The Complexity of Liberty – 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

The tenth message in the 1 Corinthians Study.
(Find the other messages from this series here)

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The Complexity of Liberty
1 Corinthians 6:12-20

I think we are all familiar with the “The More You Know” commercials.
Paul does a version of that here, “Don’t you know!?”

Paul says 3 times in this passage,
“Know ye not?”

In other words Paul was saying,
“Don’t you know!?”

There are concepts or facts that you know but you forget and there are concepts or facts that you simply don’t know. For example, our car’s fuel door or gas cap is on the passenger side of the car. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a vehicle with the gas cap on the passenger side before…
So I know that it’s on the passenger side, but about 75% of the time when I pull into the gas station with the car, I pull in as if it were on the drivers side.
I get out and so, “Oh yeah!” and then make the embarrassing maneuver over to another pump.
I almost feel like it would be better to just go to another gas station at that point. Oops, forgot my wallet! I know which side it’s on, but I forget.

Sometimes we make a mistake because what we know isn’t top of mind, we aren’t thinking about it.
These are unintentional mistakes. We simply aren’t thinking about it.
Other times we make a mistake because we simply do not know or we misunderstand.

The Corinthians were intentionally making a really big mistake.
They were actually justifying their actions because they misunderstood or intentionally misapplied what Paul had taught them.
Paul is pretty blown away by what they have apparently misunderstood so for that reason he says, “Don’t You Know!?” 3 times in 8 verses.

This passage clears up some misunderstandings for the Corinthians.

The Corinthians misunderstood the nature of sin.

In verse 12 Paul says “all things are lawful unto me” twice and what he was doing in both instances was quoting the Corinthians- he was quoting a slogan or principle of their and then undercutting it.

If you just took that phrase all on its own, you could really get into some major issues.
Clearly, not all things are permissible.
Abuse is not permissible, murder is not permissible, and so on.

Paul uses this phrase again in 10:23 where he once again will undercut it and knock it down.

Most likely the Corinthians had derived this line of thinking from the teaching that Paul had given them…
They had grabbed Paul’s teaching and then taken it to the extreme.
Paul had taught them that they had been freed from the law- the law’s claims on them.
They had been freed from the condemnation that they deserved.

Freedom from sin is not freedom to sin.

Often when we think of freedom we think of freedom to do as we please- but that is not freedom.
Have you ever had someone justify their selfish or ridiculous actions with, “it’s a free country!”
They misunderstand the nature of freedom.
We live in a free country, but there are still laws of the land and codes of conduct that we must abide by or that freedom will no longer be viable.
For example, if I could just walk into your home and take anything I want because it is a free country, it would not feel very free.
It would feel dangerous-

Free and Wild are 2 very different things.
Freedom to “do as you please” is actually slavery and bondage with a thin veneer over the top of it.

Paul says, All things are lawful unto me but not all things are expedient- that means not all things are beneficial. Not all things are helpful.
All things are lawful unto me but I will not be brought under the power of any. Paul’s point is that it’s not freedom if it makes you a slave. It’s not freedom if takes you under it’s power.

That’s the very nature of sin. The very nature of sin is to make you a slave. Sin desires to make you a slave.

Sin is not merely dangerous because of the punishment associated with it, it’s dangerous by its very nature.
The Corinthians thought that since they had been forgiven of the penalty of their sin that sin no longer held a danger for them.

Paul says, you’ve been forgiven of the punishment of sin but you will still experience the debilitating effects of sin- sin will still hurt you, it will still take control and mastery of you.

Here’s what they misunderstood about sin.

Sin breaks the heart of God because sin breaks us.

There are times that we get onto our kids because they are being annoying. Then there are times that we get onto our kids because what they are doing will hurt them or damage them.
God isn’t annoyed with us. He concerned for us.

Paul wasn’t annoyed with the Corinthians.
He was concerned for them.
Probably the Corinthians were taking Paul’s teaching on freedom from condemnation to the extreme and they were possibly also taking his teaching on cultural laws to the extreme as well.
sPaul says in verse 13, meats for the belly and the belly for meats but God shall destroy both it and them…

Paul had taught the Corinthians that they were not expected to keep the religious laws of the Jews.
We talked about this when it came up in chapter 5.
Paul had told them that they were not expected to hold to the dietary and holiday customs of the Jews.
While Christianity started among the Jews, they weren’t becoming Jews, they were becoming followers of Jesus.

We are not commanded to live as Jews,
but we are called to live for Jesus.

Paul didn’t expect the Corinthians to live as Jews, but he did expect them to live for Jesus.

Paul says, yes, I told you that you can eat bacon, but I didn’t say that you could commit adultery. No you don’t have to attend passover in the Jewish temple but no you can not attend to prostitutes in the Corinthian temples.

The Jewish cultural laws do not apply to followers of Jesus but God’s moral code still applies.
Paul had told the Corinthians,
You’re no longer sinners!
Their response had been to jump right back into sin.

This would be the same as going to jail for crimes that you committed and because the judge is gracious he lets you go free, so you immediately return to the crimes you had been committing and then acting confused when you found yourself in trouble again.

Don’t mistake grace for license.
God’s grace does not give you permission to act as you want, it give you freedom from sin, not freedom to sin.

The Corinthians misunderstood the value of the body.

In Corinth there was this Hellenistic Dualism.
In other words, the body and the spirit are separate.
As long as my spirit is right with God, it doesn’t matter what goes on with my body because they are different.

We frame this today as, yeah I did that thing, but my heart was right. Paul makes it clear that you can not so easily separate the body and the spirit.

In verse 13 when he says God will destroy the meats and the belly he says, the same does not apply for the body and immorality.

We will be resurrected with Christ one day.

We worship on Sunday because that is the day of the week that Jesus resurrected.
The Jews worshipped on the Sabbath or Saturday. We worship on Sunday to remember that Christ rose from the dead- but also that
we will rise from the dead as well.
This was a major promise of God.

I had an opportunity to attend a tour of a Jewish Synagogue.
In the hallway immediately to your right when you walk in are all of these plaques with names and little lights. When it is the week of the persons birthday or anniversary of their death, they light the light on that persons name. People are encouraged to walk down the hallway and remember the people.
It was interesting and very sentimental.
But the Rabbi went onto explain that the Jewish idea of the afterlife is very enigmatic so they emphasize memory…

In other words, the Jews don’t hope in the afterlife- so when a person passes their memory lives on. I think that a person’s memory should live on with us- but I hope that there is more than that! Paul pointed out at the beginning of this chapter that there is a role for us to play in the next life… Here again he points out that we will be resurrected.

This is not the end- and our bodies will be different in the next life, but Christ will resurrect them and magnify them…

We are joined to Christ today.

Paul says, not only is your spirit connected to your body- it’s connected to Christ so when you participate in immorality and adultery with a prostitute, you are connecting Christ to that as well.
He says in verses 16 & 17-
Sexual sin is the joining of two people, and if you are joined to Christ you are intermingling the presence of Christ in the presence of that sin.

Later on he says, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
If you are a believer, you have invited Christ into your life and he is a part of your life-
The things that you do in your life, Christ is present for…
The things that you do to your body, you do to the temple of God…

Some people have a real reverence for the church building.
I can remember when i was a kid getting into some major trouble for running in the church building.

I was kind of confused because when I was a kid our church burned and my dad helped in the renovation so I saw the wood come from the hardware store and get nailed together and painted and it looked a lot like the room that the teenagers played silly games in…

If we are worried about showing respect for God’s house,
we should start here.

The Corinthians misunderstood the cost of Grace.

Verse 20 says you are bought with a price.
Corinth was the home of two ports, one on each side of the isthmus they were situated on.
It was a place of trade, including slave trade.
The Corinthians would have been familiar with the concept of the slave trade- they would have seen slaves bought and sold in their market place.

In fact we know that some of the people in the Corinthian church were apparently slaves themselves.

When Paul says, “You were bought with a price” he is making a reference to this picture that they would have been familiar with.

The price that Paul is speaking of is cost of Christ’s own life.
When Jesus died on the cross, he did not die for crimes that he committed, he died for the sins of everyone else.

He wasn’t paying a debt or a price that he owed, he was paying the price for us- to buy us back from our slave owners of sin. We were the slaves on the auction block, and Christ paid the ultimate price to buy us back.

Perhaps you are here this morning thinking, I’m not a slave. I’ve got a pretty good life. I live as a decent person. I don’t have some crippling addition or hang up-
Well I would say, that’s great- you’ve been fortunate to not end up with a cruel taskmaster like many others have, but you are not free. You are still bound to the desires and longings in your heart that you will never be able to satisfy…
You are bound to the expectations of others-
You are bound to the feeling of “there must be more than this…”

No matter what your life looks like, you need to be bought back by Christ and he has sufficient funds to pay the price- He has the ability to buy you back and He is willing to extend it to you.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you would leave a lit on and your parents flipped out and you were like, what’s the big deal?
Now you are the one walking around the house turning off lights because you know what the electric bill costs.

The Corinthians were living as if they had no idea what sin cost Christ on the cross.

Quote from
Steve Maman, a Canadian businessman is being dubbed the “Jewish Schindler” after paying for the release of Yazidi and Christian slaves held by Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Steve Maman has rescued 128  girls and women through the organization he founded, Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI).

CYCI uses intermediaries to negotiate with Islamic State captors and pays between $1000 – $3000 for the release of each slave. According to the organization’s website, girls and women are then returned to their families or sent to a Kurdish refugee camp in northern Syria.
Islamic State is estimated to have taken 2,700 women and girls captive, torturing them and using them as sex slaves. Amnesty International claims Yazidi and Christian girls as young as 12 are being held.