Salt and Light: Living Righteously in a Highly Sexualized Culture
Text: 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
Theme: In a highly sexualized culture, Christians need to be Salt and Light.
Date: 10272013File Name: Salt_and_Light_02.wpdSermon ID: 24
I. THE BIBLICAL TEXT
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. 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. “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 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 6:9–20, ESV)
1. the Apostle Paul spells out some of the practical consequences of belonging to the
Lord Jesus in a society where sexual immorality is taken for granted
2. in brief, the duty of the believer is to flee from it
II. THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
1. the Christian doctrine of human sexuality teaches that our sexuality is a gift from the \
Creator who knows best how it is to be expressed and experienced by His creatures
2. in the passage under consideration this morning, the Apostle Paul first reproves the
Corinthian Christian’s behavior, then he corrects it and teaches them a proper understanding of human sexuality so that they may repent and live righteously
a. Paul outlines five principles in developing a theology of biblical sexuality
A. 1st, CHRISTIANS ARE NOT TO LIVE THEIR LIVES according to the accepted principles
of the world (vv. 12, 13), but by an intelligent and balanced application of Christian principles
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are
lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (1 Corinthians 6:12–13, ESV)
1. the believers at Corinth had taken their Christian liberty to a level not supported by the
a. the statement ‘All things are lawful for me’ (v. 12) is in quotation marks because it
seems to have been a popular saying among the Corinthian Christians, pointing to the believer’s freedom in the Lord Jesus
1) their contention seems to be that their new-found freedom in Christ gave them the
licence to do whatever they wanted
2. unfortunately, the Corinthians views on human sexuality had been tainted by the culture
in which they lived rather than molded by the Savior whom they now served
a. Corinth, as you know, was a cosmopolitan city, materially prosperous and sexually
1) the sexual perversion was so pervasive that the verb “corinthianize” had become
synonymous with prostitution and sexual license in the first century
b. Aphrodite, goddess of love, was revered in Corinth
1) 1000 prostitutes served in the temple dedicated to her worship
2) as a result of living in a highly sexualized culture, sexual immorality found its way
into the church in Corinth big-time
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that
is not tolerated even among pagans, ... ” (1 Corinthians 5:1, ESV)
3) the apostle Paul is referencing a situation in which a young man—who is a
member of the church—is openly having an adulterous affair with his stepmother
4) to make matters worse, the church has said and done nothing about it
5) the apostle Paul says that even people with no religious scruples whatsoever
recognize the scandal of the man’s behavior— why can’t the Church?
c. the word that the apostle Paul uses to describe this immorality is porneia
1) it is where we derive our English word “pornography”
2) Corinth was a pornographic culture, and that culture had rubbed off on the church
3. the Corinthian believers justified the immoral behavior among their members by rattling
off the church motto; “all things are lawful for me”
a. in verse 13 the church goes even further by claiming "Food is meant for the stomach
and the stomach for food"
b. in this statement we, once again, hear the secular philosophy of the culture affecting
1) Greek culture believed in the immortality of the soul, and that the body simply
wears out and perishes
2) therefore, what the Corinthian believers do with their bodies is no big deal— sex,
after all, is just hormones and fun
3) sex, they argue, is as natural as is eating
4. it is true that the Christian life should not be hedged in with lots of laws and restrictions
(we are not to become ‘legalists’), but, at the same time, we are to live according to clear guiding principles
a. to their slogans the apostle Paul succinctly replies The body is not meant for sexual
immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body
b. the body’s God-given sexual appetites are to be satisfied only within a moral
framework and that framework is marriage
c. God wants every aspect of a believer’s life to be pleasing to him, including our
B. 2nd, ESSENTIAL TO ACHIEVING THIS IS SELF-CONTROL is recognizing the important
difference between what is permissible and what is beneficial to the Christian
ILLUS. While, for example, it is permissible for us to have lots of sugar in our coffee or tea it
may not be beneficial.
1. self-control enables us to opt for the beneficial over the permissible
ILLUS. On a more serious level, it may be permissible for men to counsel women and
women men. But that may trigger sexual temptations that are not at all beneficial and which are avoided if the beneficial is given priority over the permissible.
2. to make that decision requires honesty and self-control
a. while something may be permissible for me, I must not let anything control me rather
than my controlling it
b. the Apostle Paul declares to the Corinthian believers ‘I will not be mastered by
anything’ (v. 12)
c. our sexuality is an area of life in which we must strive to be masters over and not
slaves to it
C. 3rd, CHRISTIANS ARE TO UNDERSTAND the value God places on their bodies (vv.
“ ... The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Corinthians 6:13–14, ESV)
1. the maxim ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food’ asserts that the stomach
and food are made for each other
ILLUS. It is the kind of remark people make as they stand before the Ryan’s buffet line
spread with all kinds of lavish and attractive food.
2. unfortunately, such a philosophy can be extended even more unhelpfully to other
appetites and, in particular, to sexual desires
a. ‘Live as you please’ was an unhelpful and false argument by the Corinthian believers
b. the maxim among many professing believers of our era, ‘It’s only sex’ is equally a
D. 4th, CHRISTIANS ARE TO RECOGNIZE the serious spiritual consequence of immorality
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (1 Corinthians 6:15–17, ESV)
1. Do you not know ...? this is the second time that the apostle raises a rhetorical question
a. the first time is in v. 9 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the
kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,” (1 Corinthians 6:9, ESV)
1) people who habitually practice unrighteous behaviors do not go to heaven
2) unrepentant sinners cannot and do not share in God’s Kingdom blessings
b. the Apostle then says, don’t be deceived ... in other words, when some preacher or
teacher, or friend or your own conscience tells you that your faith and your behavior have no connection, don’t listen to them
2. now, the Apostle once again employs the rhetorical question: Do you not know ... ?
a. don’t you know that when you became a Christian you become one with Christ?
1) He indwells you through the Holy Spirit
b. don’t you know that whatever you do with your body, you involve your Savior in?
3. the verb ‘make them’ in v. 15 is the word unite, and indicates that sexual intercourse
means a fusion of bodies
a. sex is the most intimate physical, emotional, and spiritual act that a couple can
participate in and is meant to bond them together
b. a sexual relationship between a man and a woman constitutes a union, a union that,
everywhere in the pages of Scripture—should be only between a husband and wife
4. Christians guilty of immorality violate their spiritual union with Christ
a. believers belong to the Lord, Jesus Christ, and are bound to him in a union that is
stronger and more lasting than marriage
E. 5th, CHRISTIANS ARE TO LIVE IN THE LIGHT of the knowledge that, bought at a price
(v. 20), their bodies have become temples of the Holy Spirit (v. 19)
“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, ESV)
1. in practice, that knowledge means fleeing from immorality just as Joseph fled from the
advances of Potiphar’s wife leaving his coat in her hands
a. doing all we can to avoid putting ourselves into a place of temptation is not
cowardice but wisdom
2. anything amiss in God’s Temple is unseemly in the Christian’s body since the
Christian’s body is God the Spirit’s dwelling place
a. the Apostle Paul always takes us back to the cross
b. he reminds the believers at Corinth, You are not your own, for you were bought with
a price. So glorify God in your body
1) the Lord Jesus died for our sins, including our sexual sins
2) our response is to die to sin and live for righteousness
c. living as we do in a fallen world inevitably involves us in a battle—including the battle
to be sexually pure
1) but it is a fight in which the Holy Spirit, who lives within us, provides the strength
we need to be overcomers
III. THE CULTURAL CHALLENGE
•Like the city of Corinth, our culture is currently steeped in sexuality. Hardly any child in America will grow up without viewing pornography. My assumption is this: If you are anywhere past the age of 10, sexual purity is most likely an issue for you.
•Making matters worse, research finds that a frighteningly high percentages of professing Christians, both men and women, come to worship each week caring dark stains of sexual guilt, confusion, and hopelessness, aching not only for hope and absolution, but for freedom from sexual slavery. It’s a subject we have been loath to preach about from the pulpits of America. We are not supposed to talk about such things in “polite society”. Our silence has been our ruin.
•We live in a highly sexualized culture. In 2005, New York Times columnist, author, and speaker, Pamela Paul coined the term pornification to describe what was happening in American culture. We live in an era where performances by Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga blur the line between porn star and pop star. Their songs address issues like oral sex, bisexuality, and lesbianism. The result is that our children are being sexualized at earlier and earlier ages. It’s seen in how they dress—which is often provocatively—in how they act, in what they talk about with their friends. Children between the ages of eight and eighteen spend an average of 90 minutes a day watching music videos — 75% of which contain sexually suggestive materials.
•Most of us are aware of the lascivious activities of Congressman such as Anthony Weiner who repeatedly sent sexually explicit photos of himself to other women. Unfortunately this is not something confined to US Congressman. Surveys reveal that 20% of teenagers under the age of eighteen have engaged in sexting. Sexting is defined as “sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit nude photos through text messages or email.”
•Today we are faced with free, 24/7, private access to sexual images not fit to describe. Some 40 million Americans regularly visit pornography sites on the Internet, with pornographic downloads representing 35% of all Internet downloads. The proliferation of smart phones and computer tablets will make the devices the fastest-growing distribution channels for adult content since the Internet was created. Contrary to our assumptions that this is a “male issue” of the 40 million regular visitors to pornography sites, 33% are women and the percentage is growing.
•All of this puts the church in a difficult situation. The church is dealing with a variety of moral issues that are coming at us with a velocity that is almost impossible to imagine. And most of our churches are just not ready. On the same-sex marriage debate we are losing. We are losing fast and we are losing ingloriously. We are failing to come up with an argument that would convince our neighbors that this ought not to happen. While I will speak on the issue of homosexuality and marriage in a couple of weeks, let me say at this time that in a spectacularly short amount of time, Americans have made an unprecedented moral shift in their views on homosexuality in general and homosexual marriage in particular. Not too long ago, the majority of Americans were against homosexual marriage. Now, a majority of Americans are in favor of homosexual civil unions, and are quickly moving toward full acceptance of homosexual marriage. ILLUS. Between 2001 and 2012, the proportion of Americans who favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally increased from 35% to 49%. In a Gallup Organization poll taken just last month (Sept. 2013), 52% of Americans believe that same-sex marriage should be legal in all states. In 1996, 70% of Americans were against homosexual marriage. This has been an astounding world view lurch in our culture.
•The very idea of a normality of sexuality — what is biblical heterosexuality — is under assault and by secularist and liberal religionists. The result is that gender, marriage, and family are all being redefined as to whatever the practitioners desire these things to be.
•Take the matter of gender for example. On of the chief symptoms of the moral confusion of our age is a deep confusion over what previous generations of humans were hardly ever confused about—that is the issue of gender. The Christian worldview affirms that fact that gender—that God creating them “male and female”—is an example of the goodness of God’s creation. God intended for His glory to be reflected in the differences between men and women.
•In the eyes of all too many in our culture gender has become whatever you feel like being at the moment. Gender, we’re now told, is the problem. Rather than being a part of God’s goodness in His creation given to us as the very basis for human order and flourishing, we are now told that gender identity is oppressive. ILLUS. Take the example of Coy Mathis. Coy is a six-year-old boy whose parents are raising him as a girl. At the beginning of the 2012 school year, the Colorado Spring’s school board ruled that Coy, have the physical characteristics of a boy, had to use the boy’s restroom at his elementary school. Colorado officials now say that Coy’s civil rights were denied when “she” wasn’t allowed to use the girls restroom. In the legal case that followed, Coy has won the right to use the girls restroom at his school in Colorado. Transgender advocates are hailing the decision as a major step forward for transgender rights. We’re obviously talking about a deep confusion in a young boy that is being aided and abetted and compounded by the adults in his life. The Colorado decision is going to put local schools throughout the nation in the precarious position of having to accept whatever a student—or the student’s parents say—the child’s gender is, regardless of what the biological construction of the child actually is.
•There is a radical segment of our culture whose goal is to eliminate all norms of sexual behavior by normalizing the abnormal and the aberrant. Restraint, they say, any restraint and repression must be cast-off for the liberation of the self. The most important realities in our culture have become autonomy, self-esteem, and self actualization. Anything that represses the uninhibited demonstration of the inner yearnings and passions of the self is considered unhealthy, and repressive, and restraining, and must be done away with.
•In our colleges and universities, buckle your seat belt and get ready for the wild ride, because the University culture is now the circus of sexual revolution. It is now forbidden any more to forbid. The college campus has become a place that normalizes the abnormal and abnormalizes the normal. Those who actually dare to believe and articulate a biblical model of sexuality, marriage, and family, are treated as backward, ignorant, and repressive.
•The greatest obstacle to the overt sexualization of the culture is the Judeo-Christian heritage. The greatest obstacle to the normalization of sexual perversion in all of its colors and hues is the Bible. Unfortunately there are two rival Christianity’s in America. One is no longer based on biblical authority, no longer committed to the great doctrines of the faith, no longer committed to the faith once delivered to the Saints, but bears the name Christian because it claims it. They put crosses on their steeple’s, their church name above the door, they organize themselves into denominations, and tell us that “God accepts you” despite your perversity, and anyone who would judge your perverse lifestyle is in and of themselves perverse. When you no longer accept the authority of the Bible as the word of God, you can pretty much say as the Corinthians did, "All things are lawful for me,"
•There is, thankfully another church in America. It is the church that holds to the authority and the inerrancy of the Scriptures as the sole authority for faith and practice both individually and corporately. These are the congregations that must be salt and light. These are the congregations that offer real hope to those trapped in a sexually disobedient lifestyle.
IV. THE BELIEVER’S RESPONSE
1. Jesus confronted sexual sin head-on
a. in his sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has
already committed adultery with her in his heart,” (Matthew 5:28)
1) the Lord publicly raised the bar far higher then the Torah which only condemned
the actual act of adultery (Exodus 20:14)
A. WE MUST EVALUATE OUR OWN BEHAVIOR and repent when necessary
1. few types of sin are as effective as dragging the heart away from God as sexual sin
2. we live in a “corinthianized” culture that offers myriads of cheep imitations to God’s
design for sexuality and healthy sexual expression
a. as believers yield to these temptations, our characters are demeaned, our brains
become addicted, and we lose our ability to maintain normal, healthy relationships with real people
2. there is much for the Church to repent of—
•from the full-blown sexual scandals of priests preying on children and teens ...
•to the sexual indiscretions of high-profile evangelical media personalities ...
•of our own sexual sins that have left a hypocritical taste in the mouths of our friends and families ...
•to our utter silence on sex and sexuality from the pulpit and the Sunday School class that has allowed an entire generation of children and youth to mature without hearing a consistent message on the biblical understanding of God’s good gift of sex gloriously expressed in the marital covenant between a man and a woman
3. speaking forcefully about sex and sexuality is an area where the church as lost the
saltiness of its salt
ILLUS. Francis Schaeffer nailed it several years before he died when he said that we’ve
become more concerned with comfort, security, and personal peace, than with following hard after Jesus Christ. And a major symptom of this slide into the abyss of irrelevance has been the church’s acceptance of sexual disobedience.
a. unfortunately, just like the Corinthians, our views on human sexuality have been
tainted by the culture in which we live rather than molded by the Savior whom we now serve
b. we must repent
ILLUS. Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary, and one of the
finest theological minds of our days, says that since the fall of Adam, all of us are sexually broken in some way. And whether we like it or not, we’re all perverts, in that in some way we have perverted the gift of sexuality that the Creator has given us. He quickly goes on to say that this is exactly why grace is necessary.
4. after we’ve repented, we need to renew our minds and develop the mind of Christ
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)
a. the battle is in and for our minds
1) it is focused on the question “Do I desire Jesus above all?”
B. WE MUST OFFER A GOSPEL OF GRACE TO THE BROKEN
1. the most important verse in this passage is v. 11 ... And such were some of you
a. here is the promise that God can take the sexually immoral and change them, he
can take the idolater and the adulterer and change them, he can take the male prostitute and the homosexual offender and change them
b. and he can do the same for thieves and the greedy and the alcoholic, and the girl-(or
boy)-gone-wild, and the cheat
2. in a highly sexualized culture, we’re told that one’s sexuality and expression of that
sexuality is the most important part of one’s character
a. any way in which you choose to express that sexuality—regardless of how offensive
or how perverted—must be accepted, yes even celebrated, by the rest of us
b. unfortunately the discussion that one can actually change one’s sexual behavior is a
subject that is increasingly being taken off the table in our culture
3. the Apostle Paul clearly asserts what has become an inconvenient truth in this
culture—God can change sinners, which means that you control your sexual impulses, not the other way around
a. God takes sinners—including those immersed in sexual disobedience and perversity,
and washes them in the shed blood of Christ, he sanctifies them through the washing of the word, He justifies us through the united work of the Godhead— Father, Son and Holy Spirit
b. and this washing is complete—When God forgives a repentant sinner he clears the
record of guilt
“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3–4, ESV)
C. WE MUST CONFRONT A HIGHLY SEXUALIZED CULTURE WITH
THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURES
1. we need to be Salt and Light
a. our calling is to proclaim the truth in an intelligent, sensitive, and thoughtful way
b. we must seek to influence on all fronts
2. this is what it means to be salt and light
a. and even if we lose the culture war fight—as I’m confident we will—the responsibility
will not be on the church for our silence, but on the culture for its disobedience
The secret longing of all God's creatures is how to have peace with God; and the great work of the church is to bring that "good news" of the gospel to all, urging all men everywhere to repent from their sin and turn to Christ to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
May we each dedicate ourselves afresh to do be Salt and Light, and in doing reveal to a lost world that God can change lives.