Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 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.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20
I suppose you might read the 3 verses printed above and hear a scolding parent. “Don’t ride your bike without a helmet!” Maybe you hear a “fire and brimstone” sermon from the mouth of your pastor. “Don’t have sex outside of the God-ordained institution of marriage!” But, there is so much more to this section. For us to only hear a scolding parent or a preacher laying down the Law would miss the point.
Consider for a moment what it means to be a temple of God. If you open up your Bible’s to Exodus 38:8 you’ll find the beginning of a long, detailed section that describes the construction of the “Tabernacle” (think of this as a glorified tent that served as a mobile temple). The Tabernacle would serve as God’s dwelling place. But, as this dwelling place is constructed, God teaches. He teaches his people that his dwelling place must meet certain standards. Over all the details stands one intimidating detail. It must be holy. In Exodus 40:9 God instructs, “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy.”
After all the work was finally completed just as the Lord had instructed, here’s what happened. “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
A similar thing happens in 1 Kings chapter 8. After King Solomon finished building a permanent temple in Jerusalem exactly as the Lord instructed him, this happened. “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.”
Here’s the point. God says that YOU AND I are temples of the Holy Spirit. But that might leave you scratching your head a little bit. “God... wants to dwell... inside of me? I’m filthy! I’m disgusting! I’m a dirty, rotten sinner!” You’d be right to feel that way. I feel the same way about myself. And yet God says that you and I are his temples!
That says something AMAZING about who we are! When Jesus gave up his holy, innocent life and then powerfully took it back up again, something incredible happened. Jesus removed the stain of our sin and replaced it with his holiness. Yep, that’s right. Thanks to Jesus, you and I ARE holy! That means we ARE worthy of God’s holy presence! How cool is that!?
And so, yes, the Apostle Paul does tell the Corinthians (and us) to “flee from sexual immorality.” And for good reason! Sexual sins are sins whether we like it or not. But realize this command is not given in a way that says, “DO THIS OR ELSE!” No! This command to “flee from sexual immorality” is given in a way that says “flee from sexual immorality, because God has made you holy! Flee from sexual immorality because God himself dwells in you. Flee from sexual immorality because you’ve been redeemed—bought back—by God himself!”
Brothers and sisters, we don’t flee from any sin as if our “fleeing” will somehow help us avoid the wrath of God or earn his favor. We flee from sin because of what our God has done for us and because of what he has made us. He wiped our every sin away when he purchased us with the blood of his own Son. He credited the perfect life of his Son to us. He made us a place worthy of his holy presence. We are God's very own temples!
Blessings on the rest of your week!