Your body does not belong to you. Do you believe this? I don’t mean doctrinally believe it — if you’re a Christian, you of course believe that “you are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). I mean do you functionally believe this?
It’s not difficult to tell. How you use your body reveals what you believe. It can be difficult to admit, if we feel exposed by our functional belief. Believe me, I know. I have plenty of functional beliefs that fall short of my official beliefs, in varying degrees at varying times.
“In what part of your life have you functionally forgot that you belong to Jesus?”
The question isn’t an exercise in shaming — for you or for me. It’s an exercise in honest assessment, in reality therapy, and, if needed, in repentance. Which, for Christians, should be just a normal, everyday experience. As Martin Luther famously said, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.”
Falling Forward Together
All of us fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). None of us has arrived (Philippians 3:12–13). God knows this far better than we do, and he’s made abundant provision for our shortfalls. Each time we repent — each day, even each hour — Jesus’s substitutionary, atoning death for us cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). God wants us to live condemnation-free (Romans 8:1) by taking full advantage of his endless supply of forgiving, restoring, encouraging, and empowering grace.
Since all of us redeemed short-fallers are in this fight of faith together, we can keep encouraging and exhorting one another every day to press on towards the Great Goal (Philippians 3:14), so that none of us becomes hardened in deceitful, habitual sin (Hebrews 3:13).
With God’s wonderful grace in mind, we can take a good, honest look at ourselves and ask: do we really believe that we are not our own?
Do You Not Know?
Let’s look at these Spirit-inspired, Paul-authored words in context:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)
When Paul asked “do you not know,” he was addressing Christians. And he asked the Corinthian Christians this question a lot in this letter (1 Corinthians 3:16; 5:6; 6:2–3, 9, 15–16, 19; 9:13, 24). Now, some Corinthians were probably new believers and perhaps didn’t know. But Paul’s phrasing of the question makes it clear that he was giving a firm reminder to most readers who doctrinally knew, but whose behaviors revealed that they functionally forgot.
More poignantly, they were living in functional unbelief, which was real sin and required real repentance. They knew, and they didn’t.
Who Owns Your Body?
In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul was specifically addressing sexual immorality among believers. Just like our society, the Corinthian society had a lot of available, accessible, culturally acceptable, and even encouraged ways to immorally indulge sexually. Very likely, many Corinthian Christians had backgrounds rife with immorality. They had habits of thinking and behaving sexually that still affected and tempted them as Christians. Some, apparently, had been repeatedly “falling short.”
“Our Master bought us with the price of his own infinitely precious life in order to make us free.”
More than this, they were actually rationalizing it with a common adage, “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” (1 Corinthians 6:13). In other words, Look, if the body has an appetite for food, we feed it. So, if the body has an appetite for sex, we should “feed” it. Besides, we’re free! Jesus’s sacrifice made all things lawful! (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Paul responded with a frank correction: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Corinthians 6:13). When we become Christians, our bodies become members or appendages of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 6:15–17). And the very Spirit of Christ dwells in our bodies as the Spirit used to dwell in Jerusalem’s temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). Implication: every sexually immoral behavior a Christian engages in drags the Lord Jesus Christ into that engagement.
That’s why sexual sin, in particular, is a sin against our own bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18). In Christianity, there is no bifurcation of body and spirit. Both make up the human being. To defile one is to defile the other. Both our bodies and spirits, though still vulnerable to sin and the futile suffering of this age while we wait for our full redemption (Romans 8:23), are nevertheless being redeemed by Jesus and will be raised (1 Corinthians 6:14). So, our bodies must not be given over to sin’s governance (Romans 6:12), because our bodies do not belong to us.
You Were Bought
But is this how we live? Do we knowingly behave with our bodies as if Christ is engaged in our physical actions — all of them? Or do we not (functionally) know?
“Gracious as he is, Jesus must still be our Master, which means we must obey him.”
In describing the ways we are not our own, Paul used the metaphors of a bodily member, which does the will of the head; then a bodily temple, which is animated by the divine Spirit who lives there; then a bond-slave, who does the will of his Master. That’s what Paul meant when he wrote, “for you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
A bond-slave is not his own person. He has sold himself to someone else. He belongs to someone else. He does not merely do as he pleases. His time is not his own. He is not free to follow the whims of his personal dreams. He is not free to indulge the craving of his appetites as he wishes. He is not his own. He belongs to his Master. This is what a Christian is.
Freed at Great Cost
This bond-slavery of a Christian, however, is like no other — far better than any alternative of autonomy. Our Master bought us with the price of his own infinitely precious life in order to make us “free indeed” (John 8:32–36). What does that mean? It means when he bought us, he freed us from our hell-bound slavery to sin (Romans 6:6). He also bought for us the priceless gift of being adopted by the Father as his very children, which makes us heirs with Jesus of his Father’s kingdom and of infinite wealth (Romans 8:16–17). If that wasn’t enough, Jesus, our Master, both now and in the age to come, serves us beyond our wildest imaginations (Mark 10:45; Luke 12:37).
But, gracious as he is, Jesus must still be our Master, which means we must obey him (John 14:15). For our master is whomever or whatever we obey (Romans 6:16).
As Christians, we know this. The question is, do we really know? Is Jesus the Master over our time, expenditures, investments, home size and location, education, career, marital status, parenting, friendships, church involvement, and ministry commitments? If not, we do not (functionally) know what we think we know.
Glorify God in Your Body
We need good, honest self-assessment. What is the Spirit bringing to mind right now? In what part of your life have you functionally forgotten, or better functionally not believed, that you belong to Jesus? What are you stewarding as if it is yours and not God’s? Follow the Spirit’s lead and repent. Your gracious Lord and Master stands with scarred arms wide open to receive, forgive, and cleanse you.
“You and I are not our own. We are Christ’s.”
You and I are not our own. We are Christ’s (1 Corinthians 3:23). In every sense, we are Christ’s — body, mind, and spirit. We are members of Christ’s body, our bodies are Christ’s temple, and we are bond-slaves of Christ, who has made us children of his Father and fellow heirs of his estate — what a Master!
He is only, however, the Master of those who obey him. That’s why it’s crucial that our functional knowing aligns with our doctrinal knowing. Or as Paul said, “You are not your own. . . . So glorify God in your body.”