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1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Study Guide: Bought With a Price

Community Group Study Guide — Bought With a Price

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Study Information:

Does God just arbitrarily pick and choose what is “sin” and what is not? Some in our world think that Christians are repressed and living an outdated religion that is trying to control them. In their mind, God has just picked and chosen what one should or shouldn’t do. The remedy that our world takes is first, follow your desires/be your authentic self and second, anything is fair game as long as it is not against the law. As we dig into this passage, we see that the Corinthians had a similar way of doing things. One of their slogans was “all things are lawful for me”, meaning that they thought they had license to live their lives on their own terms. They would also say that it was ok to follow their desires by saying things like “food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food.” This logic gets applied specifically to their sexual desires. They thought that since they had sexual desire then it was ok to satisfy that desire and not exercise restraint or self control. Since there is food for the stomach when you’re hungry then it must be ok to satisfy your sexual desires when they pop up. Does this sound familiar to the world we live in? In our present day to deny your desires is similar to denying yourself. Our world tells you to pursues authenticity, self discovery and to fulfill your desires. Sure there are some boundaries in our culture like pursuing sexual fulfillment with consent, but the guiding principle is that if you desire something you should chase after it. 

What they world does not see is how controlling living this way can be. What if we should instead think in terms of what is helpful, what is controlling me and how we can honor God with our bodies? 

Paul corrects the Corinthians view of sexual relationships by showing them that guiding principle and reminding them that they are no longer their own but are one with Christ. 

Honoring God in Our Bodies: 

In the ancient world prostitution would be much more common than it is even today. Pagan temples had prostitutes as a means for “worship", dinner parties would have prostitutes in attendance for pleasure and brothels were all over town. Greco-Roman society saw one’s wife as good for producing an heir or political alliances, but not someone to seek out for pleasure. It was a crass and sexually flippant world that devalued women. This kind of view leaked into the Corinthian church and one cultural slogan they picked up was “all things are lawful for me” which means that they thought they were free from any sort of restraint and they should just follow their impulses. This does not mean that everyone in the Corinthian church acted this way, but it was a big enough issue that Paul addresses sexual relationships, marriage and singleness over the course of the next chapter and a half to show us the proper place for sexual relationships and the need to worship God with our physical bodies. 

God has put guardrails around sexual intimacy because it is a gift that is worthy of being guarded and protected. One of the myths around sex that excited in both the ancient and modern world is that sex is just a physical action either for procreation or pleasure. Paul does not see it that way, his warning against sexual intimacy with a prostitute is because sex is inherently a unifying activity. 1 Corinthians 16:16 tells us that sex is a joining of two people and they become one flesh. There is something more to sex than just the physical action, there is an emotional and even spiritual bonding taking place that the scripture describes as “one flesh”. Modern science confirms this; during sexual activity your body releases various hormones that are designed to bond you with the other person. This could be becuase God has given sex as a gift to be expressed in a mutual, exclusive, joy-filled covenant where vulnerability, commitment and trust exist. Paul’s words about being ruled by your desires, joining yourself with various people through sexual intimacy and this kind of sin and immorality are not here because Paul is prudish, but rather he has your good in mind. God has given sex as a gift to bond husband and wife together in a mutual, exclusive, joy-filled covenant where husband and wife can be naked and unashamed and where vulnerability, trust and pleasure can exist as husband and wife are “one flesh”. To underscore the nature of sexual sin being more than just a physical action, Paul tell us that with “every other sin” a person commits is outside the body, yet sexual sin is against one’s own body. I think Paul is trying to show us how sexual sin leaves emotional scarring, brokenness and guilt in a way that is different than many others sins because your soul treats it differently, it is intended to bond two people together and if you buy into the Corinthian way of thinking about sex, or the modern way of thinking about sex, then you are jumping from one bonding experience to another and essentially your “one-flesh” bonding is being ripped apart each time. There are two present dangers with this, one is that you become increasingly marked by this type of guilt and scarring, however the other danger is one that many in our world experience and that is they become so callous as to lose the ability to bond in intimacy with others through sexual intimacy the way God designed it to be. 

As followers of Jesus, we’d be better off not thinking “what can I get away with” like the Corinthians seemed to think. Rather, we’d be better off assessing our activity with questions like: is this helpful for my spiritual life? Am I being controlled by this activity? Does this glorify God? There may be many things that are lawful for you to do in the world we live in, but they are unhelpful, controlling and self-glorifying rather than God-glorifying. Paul would have us steer clear of those activities and one such activity is sexual promiscuity.

You may still be wondering what the big deal is, or maybe your life has been marked by sexual sin and brokenness and you’re wondering how God views all of that. Let’s answer those questions by exploring 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Bought by Christ:

God cares about sexual sin because you are an image bearer of God, whether you follow Jesus or not (Genesis 1:26-27). Yet, for people who profess to follow Jesus, this is even more important to God because you are a temple of the Holy Spirit and a member of Christ’s very own body, united to him in faith (1 Corinthians 1:14-15, 19). In Corinth it would be common to go and worship pagan gods, as part of their old lives, through sexual activities with temple prostitutes when they themselves were meant to be temples of God’s very own presence. Their sexual immorality brought dishonor to God because they were united in Christ and using their bodies to sin making themselves one with prostitutes. The implication of this is that when you look at pornography, engage in extra marital sex or various forms of sexual immorality, it is not just a sin against someone else or yourself, but against Christ’s very body since we are members of Christ through faith. We cannot and should not take this kind of sin struggle flippantly. There are strategies and ways to fight against sexual sin and we’d love to help you fight the battle against walking in this kind of darkness so you can walk in light and freedom from sin.

If your life has been marked by sexual sin and brokenness and if you’re wondering if God can forgive and love someone with your history you need to dwell on 1 Corinthians 6:20. We’ve already seen in 1 Corinthians 6:11 that God has washed, justified and sanctified the reviler, sexually immoral and drunkard; all of us in Christ have had our past forgiven and erased by Christ’s grace. Paul underscores this in 1 Corinthians 6:20 when he says “you were bought with a price,” the price was the life of the son of God. This passage shows us the magnitude of the forgiveness offered to us in Jesus Christ. Our sin was carried to the cross by the very body of Jesus whom you are now united to in faith, nothing can separate you from the love of God, not even your past sexual sin. To underscore this, just look at the life of Jesus in the gospels. Jesus pursued the prostitute with his mercy and goodness, he talked to the woman at the well and gave her the dignity that she deserved yet no one else would give, and he reminded the crowd around the woman caught in the act of adultery that they themselves were not without sin. Jesus desires for the sexually immoral and those who’ve been abused or have given in to their desires time and time again to find mercy and forgiveness through who he is and what he has done. Please do not exclude yourself from the possibility of receiving God’s grace because of your past because if you are in Christ, God no longer defines you by your past sin but rather by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. 

Main idea: 
In a culture that says, “pursue your desires and live your life!” we are reminded that we are not our own but have been bought with a price so that we can glorify God in our bodies. Specifically, God has given sexual intimacy as a gift to guard because it is a good and powerful tool to build intimacy in an exclusive, mutual, joy-filled marriage. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:

Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

What are the Corinthians trying to justify when they say “all things are lawful for me” and “food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food?”

According to this passage why is sex a gift to be guarded and protected? Does this passage have a high view of sex or a low view of sex why?

In what ways does Paul underscore who we are in Christ in this passage? Find 3-4 examples as a group.

How does this passage help those who have experienced past sexual sin and want to find grace and freedom in Christ?