Run Toward Love – 1 Corinthians 6

The Second Message in the Together Series on Love, Dating, and Marriage.

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If I were to say the Big Apple you would know I meant New York City If I were to say Sin City you would know I meant Las Vegas If I were to say The Big Easy you would know I meant New Orleans If I were to say Motor City you would know I meant Detroit If I were to say the Windy City you would know I meant Chicago If I were to say the Electric City you might know that I means Scranton. 2,000 years ago if I were to say Sex City, you would know I meant Corinth. Corinth was synonymous with sex, but not just sex casual or illicit sex. The verb “to Corinthanize” meant to have sex with a prostitute. Corinth was the prostitution capital of the world. It was in Corinth that Paul started a church, and then later he would write them a few letters because there was so much brokenness to work out of the Corinth believers and their church. But hear this- there was not too much brokenness. Even in places where there is so much brokenness, there is not too much brokenness for the powerful gospel of grace. Now what I’m going to cover today may sound strange or foreign to some of you. If you haven’t experienced the Gospel of Grace- this probably won’t make much sense to you. Paul makes an important statement in verse 20
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. If you belong to the Lord, following these commands that we are about to read makes sense. If not, then they probably don’t. I hope that by the end of the message anyone who does not belong to the Lord will have a strong desire to become His child. To be a part of his family.

Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-20

In verse 18 there is a simple and straightforward command- Flee Fornication. The word for “Flee” means to seek safety by flight or to escape. It means to run from danger toward safety. In this passage, Paul is calling the Corinthians to run from danger of sexual sin and run toward’s the hope and safety of grace. Paul calls the Corinthian believers to run from lust and run toward love.

I’ve seen a couple versions of the t-shirt that say something like, “I don’t run. If you see me running you should run too cause something is chasing me.” My favorite version is one that says “Bomb Squad” on the front and on the back it says, “if you see me running, try to keep up.”

Paul says run from fornication- run from danger. Run from heartache and sorrow. Run toward Love! The case that Paul makes in chapters 6 & 7 is that sex is a wonderful gift to be experienced within a lifelong commitment- but a dangerous trap to who would just fool around with it. He makes the argument here that Sexual sin harms us, controls us, and robs us.

Sexual Sin Harms us.

Our culture today says “what is the big deal? Why are you trying to control my life? Why do you care what I do with my body?” I don’t want to control anyone- neither did Paul. He was writing about the liberty that is found in the gospel. What Paul wanted to do was warn them, and that’s what I want to do. Warn you.

18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

Sexual Sin harms us. It ruins us. If you think that Sexual sin is just harmless fun, spend some time reading Proverbs 5, 6, and 7.

Proverbs 5:3, “For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil.”

It’s enticing. It’s seducing.

Proverbs 5:4 “Her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.  Her feet go down to death.  Her steps take hold on Sheol.”

It’s a false advertisement. It promises a wonderful time- thrills and excitement but it ends in pain, heartbreak, and even death. It goes on to say, stay away from her door- don’t go down her street

“Lest thou give thine honor unto others and thy years unto the cruel.”
“Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth.”

Many people have lost all they had to sexual sin. It takes everything from them… they lose their families, they lose their income…

Proverbs 6:26, “For by means of an unchaste woman a man is brought to a piece of bread.”
“And the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.  Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?”
verse 28. “Can one go on hot coals and his feet not be burned,”

Samson was the strongest man in the world. He could fight off hundreds of soldiers. He was a tireless and mighty warrior, but he was subdued and destroyed by a woman because of his sexual sin. Sexual sin ruined the strongest man in the world and it has ruined many might, powerful, strong, and devout people.

Sexual Sin Controls us.

Singleness is celebrated by Paul in chapter 7. Paul believed that a single person could serve God with greater ability than a married person- You figure in Paul’s day being a Christian was life threatening, serving as a missionary was life threatening and if you are married and have a family you have to worry about how your actions affect them and put them in danger…

However, singleness is celebrate today because the idea is that there is a freedom to do what I want. I can have the fun that I want to have. I can keep things casual. Keep things from getting too serious that way I can move on if and when I want to… That lifestyle doesn’t bring freedom, it brings bondage. There is not sexual freedom in the hookup culture, there is sexual slavery and addiction.

Paul says in verse 12
“I will not be brought under the power of any.”
and in verse 16
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

God designed sex to be more than a recreational activity. God designed sex to be more than about reproduction. God designed it to be a part of intimacy, for that reason every sexual encounter is more than “just sex.” Every sexual encounter is two becoming one on a deep level- a soul level.

In his book Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis says,

Every time a man and a woman enter into a sexual relationship a spiritual bond is established between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured.

In verse 13 Paul makes a distinction between food for the belly and sex. He says the belly and the meats will be eliminated… Your soul goes beyond the grave…and sex brings a bond between people that is more than just physical.

John MacArthur said  Sex is not just biological.  No.  It is spiritual.  It is two becoming one.  That’s the way God designed it.  It unites two people.  That’s why the Bible says that when adultery is committed that’s grounds for divorce.  Why?  Because they have consummated a union outside the marriage.  Two becoming one is the integrating of two people in the deepest parts of their being.

So you’ve got this teaching from scriptural on the spiritual ramifications of sexual sin, and then we now have a scientific perspective on the chemical and hormonal reactions that take place as well. We have discovered that there is a powerful chemical that is produced by the Hypothalamus and secreted by the posterior pituitary gland. In women there are 3 main times that this chemical is produced. Let me talk to you about 2 of the 3 first…
Oxytocin is secreted during birth & during breastfeeding- this hormone has been called the love bug or the love hormone because it produces trust and feelings of bonding. Which makes sense that when a mother gives birth and holds her newborn child that there are strong impulses toward bonding with this child and caring for the child… It makes sense that when the mother breast feeds this baby that she feels these powerful feeling of love and bonding… The other phase in which oxytocin is produced is during sex. So when a woman has sex, there is a chemical reaction that nudges her toward trust, love, and bonding.

Sex ties people together like nothing else in the world.  When you have a casual sexual encounter or you have sex with someone that you’re not committed to- You’re not just having fun- you are being connected to and tied to that person in ways that we don’t fully appreciate. You see, God isn’t trying to keep you from having fun, He’s trying to save you some heartache.

Are you familiar with the story of Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby?
 Br’er rabbit comes across a little doll made of tar and turpentine. The tar and turpentine have become soft and sticky in the hot sun and when Br’er rabbit speaks to the doll and it doesn’t reply, Br’er Rabbit hits the tar baby. His paw sticks. 
He says if you don’t let me go I’m going to punch you again with my other hand… he does and then that hand is stuck… Eventually all four of his paws are stuck to the tar baby.

Sexual Sin traps us and controls us. When we participate in sexual sin, we aren’t getting away with something, we are getting in entangled in something.

Sexual Sin Robs us.

Even back in Proverbs God’s Word communicates that sex is a gift to be enjoyed in a lifelong committment.

Proverbs 5:18, “Let thy fountain be blessed – ” “rejoice with the wife of thy youth.”  “Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe, – let her breast satisfy thee at all times and be thou ravished always with her love.”

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul says if you need to have a partner, find someone you love and marry them and then participate in sex. He even says, don’t withhold that gift from the other person. Even if you were to do so for the sake of fasting and prayer, you should only do so after communicating with your spouse and establishing an amount of time, but don’t make it a long period of time.

While chapter 6 commands us to flee from fornication, chapter 7 commands us to faithful and regularly have sex with our spouse! I bet some of you are gonna go underline some verse later, right!?

However, this wonderful gift is often robbed from us by or at least vandalized by sexual sin. Elmer Magnussen has a compelling article on how sexual sin harms marriages and robs them of their intimacy and power. He writes:

By pursuing sexual intercourse before the marriage commitment, a couple set a trap for their relationship by breaking down the process of intimate communication before it has a chance to develop and be tested. A couple’s relationship can be compared to a steam pipe for which pressure is released by a valve. The pipe has several weak spots which would burst were it not for the safety valve. But the weak spots are invisible, they are not repaired, and they eventually corrode and destroy the pipe. A couple can have several weak points in their communication pattern (which is the area of real intimacy) but will find release in the safety valve of sexual relations. If a couple is to prepare realistically for marriage, they need to find the weak areas in their communication process without resorting to the safety valve of sex. By not shutting off the valve they set themselves up for potentially serious marital problems later on.

Plus, researchers have found that Oxytocin reduces stress and anxiety and that oxytocin is produced most in the first 6 months of the relationship. So when the tension and pressure begins to mount, the release and stress reducing potential has waned causing the relationship to rupture.
It’s almost as if God knew that there would need to be this release as a couple brings their lives together in a marriage but because this release has been wasted in the early, low commitment period of the relationship it is of little use.

Ron Rolheiser wrote some powerful words on sex and chastity. He writes:

Sex that isn’t sublime doesn’t bring us a soulmate, it brings us a fix. A hit of a drug. It helps us through a lonely night or a difficult season but it cannot give us what we need… Sublime sex can only be achieved through first living through a real chastity… someone who sleeps with a person they hardly know or have no commitment to or lived in the tension of chastity with will not have have a sublime or profound experience. Short circuiting chastity is like trying to write a masterpiece overnight. It’s not going to happen. Great love, like great art takes effort, commitment, and time.

When we jump ahead into the physical act of love before there is the time and commitment, we aren’t getting away with something. We are missing out on something.
 This idea of getting away with something also robs our relationships of something too… Magnussen says,

There is in nearly everyone, especially those raised in a JudaeoChristian culture, an awareness that premarital sex is wrong. It may be deeply buried, repressed, ignored or openly justified, but it’s there. Something deep inside each person engaged in illicit, premarital sex says, “We shouldn’t be doing this.” And that’s what makes it exciting. There is something definitely stimulating in the wrongness and illicitness of the act. That illicitness can be translated into other terms: “What if someone finds out? … I’ll show my folks I can do what I want. … See how much we love each other. … No outdated church is going to control me.” Whatever is said, that illicitness is part of the sexual arousal prior to marriage, and the couple is conditioning themselves to respond to it. I have talked with many married couples who have said, “Before we were married we had a great sex life! Exciting, fulfilling and enjoyable. But on our wedding night, for some reason, it died. It has never been very good since.” What happened on their wedding night? That illicitness which had become a conditioned sexual stimulation was taken away. After the formal wedding vows, no one would be offended by their living together; they were no longer proving anything to an authority figure. In fact, sex was now mandatory. When the illicitness was taken away, there was only a big, black, gaping hole in their relationship. Intimacy had broken down. So how does a person recapture that illicitness which makes sex so exciting? One simple method is to have an affair. Bingo! Great sex again! (There is also something in each of us that says extramarital sex is wrong.) This seems to be a common solution today. So the marriage bonds crumble, and the divorce rate climbs.

When I was about 8 years old I spent the night with a friend from school… He had several guys over and we were camping in a tent in his backyard. One of the guys brought rolls or toilet paper and we snuck out and rolled trees on some yards a couple of blocks over. It was a blast. A few years later I rolled a house along with some adults. Nowhere near as fun…  The thrill was gone because there was no danger of getting caught. There was no secret. No fear. Because many couples condition their sexual relationship on the fetish of the secret and the thrill of disobedience, they set themselves up for a let down later in the relationship.

Though sexual sin harms us, controls us, and robs us; Grace heals us, frees us, and restores us.

Grace Heals, Frees, and Restores.

Though Corinth was know as Sex City. Though Corinth was a place of casual sex for hire, though many of the people that Paul were writing to were guilty of these very sins, yet this letter is a letter of grace. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul says, let me remind of you of the gospel by which you are saved. Later in 15 he would remind them that it was by the grace of God that they were changed. Just before our passage, Paul says:

9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

If you are guilty of sexual sin I want you to hear me this morning, God’s grace is extended to you.
If you are guilty of fornication, God’s grace is given to you.
If you are guilty of adultery, if you are having an affair, God’s grace is offered to you.
If you are addicted to pornography, God’s grace is available to you.
If you are guilty of homosexuality, God’s grace is offered to you.

In watching some of the promotional videos for the Marriage Study by Francis Chan I came across one of the video in which Francis and Lisa go to East Africa and work with a ministry that reaches out to women and girls in the Red Light district. Francis said, it is by far the dirtiest place I have ever been. There are rows of little rooms and these women who look broken, sad, malnourished, they stand at the door and some man walks up and pay them a dollar to sleep with them. Some of these women they have children and the kids have to occupy themselves outside while this is going on or they’re asleep in the room… Chan said after we had walked through this place of brokenness we went to the ministry center where his friend operates the ministry to the women and there on the shelf behind his desk are pictures of weddings- of this ministry leader walking women down the aisle because one of those women were saved from that wretchedness and they are cleansed by the grace of God and they meet a man who treats them with respect and loves them, and they’re able to walk down the aisle and commit their life to someone…

That’s how powerful God’s gospel of grace is…

Even in places where there is so much brokenness, there is not too much brokenness for the powerful gospel of grace.

Even in couples where there is so much brokenness, there is not too much brokenness for the powerful gospel of grace.

Even in people where there is so much brokenness, there is not too much brokenness for the powerful gospel of grace.

Run from sexual sin toward love. Run from sexual brokenness into the arms of God’s grace and hope.