You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Cor. 6:19)

corinthruinsSome 40 miles from Rome, strategically located between the Aegean and the Mediterranean, lay the beautiful city of Corinth. Unlike Athens, where there were family connections and traditions, Corinth was a new city with fast money and loose morals. In Paul’s day to call somebody a Corinthian was desultory or debasing—a pejorative term that made someone fighting mad.

Yet Paul spent 18 months there and over a period of time wrote at least four letters to the Corinthians correcting, instructing, and, at times, rebuking them for their failures and errant thinking. “So, if you think you are standing firm,” he advised, “be careful that you don't fall!” Those words are needed just as badly today in a culture that is akin to that of the Corinthians—where temple priestesses under the guise of religion practiced prostitution, and licentiousness was the practice of the day.

The strange thing about human nature is that no matter how much some things change it remains pretty much the same. The New Testament has a lot to say about the mentality of the world and how God expects His children to march to the beat of a different drummer and live by a different standard.

Paul’s words to the Corinthians were, at times, unambiguous—even blunt. He left no room for wondering what God expects of His own. For example, ponder this: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” says Paul. He doesn’t stop there, however. He adds “And that is what some of you were, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

Stop for a moment. When Paul picked up his pen to write what we know as his first letter to the Corinthians, he began with these words: “Paul, called to be an apostle . . . to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours” (1 Cor. 1:1,2).

Do you see the beauty of what he is saying? He no longer views them as being immoral, or those who prostituted their bodies (both males and females), thieves, alcoholics, or swindlers, but as saints—ones who have been redeemed. He calls them “saints”: ordinary people who have been redeemed and have entered into fellowship with God’s own son, Jesus Christ.

Resisting the downward pull of our old natures and even our culture is an on-going battle that isn’t won easily, but it can be won. Yes, there were moral failures among the Corinthians just as there are moral failures today—some high profile and others the everyday, garden variety, yet they can no more be excused today than they were in Paul’s day.

“Flee from sexual immorality” was Paul’s advice, reminding them that their bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul further wrote, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong!” and that is what it takes today to live as the redeemed in a world of moral failure and licentiousness. Difficult? Yes. Impossible, No! It’s the life that you live, that speaks to the world about us. Make yours a clear voice, one that shows you, like the Corinthians, have left the flesh behind as you walk and live in the Spirit.

Resource reading: 1 Corinthians 6:9-20

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