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Satisfying Our Appetites

1 Corinthians 6:12-14
'I have the right to do anything,' you say – but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything' – but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, 'Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.' The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. (NIVUK)

There are many differences between what the Bible says and the Greco-Roman culture, which continue to influence much of our contemporary world. How we think about, and manage, our deep inner desires is one example. God has implanted all of our appetites as natural instincts to enable us to regulate our energy levels, temperature, social interactions and reproduction. However sin has corrupted all of them in human beings.
Consequently, we may believe that satisfying an appetite is either a biological function or a moral right. But God, who knows our sinful nature, knew we needed restraints. So He gave laws in order that we might know what is right and what is wrong. For example, the instinct to make a home and have work is good, but stealing in order to do it is bad. Intimate relationships were only for a man and woman who had been given to each other in marriage. Eating is essential but gluttony is wrong. All these restraints were God's kindness to His people enabling a community with social cohesion to worship Him and enjoy His gifts - as the people obeyed and honoured their Creator.
But the Corinthian church was stuck in the city's culture and influenced by its philosophers. They did not understand the connection between faith and how they should use their bodies. So Paul explained that the way we use our bodies is an expression of our faith and not to indulge our own appetites outside of God's restraints. Our bodies will all be destroyed when we die, but what we have done in our bodies has eternal significance – providing evidence of faith, which will be rewarded when Jesus Christ returns.
Alas, much of our previously Christianised world has tried to mix Christ with a secular version of the Greco-Roman culture. That has left a spiritual vacuum that only the gospel can satisfy, but has put the church at risk of collaborating with the culture rather than being distinctively Christ-like. The message of 1 Corinthians is a message for us, wherever we are living in the world today. Our bodies are given by the Lord and are designed to be used to glorify Him and not indulge ourselves. What we do physically inevitably expresses what we believe. It is time to wake up and repent.

Father God, my Creator. Thank You for the body You have given to me, with all its limitations. However I am sorry that I have not always restrained my appetites, failing to trust Your wisdom or glorify You. Please help me to wake up spiritually, to realise that my life needs to be an expression of my obedient love for You. Help me to accept Your Word to instruct me and Your Spirit to enable me to use my body to honour You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams