The Body, the Temple of God
May 22nd, 1977 @ 8:15 AM
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
THE BODY, THE TEMPLE OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
5-22-77 8:15 a.m.
On the radio of the city of Dallas and on the radio of our Bible Institute KCBI, you are listening to the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas as he brings an expository message from the sixth chapter of the first Corinthian letter. It is entitled The Body, the Temple of God and the message is addressed particularly to young people. Beginning at verse 9:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither idolaters, nor fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with man,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
Meats for the stomach, and the stomach for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His power.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith God, shall be one flesh.
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and you are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, which is God’s.
[1 Corinthians 6:9-20]
This is a very apropos address; that is, from the Christian point of view to pagan society. Now we begin its exposition.
First of all, his subject: he is talking about the human body. You see, a pious copyist thought that it is beneath the dignity of a great apostle such as Paul to address himself just to the human frame. So he placed in a little clause here, a little phrase: "Ye are not your own. Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body," then he added, "and in your spirit, which are God’s." Paul never wrote that. A copyist put that in there, "and in your spirit". And it weakens the address of the apostle. He is talking about one thing, and that is the human body. So let’s let him address himself. Let’s don’t try to tamper with it and let’s don’t try to appear as though speaking of these things of the human frame are beneath the dignity of the word of the Lord. No, the human body has a vital place in the purpose and plan of God as we shall see. So we shall let the apostle continue with his emphatic address, and it is very emphatic, if we let him speak as he addresses himself to that pagan culture in which Christianity was launched, and before which Christianity boldly challenged the worship and the habits of the day. "You are not your own. You are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, which is God’s."
Now we look next at the Christian avowal. The Christian avowal is this, "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God?" Now that has in it a far greater Christian foundational truth than you would think just reading it. "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God?" That is the Pentecostal difference. What is the difference between the presence of God in this world before Pentecost and after Pentecost? What difference did Pentecost make? It made this difference: before Pentecost, God dwelt in the tabernacle and in the temple. His presence was visibly seen in what the Talmud calls the shekinah glory. The Lord was present in a visible light, and it burned above the holy ark of the covenant. God dwelt in the tabernacle and God dwelt in the temple. But after Pentecost God’s Holy Spirit found a new residence; and now, since Pentecost, the Spirit of God dwells in the human body, individually and in this church militant, collectively. God dwells in us and the temple of the Lord is – us individually and us collectively – in us. We are now the temple of God, and in us resides the Holy Spirit of the Lord.
Now, he speaks of the abuse of the body by those pagan and heathen cultures. He’s talking about Greek and Roman culture; he’s talking about the civilization of his day. And you’d think he’s talking about the culture and civilization of our day. So he addresses himself to the culture of his day, which carried with it an abuse of the body, which Paul says now is the temple of God. And out of these abuses, I choose three, for lack of time. First, prostitution, prostitution: "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of a prostitute? of a harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to a prostitute, a harlot, is one body? for two, saith God, shall be one flesh" [1 Corinthians 6:15-16]. Now why should he address himself to that kind of a subject? Because that is the oldest of the professions; and that was a way of life in the ancient day in which Paul lived.
When one went to the temple of Aphrodite or Astarte or Venus, any name for a goddess of love, and every ancient nation had its goddess of love, that’s the way they worship in the temple: they worshiped the goddess of love, an Aphrodite, an Astarte, a Venus, they worshipped by temple prostitution. It was a way of life. It was a way of worship. Paul says that, in the Christian point of view, is unthinkable that we would worship God through the abuse of our bodies, joining our members to a prostitute.
Second: he speaks of – and that’s why I haven’t known until I got grown what these things were Paul is talking about. You have it translate "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind" [1 Corinthians 6:9]. I read that all my life, since I was a little boy; I didn’t know what he was talking about. So let me translate it exactly, "lesbians and sodomites." I didn’t know what homosexuality was until I was grown and being grown, I didn’t know what it was until I came to the city. It was a new thing to me; translated here "effeminate" and "abusers with themselves with mankind".
"Lesbians," that is women homosexuals and "sodomites," that is men homosexuals. That also was a common thing in ancient heathen culture. Isn’t it remarkable how Western civilization is increasingly turning back to the morality and the culture of the pagan society in which Paul lived and before which the Christian faith boldly challenged its every tenant and precept?
For example, I would not think there’s anybody who is knowledgeable in this present world who is not aware of Anita Bryant, a singer who is challenging the acceptance by law of homosexuality in her county – Dade, and in her city – Miami, in her state in Florida. And because of her challenge to the legal acceptance of the lesbian and the sodomite, she’s been taken off of one of the great corporate institutions of America. No longer is she allowed to advertise their products, because our society has become so degraded, so paganized, that a woman who looks upon a lesbian and a sodomite as being "not the ideal set before our boys and girls" is no longer acceptable in American society. Why, you can’t believe it!
I was in Virginia as you know, a few weeks ago – about three weeks ago. And they had a reporter, came down there and spent half the morning, and then they sent me a copy of it, because I left before it came out. Half a newspaper, clear across – that interview with me. And one of the things concerned this: what is my attitude toward the lesbian and the sodomite? And I answered a very plain and simple answer, "So long as the first chapter of the Book of Romans is in the Bible, and so long as the city of Sodom is under the judgment of God, homosexuality will be a disgrace and an affront to heaven in any society, in any culture, in any nation in the world."
Third: he speaks here of drugs, of drugs [1 Corinthians 6:10]. Now isn’t that an amazing thing? Drugs! This is the temple of God, Paul says, and it is not to be used for sodomites, it’s not to be used for all of these things that degrade the body, and it is not to be used as an instrument of alteration by drugs. Now a drug is any substance, any substance that alters the mind or the body. And in our society as in theirs, there are two tremendous attacks upon our culture by drugs. Number one is liquid pot, that is alcohol, what you drink. Number two are chemicals like pills, acid, like grass that you smoke – marijuana, like heroin that you inject in the vein.
Now, what young people do not realize is that the success of the pusher, of the producer, of the runner under the cover of night, the smuggler – what they do not realize is, if he cannot succeed in debauching you, he fails. For he’s not interested in you or the destruction of your body, he’s interested in making money. And that’s all that he has in his mind is money; he’s making money off of you. And though it results in the destruction of your mind and your body, it is nothing to him; for he is after you to make money for him. Now, however you look, or define, or delineate it, or describe the use of drugs, the end of it is death. There are more killed because of alcohol on the highways alone in America, than all of our men who were slaughtered in all of the wars in American history; beside the incalculable hurt of those who are maimed and blind. Fifty percent of every wreck you will ever read of in the paper is due to drugs, to alcohol.
And the use of other drugs is an invitation to the destruction of the life of a boy and of a girl. And the tragedy of this in our modern society is, it used to be that only those who were older indulged in the use of drugs; now our problem lies in our elementary schools. I read a survey in Great Britain, for example, and the majority of the youngsters in Great Britain are already on some kind of drugs. It is unthinkable and the end of that is death.
I copied out of a newspaper an Associated Press report and I copied it word for word, the whole thing. This was on the front page of a newspaper: the article was entitled "His Last Long Trip." It is dated Tacoma, Washington, Associated Press:
A railroad employee found the well-dressed body of a young man in a corner of an empty boxcar, behind the Union Pacific depot. In the jacket pocket were an empty pillbox and a billfold identifying the youth as
– and then printed his name –
When the body was moved, a suicide note was found. It read:
Dope ruined my life and took away my happiness forever. I thought I was experiencing life. I found out it was death. I hope to God people taking dope find what I found in it sooner than I did. Goodbye Dad.
That’s just in the Associated Press report. That’s not an uncommon thing. The end of the abuse of the body is the destruction of life itself, for this is the house and the temple of God.
So the apostle says, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, which is God’s" [1 Corinthians 6:19-20]. Then the Christian is a redeemed creation: bought by the blood of the Crucified One, all of him. Not just his soul, his spirit, his heart, but all of him. His mind has been redeemed. His soul has been redeemed. His emotions have been redeemed. And his body has been redeemed. He now belongs to God. "He that is joined unto the Lord is one" [1 Corinthians 6:7]. We are members of our great Savior, and we belong to the household of faith and the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 6:15]. Isn’t that a wonderful thing, how he says that? "You are not your own; you are bought with a price." I say that’s a wonderful thing because we belong to God by creation: He made us, created us, but he doesn’t mention it. We belong to God by preservation; He sustains us. But he doesn’t mention it. We belong to God by sustentation: it’s His breath that we breathe; it’s His air that keeps us alive, it is His sunshine and warmth that keeps us from freezing to death. It is God’s earth that feeds us and supports us. But he doesn’t mention it. He mentions just one thing: "Ye are not your own; you are bought with a price. You belong to God. You are not your own. You belong to Him. For ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." Isn’t that a remarkable thing? We are redeemed to Christ not by power, but by price.
May I illustrate that? Redeemed by power; you have an illustration of that in Abraham, who rescued Lot and Lot’s family. These who were rapacious and deadly enemies came – kings, a confederation of them – and took Lot and all of his family and carried them away. And Abraham organized all of the servants of his household in pursuit after and redeemed them by power. He slaughtered those who had carried them away.
You have another illustration in David. While David was away in the war, there came Amalekites to Ziklag, where he lived. And they burned his town with fire, and they took off all the wives and all the children and carried them away. And after the men had lamented and wept, David called them to arms and he pursued after the Amalekites and destroyed them and brought back the wives and children of all of the families of his army. Now that is redemption by power. But we have not been redeemed by power but by something far more precious than silver, or gold, or arms, or battle, or war: we have been redeemed by the blood of the Crucified One. We’ve been redeemed; we’ve been ransomed by the sacrifice of Christ. "Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price" [1 Corinthians 6:20].
Our bodies don’t belong to us, they belong to Him. Our minds and our souls and our hearts belong to Him. We’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Crucified One for a purpose. "Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, which belongs to Him." We’ve been saved; we’ve been redeemed to glorify the Lord.
There is a little space, a little thing like that, in the Westminster catechism. And the question – you know, question and answer? Now the question is, "What is the highest purpose of man?" That’s the question, "What is the highest purpose of man?" The answer? "To glorify God," that’s why we’ve been created. That’s why we were made. And that is the purpose that we are to fulfill in the earth: we are to glorify God. And he says we are to do this in our physical frame, in our life, we are to glorify God. What a wonderful calling, to give our lives – body, mind, heart, soul, affection – all of it to Him. What a wonderful thing God hath redeemed us for that.
In my reading, I came across a sainted pastor of the church in Rome. He lived and pastored that great flock in about the 500’s AD. And this is what he did: he went down to the slave market in Rome, where those Roman legions had conquered a nation and carried those captive slaves back to Rome by the thousands and the thousands – do you remember what I’ve pointed out so many times? Out of a population of one hundred million, sixty million in the Roman Empire were slaves. Three men out of every five that you would meet – had you walked down the streets of Ephesus or Athens or Corinth or Antioch or Alexandria or Rome – three out of every five you met would be slaves. The Roman legions, conquering the civilized world, brought those captives to Rome by the thousands and the thousands.
And Gregory, the sainted pastor of the church in Rome, Gregory would go down to the slave market and he would stand there and he would watch them auction off those slaves, those captives brought back from the provinces that the Roman legions had conquered. This is what he did: there would be a youth captured and brought to Rome and placed on the slave block, from what we know as Great Britain, England. They were much sought after, they were much bid for; all the world they knew was dark, dark-headed, and dark-skinned, but these from Great Britain were fair. They were blonde, and they were very noticeable. And Gregory would outbid anyone for the youth who was brought down from Great Britain, buy him from the slave block. And then, instead of abusing him or using him – you know it is unimaginable to us the institution of slavery, because when you went to the slave block and bought the human body, you did with him as you pleased. He had no right, he had no appeal; he was a slave and whatever you wished for him, for her, that’s slavery. He bought those fair-haired youths from Great Britain; they were called Angles, Angles.
And what Gregory, the great pastor and saint of the church in Rome did, he bought those fair-haired youths and then he said, "You are free. You are free. I have redeemed you. I have ransomed you. I have bought you that you might be free, and now," said the sainted pastor, "you can do as you please; you’re free. But I invite you with me to study the Word of God and to give your heart to Christ, and to go back to Angle-land," we get it in our language today as England. "Go back to Angle-land and tell them what Christ has done for you." And that was the evangelization of our forefathers. These are the people who were our great-great-great-great-great grandparents. These fair-haired youths who were captured and sold on the slave block in Rome were bought by that sainted pastor, and taught the glorious message of Christ the Son of God, and were sent back to England to evangelize Angle-land, England, where we came from. That’s the purpose of Christ in our lives. It is the noblest thing that a youth can do, a boy or girl, it’s the noblest thing that a youth can do, to say to God, "You direct me in my life and I will faithfully follow after."
"I believe God has called me to be a nurse," then in Christ it’s to be a Christian nurse. "I believe God has laid upon my heart to be a doctor," then it will be a Christian doctor. "God hath laid upon my heart to be a teacher," then it is to be a Christian teacher. "God hath laid it upon my heart to be a farmer," then it is to be a Christian farmer. "God has laid it upon my heart to work with my hands as a laborer," then it is to be a Christian laborer. "God has laid it on my heart to enter the world of business," then it is to be a Christian businessman. That’s the noblest thing to which youth can give himself, herself; following the purpose of God, redeemed to glorify the Lord.
I had walked life’s way with an easy tread.
Had followed where comforts and pleasures led.
Until one day in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face.
With wealth and rank and status for my goal,
Much thought for my body, but none for my soul,
I had entered to win in life’s mad race,
When I met the Master face to face.
I had built my castles and reared them high.
Until they pierced the blue of the sky.
I had sworn to rule with an iron mace,
When I met the Master face to face.
I met Him and knew Him, and blushed to see
That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me.
I faltered and fell at His feet that day
While my castles melted and vanished away.
Melted and vanished, and in their place,
Naught could I see but the Master’s face.
I cried aloud, "Oh make me meet,
To follow the steps of Thy wounded feet."
My thought is now for the souls of men,
I lost my life to find it again;
E’er since, one day in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face.
["Rabboni," S. T. Carter, Jr., 1899]
"Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, which belongs to Him" [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].
And that is our appeal to your heart today. The finest life is the Christian life. The finest home is a Christian home. The finest profession is a Christian profession. The finest witness is a Christian witness. And God calls us to that heavenly, holy purpose, each one. Would you this day, this holy hour, answer that call with your life? "Here I am, pastor, and here I come. I’m giving my life in trust to Him who made me, and died for me, and redeemed me by His own blood. And here I am." A family you, putting your life in the church; a couple you, this day, coming down this aisle, standing here before men and angels, "We’re giving our home and our hearts and our marriage to God." As the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. Down a stairway, in the press of people on this lower floor, down an aisle, "Here I come, pastor, I’ve decided for God and I’m on the way." Come now, while we stand and while we sing.