation, life and death. Taking upon himself the form of a servant. He was despised and rejected and crucified, he died and was buried, and he was raised up on the third day. Throughout his life he was empowered by the Holy Spirit and then when he went up into glory ascending back to his father’s right hand, the Father and Jesus Christ together sent the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Who comes into this world to make us one spirit with the Lord, for all those who turn from our sins and look to Jesus in faith?
This is the Gospel that you can be united to the Lord and become one Spirit to the Lord. You can do this even if you are a sinner. This is a gospel for those who have been sexually immoral, for those who have practice homosexuality, for those who are greedy, covetousness, idolaters, revilers and drunkards.
In verse eleven we read Paul writing to the church, “such were some of you.” You were in these places; you were sinning in these ways, but something has changed. You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of God. Wherever you’re coming from the day, whatever baggage you’re bringing it at this room, whatever kind of alienation you feel from the Lord, understand that today the Gospel is that Jesus Christ died so that you can be reunited to the Lord through faith. So, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will not only be saved, but you will be made one sprit with Jesus Christ. Believe the Gospel.
- Protect the God-ordained one flesh union of marriage. For those of you who are married, I especially want to speak to you. Brothers and sisters avoid putting yourself into temptation. It is easy to justify, to dismiss, to ignore attractions or desires for someone who is not your spouse by saying I haven’t done anything. That’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says that desires and attractions for someone other than your wife or your husband comes out of this sexual immorality which is a part of your original sin.If you’re attracted, if you’re desiring you are already sinning and that has to be put to death. This isn’t something to be, “while I haven’t done anything wrong yet” and justified so you can kick the can down the road. That only lets sin fester in your soul until the point where it becomes too late, too difficult to fight temptation.
Let me plead with you, seek accountability. When you feel these struggles, bring these things into the light of people who can be trusted to hold you accountable. To make sure that you do not turn away from the spouse God has given you. Bring these into the light. If you want to come talk to the elders, we would love to walk with you and hold you accountable. To protect you from making huge mistakes, from sinning in grievous ways in this.
More than that whenever we think about any sin in our life, we don’t want to just sort of adopted Bob Newhart philosophy. I don’t remember if you remember Bob Newhart, he was a psychologist or at least he played one on TV, he had this way of doing this phone monologues that was just him talking on the phone and you couldn’t see who was talking to, but the conversations were hilarious. There is one monologue where he’s counseling this person on the other line and he says, “I’m going to tell you what you need to do. You just to stop it. Just stop it.” He has heart this whole thing and just tells him to stop it and the other person is understandably confused.
If you struggled against any sin, you know that it’s not enough to just say stop it. Understand this, the best way to fight it sin, especially sin that would tempt you to rip apart your own marriage, is to delight in the wife of your youth and let her satisfy you always. The best way to avoid falling into sexual immorality is to seek ever more joy from your spouse. Don’t just say no, seek out the beauty of your wife or the joy of your husband.
In fact, Paul is about to say in 1st Corinthians chapter seven that it’s important not to stay away from one another for too long, lest you be tempted. So that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. In part the very reason that God blesses the sexual union of marriage is to protect your purity. To protect the God sanctified one flesh union of marriage. The costs are so high.
- Pursue ever more joy in your one spirit union with Christ. I can’t give you anything better than this. In terms of positive what you should do, instead of just trying to stop it, is to fall in love with Jesus more and more. Seek out his beauties, delight in his excellencies, rejoice in his glory, bow down before his majesty.Train your heart to love Jesus more than anyone else, so that you can see right away the difference between the convincing counterfeit and the person to whom the picture points. You’ve got to know the real thing, so that the counterfeit is horrifying. Be thrilled and delighted the power and love of Jesus. There’s a wonderful hymn, “The Sands of Time are Sinking.” We sing it every once in a while. Let me read you a verse. It talks about the fact that we are called to be the bride of Christ and it’s a meditation on what that would be.
On Friday night we had a wedding in here. When the bride was coming down the aisle, every eye was on the bride. And speaking as a groom, that’s how it should be.
The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.
O I am my Beloved’s
And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His house of wine
I stand upon His merit –
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.
What a joy! But for some of you that might be hard right now because of the sins and the sorrows in your life. You don’t know if Jesus would accept you, much less wants you, much less thrill and delight you with himself. The good news of the Gospel is that the Gospel isn’t a method or process which you can do to make Jesus love you. The Gospel announces that Jesus has stopped at nothing in order to win you, to purchase and redeem you, to wash and purify you, to sanctify you and justify you.
The gospel is not enough about how well you can white knuckle your way through life and hold fast to him. The Gospel promises that those who turn to Jesus in faith, turning away from their sin its sorrow. Wherever you have been, understanding now that you have been washed, you have been sanctified, you’ve been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God. It’s not just about how well you can hold fast. This joining, this holding fast, this cleaving to the Lord. The Gospel to promise that he will hold you fast. That is the promise of the Gospel. Resting in that this morning.
Father we ask that you would hold us fast. That you would do this by the power of your Spirit who makes us one with the Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t fathom that, we can’t understand what that would mean, we can’t even imagine the experience of truly being one spirit with Jesus Christ, without any division between us not even our own sin. But Father we ask that you would continue to put our sin a death in this life and in the life to come you would fulfill your promise of raising us up with Christ. Resurrecting the body by the power of the Holy Spirit. We thank you. We pray that you would protect the marriages in this church. We pray that you would build us up in Christ for his glory. So, in the last day none of us would look to ourselves to see if we were worthy but only look to the beauty of Jesus himself. Teach us self-forgetfulness and Christ obsession. We pray this in Jesus’s name, Amen.