1 Corinthians 6:20
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
One of the things we all have in common this morning is that we all have bodies. And I want to talk about what our bodies have to do with God. But there is something else that we all have in common and I want to start there.
We All Have a Sense of Justice
We all have a sense of justice when we are wronged, or when someone we care about is wronged. If someone intentionally, maliciously, without any provocation, lies about you or steals from you or pushes you harshly or strikes your child, there is something in you that wants justice. And one of the most common ways we express that feeling is with the words, "You will pay for this!"
In other words, our sense of justice automatically demands a payment from the person who wrongs us.
Jesus' Command to Love Our Enemies
But Jesus taught his followers that we should love our enemy and that we should often turn the other cheek and that we should not return evil for evil, but bless those who persecute us. So does that mean that Christianity denies this basic sense of justice that all of us seem to have? Does Christianity teach that wrongs don't have to be repaid? That justice is cheap and that there's no price that has to be paid for injustice?
No, that's not what Jesus means. When Jesus tells us to return good for evil, he doesn't mean that no price is required for evil; he means that God will pay it so that we don't have to. The Bible says, "Do not avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'" (Romans 12:19). God is a God of perfect justice. He sees every wrong done. His memory is infallible. And he will repay with perfect justice.
So when Jesus says, "Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you" (Luke 6:27), he does not mean that justice won't be done; he means God will do it. Trust him. Leave it to him. Show that you believe there is a just God in heaven by the way you can lay down your bitterness and vengeance.
Our Sense of Justice Satisfied . . . For a While
This may satisfy our sense of justice for a while. It may even give us a sense of relief that the people that have wronged us will eventually be brought to justice. And all the outrageous evils of the world (millions of murders through Stalinist purges in the 1930s and '40s, six million Jews eliminated in Nazi Germany, a million people executed by the Khmer Rouge, tens of thousands forcibly starved by tribal lords in Somalia, villages slaughtered by the Shining Path in Peru, and untold murders in our own country, like Tim White's, that never go to trial)—all these evils will be set right before the judgment seat of the universe.
We All Have a Guilty Conscience
For a while, I say, it feels right, because we all have this sense of justice. But then something dawns on us—all of us. Because there is something else we have in common, namely, a guilty conscience. Just when we are feeling right about justice being done to those who wrong us, we awaken to the fact that we ourselves have done wrong. And our conscience asks, "Do you approve of justice in your own case? Do you say concerning your own wrongdoing, 'Vengeance is God's and he will repay! I am guilty of sin before a holy God, and I will be judged'?"
There are a lot of ways that we squirm to try to get out of this. We tell ourselves that we are not as bad as others. We say that we have done more right things than wrong things. We say that we have suffered much and so we have already paid our dues. We say there were extenuating circumstances. Or we may just go into denial and repress our own wrongdoing or drown it with various addictions and compulsions.
Jesus' Own Life Offered Up as a Ransom
But Jesus offers another way to make things right with a God of justice—a way to be free from the condemnation of God and of our own conscience. It's a way that lets the principle of justice stand and at the same time rescues people who would be condemned by it. Jesus said, "The Son of Man [Jesus himself] came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many." His life as a ransom! His life as a payment. Jesus said that he came into the world so that when our conscience says, "You are going to pay for that!" we can say back, "No I'm not because Jesus has already paid."
The greatest news in all the world is that the Son of God has paid the price of my condemnation. The New Testament says, "God has done what the law . . . could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh he condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). The gospel of Jesus Christ, that God offers to everyone who will believe, is that the death of Jesus, his Son, is the payment for our sin and our guilt and our condemnation.
God doesn't change any of the rules of justice. He wrote them. And he plays by them. God's justice says, "You're going to pay for this." That's where we get our sense of justice. Four hundred million years of evolution plus chance does not produce a transcendent sense of justice in the human soul. It's there because you and I were created in the image of a God of justice. His justice and your justice say, "Wrongdoers will pay."
But the love of God says, "If you will trust me, and return to me, I will pay it for you—in fact I will pay it with the price of my own Son." The gospel of Jesus Christ is that all who believe in him are bought with a price. They will never come into condemnation. The judgment day is past. It was 2,000 years ago. When Jesus died, the debt was paid. Justice has been done. We are free. And God is not against us but for us, if we will accept his gift and trust him.
Christianity Has to Do with Your Body
Now I invite you to turn to 1 Corinthians 6:20 because I said at the beginning that I wanted to talk about what our bodies have to do with God. The reason I want to do this is because I want to make sure that I don't mislead anybody this morning that Christianity is just a set of ideas or just a way of thinking or just a way of getting the soul to heaven, when in fact it is has everything to do with your body as well as your soul. It has to do with everything your body has to do with—food and sex and sleep and talking and smiling and frowning and laughing and playing and working.
When Christ paid the debt for us to go free, he paid for our body as well as our soul. Verse 20: "For you were bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." When God paid the price of his Son to purchase his people from sin and guilt and condemnation, it was the ransom for their bodies as well as their souls.
If I had time, I would go out in the members of this church and ask different ones of you to come up here and testify about what difference God has made in your body. I would ask a man with AIDS, tell us about what it means to glorify God with your body. I would ask a man who just found out he has serious, life-threatening cancer and say, tell us about what it means to glorify God with your body. I would ask a young woman who has struggled with bulimia and has just turned a significant corner of hope, how do you see God getting glory in your body? And I would ask dozens of women who have lost the little bodies of unborn children, do you believe God can be glorified in those bodies? And I do not doubt that in every case, what you would hear is that God has indeed manifested his glory in ways that many cannot imagine.
What Does It Mean That Your Body Was Bought?
When Christ paid the price for his people, he bought our bodies. So let me try to show you from this passage of God's Word what this means. What would it mean for you if you were to accept the gift of God's price and trust him with your life—your soul and your body?
It would mean six things.
1. For the Body, Not Against It
It means that the Lord is for the body and not against it.
Look at the very end of verse 13, "Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body." Don't miss that last phrase. "The Lord is for the body."
It is easy for Christians to get the reputation that we are against the body, and that God is against the body as though its needs and appetites are evil, and the only thing it's good for is to get sick with and, as soon as possible, to get shed of. That is not true. The Lord made the body. And the Lord is for the body. To be against the body is to be against the Lord. If you trust him, he will not be against your body, but for it. If we deny the body some craving in this life, it is because we are for it in the next.
2. The Dwelling Place of the Spirit
It would mean that your body becomes the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 19: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?" When God bought us he did not buy us as slaves but as dwellings. His aim was not to make us work for him, but to make us full of him. "Filled with all the fullness of God" as the apostle Paul says (Ephesians 3:19).
3. Resurrection from the Dead
It means that your bodies would be raised from the dead.
Verse 14: "Now God has not only raised the Lord [Jesus], but will also raise us up through his power." When the Bible says that God is for the body and that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, it means God will never throw our bodies away. He will never let death have the last word.
Just as he raised Jesus from the dead and gave him an everlasting resurrection body, so he will raise our bodies from the dead and make them new and whole—with no more pain, no more deformity, no more disability, no more sexual disorientation, no more chemical imbalances, no more insomnia, no more disease of any kind. You will shine like the sun in the kingdom of your Father (Matthew 13:43).
4. Not Mastered by Anything but God
It means that you do not have to be mastered by anything but God.
Verse 12: "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything." Not mastered by anything. If you have been bought with a price, you do not have to be the slave of anything. You would be God's own adopted child. Nothing could be your master. You would have the Spirit within, you would be united with Christ, you would have the hope of resurrection, and the Lord himself would be for your body—nothing could be your slave master.
5. Not Used for Immorality
You would not use your body for immorality.
Verse 13b says, "Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord." And verse 18 says, "Flee immorality."
And the reason for this chastity and purity would not be primarily that you might get AIDS or that you might get pregnant or that you might get caught. The reason would be that your body—male and female—has been bought with the price of the Son of God. That it belongs to him. And that you love him because he gave himself for you, and he wills your purity (Titus 2:14). He died for it.
Which leads to the final meaning of being bought with a price.
6. For the Glory of God
Your bodies are for the glory of God.
Verse 20 again: "For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God with your body."
What that means very simply is use your body in ways that will show that God is more satisfying, more precious, more to be desired, more glorious than anything the body craves.
With all my heart I commend to you the infinitely valuable Jesus Christ. He is the Father's full and sufficient price for sinners. If you receive him, then from this day forward every time your conscience dredges up the sin of the past and says, "You will pay!" you will be able to say, "God has already paid. I have been bought with a price. I will glorify God with my body."