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United in Body and Spirit

1 Corinthians 6:15-18
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, 'The two will become one flesh.' But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. (NIVUK)

God specialises in uniting the world; the flesh and the devil divide. Many who had been converted and joined the church in Corinth had previously indulged in the immoral practices associated with pagan temple worship. When they came to Christ some did not see why their habits should change and so Paul explained that intimacy of that kind was designed by God to strengthen the unity of a man and woman (Genesis 1:24).
 
Although Greek philosophy taught that physical experiences were unrelated to a person's spirit, Paul said that was untrue. Every interpersonal encounter changes both people, especially when those encounters are physical. For the Christian, whose spirit is united to Christ, casual physical intimacy also offends the Lord greatly. The very idea should be unthinkable (Matthew 5:28).
 
Immorality has its own allure and it cannot be reasoned with, so Paul instructs the church to run away from it as though their lives depended on it. The sin is not just against one's spouse (or future spouse) and against God, it is also against their own body – in a way that other sins do not have such a personal impact. Such sins also affect the church which was why Paul instructed them to expel an unrepentant immoral person (1 Corinthians 5:13).
 
This teaching is as necessary now as in the 1stC. Our previously Christianised world has not run away from immorality bringing divisions between spouses, frustrating worship and damaging whole generations of people. They may have thought they were being 'modern' but this is as old fashioned as sinful humanity. Paul's command to 'flee immorality' was Joseph's rule of life (Genesis 39:12) and should come with fresh urgency to a church called to be holy in a world riddled with temptation (Proverbs 7:24-26).

Prayer 
Loving Father. Thank You for the gift of physical intimacy which enables right relationships to be strengthened. Forgive me for even considering the path offered by temptation instead of being determined to flee from it. Please help me to be prepared to run away from everything that will divide me from fellowship with You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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