Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies.1 Corinthians 6:19-20
This passage tells why sexual immorality is different from other sins. Here again Paul is reflecting on how human nature is different than animal nature. It has a unique capacity: it is this marvelous capacity to hold God, to be intimately related to the greatness and the majesty and the glory of God, to have God in you. That is the temple — God dwelling in something transforms it into a temple. But sexual immorality defiles that temple. It offers the temple to another. It brings the body of that person who is the temple into a wrong union and therefore, it is basically the sin of idolatry. That is why in Colossians and other places the apostle links together
covetousness, which is idolatry. He means sexual covetousness, the desire for another person's body, is a form of idolatry.
Now only idolatry, the worship of another god, the substitution of a rival god, defiles the temple. That is why sexual immorality has an immediate and profound but subtle effect upon the human psyche. It dehumanizes us. It animalizes us. It brutalizes us. Those who indulge in it grow continually more coarse, less sensitive, have less regard for the welfare of another, more self-centered, more desirous of having only their own needs met —
I couldn't care less about the rest of you. That is what fornication does.
I have seen it destroy young people's relationships. A beautiful young couple came to me. Both of them were Christians, and had formed a close friendship. They were growing in the Lord and heading for marriage and then something happened. They began to fight. Finally, they brought one of their quarrels to me and in the process of working it out I said to them,
Are you having sex together? and they admitted they were. I said,
Well, this is the result of it. It is destroying your relationship. But they did not believe me and they went on. Sure enough, soon they ended it with great brokenness and hurt on both sides — a painful episode remaining in each one of their lives. This is what sexual immorality does.
Paul now closes with a beautiful summary:
You are not your own; you were bought with a price. That is basic Christian truth. This is something every Christian ought to remember every day of his life. You have no final right to yourself. God has ordained that we should have decisions that we have to make, and only we can make them. He does not take away our right of choice. He does not turn us unto robots, but, he says we will have to account for the decisions we make. God always reserves the right, because he has bought us, he owns us, we are his by right of creation and of purchase. He reserves the right to take away from our life whatever he sees is harmful to us, whether we like it or not, to give us both blessing and trouble alike as he sees that we need each, and to guide us as a loving Father to the place where we recognize that he owns us, we belong to him. God is honored when any individual Christian begins to live on that basis. That's why he says,
...honor (glorify) God in your body. This is what makes the world see that there is something different about Christians — they have discovered the lost secret of their humanity. God has come to dwell in his temple again, and that temple should be maintained without defilement, without offering it to another, except as God himself has ordained in the beautiful sacrament of marriage.
Lord, thank you for these searching words. Help me to present before the watching world a visible manifestation of the beauty of holiness and the joy of a life that walks in close communion with a God who dwells within.
Do we value the high privilege of living in God's temple as tenants? How does sexual immorality defile God's temple? Do we worship the occupant, rather than the Owner of God's temple?