Glenn Lyons told me the story of how a minister in his denomination was asked to bless a new casino. He agreed. There were a few speeches and then they called up the minister. He prayed and his pray was about calling down curses on the casino for the harm it had caused. If you think that is over the top then you have never seen the price that families have had to pay for gambling.
Jesus said, ‘Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.’ So, I guess that makes us all addicted to sin. I speak to you as one addict to another, but Christ has come to set us free and it’s only the truth that sets us free.
So, let us begin by looking at the truth of 1 Corinthians 6. To break free from our slavery to habitual sin.
The modern world has a functional view of the body. It’s all about getting the most out of our body, we feed it, exercise it, wash it, toilet, medicate it, indulge it and photoshop it. Our body defines who we are and our emotional life rides on how we look. We can’t take a photo without our bodies being in it.’ The goal for the body is to maximize pleasure, secure the best quality of life and do whatever it takes to extend a long life span, what I do with my body is nobody else’s business.
The Corinthians came to the same conclusion for different reasons. For the modern world, our bodies are all that matters but for the Corinthians the spirit is what matters and what you do with your body doesn’t matter 1 Corinthians 6:13
You say, ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.’(NIV)
The Corinthians never thought God was interested in the body, they thought that it’s all about the spirit. That is why they were ok about getting drunk at the Lord’s supper and having sex with prostitutes. What I do with the body – doesn’t matter to God – 1 Corinthians 6:13
The body, however, is … for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.(NIV)
The Lord is for the Body
God is pro-body and the body is a key part of our spirituality.
Here are 4 reasons why the Lord is for the body
- Your body was redeemed at a price 1 – Corinthians 6:19b-20
You are not your own; you were bought at a price. (NIV)
Christ was crucified in his body so that you can spend eternity with a new body in a new creation.
- He will raise the body from the dead – 1 Corinthians 6:14
By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.(NIV)
God is permanently committed to our bodies. Christ never stopped having a human body into eternity and we will never stop having a human body into eternity. We are not going to end up like Casper the friendly ghost. We are not going to be spirits floating on clouds. We are raised with bodies worshipping Jesus in the new creation. In the meantime he has made our bodies his home.
- He sent his Spirit to dwell our body – 1 Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (NIV)
While we wait for a new body we have God’s Spirit living in our own body. He has made our physical body his home. When asked, how do you know God exists? You could say he is living in me.
The glory for the Lord that filled the temple now fills my body
- Your body is united to Christ not just your spirit – 1 Corinthians 6:15
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? (NIV)
So, we are united with Christ body and soul. The Lord is for all of me not just part of me, and so, love God with your body and your soul. You may hate your body but your Lord does not.
Your emotional life may hinge on how much you weigh or how clear is your skin or whether you have abs or love handles or whether you carry a disability.
But your God is for your body so what you do with your body matters to the Lord
The Body belonging to the Lord – 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.(NIV)
You don’t belong to yourself – its his body. What a radical idea…you do not belong to yourself.….for example – We do not get to choose who we have sex with – God does.
The sustain picture of sex in the bible is that sex is between an adult male and an adult female in the exclusive covenant of marriage.
Remember: the biblical view of sex has always been counter culture. Israel was told to not adopt the sexual practices of the Egyptians where you used to live, and don’t adopt the sexual practices of the nations whose land you’re about to take over.
We are no different. Don’t adopt the sexual practice of the 21st century. You are to be holy, and any sex outside that framework violates Gods plan.
So the call here is 1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality. (NIV)
Flee from sex before marriage, sex on your own, sex during marriage without someone not your spouse. Do what Joseph did in Genesis when he was tempted by his bosses wife, she tried to make it just about him and her but Joseph kept talking about her good husband and his God whom he worships. So he ran and it cost him 2 years in jail.
Our body is part of Christ body the church – 1 Corinthians 6:15
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! (NIV)
In short. When you have sex with someone not your spouse, you are bringing Jesus and his church with you into that one flesh. You think just because the light is not on Jesus is not there and can’t see.
Bottom line – 1 Corinthians 6:20
Therefore honor God with your bodies. (NIV)
We are called to glorify God with our body: My whole being, is the altar on which the God of the universe is glorified. We get to put a smile on the face of God by what we do with our bodies. What I do with my body matters to God and in one sense my body is a pleasure machine, it has been given to me to give pleasure to our Lord.
The Corinthians like many Christians have taken a half-truth of Paul and made it the whole truth look at 1 Corinthians 6:12
“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. (NIV)
The half truth is – I have the right to do anything, I’m free in Christ, the full truth is, not everything is helpful.
The half truth “I have the right to do anything” the full truth is I will not be mastered by anything.
Christ has not set you free so that you can become a slave to sin again. We each have areas where we are enslaved.
It’s critical that you know that God sent his Son and his Spirit to set you free and there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus and when you fail God never stops being your Dad so just don’t give up putting sin to death. Our culture has mastered the art of securing freedom only to be enslaved by the freedom to indulge eg I’m free to eat what I want but my freedom means my pants are tight and I’m more likely to have a heart attack.
Addictions are specific expressions of enslavement to sin. You can be enslaved or addicted to good things like food, sex, work, alcohol, hobbies, sport, gaming, TV, social media or screen time. You can also be enslaved or addicted to harmful things like Illegal drugs, gambling, porn, violence or gossip.
The clues or symptoms that we are enslaved or addicted are that
- It harms yourself
What’s done in the bedroom never stays in the bedroom. A little part of you dies each time you pleasure yourself when you look at porn.
- It harms your relationships
Porn destroys relationships and objectifies women, Gambling steals money from families
- It harms your relationship with God
I can’t love God with my mind if my mind is stoned on drugs and more than .05 alcohol. It inhibits our ability to love God and love others. When we are enslaved even to good things, it becomes an idol. And we make the good thing an ultimate thing.
Another clue that you’re enslaved to something is if someone stands in the way… between you and your addiction… you become abusive, angry, resentful, swearing, lying, hiding or depressed. Take screen time from a teenager and see their anger, it’s the symptom of an addiction.
In the west our wealth and freedom has enslaved us
We have technology that is tailor made by those who know how our brain works. Our brains have reward delivery systems which provide a hit of dopamine or oxytocin.
We will talk later about sex porn which is no different to a hit of heroin. Many are now talking about approval porn for females, the dopamine hit is triggered by the likes and comments on Instagram.
For guys there is danger porn where games like Fortnite with first person shooters with teams on a mission and highly refined graphic. The game provides the threat of the near miss experience. of coming close to a death experience and then the relief provides a hit of dopamine. Endless gambling options on apps do exactly the same thing. So occasional use then becomes regular use that then becomes habitual use and then becomes addictive. Data shows that the thing about developing an addiction as a teenager is that you’re more likely to develop other addictions in your life.
It starts with what you do.
If your family notice that you’re not present because of your screen time – whether its games, social media or work and if you react angrily when you’re called out then you’re enslaved.
Five shifts that need to take place to tackle addictions.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)
There is no chance for change unless you admit to the problem You can only admit to the problem if you know that full forgiveness awaits. God never gets tired of hearing I’m sorry so don’t get tired of saying it. It’s only the truth that sets us free. Truth about God and truth about yourself. If we deny our addiction, we only deceive ourselves and nobody else. It’s time to come out of the dark and into the light and you will be set free. Stop pretending and side with the truth.
- From excuses to taking responsibility
The biggest excuse is about blaming someone or something else for my addiction. I drink because my dad didn’t love me or I look at porn because no girl wants to go out with me or I gamble because I feel like I’m a nobody or I overeat because I’m anxious. We all have a story to tell, you may truly be a victim but you don’t need to be victimized. It’s possible to be injured by others and not retreat into addictive behaviors – others do. So, friends: No more excuses!
- From doing it all by ourselves to asking for help
You can’t do it on your own and its pride that refuses to ask for help. James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (NIV)
Confess to one another and not just to God. I can’t do it by myself and why would I?
- From complacency to desperation
Is it bad enough? Do you have to wait until you lose everything? How long will you keep your head in the sand? We minimize the impact of our behaviour. Can’t you see… there is a price to be paid.
- From lethargy to vigilance – Matthew 5:30
And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (NIV)
You need to act and act now. It never stops being a struggle. Reformed alcoholics never say I was an alcoholic, they say I’m an alcoholic and I’ve been sober for 17 years.
Let hear from one young man in his 20s who fell into porn at 16
For 6 months, I struggled continuously. I was so ashamed, I hid it from everyone, especially my family. I thought if I got caught then I’d be disowned, I’d have let everyone down and I struggled to think whether God would accept me. I hated feeling like this and I really wanted to stop, but for some reason I just couldn’t stop. I was isolated and I was alone in my struggle and I was scared.
That’s when God steps in!! He made me realise that if I was going to get better, then there was no way at all I was going to do it by myself. I needed to reach out for help. I confessed, to my counsellor, to my pastor, and to a couple of friends. I came out of isolation. If you are going to fight this sin, you have to get out of isolation and you have to reach out for help. You can’t do it alone.
That man found out there was no short term answer but there was an answer. Friends, there is hope. But you can’t change on your own.