Should we deny our natural desires? Should we not indulge in everything and anything? After all “food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”, isn’t it? (1 Cor. 6:13a)
The Corinthian Hedonists
The Corinthians sure thought they could and should indulge in everything and anything, whether that be sex, drugs, food, or the like. They believed if you want to have sex with someone, you shouldn’t hold yourself back because after all your body was made for sex and sex for your body. If you want to go out and have a good time, why not use some drugs because your body was made for drugs and drugs for your body. If you want to indulge in food, then indulge because after all your body was made for food and food for your body.
Many in our day believe the same as the Corinthians. We refer to them as Hedonists. Hedonism is defined as
The ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.
The Bible’s Answer
Paul, writing to the Corinthians, takes their slogan “food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” and turns it on its head when he says,
“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (1 Cor. 6:13b)
In other words, we weren’t created to indulge in whatever pleasures we want, we were instead created to glorify God in our bodies.
Why We Shouldn’t Indulge
Knowing we would quickly disregard Paul’s idea as an antiquated and uptight position moderns have moved past, Paul gives a couple of reasons why we shouldn’t indulge in every pleasure that comes our way.
(1) Our bodies are members of Christ
As members of Christ we must be careful what we participate in because we actually connect Christ to it. Paul says,
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!” (1 Cor. 6:15)
It is a scary thought to think, especially when we think of what we have done, that Christ goes with us where we go. He participates in what we participate. He is connected to what we are connected. For that reason, we must be careful what we indulge in.
(2) Our bodies are the Temple of God
Paul reminds us of this idea by saying,
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19a)
In the same way that the Temple in Jerusalem housed the Spirit of God, our bodies now house the Spirit of God. Just like the Temple was honored, our bodies should be honored. Just like immoral acts were forbidden to take place in the Temple, immoral acts should be forbidden to take place in our body. Just like the Temple was used to glorify God, our bodies should be used to glorify God.
(3) Our bodies were bought with a price
Look at what Paul says in the rest of verse 19 and on into 20,
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19b-20)
In these verses Paul is hitting on the idea of redemption. Redemption is a marketplace term. In the marketplace slaves were bought and sold. When a slave was purchased, his ownership changed hands, and his former master was no longer his master.
That is the same thing that takes place in salvation. We are redeemed from sin, satan, and death. It is no longer our master. Instead God is our master, which tells us Christians aren’t redeemed to live how they want. Instead we are redeemed so we can live how God wants.
So instead of indulging in anything and everything, we should indulge in God. We should find our pleasure in Him and Him alone. He is the only One who will ultimately satisfy and fulfill our longings.
Question for Reflection
- What do you think, should we indulge in whatever we desire? Why or why not?
Post adapted from my sermon: What is Christian Freedom? You can listen by clicking here.