• Day 43. Romans 12-13
  • Day 44. Romans 14-16
  • Day 45. 1 Corinthians 1-4
  • Day 46. 1 Corinthians 5-7
  • Day 47. 1 Corinthians 8-11
  • Day 48. 1 Corinthians 12-14
  • Day 49. 1 Corinthians 15-16

Devotion

Immorality.

This is a word that is increasingly foreign in our cultural context.

What does it even mean? We get the word ‘immortality’. But ‘immorality’? Sounds foreign…weird.

Perhaps part of this is because we’re increasingly losing a sense of morality in general. What’s right and what’s wrong? That seems to be a classic question in law lectures. What’s permissible and what’s not? It seems like so much of our modern ethic is about ‘happiness’, ‘consent’, and ‘consensus’.

Expressions like ‘as long as it makes you happy’ seem to trump any sort of argument, or ‘as long as consenting adults agree to it’ seem to now be the basis for our sexual ethic, or popular opinion and consensus seems to be the new way we decide right from wrong.

Given that these are now the new categories, it is of little surprise that few have a sense of morality because the goal posts are constantly shifting. What was immoral or wrong yesterday is now accepted and paraded today. This also means that what’s accepted and paraded today can easily become a criminal offense tomorrow.

We live in a remarkably confused world. Confused with our identity, confused with our sense of destiny, and of course, confused with our sense of morality.

However, you may be shocked and surprised to know that this is not a modern problem. We live in 2020 now and we’d like to think that we’re living in a brave new world with brave new ideas and problems. Yet, given that the human heart has consistently been the same since the fall of Adam, the teacher of Ecclesiastes is really right in saying that there is nothing new under the sun.

Confusion about identity, destiny, and morality is the same today as it was thousands of years ago. Indeed, when you begin to read 1 Corinthians, you can almost pretend like it was written to 21st century Sydney because Paul’s indictments, warnings, and encouragements are just as applicable to us today.

More specifically, you’ll come across the word ‘immoral’ a handful of times up to 1 Corinthians 16, and each time the word is used, it refers to the act of fornication or specifically sexual immorality. Apparently, the citizens of Corinth had no problem with incest, adultery, or fornication – even to the point that some of these practices seeped into the church. We too need to be careful that we don’t allow the culture of our world to dominate the culture of our church. And in every instance where this word is mentioned, Paul gives a stern warning.

But 1 Corinthians 6:18 summarizes it most clearly when Paul says: flee from sexual immorality. Interesting when you think about it, isn’t it? He doesn’t say ‘fight sexual immorality’ or ‘tame sexual immorality’. Paul says flee it and run from it – literally escape from it! Again, this sounds foreign in a world which says: experiment with it. Yet, there is something so dangerous about sexual immorality that Paul effectively says ‘don’t even come close to it’.

Why? The rest of 1 Corinthians 6:18 makes it clear that it is because ‘all other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body’. There is so much to unpack here, but we notice at least 2 things. Firstly, there seems to be a ‘hierarchy’ of sins. To be sure, this is not in the sense that it takes more for God to forgive one sin or another. No – the work of Christ on the cross is sufficient and complete for the washing of all our sins. But it does seem from this passage that sexual sin is more grievous to God. Why? Well because secondly, sexual sin is sin against one’s own body – to one’s own personhood.

This body or personhood according to the Bible is made in God’s image and ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 6:19). There is a sanctity to this that is not recognised by contemporary culture. Yet this is the foundations of human rights! That we are made in the image of God is the grounds for equality, integrity, and honour. And sexual immorality is a direct affront to that which is made to be holy. This is why Paul says flee.

How are we instead to use our bodies? If this is Paul’s caution to the church in Corinth, what is the positive exhortation?

You’ll know this from your reading of Romans 12, especially verse 1 which says ‘therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship’.

Instead of offering our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness, we’re called to use our bodies as instruments for righteousness, worship, and sacrifice. How we use our bodies is never neutral. Immorality really is a category that we need to be aware and cautious of because the Bible strictly warns against it. Why? Because we were created for something more. We were created for something more wholesome, more pleasurable, and more life-giving – that is to worship God with all that we have and all that we are.  

God’s Word determines what’s right or wrong, what is true and false, and Holy Scripture has called on us to offer our whole selves and our whole person not at the altar of pleasure, happiness, or thrill, but at the altar of God as a living sacrifice.

May the readings this week continue to transform your heart, mind, and will.

Reflection Questions

  1. Upon close reflection, how do I typically determine if something is right or wrong?
  2. What are some things that are contrary to Scripture that I have subconsciously accepted as true because that is what society and culture has shaped me to believe?
  3. What are some parallels between the situation of the church in Corinth then and the church in Sydney today?
  4. What is one of Paul’s cautions that stand out to you in the whole book of 1 Corinthians?

Prayer

Gracious God, I thank you that Christ’s blood has not only been shed for my forgiveness, but it has also been shed so that I may be free from the shackles of sin. This world is full of empty promises that never deliver the joy, satisfaction, and pleasure that I desperately long for, but it is living according to your way that I find life to the full. Continue to renew my mind, my desires, and my longings so that I may live according to your design, and may I taste and see the true joy that comes from living according to your way. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

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