READING: 1 Corinthians 5-8
Just look around, and you’ll quickly see the hold that sex has on our culture. We’re hardly the first generation to face these issues, however. The first-century Corinthians lived in an immoral culture, too, and some of them even bought into its morals. In the church was a member who was having sex with a family member, and the church was doing nothing about it. In fact, they were proud of it! (1 Cor 5:2).
Paul had warned them “not to associate with sexually immoral people” who claimed to be believers (1 Cor 5:9), but they were not listening to him. Some were living more like non-believing pagans than those who were washed, sanctified, and justified in Jesus (1 Cor 6:11). Of the member who was having immoral sex, Paul said, “Hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 5:5). While scholars debate this phrase, it likely means to exclude the member from the church and allow his actions to bring him to his own destruction — that is, either to his death (a most drastic result of unforsaken sin) or to the place where his sin brings him to the end of himself. Both cases are painful, and both remind us that Satan always strives to destroy. The good news, though, is that God brings us to the end of ourselves — even if that means death — before He will allow us to lose our salvation.
In today’s reading, Paul helps us know how to help each other make righteous choices about sexuality. First, proclaim the gospel loudly. Through the gospel, those who were formerly sexually immoral no longer need be in bondage (1 Cor 6:9-11). Jesus brings greater satisfaction than any sex act. Second, teach that our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit”; we have been bought at the price of the death of Jesus (1 Cor 6:19-20). Third, emphasize the place of sexuality in marriage. Even couples that abstain from sex temporarily for the purpose of prayer must “come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor 7:5). Fourth, challenge believers to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18). Sometimes, running as fast as we can in the other direction is the escape God provides. Finally, use church discipline as necessary to provoke members into repentance. Loving but persistently stand for sexual holiness.
Don’t let the enemy win this ongoing battle in your life.
- Repent of any wrong thinking or actions related to your sexuality.
- Ask God to help your congregation be holy, even if discipline is necessary.
PRAYER: “Father, help me. Help me think only about good things. Help me fight temptation. Help me flee sexual immorality.”
TOMORROW’S READING: 1 Corinthians 9-11