January 17, 2021

Rev. Mark F. Bartels



Old Testament Lesson; 1 Samuel 3:1-10

Psalm of the Day; Psalm 67

Gospel Lesson; John 1:43-51                             

Sermon Text; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20


The text we are going to look at for today is taken from 1 Corinthians, chapter six, verses twelve through twenty.  This is in our Savior's name.


“All things are permitted for me” - but not all things are beneficial.  “All things are permitted for me” - but I will not allow anything to control me.  “Foods are for the belly, and the belly is for foods, but God will do away with both of them.”  However, the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.  God raised up the Lord, and will also raise us up by His power.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I then remove the members of Christ, and make them members of a prostitute?  Certainly not!  Or, do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute is one body with her?   For it says, “The two will become one flesh.”  But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee from sexual immorality!  Every sin that a person commits is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.  Or, do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought at a price.  Therefore glorify God with your body.


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



A couple months ago, if you were here in church one Sunday, I used my coat to represent the human body, and then I represented the soul.  I was talking about the connection with the body and soul, and how at death our body separates from our soul.  It is buried in the grave.  Someday, God is going to raise it up again, and we will be united, body and soul.

Today I want to use that same analogy.  I want my coat to represent our human body.  (This text talks a lot about the body.  I don't know if you noticed about how many times it mentioned your body.)  So, this coat is going to represent the human body. 

But, you will notice, I have a sweatshirt tucked inside this coat, so essentially, there are actually two coats united here, because I want this to represent marriage.  Two bodies, two people.  The Bible says,

“A man will leave his father and mother,

be united to his wife,

and the two become one flesh.”

And so, the Bible gives a beautiful picture of this creation God has made, the creation of marriage.  And, God unites a man and woman together.  Jesus says,

“What God has joined together

let man not separate.” 

So, God intends that union between husband and wife to be this total oneness.  It is a oneness of our hearts, a oneness of our souls, a oneness of our bodies.  It is that sexual union between a man and a woman.  It is a voluntary, but lifelong commitment, with a commitment to one another, “This is for the rest of our lives.”

And so, God has instituted this beautiful, beautiful relationship called marriage.  And, it affects the human body, particularly when it comes to a sexual relationship.  That is something God wants to protect, very dearly.

I am going to let this dark sweatshirt, which could replace the gray one inside the coat, represent the concept that there is a temptation, and threat to not have that marriage relationship, that sexual union between a man and woman, be a permanent thing. 

But, we also understand that there are temptations that we might think, “Well, couldn't I, just for a little while, be united with somebody else, physically, sexually?  Does it have to be for life?  What's so bad about having a physical relationship with somebody who I am not necessarily married to?”  

That is what Paul is going to address in today's scripture reading.  He wants us to understand.  He is going to get us to understand that the physical relationship you have with somebody, the sexual relationship you have with somebody is not just about your body.  It totally impacts your relationship with God.  It impacts your own soul.  It impacts lots of other people's souls.  That is what he really wants us to look at today.

So, today's sermon is for anybody, and everybody who is struggling with certain thoughts. 

-Maybe you are not married, and you are struggling with the thought, “What is so bad about me having an affair, or relationship with somebody, a sexual relationship with somebody that I am not married to?  Wouldn't it be a way to show them I love them?  Would that be ok?” 

Maybe you are feeling pressured into that.  The Bible just lovingly wants you to see what God does say about that.  How would God respond to that?

-Maybe somebody struggling with pornography, which is mentally breaking the marriage covenant that God has made.  What does The Bible say about that, and how does God talk about that?

-Maybe somebody is struggling with having an affair, or is having one right now.  You are thinking to yourself, “Well, if nobody knows about it, is it really hurting anybody?”
Maybe there are challenges in your marriage, and you feel as though that is somehow benefiting you, that you can have an affair.

-Maybe there is a mom or dad whose child is living with somebody outside of marriage right now, and you know they are having a sexual relationship, even though they are not married.  Or, maybe there is a grandpa and grandma who has a grandchild in that situation.  Or, maybe there is a friend who is in that situation.  You wonder, “How do I talk to them?  What would I say?  How would I respond to them?  What does God's Word say?”
So, Paul today is just lovingly going to take us through that.  It is really interesting that The Bible says,

“There is nothing new under the sun.” 

We look at our culture today, and our culture has some views about how we use our bodies, and sexuality, that are not all that new.  They had the same type of concepts going on in Paul's day, particularly in the city of Corinth.  Corinth was a very, very  sexually free city.  People, pretty much, thought anything goes, sexually, in the city of Corinth. 

So, this little church had been created in Corinth.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, people had come to faith.  But, as they came to faith, they were coming from a world view that they had been taught since they were kids.  “Isn't it ok to be sexually active with somebody you are not married to?”  “If it is two consenting adults, and you both agree, and it is not hurting anybody, what is wrong with that?”  “Wouldn't it be ok for a Christian to be sexually active with somebody they are not married to, if you both consent to it?” 

Or, they were thinking, “You know, we have these appetites, like we get hungry for food, and we feed our appetite.  There is  nothing wrong with that.  So, if I have an appetite to be sexually active with somebody, what is wrong with feeding that appetite?  It is just natural.  So, what would be wrong about me being sexually active with somebody I am not married to?”

Well, Paul now is going to 'take us by the hand', and he is going to lovingly 'walk us down this road', to show how it is not just about bodies.  It is not just about two bodies.  Yes, the body is part of it, but it has everything to do with

-your relationship to God,

-your own soul,

-and your relationship to others.

I am going to take you quickly through nine points.  Today's scripture reading makes nine really powerful points.  We could talk about this all day, but I am going to touch on each one of these, point by point.  You might want, if you are struggling with any of this, you may want to mentally write this down, if nothing else.

        The first thing he says is this.  The people in Corinth were saying “everything is permissible for me, isn't it?”  That was their mindset.  “Isn't it ok, if it is two consenting adults?  What is wrong with that?”

So, they were asking that question.

“All things are permitted for me...” 

To which Paul responds this way.

“...but not all things are beneficial.” 

He is saying, “You may think it is permissible, but ask yourself, 'Is it beneficial?  Would having a sexual relationship with somebody outside of marriage, would that be beneficial?” 

I am going to bring up one example that everybody should really ponder.  Let's imagine there is somebody who says, “I am a Christian, and I feel like I could have a sexual relationship with somebody outside of marriage.” 

Is that beneficial?  Did you know one of the number one reasons why people lose their connection of the church is because they have made the choice to have a sexual relationship with somebody they are not married to?  

Now, it is either because the guilty conscience tells them they know they should not be doing that.  And, their guilty conscience keeps them away from God's House, because it is hard to hear God's Word, when they have a guilty conscious. 

Or, the other thing that can happen, is this.  If their life were a bookshelf, and the top books on the shelf say what God wants, and underneath them would be the books that says what they want, that is the way the order should be.  It should always be whatever I want is underneath what God wants. 

But, what happens is sometimes those books get switched, and somebody can say, “The top book is what I want.  And, underneath that is what God wants.”  When those books get switched, there is much less desire to come, and hear what God's Word has to say.  And so, that can remove somebody from connection to the church. 

When you have removed your connection from the church, you remove your connection from The Word, and The Sacraments.  That is the lifeblood of a Christian. 

So, Paul is asking you, “Is it beneficial, if you were to get involved in a relationship like that?  Is it beneficial to your soul?”

        Then, the next thing he talks about is this.   He says, “Oh, you say everything is permissible”, but Paul's response is, “I am not going to be controlled, or mastered by anything.” 

“...but I will not allow anything to control me.”

There are very possibly people here today who know exactly what I am talking about.  Exactly.  Maybe you thought, “Man, if I just once click on that picture on the internet, even though I know I should not look at it...”  But, you clicked on it, and it was pornography.  Now, it is five, or ten years later, and you have gotten yourself in to a situation where you want to be free, but your heart, and your mind have been so captivated by that, that you cannot break away from it.  You have become controlled, under the control of something else that you don't even want to be controlled by. 

Maybe there is a person here who is having a sexual relationship with a boyfriend, or girlfriend, and you know, “I should not do that”, but for some reason you just can't stop.

Jesus said,

“You can't serve two masters.”

And so, the point is, it just isn't about two bodies connecting with each other.  This impacts your soul.

        Then, Paul goes on and says, “The body is for the Lord.” 

“...the body is not for sexual immorality,

but for the Lord...”

He is going to talk about how what you do with your body affects your relationship with God, the Father.

We believe our bodies are a gift from God.  In the explanation to the First Article we say,

“I believe God has made me, and all creatures...” 

And then,

“...and that He has given me...”

“given me”, a gift,

“...He has given me my body and soul,

my eyes and ears,

and all of my members,

my reason and all of my senses,

and still preserves them.”

So, my body, your body, is a gift from the Creator.  The Creator who amazingly made this body, made these eyes and these ears, this mind, this hand, and everything about my body, made it for a specific purpose.  It is a loving purpose He made it for.  And when we use our bodies in ways that the Creator did not intend, scripture says that affects our relationship with God, the Father.

        It goes on, and says, “Christ's body rose from the dead, and someday your body is going to rise from the dead.”

“God raised up the Lord

and will also raise us up by His power.”

So, this body that we have, someday is going to get up out of the grave.  It is so important to God, your body is so important to God, that He is going to get your body up out of the grave, someday.

Then, The Bible says this. 

“Each one of us

will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. 

Each one of us

will receive what is due him,

while done in the body, whether good or bad.”

See the point there is what I do in my body is going to affect my eternity. 

It is not just about two bodies.  It is about my eternity.

        Then, he goes on, and says this.  “Your body is a member of Christ's body.”

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?”

So, think about this.  My body, as a member of Christ's body, this body right here, all of us together, make up the body of Christ.  All of us.  Christ is the head, and we are the members.  We are the eyes, the ears, the feet.  We are the members, and we are all the body of Christ.  We are connected.  It is like we are all holding hands with

each other.  The point Paul is making here, is this.  What you do with your body affects all of the other members of the body. 

It is not just about two bodies. 

If I get in to a sexual relationship with somebody I am not married to, that can affect the whole body.  If I did that, as a pastor, think about how it would affect everybody here.  It could devastate your faith. 

If you got in to a relationship with somebody, think about your cousins who are Christians, your brothers and sisters who are Christians, your friends who are Christians.  Might you lead them in to thinking it is ok for them to do the same thing? 

You see, it is not just about two bodies.  It is about souls. 

What if a man and woman, who are not married, have relations, and it destroys a marriage, destroys a Christian marriage, and it devastates children, it devastates a wife, or husband.  

You see, it is not just about two bodies.  It is the body of Christ.

What about a mom, or a dad, or a grandma, or grandpa who know one of their relatives is sexually active outside of marriage?  In their hearts, Mom and Dad know it is wrong, but they are fearful, “If I talk to my son or daughter, it might ruin our relationship.”  And so, Mom and Dad struggle with this guilty conscience, “What do I do?  How do I approach it?” 

It is not just about two bodies.  This is the body of Christ, Paul is saying.

        Then, he goes on and says this.   He says, “My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” 

“...your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit...”

That is a really profound thought.  This body is not just a body.  When you were  baptized, you became the temple of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit entered in to you through The Word, and brought you to faith in Jesus, as your Savior, so you trust your sins are all forgiven. 

The role of the Holy Spirit is to make you holy.  That is His role.  He is inside of us, inside our bodies, literally inside of our bodies.  He makes us holy, first of all by giving us faith to believe in Jesus, as our Savior.  And, God sees us holy, for Christ's sake. 

But, His other goal is literally to sanctify your life, to cause you to live a holier, and holier life. 

Now, if I take my body, and unite it to somebody in a way that I know is unholy, what have I done?  I have affected my relationship with the Holy Spirit.  I have brought in something unholy in to that relationship.  The Bible says,

“Don't grieve the Holy Spirit.” 

“Don't quench the Spirit's flame.” 

I could do that by bringing somebody in to that relationship that is an unholy relationship.  It could drive the Holy Spirit from my life.  You see, it is not just about two bodies.

        Then Paul goes on and says this.  He says, “Your body is not your own.”

You are not your own,

for you were bought at a price.”  

You all know the price you were bought at.  It is a massive, massive, massive price.  You think about the price you are willing to pay for certain things.  But, think about what the Lord Jesus paid for your body.  He didn't just purchase your soul.  He purchased your body.  And, the price was beyond what you can imagine.  It was His own blood, and His death.  He purchased your body with His body.  It says, “ were bought”. 

Sometimes we think about Jesus dying for us, and we think, “Yeah, that paid for my sins.”  It does.  It washes away our sins.  But, it says, “ were bought”.  Jesus bought you.  That means this body is not mine, anymore.  Jesus purchased it at a massive price.  It is His body. 

The point is that I want to use my body in a way that honors the price Jesus paid for me. 

So, it is not just about two bodies.  It is about my relationship with Jesus.  

        Then he goes on, and says this.  “Flee temptation.”

“Flee from sexual immorality!”

There is this great passage in The Old Testament, where The Bible tells us Joseph was well built, and handsome.  Poitier's wife was trying to get Joseph to sleep with her, and break The Sixth Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery”. 

Joseph refused, and he said, “How can I do this great evil, and sin against God?”  (All of these things we have been talking about.) 

Joseph asked, “How can I do that, and sin against God?” 

She grabbed him, and he fled.  He ran away. 

The Bible, here is telling us to flee sexual immorality.  Flee that.  Run away from it.  Sexual immorality affects so much - your soul, your relationship with God and other people's souls.

        Then the ninth thing, (and this is the last thing), The Bible says,

“Therefore glorify God with your body.”

That is my goal.  My goal is to use the body God has given me, (that also includes this sexual relationship), to glorify God.  The proper way to glorify God is to respect the sexual relationship, as God has created for one man and one woman, for a lifetime in marriage.  That is honoring God with our bodies.  Whether we are married, or not, that is the way we honor God.

Now, the church is for people who have blown it.  The church is for people who have blown it.  Everybody has blown it, when it comes to The Sixth Commandment.  Nobody has been pure.  Nobody who has had absolutely pure thoughts, and absolutely pure actions.  I love how scripture is so filled with examples of people who blew it according to The Sixth Commandment, according to this relationship God has created, and how forgiving our Savior is, how Jesus' death on the cross paid for these sins, just as much as all our other sins. 

-For example, you have the woman who was caught in adultery.  They led her to Jesus, and they were going to stone her.  But, Jesus saved her.  Then, He said, “I don't condemn you.” 

Talk about mercy. 

Then, He said to her, “Now go, and sin no more.”  

So, she was forgiven.  And then, her life changed, and she wanted to honor God with her body.

-Or, the woman at the well, who Jesus met.  The Bible says she had been married to five different men.  The man she was currently living with was not her husband.  But, in talking with Jesus, she became repentant of her sin, trusted in Jesus, as her Savior, and that woman's life was changed.  She became an evangelist, a missionary.  She invited other people to hear about Jesus.

-Or, the woman who had lived a sinful lifestyle, The Bible tells us.  But, she knew she had been forgiven by Jesus for her sins against The Sixth Commandment.  She came, and washed Jesus' feet with her tears, and anointed Him with perfume.  She wanted to give to Jesus, because her life was changed.

-Or, King David.  King David had an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba.  But, he came to repentance, and knew his sins were forgiven.  Boy, did God ever use him to write some amazing Psalms to benefit all of us!  For example, Psalm 51.  If you are struggling with sexual sin, read Psalm 51.  It is a great Psalm.  God used David through repentance and faith.

Think about what happens in the Lord’s Supper.  You walk up to the Lord’s Table with your body.  None of the bodies that come to the Lord’s Supper are perfect.  There are going to be bodies that come to the Lord’s Table that have sinned in all kinds of different ways sexually, or at least in thoughts, if not in actions.  You are going to stand up here at the altar, and it is a wonderful time to just lay those sins at Jesus' feet. 

I want you to hear what He is going to say.  He is going to say,

“This is my body.” 

And, He gives you his real body.   Jesus unites His body, with your body. 

That is a stunning thing.  In fact, The Bible compares the relationship of a Christian to Jesus, as a relationship of a husband to a wife.  But, when you come to the Lord’s Table with all of your sins, Jesus says, “Here, I am going to unite you with Me.  We are going to be as when the two become one.  I am giving you my body.”
There is a passage in Ephesians that says this. 

“Husbands, love your wives

as Christ loved the Church,

and gave Himself up for her

so that He might sanctify her...” 

It is talking about us being His bride. 

“...He might sanctify her,

having cleansed her by the washing with water

through The Word,

so that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor

without spot, or wrinkle, or any other blemish,

but holy, and without blemish.”

So, He is going to present you to Himself today.   He is going to forgive your sins and He is going to present you to Himself as holy.(Again, we could reword this:  So, He is going to present Himself to them.  He is going to forgive their sins, and He is going to present  them to Himself as holy.) Wow! 

And so, we walk away from here, one with Christ.  It is called The Mystical Union of Christ, with His Church.

Then, we want to go out, and glorify God with our bodies.

I am going to end with this little prayer from Martin Luther about The Sixth Commandment.

I pray for myself, and all the world, that God may grant us grace to keep this commandment gladly and cheerfully, in order that we might, ourselves, live in sexual purity, and also help, and support others to do likewise.



God grant that to us, for Jesus' sake.