Scripture: Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV)

Observation: Eliminating sexual immorality (Greek porneia) from the community is a top priority for Paul in 1 Corinthians. But Paul is not unique in this regard. The entire apostolic community (see Acts 15:20), as well as the entire Old and New Testament, are united in this concern. What is unique about Paul, however, is that he offers arguments to explain prohibitions against sexual immorality. For example, in 5:6, he explains that the sexual immorality of one person has a negative effect on the entire community. Such arguments clearly show Paul’s strong commitment to persuasion (rather than coercion) as his method of choice for inducing fundamental and lasting changes in people. (Andrews Study Bible Notes. 2010 (J. L. Dybdahl, Ed.) (1491). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.)

Application: The image in this text is not of a person that stands by, walks away, or moves away from sin.  Paul urges us to FLEE sexual immorality.  As I read this verse I am reminded of the story of Joseph while he worked for Potiphar.  His wife did her best to entice Joseph to have sexual relations with her, but his response, and his resolve were firm: “How can I sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9) One day she made sure they were alone and grabbed Joseph by his garment, “But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside” (Gen.39:12).  He didn’t stop to reason with her, nor did he simply stand to leave her presence, he fled.  Joseph recognized the gravity of her actions and the danger of the situation, and he fled to get away from her.
     It is interesting that our verse for consideration today (1 Cor. 6:18), is connected to an often quoted verse: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (v.19).  This verse is often used to remind us that we need to take care of our physical bodies by abstaining from certain foods and chemicals, and by eating properly and exercising, etc.  While I would not disagree or object to the use of v.19 in that sense, we need to remember that the context of v.19 is v.18 – flee from sexual immorality BECAUSE our bodies are temple of the Holy Spirit, and when we commit sexual sins not only are we sinning against our own body (vs.18), but against God (Gen. 39:9; 1 Cor. 6:19).
     Sexual promiscuity in any way is self-gratification and contrary to God and of His will for us.  That’s why Paul doesn’t simply suggest we stop but urges us to FLEE from it all.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, help us to flee from sexual sins, not only because we sin against our own body, but because we betray the trust of others, and we sin against You.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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