Clarity and Charity 2
The Foundation of Christian Sexual Ethics
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
January 12, 2020
As we noted last week in Paul’s earliest letter, addressed to the Thessalonians, Christians are called to sacrificial love and sexual holiness. * Holiness is not rigid and repulsive but beautiful in every way. We worship in “the beauty of holiness” – Ps 29
There are many competing voices today on both love and holiness and whether eternal standards for such matters even exist. As a Christian community, we are looking at the documents, at the teaching of Jesus Christ and his Apostles on this issue, especially as these servants of Christ took the Gospel into the pagan world that was radically different in its sexual ethos than Israel, to better understand how to live in holiness and love.
* Roman views vs Judean Culture
* Our current scene is a lot more like Paul’s Corinth than it is like Paul’s Jerusalem
That’s why we’re calling this series ‘Clarity and Charity’. Love for God and neighbor walk hand in hand: As God’s beloved, we seek to please him; as God’s witnesses, we seek to care for our neighbors.
If you are a Christian today, these words from God are for you not against you, given in love, and they are a means of grace to you. You can rejoice in them. I don’t expect those who are not Christians to necessarily approve of or agree with what Scriptures teach (though I hope one day you will), and you might even be offended by them. However you encounter them, I invite you to consider them with me.
Let me remind us all of a few things that make this a challenging conversation
– Our Culture’s Intense Debate
– The Church’s Failures and Hypocrisy
– Our Need to be Healed and to be a Community of Healing
I was in ancient Corinth in November and walked through the ruins of the marketplace and stood in the place of judgment. We could see the remains of the old Synagogue where Paul would’ve first preached the Gospel in that city.
Corinth was a sexually wild city – Corinth was Vegas!
When Paul writes to the Corinthians who have become Christians, he wants to reinforce in them what holy lives of loving witness look like and that means he can’t avoid this tricky subject. What we find here is the foundation for a Christian sexual ethic. The Corinthians struggled to understand it and we might as well.
Paul notes how the Corinthians were objecting to his teaching about a holy life: v.12-14
Corinthian slogan: ‘The Law doesn’t bind me’
Paul: That’s just slavery to self
Corinthian sloganl: I have my hunger and must satisfy it
Paul: Christ is the true satisfaction for your hunger
Paul’s foundation for a Christian sexual ethic has a two-fold truth that is precious to all who believe:
I. New Birth through the Holy Spirit – v. 9-11
* Religion says ‘Clean up your act!’
* Moralism says, ‘You need a second chance.’
* The Gospel says, ‘You need a new life and God alone gives this to us a gift.’
God is active washing, sanctifying us, justifying us.
Ezek 36:25-27: Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
We are not who we were; We are not yet who we will one day be. But we are a new creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17
There is such a thing as sinful and destructive expressions of sexuality that bring deep pain. Whether we are the villains or the victims in the story – and many have been both – we all need the grace of God to renew us.
The Grace and Mercy of God is Greater than all of our sin and brokenness. “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.” – Romans 5
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it…”
II. Union with Christ through the Spirit – v.12-20
* ‘In Christ’/’Christ in us’ – over 130x in the NT
A. My Identity is in Christ: v.15-17
Can’t join Jesus to the Temple gods and prostitutes
‘Such WERE some of you’
B. My Life is in Christ: v. v.18-20
For us, our bodies are NOT our own
For us, our hunger for another points us beyond all others to the original ‘Other’
John 6:35 – ‘I am the bread of life’
God made us hungry and gave us beauty to nourish us, but also to point us beyond what we can see and taste and feel here to the eternal beauty and glory of Jesus. We take these beautiful gifts that point us to Jesus and make them our Saviors. This is the essence of idolatry – ‘THIS is the god that brought us out of Egypt.’ No, no it isn’t. Only the Savior can rescue and satisfy the longings of the heart and the body.
What is the chief end of man?
Your body is a sacred place, a Temple of the Holy Spirit. We’re not holy because of who we are but because of who Christ is.
He’s here, with you and in you. This is why the more we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the more we will experience the death of the old and the emergence of the new: Galatians 5; Ephesians 5
Not all of the Corinthians heeded Paul’s words. He later wrote them, “I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged” (2 Cor 12:21).
If there is sexual sin in our lives we can turn from this idol to the God who truly does satisfy us with his goodness and mercy, and invite the Spirit to work in us with his word and blazing, purifying fires, transforming our lives more and more into the image of Jesus.
We will not be perfect in this age, and that is why we must always receive and offer mercy.
We will surely be perfect in the age to come, and that is why we must never lose hope.
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