Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 9
Sexual sins, like all other sin, promise pleasures, satisfaction, but it delivers nothing but bitterness and wormwood. Read Proverbs chapter 5 when you go home and listen to the man who knows what he's talking about, for he tried it all. I must remind you of one major important difference between the 21st century church and the 1st century Corinthian church. One very, very important difference. They were coming out of paganism and pagan religious systems into the Christian faith.
Here, in the 21st century, we are coming out of Christian belief and biblical orthodoxy into pagan lifestyle, and bringing it to the church. They were coming out of temple prostitution which was part of their pagan worship, but we are going into pagan practices that we're bringing to the church that once belonged to Jesus. Isn't that sad? If that does not make you weep, I don't know what. And that is why in verse 12, chapter 6, he said, "Those who have put their trust in Jesus must not allow themselves to be mastered by anything other than the Spirit of God". Being mastered by sinful habits, being mastered by sinful customs, being mastered by any substance, all of that, must be exchanged with being mastered by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sin by nature is enslaving. And the more you indulge in it, the more controls it has and, sin's control lingers. Often it begins by a small indiscretion. Often, it's a small indiscretion. Sexual sin, Paul said, perverts God's plan and God's purpose for the body. For the Christian believer, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Temple is a building, hosts the presence of God so that he might be worshiped alone. The Christian body is where God dwells. The Christian body is where God resides. The Christian body is where God is honored. The Christian body is where God is revered. The Christian body is where the Word of God is obeyed.
And that is why in verse 13, Paul explaining to them that their rationalization of sin is flawed. It's flawed. Here's how they rationalize sexual sin. Since the stomach is for food and food is for the stomach, therefore, sex is like eating food for the body. Just as the stomach is made for food and the body is made for sex. Any sex. Paul stops this foolish thinking dead in its track by saying that while food and the stomach have a biological relationship, God one day is gonna destroy both. But not so with the body itself. No, the body of the believer. The body of the believer is designed by God so much more than just a biological function.
Our bodies are not only designed to serve God in this life, but for all of eternity. Oh, to be sure, our bodies are gonna be glorified bodies. They're gonna be changed bodies. They're gonna be resurrected bodies. They're gonna be heavenly bodies but nonetheless they'll be our bodies in which we will serve God for all of eternity. Here in chapter 6, verses 15 to 18, it tells us that the believer's body is not only for the Lord in the future, for eternity, but here and now, in this age, in this life, in this time. Our bodies are spiritual temples where the Spirit of God resides. Therefore, it is inconsistent for the believer in whom the Spirit of God dwells to be engaged in any sexual activities other than heterosexual relationship in marriage between a husband and a wife, period.
Verse 15: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take a member of Christ and unite them to a prostitute? Never"! And that is why God gave us the gift of sexuality in order to be fulfilled only within the bonds of heterosexual marriage between husband and wife. Just because that gift of God, the gift of sex, has been given to us by God, has been perverted in our culture, we must not be afraid to talk about it in our homes, in our churches, because it is a gift of God and once we explain to children and the next generation why is that gift given, then we will be able to fend all this perversion that is coming at us. After all, a fire in a fireplace on a cold night is absolutely delightful. Let the fire jump out of the fireplace, it will burn the house down.
And it's the same with sexual gift. It is given for marriage between husband and wife. That is why believers' sexual bonds with any person other than your spouse is reprehensible. Why? Because it profane Jesus Christ who lives within us in our bodies and with whom we are united. I know you hear this argument all the time in the media, on television, hear it all the time. "My body is my body. I can do whatever I want with it". Number one, if they belong to the devil, their body's not theirs, it belongs to the devil. According to verses 19 and 20 of 1 Corinthians chapter 6, that is absolutely not true for the believer. Your body is not your own. Your body has been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. You were not bought by some cash or some useless metals like silver and gold or some piece of real estate.
No, you have been bought with the precious priceless blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, beloved, listen to me. That is what being holy is all about. We have such a confused, mixed-up idea of what a holy person is or a holy man or holy woman. To be holy is to be exclusively belonging to God. To be holy is to be set aside for God's use. To be holy is to be owned, lock, stock, and barrel, by God. That's what holy means. Did you get it? So the question we might be asking the apostle Paul today is this: How in the world shall we live a godly life in a godless world? How in the world are we gonna live spiritually, healthy life in a spiritually sick world? How in the world are we to live a chaste life in a sex-crazed world?
And if you think we have a big problem, the Corinthians had a humongous problem and I'm so thankful to the Lord that all these things have already been answered in the Word of God so we don't have to struggle with them. Aren't you grateful? And Paul answers that question in chapter 7, verses 1 to 7. Their society, like ours, they were boasting about their freedom to commit sexual sins, all sexual sins and perversions and acts and fornication, adultery, homosexuality, polygamy, all kinds of sexual sins. They were bragging about it. There was so much confusion on the subject that many Christians were perplexed. They were frustrated. Then they were asking the Apostle Paul, saying, "Help".
And here, the questions that they sent to the apostle Paul to give them an answer and he answers them in these verses. What do we do now that we have become believers, living in this sex-crazed world? Should we stay together as husband and wife if we both become believers? Should we divorce if one spouse becomes a believer and the other one is not? Or should we get married at all, just remain single? And that is why in 1 Corinthians 7 Paul is saying, verse 1: "Now concerning the questions you sent me". That's how we know there were questions they were asking. There is no doubt in my mind that the Apostle Paul who drank deeply of the Old Testament, the Word of God, consulted the Holy Spirit as he began to give them the answers.
Listen to it very carefully. He said, "If you're a single person who's contented to be single and you have the gift of celibacy, stay single. If you're married and you're both believers, stay married. If you're married to a non-believer and you're happily married and your non-believing spouse is very happy for you to continue in the faith, stay married. Don't leave him or her". Fourthly, he said, "If you are married to a non-believer, and he or she wants to leave you because of your faith, let them go".
Paul, like all faithful New Testament writers, all drank deeply including our Lord Jesus himself who authored the Old Testament, they all drank deeply from the Old Testament. They did not teach we should be unhinged from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is like a house that does not have a roof. The New Testament is the roof that makes the house complete. Paul's thinking goes back to Genesis chapter 2 where God... and same thing Jesus said in Matthew 19, that God created them from the beginning, a man and a woman. Not two men and not two women. God created them perfectly to fit in every way, anatomically, physically, emotionally, spiritually, to complement each other. He created them to fellowship, for companionship, for complementation of each other.
From that time on, marriage is between a man and a woman, regardless of what the law of the land, of any land, said. It is partnership, it's a friendship, it's a companionship, it's complementary relationship. Later, in the New Testament, Paul takes the Old Testament concept where God presented himself as the husband of Israel, his people, his chosen people, and he lifts that concept from the Old Testament and he applies it in the New Testament to the church that Jesus is the bridegroom and the church is the bride. Beloved, this picture of Christ, the bridegroom and his church, the bride, should be mirrored in every Christian home.
What does it mean? It means for husbands to be the initiators. They are to be initiators of love, of mercy, and of grace, just as Jesus initiated love to his church, the bride, to you and me, the believers. He initiated love, he initiated mercy, he initiated grace. And just as we, the believers, responded to his initiating of love, mercy, and grace, so must the wife respond to her husband loving initiation. Just as believers love, adore, and honor the Lord Jesus Christ, so must the wife learn to love, adore, and honor her husband. Now, I wanna stop here just for a moment and speak to young husbands and young wives.
Let me start with the wives because, by the time I get to the husbands, I could be stoned to death. So I'll start with the gracious ladies. Precious wives, do not beat your husband over the head, regardless of how much sometimes you want to. When you do that, you're doing something unnatural. Please do not try to beat his ego out for him. That's God's job. Let God take care of that. He does a better job. Do not try to put him down all the time. Certainly, never in public. And when your husband reaches out to you in love and tenderness and mercy, you must respond with love.
Look at verses 3 and 5, 1 Corinthians 7. When Paul said, "A husband must fulfill his duties to his wife, and a wife fulfills her duty to husband," he's talking about more than just sexual relationship. All the totality of the relationship, but certainly the sexual relationship is major part of it. Let me explain to you what submission is 'cause the Bible says: "Submit one to another". Submission means that you, the wife, respond to his loving initiation. That's what it means. It means reacting positively to his initiation. It means building him up as he lovingly approaches you.
Now, I'll have a word with young husbands. Guys, listen to me. Don't get bent out of shape and look for a way out when your wife does not respond to you. Don't deprive her of your affection when she does not know how to respond to you. Help her out. Keep on extending your arms of love. Keep on extending the arms of grace. Keep on extending the arms of mercy. Be patient with her, just as the Lord Jesus Christ, the bridegroom, has been patient with you. And he's been patient with me. Your wife needs your explanation. Your wife needs your understanding.
So don't just clam up. Don't just close up. And I want to remind you, never forget it's still "Death do us part," not "Until somebody better shows up". Verse 5: "Don't deprive each other except by mutual consent and it's only for a limited time". For a limited time. For a limited time. Listen to me, verse 5 again makes it very clear that it is by mutual agreement and it must be for a higher spiritual purpose, like prayer and fasting. But both have to be in total agreement.
Beloved, I say that often and I'm gonna keep saying it until the Lord takes me home. We often, as husbands and wives, we miss out on some of the great blessings when we fail to appropriate the promise that is found in the power of agreement. And when husbands and wife come together in total agreement, watch out in prayer. Watch out. God will answer prayer, God will do great things. We've seen it for so many years to doubt it. Don't understand it but then as soon as the spiritual need is fulfilled, you resume the relationships.
Verse 5 again: The reason why this abstinence should not be prolonged is because Satan will have your lunch. He will take advantage of the situation if it's for a long abstinence and he causes havoc. Here's something I'm gonna say that probably I will not repeat very often. Sex in marriage should not be used as a pretense for spiritual superiority. "Ooh, I'm more spiritual than you are". No, sex in marriage must never be used as means of intimidation or manipulation of your spouse.
If you do, you are manipulating God's gift in marriage because it is God's gift and it's a wonderful gift. And God is not honored in that situation. Finally, look at verses 6 and 7. Paul is saying that if God has given you the gift of celibacy, rejoice in it. Don't feel the least bit inferior to those who are married. Being single as Paul was at that time of the writing of the Epistle, means that you have more time to serve, you have more time to study the Word, you have more time to minister to others. Beloved, the Word of God to both single and married is that we both should be focusing on the return of Christ, not focusing on our discontentment. Not so much on our earthly condition. Now, can I get an "Amen" from both single and married?