1 Corinthians 6:1-8
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust?
On going to law
The Greeks were not only quarrelsome, but derived an excitement pleasant to their frivolous nature in going to law. The Christians seemed not to have discarded this taste. St. Paul has been telling them they have nothing to do with judging the heathen; he now proceeds to remind them that they ought not to be judged by them. How could he preach the superiority of Christianity if Christians had so little common sense, so little esprit de corps, that they must call in a heathen to settle their disputes for them? St. Paul’s reasons are important.
I. The saints are destined to judge the world and angels. Shall they not then be considered fit to judge little worldly matters of life?
1. St. Paul meant that ultimately holy men will be at the head of affairs, acknowledged as the fittest to discern between right and wrong. We shrink from such a thought; not, indeed, that we are slow to pronounce judgment upon our fellow-men, but to do so officially, with definite results, seems too heavy a responsibility. But why? If we submit ourselves now to those who have knowledge of law we may well be content to be judged by the perfectly holy by and by.
2. If holiness shall eventually be supreme, it ought now to be regarded as competent to settle the petty disputes which arise among us (1 Corinthians 6:3). The future kingdom of God can only be perfect as its subjects carry into it characters tending towards perfection. The future is not to make us, but we the future. Earth is not heaven only because men decline to make it so. And as all possible differences in heaven will be adjusted by an all-reconciling authority, there ought to be among the heirs of heaven no going to law now.
3. A vast proportion of legal business is created by changes from which the future life is exempt: death, marriage, disasters, &c. It is often in the power of a lawyer to give a man advice which will save his conscience and bring comfort into a family instead of heart-burning and penury. If the legal mind deals with the reality of things, and tries to see what equity requires, and seeks to forward the well-being of men, then surely there is no profession with such opportunities of earning the beatitude of the peacemakers, none in which men may better be prepared for the higher requirements of a heavenly society in which some are made rulers over ten cities.
II. Is there not a wise man among yourselves? “A wise man” was the technical term for a judge in the Hebrew courts.
1. Among the Jews there was no distinction between Church and State. In the synagogue and by the eldership offenders were both tried and punished. The rabbis said, “He who brings lawsuits of Israel before a heathen tribunal profanes the Name, and does homage to idolatry; for when our enemies are judges (Deuteronomy 32:31) it is a testimony to the superiority of their religion.” This idea passed over from Judaism to Christianity. And even a century after Paul’s time the rule of the Church was, “Let not those who have disputes go to law before the civil powers, but let them by all means be reconciled by the elders of the Church, and let them readily yield to their decision.” And as late as our own day we find an Arab sheikh complaining that Christian Copts come to him, a Mohammedan, to settle their disputes, and “won’t go and be settled by the priest out of the Gospels.”
2. Did Paul, then, mean that such legal cases as are now tried in our civil courts should be settled by non-professional men? Did he foresee none of the great evils that have arisen wherever Church or State has not respected the province of the other? No one can suppose that this was his meaning. He taught men to submit themselves to the powers that then were, and he himself appealed to Caesar. He had no notion of subverting civil courts, but he would fain have deprived them of much of their practice. He thought it might be expected that Christians would never be so rancorous or covetous but that their disputes might be settled by private and friendly advice. Courts of law are necessary evils, which will be less and less patronised in proportion as Christian feeling and principle prevail.
3. This rebuke is applicable even to a community like our own, in which the courts of law are Christian. It is felt even by nations that if a dispute can be settled by arbitration this is the better way of getting justice done. Christian people may need legal advice; but when two Christians go to law in a spirit of rancour this only proves that their worldliness is stronger than their Christianity
4. But some one will say, “All this is romance.” Just as if the world could be regenerated by anything that is not apparently romantic! If a greater good is to be reached, it must be by some way that men have not tried before. And if any one says, “But if there is to be no going to law, we must continually be losers,” the reply of a Kincardineshire lawyer might suffice, “Don’t go to law if yielding does not cost you more than forty shillings in the pound.” And from a different point of view St. Paul replies, “Well, and what though you be losers? The kingdom you belong to is not meat and drink, but righteousness.” If a man says, “We must have some redress, when a man takes a coat we must summon him, or he will take our cloak next,” St. Paul replies, “It is quite probable that if you act as your Master did, you will be as ill off in this world as He was. But is that any reason why you should at once call Him your Master and refuse to obey His precepts and follow His example?” St. Paul then shows no hesitation about pushing his doctrine to its consequences. He sees that the real cure of wrangling, of fraud, and of war is not litigation, but meekness and unselfishness. The world’s remedies have utterly failed. Law is necessary for restraining the expressions of a vicious nature, but is insufficient to remove the possibility of these expressions by healing the nature. This can only be done by the diffusion of unworldliness and unselfishness. And it is Christians who are responsible for diffusing this unworldly spirit.
1. Those laws which are to be our sole rule when we are perfect cannot always be immediately applied now; but there must be a striving towards the perfect state in which there shall be no going to law.
2. Paul knows that the Christian conscience is with him when he declares that men should rather suffer wrong than bring reproach on the Christian name (1 Corinthians 6:9). And yet how little do men seem to take to heart the great fact that they are travelling forward to a state in which nothing uncongenial to the Spirit of Christ can possibly find place! (M. Dods, D. D.)
Law, going to
A sheep, separated from the flock, was overtaken by a storm. To shelter itself from the rain it crept into a thorny bush, and remained there until the rain had ceased. It had much trouble in getting rid of the thorns. It, however, brought it about after many efforts, and got out from the bush without being wet; but the poor creature lost almost all its wool. A like fate is his who seeks redress in law.
Why a Christian should not go to law with his brethren
I. It is to demean Christianity before the world, which teaches peace, forbearance, unity, love.
II. It is to cede to worldly men an opportunity of judging Christian character--the complainant as well as the defendant.
III. It is to deny the competency of the Church to adjust differences among its own members.
IV. It is to prefer law to equity.
V. It is totally opposed to the spirit of Christ. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
The litigious spirit in the Church
This the apostle rebukes because--
I. The Church should decide itself the difficulties of its members. “The saints shall judge the world,” i.e., this earth shall be one day a kingdom of God.
1. We cannot tell how, but one day “the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God,” &c., and legislation become Christian. And more, a time is coming when statute law shall cease, and self-government supersede all outward or arbitrary law. That will be the reign of the saints. Let us examine the principles of this kingdom which is to be.
1. The supremacy of goodness. The word “judge” does not mean that the saints shall be assessors with Christ at the day of judgment, but that they shall rule the world as Gideon, &c., “judged” Israel. Successively have force, hereditary right, talent, wealth, been the aristocracies of the earth. But in that kingdom to come goodness shall be the only condition of supremacy.
2. The best shall rule. The apostles “shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” which is not to be taken literally; you lose your time in investigating theories about the restoration of the ten tribes, &c. The spirit of the passage means, and typically expresses, that in that kingdom the best shall rule.
3. That there each shall have his place according to his capacity (see 1 Corinthians 12:28). Each man took his position in the Church according to his gift. Here was a new principle. So in the kingdom to come we shall not have the anomalies which now prevail. Men are ministers now who are only fit to plough; men are hidden now in professions where there is no scope for their powers. But it shall all be altered there. These are the things that must be hereafter. And it is only in such a belief that human life becomes tolerable.
4. This is the future destiny of the Church. Are these principles, thou, to be altogather in abeyance now? In the highest spiritual matters the Church shall decide hereafter. Therefore, in questions now of earthly matters, Paul argues, the least esteemed among them should be able to decide. “I speak to your shame; where are your boasted teachers? Can they not judge in a matter of paltry quarrel about property?”
II. It contradicts the character of the kingdom of God. A true kingdom of Christ should be altogether free from persons of this character. His argument runs thus:--“You ask me how quarrels are to be decided except by law; how the oppressed are to be freed from gross oppressors, except by an appeal to legal justice? I answer, the Church does not include such persons in the idea of its existence at all. The Church consists of men washed, sanctified, justified, &c. I cannot tell you how to legislate for drunkards, revilers, &c., for such ought not to be in your society at all. This is what you were as heathens; this is not what you are to be as Christians.” St. Paul insists on man’s dignity. (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Litigation among Christians: evil of
I. It degrades Christian character.
1. By subjecting it to an earthly tribunal.
2. By denying the competence of Christian men to judge in the smallest matters.
3. By ignoring the dignity which Christ has conferred upon His saints.
4. By putting Christ’s cause to shame before unbelievers.
II. It indicates a selfish and unchristian spirit. Litigation
1. Would often be spared by concession, by a little sacrifice of personal right, although this must have its limits.
2. Is usually occasioned by a selfish desire to overreach another; which--
Litigation among Christians to be avoided
I. Why? Because it is inconsistent with--
1. Their profession (1 Corinthians 6:1).
2. Their dignity (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
3. Self-respect (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
II. How? (1 Corinthians 6:4-6).
1. By not appealing to a worldly tribunal; this occasions reproach.
2. By referring the matter to Christian brethren; that will bring honour.
3. By abstaining from open strife.
III. In what spirit? The spirit of love, which--
1. Excludes selfishness.
2. Prefers patient sacrifice to contention.
3. Gives no just occasion of offence.
IV. On what grounds? (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Because every act of unrighteousness
1. Must exclude a man from the kingdom of God.
2. Encourages self-deception.
3. Is totally opposed to all Christian experience. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
Litigation to be avoided
A very learned judge was once asked what he would do if a man owed him ten pounds and refused to pay. His reply was worth remembering. He said, “Rather than bring an action against him, with its costs and uncertainty, I would give him a receipt in full of all demands; yes, and I would send him five pounds over, to cover all possible expenses.”
Litigation to be avoided
Lord Erskine, when at the bar, and at the time when his professional talents were most eminent and popular, having been applied to by his friend Dr. Parr for his opinion upon a subject likely to be litigated by him, after recommending the doctor “to accommodate the difference amicably,” concluded his letter by observing, “I can scarcely figure to myself a situation in which a lawsuit is not, if possible, to be avoided.”
A lawsuit discouraged
Dr. Miner, of Trenton, N.J., who was formerly a pastor at Springfield, relates that when Abraham Lincoln was practising law in that city a farmer went to him to secure his services in a lawsuit pending between himself and a neighbour. Lincoln said, “Now if you go on with this it will cost both of you your farms, and will entail an enmity that will last for generations, and perhaps lead to murder. The other man has just been here to engage me. Now I want you two to sit down in my office while I am gone to dinner, and talk it over and try to settle it. And to secure you from any interruption I will lock the door.” He did so, and he did not return all the afternoon. The two men, finding themselves imprisoned, burst out laughing, and being thus put in good humour, came to a settlement before Mr. Lincoln returned. The example may be commended to the attention of Christians.
Mr. Oatts remarks: “Peter the Great frequently visited the magistrates in the various cities of his vast empire without giving them any previous warning of his intention. Having in this way arrived at the city of Olonez, he went first to the governor and inquired of him how many suits were pending in the Court of Chancery. “None, sire,” was the reply. “What! none? How does that happen?” “Sire, I endeavour to prevent lawsuits, and to conciliate the parties. I act in such a way that no traces of quarrels remain on the archives. If I be wrong your indulgence will excuse me.” “Wrong! No. I wish,” exclaimed the Czar, “that all governors would act on your principle. Go on as you are doing. God and your sovereign are both satisfied.” The work of every child of God should be that of a peacemaker, reconciling man to God, and man to his fellow man.
Do ye not know that the saints shall Judge the world?--
The world judged by the saints
The apostle condemns their going to law, and would have them cease their quarrels one against another before the unjust and unbelievers, and that by four arguments. First, by the shamefulness of it (1 Corinthians 6:5). “I speak it to your shame.” Are you such fools that you cannot take up these matters among yourselves? Secondly, from the scandalousness of it. It is a thing so scandalous and offensive to those that are without that I wonder any of you dare be so bold as to go to law one with another. What will the world think? What! Are these the men that profess the gospel? Are these they that have the wisdom of God in them and that are led by the Spirit of God? Thirdly, from the unseemliness of it in the second verse. Do you not know that the saints shall judge the earth? What! hath God made you judges of the world, and do you go to be judged by the world? Fourthly, from the strangeness of it. Dare any of you? What! is there never a wise Christian amongst you? never an understanding professor, that is able to take up a controversy, or judge between his brethren? What a strange thing this is! Then he backs it with four arguments.
1. Because they were brethren (1 Corinthians 6:6).
2. Because it was about things of this life. What! hath God made you judges of heavenly things, of angels, and are you unfit to judge of the things of this life?
3. It was about small matters (1 Corinthians 6:2), whereas you shall sit upon men and angels, and the weightiest matters in the world, the greatest things of God’s law, judging them.
4. And lastly, because it was about such things as the meanest Christian in the town might have taken up and have ended: set up them that are least esteemed. Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? The doctrine is, that the saints shall judge the world. It is an old truth, yea, as old as the world itself: you may read it in the fourth verse of Jude’s epistle. That Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints. God will not only come to judgment Himself, but He will come attended with all His saints, even with all the godly, to execute vengeance upon all the world, so our Saviour told St. Peter (Matthew 9:18). How shall the saints judge the world? Not by pronouncing of judgment upon the world, for that Christ only shall do.
But the saints shall judge the world these four ways.
1. They shall judge the world by their consent unto Christ’s judgment. God trains up His children in this world and teacheth them how they may judge the world hereafter; He teacheth them in this life how to assent with His proceedings in the world, so that they are able to say, “Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and just are Thy judgments” (Psalms 119:137). Now the law saith that consenters are agents, and therefore because the saints shall consent to the judgment of Christ, therefore they are said to judge the world.
2. The saints shall judge the world by their applause of Christ’s judgment; they shall not only give consent unto the judgment of Christ, but they shall also commend it. They shall sing, “Hallelujah, salvation, and honour, and power, be to the Lord our God, for true and righteous are His judgments” (Revelation 19:1-2). Let the wicked go accursed as they are, for it is a righteous sentence passed on them.
3. They shall judge the world by their majesty. Then shall the righteous shine as the stars in the firmament, and the wicked shall be astonished at the sight of them.
4. They shall judge the world by their lives and conversation. Then is the world judged by them when as the courses and manners of the world are not found upon them.
Their faith shall judge the world’s infidelity; their repentance shall judge the world’s impenitency; their accepting of the Lord Jesus shall judge their rejection and neglect of Christ Jesus; their zeal shall judge the world’s lukewarmness, and their holiness shall judge the world’s profaneness.
1. Because of the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and His saints. He is the Head and they are His members. Now that which the head doth we ascribe it to the whole body. Secondly, in regard of compassion. I speak not of pity bait of compassion, of suffering with Christ, seeing that Christ was reproached, hated, and condemned by the world, the saints are likewise with Him; seeing they partake of the afflictions of Christ here they shall also be made partakers with Christ in His glory. Thirdly, for great terror to all wicked men at the day of judgment; for as it is with a thief, not only when the judge shall command to hang him, but all the justices and all the country shall cry out, Hang him! he is judged the more terribly. Fourthly, the saints shall judge the world because God shall so convince them that their mouth shall be stopped, they shall have never a syllable to excuse themselves withal when they shall see men as themselves are, that have lived in the same town, enjoyed the same ordinances of God, lived in the same family that did partake of the same blessings and of the same crosses and afflictions with themselves, subject also to the same corruptions and sins as themselves, when they shall see these at Christ’s right hand. The first use, then, is for instruction, whereby we may learn that the saints by their now being saints do now judge the world (Hebrews 11:7). Secondly, this teacheth us that when there is one sinner converted from the wickedness of his ways, and is become a saint, then all the world may know that there is a new judge come to sit upon them. It may be God hath converted thy brother and sister, and thou art not converted, thy own brother and sister shall condemn thee if thou do not repent and come out of thy sins. Thirdly, we may learn that it concerns all the world to take notice of every grace in God’s children. There is never a grace of God in any of His saints, but it shall condemn the world if it be void of it. The ways of the Lord are all judgments, because they judge them that will not walk in them. You may know a crooked thing by laying it to a straight line, and by that it is judged to be crooked. Is the child of God humble? His humility shall judge thy pride. Is the child of God meek and patient in suffering wrong and injuries? His meekness and patience shall judge thy revenge. Hath the child of God the spirit of prayer given him? It shall condemn thee that prayest only with thine own spirit. Doth his speech and communication administer grace to the hearers? It shall condemn thee that speakest of vain and idle things. Fourthly, learn hence, that all the texts of Scripture, all the whole Word of God, that is it that begets these saints; and therefore they must needs judge the world. The Scriptures are called judgments (Psalms 105:5), and our Saviour saith, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day” (John 12:48). Fifthly and lastly, hence it follows, that all the ministers of the Word of God shall also judge the world. Son of man, wilt thou judge the bloody city? “Yea, thou shalt show her all her abominations” (Ezekiel 22:2). This, then, serves to condemn three sorts of men in the world. First, all those that despise the saints, and that see not amiableness in their faces. All the country doth reverence the face of the judge when he rides his circuit.
2. Shall the saints judge the world? Then what fools are the wicked that prepare not for these judges! When the judge comes to an assize all men prepare for him. Lastly, it condemns all those who do not see glory and majesty in the faces of God’s saints. There is majesty in the face of a judge; yea, a man may discover in them a kind of sovereign majesty.
Surely the wicked shall never escape condemnation, for--
1. God the Father, who judgeth by way of authority, He will condemn thee; all judgment cometh originally from Him.
2. God the Son, He will judge thee, who judgeth by way of dispensation (Acts 10:1-48.). First, Christ preacheth to thee repentance and remission of sins, to which if thou yield not, then know that there is a day appointed wherein He will judge thee.
3. God the Holy Ghost will judge thee; that Spirit that now thrives with thee.
4. The Word of God shall judge thee, and that by way of form, it being the platform according unto which Christ will judge the whole world. There is never a text throughout the whole Scripture that commands you to leave and forsake your sins, but it shall judge you if you do not.
5. All the ministers of God shall sit as justices in common, from the first preacher of righteousness unto the last; Moses shall judge thee. Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Daniel, Paul, Peter, &c., they shall judge you. There will be no way for the wicked to put off their judgment; then the sons of Eli shall have none to advocate between God and them, none to cloak their wickedness. Would they send out excuses? The saints shall cut them off. Would they in the first place say, Alas! I was ignorant, I knew not how to pray, or to read, or to meditate on the Scriptures, nor to catechise my family? A second excuse is poverty. I have no means to live on; if I should run after sermons I should beg my bread. Thirdly, they shall have no excuse by employment. I am a servant, I am commanded to do this or that, I find so much business to follow that I cannot find any time for such things. Fourthly, they shall have no excuse from their callings and trades. I am an innkeeper, and if I should not suffer drinking and swearing and gaming I should not live. Another faith: I am a tradesman, and if I should ask at first just so much as I could take, I should never bring customers to my price, and so I should not live of my trade. Fifthly, they shall have no excuse from the times they live in. Alas (saith one)! I live in wretched times, all the world is given to sin. This, then, first condemns all unholiness in the lives of them that be saints. Beloved, if we did but live like the saints of God in holiness and purity the Lord would put such splendour upon us that would even daunt the very face of our enemies and make them stand amazed at saints. Secondly, this condemns the little difference that is betwixt the wicked of the world and some saints in their lives and manners. Beloved, is there so little difference between the judge and the prisoners that any one need to come and say, “I pray you, sir, show me which is the judge and which is the malefactor”? Thirdly, it condemns the scandalousness of many professors in their behaviours and actions. (W. Fenners.)
Judgment given to the saints
The apostle seems to refer to something in Christian doctrine well known then, but very obscure now. He asks with a tone of surprise, “Do not ye know?” We always look forward to being judged, not to judging others, and if the words stood alone, indeed, we might think that they only spoke of “judging” in the sense of “condemning” by contrast or example, as the men of Nineveh the generation in Which Christ lived. But this reference to future judgment does not stand alone (see Daniel 7:22; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 20:4; Revelation 2:26). Looking to all that is said about the judgment to come, I suppose that Christians will first be judged according to the new nature of which they have been made partakers, and the new light which has been accorded to them; that afterwards the heathen “world,” according to other standards and other necessities; and that in this judgment the saints will bear a part. Now, if it be so, does it not anticipate a frequent difficulty, the eternal fate of the heathen? Know this, thou shalt be consulted concerning these very heathen, if only thou be found worthy as a Christian. Only live as it becometh saints, and no sentence shall be passed without thy consent, or contrary to thy sense of justice, for the saints shall judge the world. The saints are also to judge angels, bad angels; for it does not appear how the others would be liable to any judgment at all. If it be asked why this should be so, it may be replied that their probation and fate has ever been mixed up with our own. In the days of our Lord they found a solace and a certain fierce joy in possessing themselves of the bodies of men, and only abandoned them at His almighty word. And these are now finally cast down to Tartarus and reserved under chains of darkness for the judgment of the last day. Contemplating their long connection in guilt and degradation with us children of men, shall we wonder if their final sentence also shall not be passed without us? (R. Winterbotham, M. A.)
Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another.--
The word may mean--
1. A moral defeat sustained by the Christian soldier in his campaign and spiritual march for the heavenly prize of the kingly crown and judicial throne.
2. The loss or damage to the Church, more litigant than militant in the eyes of observant heathendom. (Canon Evans.)
Lawsuits among Christians
indicate a want of--
1. Brotherly love.
2. Christian sacrifice.
3. Christian morality. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
Why do ye not rather take wrong?--
A true Christian may not always insist on his own right
I. It may indicate a want of Christian love.
1. This is evident where brethren sue each other.
2. Even the party wronged should rather yield than encourage strife and hatred.
3. To press his cause before the world is to dishonour Christ.
II. It is the first step to actual sin.
1. It breeds selfishness, wrong, fraud.
2. And that among brethren. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Know ye not Shall the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
Sometimes we persistently deceive ourselves. We insist upon pursuing a policy for our benefit which all but ourselves clearly see to be absurd and useless. We cling to a pet project and nurse a worthless conceit long after the folly of both is recognised by everybody else. But we are not altogether to be blamed. For instinct itself is sometimes at fault, and its powers are uselessly applied. A hen will sit with the greatest tenacity on rounded pieces of chalk; and the Hamster rat breaks the wings of dead birds as well as of living ones before it devours them. Insects also occasionally err on the same principle, as when the blow-fly lays its eggs on the flower of the stapelia, deceived by its carrion-like odour. A spider, deprived of its egg-bag, will cherish with the same fondness a little pellet of cotton thrown to it. (Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)
Who shall enter into the kingdom of God
1. The kingdom.
2. The danger of delusion in reference to it.
3. The certain exclusion of all unrighteousness.
4. The necessity of a change in those who enter it.
5. The means by which this change is effected. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
Our inheritance in peril
I. What our inheritance is--“the kingdom of God,” present, but chiefly future (2 Peter 3:13). Heaven is rest, joy, purity, vision. This inheritance is in a sense the inheritance of all, since Christ died for the sins of the world. We disinherit ourselves.
II. The hindrances to it.
1. Sins of sensuality.
2. Idolatry. If we serve false gods how can we expect a reward from the true? Some have keen eyes for injuries done to men; idolatry is a pre-eminent sin against God. What is it that occupies the throne of our heart?
3. Theft, covetousness, extortion. These are much upon a par. Yet many a man who would be horrified at the thought of being a thief thinks nothing of covetousness or extortion. But what is covetousness but theft in the bud? and extortion but theft in the blossom! A man who steals mentally is as guilty as if he stole actually; for nothing but the restraints of society and the dock keep his hands still. Many a theft is committed in a court of justice with the assistance of counsel: e.g., when a man is striving to get more than his due.
4. Drunkenness. The curse of our land. What men lose by it--health, respect, friends, wealth, and the kingdom of God.
5. Foul language. Reviling, railing, sins of the tongue. Foul lips speak a foul heart. Plainly we are here taught that a nominal faith cannot save us. All the profession in the world will not secure our inheritance.
III. These hindrances may be removed. Here is consolation for great sinners--and who are small ones? When a man is deeply convinced of sin he is often tempted to despair. Can I, the unclean, &c., enter the holy heaven? It seems impossible. But the apostle turns upon his converts and says--“And such were some of you.” Of greatest sinners God has sometimes made the greatest saints. The barriers insuperable to man may be cast down by the might of God. No sickness is beyond the skill of the great Physician.
IV. The manner of removal. Paul speaks of “washing” in its twofold character.
1. Justification, which we receive through Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11).
2. Sanctification, which we receive through the operation of “the Spirit of our Lord” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
V. A caution implied--“And such were some of you.” Are ye becoming so again? Our great inheritance may be lost after all, and will be unless we endure to the end. (W. E. Hurndall, M. A.)
Reformation is an object most earnestly pursued by all who are alive to the wrongs of life. Some, however, are of questionable utility, and none of much value but that of the text. This reformation is--
I. Of the moral character of mankind. Sin which may be defined as self-gratification is here presented in a variety of forms. The principle of sin, like holiness, is one and simple, but the forms are multifarious. These morally corrupt Corinthians were changed in the very root and fountain of their character.
II. Indispensable to a happy destiny. “The kingdom of God”--the reign of truth, purity, love. To inherit that empire, to be in it, not as occasional visitors, but as permanent citizens, is our high destiny. For this we were made. Hence Christ urges us to seek it first. There is no getting into it without this moral reformation.
III. Effected by the redemptive agency of Christ. They had been cleansed from their moral foulness, “washed”; consecrated to holiness, “sanctified”; made right in their being and relationships, “justified.” And this “in the name,” &c. Nothing on earth will effect this moral change but the gospel; not legislative enactments, or scientific systems. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
1. No pestilence has ever wrought as much devastation and misery as the pestilence of drunkenness. Even its physical destructions are simply terrific. It is the origin of many of the worst forms of disease. Nor are the moral and social devastations of drunkenness less terrific than its physical devastations. Drunkenness extinguishes the fires of shame, profanes the shrines of self-respect, enfeebles the forces of resistance to evil; stifles conscience. And what shall we say of drunkenness in its ravages upon religion? And what is true of Christian work in foreign lands is not less true of Christian work at home. Drunkenness is a fearful hindrance to Christian enterprise. It counteracts, if it does not overweigh, all Christian endeavour to ameliorate the moral and social condition of the people.
2. The causes of drunkenness, it seems to me, are seldom sufficiently inquired into and considered. Some races of mankind, e.g., are constitutionally more temperate than others; and some climates foster intoxication more than others. Both the race and climate of Sweden, e.g., are eminently favourable to drunkenness. The Swedes are Goths, and the Goths are a proverbially drunken race. The long, cold, dark winter of Sweden are also calculated to encourage habits of intoxication. On the other hand, in many southern climates, where the people, under the genial influences of the radiant sun, feel little natural desire for stimulants, a strong artificial desire has been created by the facilities with which ardent spirits have been commercially introduced. There are also two other causes of drunkenness which, although in themselves irremovable, are yet capable of being brought under favourable control. These two causes are--
3. These are, I think, the principal causes of drunkenness; and in most instances the remedies suggest themselves. We need great and fundamental reforms in our Licensing Laws. We need to Christianise our civilisation in the direction of ameliorating the lives of the multitudinous poor. We need less rush and more repose in daily life. We need a sounder and more indignant public opinion concerning drunkenness. We need also a great revival of the Christian ideals of marriage and domestic life--ideals which, when wrought in practice, make home the mirror of heaven on earth. We need, lastly, and above all things, to inculcate the eternal truth that wilful and deliberate drunkenness is sin; sin which brutalises every part of man’s nature; sin which, if unforsaken, shuts the door of heaven against the drunkard. (Canon Diggle.)
1 Corinthians 6:11-12
And such were some of you, but ye are washed … sanctified … Justified.
The great contrast
I. The past state of the redeemed. “And such were some of you.”
1. They were void of moral rectitude. Their conscience was burdened with guilt.
2. They were subject to impure influences. Their affections were defiled. When conscience loses its authority there is nothing to prevent the soul becoming the slave of the most debasing influences.
3. They were slaves of wrong habits. “Their deeds were evil.” When both the conscience and affections are wrong, the deeds must be inconsistent with truth and righteousness.
4. They were incapable of spiritual enjoyment. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” The unrighteous have no capacity, taste, or fitness for it.
II. The present state of the redeemed “But ye are washed,” &c. Note--
1. The change.
3. A beautiful completion. “But ye are justified.” This act, though mentioned last, is generally considered the first. There are three great causes at work in man’s justification.
2. The means. “In the name of the Lord Jesus.” Nothing but that has sufficient power to change the heart.
3. The agency. And by “the Spirit of our God.” It is He that gives effect to the word preached--moves the heart, destroys the yoke of sin, and creates the man a new creature in Christ Jesus. (J. H. Hughes.)
The power of the gospel in changing the hearts and lives of men
I. The gospel of Christ is abundantly sufficient for saving the greatest sinners.
1. The salvation of a sinner consists in his deliverance from the guilt and punishment of sin; and his recovery to the Divine image, i.e., his justification and his sanctification. Let either of these blessings be wanting, and his salvation would be unfinished. But in both these respects the gospel remedy is abundantly sufficient.
2. The instance in the text is to the point. Surely, if there could have been any sinners, whose case the gospel remedy would not reach, these Corinthians would have been the persons. If you require any more witnesses, look at many celebrated in the Scripture for their piety, and see what they had formerly been. What had the Ephesian converts been? (Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 2:12.) What had Matthew, Onesimus, and St. Paul himself been? But for all these the gospel proved sufficient, for the thief upon the cross, for the jailer at Philippi, for thousands among the wicked Jews--for tens of thousands among the idolatrous Gentiles.
3. Let us then apply the truth--
II. A man’s religion is to be tried, not by what he was, but by what he is.
1. True religion makes a real change in a man. Would we then know whether a man be truly religious or not, we must inquire what is his present conduct.
2. Let this truth then correct a too general practice. When a man begins to take up a serious profession of religion, nothing is more common than to hear all the irregularities of his former life charged against him as proofs of his present hypocrisy.
3. But while we apply this truth for correcting our wrong judgment of others, let us also use it for forming a right judgment of ourselves. Are we still the servants of sin? Or have we been made free from sin? (E. Cooper, M. A.)
Triumphs of the gospel at Corinth
One of the most common and powerful objections against Christianity is that many who profess it are by no means affected with it; that such professors cannot therefore believe it, or if they do, it must be destitute of moral power. But the badness of the copy is no proof of the badness of the original; the baseness of the counterfeit coin is no proof of the baseness of the genuine. Let the religion of Jesus be compared with its own standards; let it be tried by its own rules. With the crimes of religious professors we have nothing to do but to deplore and avoid them. What Corinth was, we know. To this focus of all that is horrible St. Paul went, and he did not preach in vain. What these Corinthians had been, St. Paul tells us in the context: but now they were washed, &c.
I. The fearful state of unconverted men.
1. Nothing can be more clear than the doctrine of universal depravity; but this depravity exhibits itself under various aspects, and in various degrees. These Corinthians had been uncommonly vile. Nor they only. We know of the thief who was pardoned on the tree. This, indeed, is not uniformly the case. For in the characters of multitudes we see much that is pleasing, even the grace of God. There are many who are “not far from the kingdom,” and who yet appear never to reach it.
2. We ought to regard the depravity of man with deep sorrow and compassion, but not with despair. The very glory of the gospel is that it is a message of pardon and mercy to the guilty, the bankrupt, and the undone. But perhaps some of you may despair, not of the conversion of others, but of your own. Such should remember these Corinthians, and the apostle who converted them.
II. The renewed state of these Corinthians.
1. “Ye are washed.” Since sanctification and justification are mentioned directly afterwards, perhaps this refers to baptism.
2. “Ye are sanctified,” i.e., ye are more and more alienated from the world, and conformed to the image and the will of God.
3. “Ye are justified,” i.e., your sins are pardoned, and you are accepted as righteous before God, through faith in Christ.
III. The Divine method of sanctification and justification here exhibited. “In the name of the Lord Jesus” means--
1. Doing anything by the authority of Christ. “Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name.”
2. Doing anything for the honour of Christ: thus St. Paul says--“Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” &c.
3. Receiving anything from the Father, through His dear Son: thus our Lord says “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name,” on account of My merits, “He will give it you.” The text, then, teaches us that the only method by which we can approach God, the only method by which God can display His grace and love to man, is through Christ. (G. Weight, M. A.)
Cleansed by the Spirit
There is a lonely little pool of water on the mountain side near Tarbet, Loch Lomond, called the Fairy Loch. If you look into it you will see a great many colours in the water, owing to the varied nature of the materials that form its bottom. There is a legend about it which says that the fairies used to dye things for the people round about, if a specimen of the colour wanted was left along with the cloth on the brink of the pool at sunset. One evening a shepherd left beside the Fairy Loch the fleece of a black sheep, and placed upon it a white woollen thread to show that he wished the fleece dyed white. This fairly puzzled the good folk. They could dye a white fleece any colour, but to make a black fleece white was impossible. In despair they threw all their colours into the loch, giving it its present strange look, and disappeared for ever. This may seem a foolish fable, but it has a wise moral. What the fairies could not do beside the Fairy Loch, the Spirit of God can do beside the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. He can make the blackest soul white. (Hugh Macmillan, D. D.)
The great change
A piece of canvas is of a trifling value. You can buy it for a few pennies. You would scarcely think it worth picking up if you saw it lying in the street. But an artist takes it and draws a few lines and figures on it, and then with his brush touches in certain colours, and the canvas is sold for a large sum. So Godtakes up a ruined, worthless human life which has no beauty, no attractiveness, but is repulsive, blotched, and stained by sin. Then the fingers of His love add touches of beauty, painting the Divine image upon it, and it becomes precious and glorious. (J. R. Miller.)
There are marvellous transformations in the material as also in the moral world. Look in the material world. The full-fed maggot, that has rioted in filth till its tender skin seems ready to burst with repletion, when the appointed time arrives leaves the offensive matters it was ordained to assist in removing, and gets into some convenient hole or crevice; then its body contracts or shortens, and becomes egg-shaped, while the skin hardens, and turns brown and dry, so that, under this form, the creature appears more like a seed than a living animal; after some time passed in this inactive and equivocal form, during which wonderful changes have taken place within the seed-like shell, one end of the shell is burst off, and from the inside comes forth a buzzing fly, that drops its former filthy habits with its cast-off dress, and now, with a more refined taste, seeks only to lap the solid viands of our tables, or sip the liquid contents of our cups. Look again into the moral world. There you see a transformation as wonderful. The selfish debauchee, whose horrid taste has grubbed in every sort of immoral filth, and become habituated to the harsh, the cruel, and the dishonourable, has been brought into contact with the necessary spiritual conditions for a change, and behold from one stage to another he passes until at last his tastes are entirely altered, his existence is changed, and even he is able to soar in the light and purity of the world. Elsewhere, behold, the miser is transformed to the philanthropist, the coward into a hero. We watch the fly’s aerial circlings in the sunbeam, and remember with wonder its degraded origin. The preacher looks over his congregation, and he sees those who have become noble and virtuous, he is able to take heart for new work; for as he remembers in their presence the debased and the wicked who are yet to be transformed, he says, “And such were some of you; but you are regenerated by the higher Power,” and those others may be changed likewise. (Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient.
The lawful and the expedient
I. What is lawful for us in life? All things indifferent, i.e., not evil in themselves. The Christian has the widest liberty. He is not under the restriction of the older economy. To him every creature of God is good (1 Timothy 4:4). He must abide within the limits of the lawful; nothing that seems expedient outside those limits must be touched by him.
II. What is expedient within the limits of the lawful.
1. The Christian must not use his liberty indiscriminately; he must consider probable results. The end does not justify the means, hut the end often determines whether means, justifiable in themselves, shall he used or not. Means good enough in themselves may under certain conditions lead to most undesirable ends. Those ends foreseen determine that those means should not be employed.
2. The Christian has to select the truly expedient out of the truly lawful. Unlawful means ruin thousands; lawful means, unlawfully used, tens of thousands. Nowhere does the devil build his chapels more cunningly than by the side of the temple of Christian liberty. A Christian, before availing himself of his liberty, had need ask what will be the effect--
The practical distinction between things lawful and expedient
The text leads us to the contemplation of two very important particulars, the latter illustrative of the former, and closely connected with it, yet demanding separate consideration. The first is the practical distinction between things lawful and expedient; the second, the universal inexpediency of all those things which, by bringing us under their power, I will just remark that while the former of these particulars leads us to guard against the evils arising from external events and influences, the latter points more immediately at such as exist within us: the former has most direct reference to the effect of our conduct generally, and perhaps, in a principal degree, to its effect on others; the latter has relation chiefly to its operation upon ourselves. We may be led by both to the avoidance of one and the same evil; but they will present it under different aspects: the first as manifestly irreconcilable with our integrity or our profession, or injurious because of its obstructing the great purposes of our life; the last as insidious, as tending to lower the standard of our views and feelings, abating the energy of our resolutions; enfeebling the operation of our loftiest motives; making us, in short, less holy, less spiritual. These remarks will be confirmed by a simple reference to the text, which, in the most forcible manner, places the two points unitedly in our view. Of lawful things there are some it describes as to be avoided by a Christian, because they are not expedient; others it warns us to shun, because they would bring us under their power. Rather, perhaps, we ought to say, it speaks of the same objects, and leads us to regard them as connected with a twofold evil; that they are unprofitable in their direct influence, and calculated, in their indirect, to impair our spiritual and mental freedom. We may apply the passage in either way, and in both with manifest advantage. In some cases these evils are separate, in others they coincide. There are some things that merely hinder and obstruct our usefulness, and are for that reason inexpedient; there are others that have a perpetual tendency to debase us, and to bring us into vassalage under their power; but the greater number of inconsistencies unite both these effects, and are therefore to be avoided not only as improper in themselves, but because they will make us feel enslaved by them for the future. Having thus glanced at the general bearings of the subject, we shall now confine ourselves to the former of these particulars. We proceed, therefore, to exhibit the practical distinction between things lawful and things expedient. Is it asked, then, what is the foundation and essential nature of virtue? what the ultimate standard of morality? The answers to this question are various, and each appears supported by an array of the most specious reasonings. All cannot be true. They may, and do in many points, coalesce; but as far as they differ, they afford a presumption that each of them is imperfect, if not erroneous. It is said the standard is expediency; the tendency of every action to promote or hinder the general good: that those actions are right which advance, those unlawful which impede, the happiness not of the individual only, but of the whole. Thus morality is made the same thing with expediency, and the only reason for which any particular conduct is right, is because it is calculated for the increase of the general good. Now, against this principle there are very strong objections, and some which involve the most extensive consequences. When, in reply to such inquiries as these, “Why am I obliged to speak the truth?” (proposed by Dr. Paley himself, the author of the system referred to); or, “Why is falsehood to be accounted criminal? When this limited answer is given, “Only because they are contrary to the general good,” we apprehend there is involved a serious and fundamental error, the substitution of what is secondary and adventitious for what is primary and in its nature essential. Surely there is a distinction, prior to all considerations of utility, between truth and falsehood, justice and injustice, probity and baseness, spotless chastity and brutal indulgence. Surely there is another and an earlier reason for which to condemn some of these things, and to approve the opposite. We apprehend, also, that even if the principle were true, it would be practically inapplicable and useless; for it could be known only to God what actions were really calculated to advance the happiness of the whole. The ultimate consequences of every action are obviously beyond our knowledge, demanding a comprehensiveness of thought not less than that of Omniscience itself. Again, it appears to us to imply what can never be admitted in practice: that such considerations should, in many cases, prevail as relate to the general and last consequences of our actions, in opposition to all those which connect themselves with the individual and his present circumstances; for certainly no man is bound to sacrifice his personal welfare, and all that is most dear and necessary to himself, from a vague regard to the increase of the general happiness, nor yet to suspend all reference to the present, whatever its character may most imperiously require, till he shall have traced out the issue of his determinations in a distant and unknown futurity. Yet this impracticable and visionary principle is truly involved in the question of ultimate expediency as the law of our conduct. We will add only once more that this standard cannot be applied to the actual and immediate determination of men’s conduct, and hence is of no practical utility even if it were ever so well established by argument. Before we could act according to this rule we must first balance and examine all the results of our conduct, through the wide extent of all connected being, and the long series of all even collateral and accidental consequences. But this is impossible, and the system which requires it cannot, as we think, be true. It is worthy of observation, then, that in the text there is an evident distinction made between the expediency and the lawfulness of actions, for it affirms that those things may be lawful that are not expedient. May we venture to deduce the converse--that some things may be, or seem, expedient, which yet are not lawful? We are aware that the advocates of the system to which we now object would demur to this suggestion, and say that nothing can be truly expedient, that is, truly and in the largest sense useful, which is not in itself good; and we admit that the statement is well founded, but it will not prevent the most mischievous mistakes in practice. He that shall make expediency alone, whether political or religious, or of whatever kind, his guide in conduct, will be betrayed inevitably into the most dangerous errors. When what is useful is substituted for what is just, or made identical with it, and the standard of rectitude is abandoned for, that of utility, the door is opened to a thousand evils. There are not wanting those who will plead for the worst abuses, the greatest perversions of principle and practice, upon the pretence that they are productive of advantage more than sufficient to outweigh the evil of their own nature. What other plea is adduced by those who disguise or modify their own Christian profession, lest they should give offence to the unthinking and the profane, on whom they may choose to be dependent? Paul resolves not, “I will perform those things that are expedient, though they be not lawful; but I will not venture even upon lawful actions, if they be not expedient.” I fear there is but too little of this strictness of principle amongst us. Many, alas! are willing to make a sad commutation of the just, the honourable, and the lawful, for the convenient, the profitable, and the agreeable, both in religion and in common life. Suffer me now to call your attention to the import of that striking expression in the text employed to characterise the things that are thus to be avoided: they are “not expedient”; rather, “they are not profitable.” They will not coalesce with that great purpose of the Christian life which alone is worthy of our desire and our exertions: that we may advance the glory and the cause of God; that we may be useful to our fellow-creatures. To the generous mind of the apostle nothing else seemed honourable or happy. Like his blessed Lord he had made it his meat and his drink to do the will of God. You behold, then, illustrated in the personal history of the apostle, the extent of his own language, and you will need no further comment on the phraseology of our text. Do you for a moment ask what is it that he disavows as inexpedient? You are prepared yourselves to reply; all that is thus unprofitable; or, as he has varied the expression in another place, “All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23). All things are inexpedient which are found to be unprofitable--not those alone which may issue in direct injury. Whatever hinders his preparation for the exercises of religion, for the duties of common life, for the endurance of the Cross, for the resistance of temptation, and for his entrance, even in its very performance or enjoyment, into the world above, is thus manifestly unprofitable and inexpedient. That, too, is inexpedient which would restrict the usefulness either of our direct exertions or our general example, impairing the uniformity, the completeness, and the accuracy of our representation in practice, of all that constitutes the Christian character. For the same reason we must avoid what would, in any measure, interfere with the fullest and most unembarrassed discharge of every obligation, whether official or personal. There ought to be no disguise, no mystery, nothing dark and unintelligible, in one who is not of the night but of the day. Many things which the men of the world allow in others, they deem unsuitable to the character of a Christian. We should respect their judgment. We should watch over our actions with a godly jealousy. There remains one other class of cautions more momentous than the whole, which we have not hitherto presented. We must abstain, then, from the things that we have specified, not merely as tending to diminish our personal happiness and piety, or to lessen the effects of our example in promoting that of others, but as operating in a pernicious manner upon the cause of God and the honour of the Redeemer. Little do we often think how much our conduct is identified with that of Christianity itself, in the estimation of the world around us. We shall suppose the principle, then, to be admitted. You readily subscribe to the sentiment that if any action be found to be unprofitable and inexpedient it must therefore be avoided, even though it be not absolutely unlawful; and now you have no other duty remaining but to propose to your own conscience, as in the sight of God, the following practical inquiries. Is the indulgence in question such as would, in any measure, oppress or agitate my feelings, and indispose me for the duties of the sanctuary, or the family, or the closet? Should I reflect on it with approbation, or with regret, upon the bed of sickness, or in the chamber of death? Would it tend to the diminution of my present usefulness, bringing a cloud to hide the lustre of my character in the sight of the world; and so presenting an imperfect and inadequate, not to say positively erroneous, view of the Christian life? (R. S. McAll, LL. D.)
Liberty in the use of the lawful
Our aim, in the former discourse, was to excite you to Christian vigilance and to a high appreciation of the obligations and effect of Christian consistency. We now proceed to a somewhat different view of the same subject, founding our remarks not on the former but the latter clause: “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any”; and our object is to show that there is a necessity of caution in the use of even lawful things from their probable effect upon ourselves; that many may be dangerous which are not originally criminal. We shall endeavour to convince you that there are many things which, in single instances and acts, may not be very censurable, which yet, when suffered to become habitual, would tend to diminish or to destroy the holiness and elevation of a Christian character. You will be reminded that all the powers of men are in a state of imperfection and disorder; that they naturally incline to the corruptions of that state through which we now are passing. We shall call on you to recollect how hard it is to retrace our steps--to regain the path from which we may have wandered. The design which we shall principally pursue is to warn you against yourselves--against the allowance of too great a latitude to your natural tastes and inclinations. There may be some to whom the exhortations of our former discourse might seem inapplicable. They may reason thus: “It is true that such indulgences as I delight in, and think it no crime to enjoy, might be most unseemly for a man of piety; but I have made no such profession; I am not, and I wish not to appear, a pious man.” Now, in such circumstances, our text is fitted to afford a most instructive lesson. You are in the greater danger, and require the more scrupulous caution. You are the more liable to fall beneath the power of those indulgences which you think not sinful. What if in such as you they be not unlawful, are they, therefore, expedient? Will they involve you in no exposure to evil? And is there no need of watchfulness in one, that, even according to his own confession, is without God in the world--a man left to himself? Are you safer, then, while you are destitute of the grace of God than such men are with it? But, you reply, it is not the danger to their principles that would render such things inexpedient, neither is that danger to be apprehended to your own; it is the incongruity of their performance with the name they bear, and the superior strictness they are pledged ever to maintain. Still, the sentiment of our text applies to you; for that sentiment supposes that there is danger even in lawful things, and that the form wherein it is most to be apprehended is that they bring us insensibly “under their power.” And, besides, the question solemnly recurs, Why are you not a follower of Christ? Is sin not sin, then? Are trifling and dissipation and folly free from the charge of evil? But I must recall your attention to the subject immediately before us. There may be some who reflect that the cautions we have already given are suited only to the circumstances of such as are advanced in life; that they apply, with the greatest force to those in public stations, and of a conspicuous character; but that they are exempt. Their state of life is humble and obscure, or their age excuses them from the burden of so great a responsibility. Their example will not be productive either of injury or good. Now, surely there is no man, whatever his age or station, that can plead exemption from the necessity of the caution we would thus enforce. It is often a happiness and a safeguard to feel that our circumstances call on us for vigilance. But, on the other hand, I scarcely know a more fatal mistake than, from undervaluing the effect of our example, to suppose ourselves at liberty to relax our watchfulness.
I. We will briefly glance at the first of these particulars. It may perhaps surprise some to hear that we regard the text as presenting an enlarged and noble view of Christian liberty. They may fear, from the comprehensiveness of the terms, lest we are about to loosen the obligations of all morality, and maintain the pernicious dogma that there is no sin to a believer in Christ; that his transgressions are so fully visited upon his Surety, in their guilt and punishment, that they no longer attach to himself. We go as far as any man in maintaining the extent and absoluteness of the imputation of our sins to the Redeemer. But far be from us the impiety of saying, that in their case morality and immorality cease to retain their opposite and immutable nature. “All things are lawful to them.” Surely not such as are in their own nature criminal; but all that are usually regarded as indifferent. To be a Christian is to be delivered from the obligation of all that is ritual and secular in the ordinances of religion, and to be brought into the enjoyment of a faith the most pure, simple, spiritual. Further, the impositions of all authority which is merely human are contrary to the genius and spirit of the gospel. Again, a Christian is not to be subject to the scruples and superstitious fears that so often perplex the mind, when it has conceived, in an inadequate manner, of the boundaries of its obligations and duty. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, and the man who has that Spirit is to preserve himself from bondage, with relation to those groundless apprehensions that perpetually haunt the consciences of many among the disciples of Jesus. Niceties of phrase and of observance, of dress and manners and external circumstances, reaching not to the vitals of Christianity. Good men sometimes encumber themselves with an unnecessary yoke, by the excess of their suspicion as to the lawfulness of many things to which no law can apply, and which can, in the strict sense, constitute neither a fulfilment nor a violation of our duty. There is a sickly tenderness of conscience, an excessive and shrinking sensibility, which not only exposes us to a large amount of pain such as it was never the design of our Master that we should be called to endure, but which also incapacitates us for the vigorous and efficient discharge of our duty. We may go on, then, upon our way rejoicing; and let no unnecessary fears harass and distract us. There are many gratifications and indulgences which the law of Christ has not forbidden, and of them therefore His followers may freely and innocently partake. Yet they have been prohibited as sinful by the injudicious zeal and false prudence of some who call themselves His disciples. Christianity is not a system of restriction and oppression. There is nothing forbidden us but what is evil either in itself or in its influence.
II. We proceed, then, to the second of the particulars, in what manner that Christian liberty of which we have spoken is to be practically secured; it is, in one word, by the exercise of Christian moderation. We are to say, with reference to every enjoyment, It is not unlawful, but it is inexpedient, and I will not be brought beneath its power. Are you solicited by gratifications that would consume your invaluable time, perhaps not in a very extensive degree in their single instances, but in their almost inevitable repetition; in their preparation and their consequences? Then stop; consider; calculate the results; ask yourselves whether you will gain or ultimately lose by such indulgence. Say if you have arrived at the conclusion that they will be hurtful in the end. They are lawful; I forswear them not. I could mingle, like others, delightfully in all the raptures they are fitted to impart; but I am a dying man; I know not how soon the frail thread of life may be cut off for ever; I must work while it is called to-day. Is the character of the delights you are tempted to participate, such as to excite, to undue and dangerous activity, any of the passions of our nature? Then they are inexpedient and hurtful. Let a Christian learn, in such things, to restrain his freedom that he may be truly free. There are forms of pleasure which, though innocent in themselves, yet place our conduct, in their ulterior consequences, injuriously in the power of others. They cannot be enjoyed alone, and hence they bring us into associations, the effect of which, though not immediately apparent, is to abridge our personal freedom by placing us in contact with the opposite sentiments and practice of those whom it is not safe to follow, in matters that even remotely affect religion and the concerns of the soul. But for such enjoyments, we might have remained in a happy separation from the ungodly. The recurring sight of what is evil, or even the habit of associating, without visible discrimination, with those who practise it, will tend to abate our positive disgust at its commission. In such instances, again, we behold the necessity of acting upon the salutary maxim presented in our text. It must be familiar to every serious and reflecting mind that there are many pleasures which, if they were in all other respects free from reproach, yet are on this account to be suspected; that they have a secret tendency to indispose and unfit us for the regular fulfilment of our duty. They exhaust the feelings; they impair our spirituality; they generate other and uncongenial habits; they are unfavourable to retirement; they produce a vagrancy of thought. I think it will be readily conceded by the candid hearer that our judgment, relative to the lawfulness or impropriety of many of our pleasures, is affected in a degree it would be very difficult to estimate, by our natural and constitutional temperament; by our tastes and aptitudes to the several diversities of sensitive or intellectual enjoyment. And hence arises a twofold fallacy. There are not a few who too severely condemn those whose gratifications they are themselves unable to participate. There are others who will at all hazards excuse and justify their own. Men of the former class need to be reminded that moroseness is not principle, and that a defective or a failing sense is a far different thing from Christian self-denial. And those of the latter must be warned that they extenuate not, in their own favourite department, what they would denounce with unmeasured condemnation in every other, that they do not substitute the impulses of natural feeling, or the pleasures of physical excitement for the joys of piety and the dictates of religion. Let them suppose the gratification in question to be one of another class, adapted to the indulgence of a different sense or a faculty which they have not cultivated, and then judge of their own as they would of that which their fancy has thus placed in its stead. Let the lover of music, for example, the man who professes himself exalted to the third heavens, while he listens to the deep and solemn strains of the pealing organ or the majestic choir; let him then, I say, while he feels the thrilling luxury of magic sound, and calls it worship and religion, imagine only that the lover of statuary or painting should, under the influence of the like excitement, describe the ecstasy of his enjoyments by the same appellation, and plead for the indulgences from whence they arise with the same earnestness, and on the same pretext. And, if he should plead by arguments like these for the introduction of objects calculated to afford him such delight in the same circumstances and on the same occasions, let the supposed devotee of music decide the question whether his plea were legitimate and his principles well founded; then let him transfer this judgment to himself, and he will perhaps discover that it is not his conscience but his taste, that has hitherto determined him with reference to those pleasures that he has accounted sacred; and he may thus be guided to a more just decision; and so in every ease. We are not concerned, then, to maintain that no emotions of piety, no sense of sacredness and reverence, may be connected with such enjoyments as we should account unseemly for a Christian, and from which it would be our counsel that he should conscientiously abstain, lest they lead him into danger, or fetter him in mental vassalage. From the whole subject we would briefly deduce the following practical exhortations. Bear ever in mind the intimate connection between your general consistency and the satisfactory evidence of your Christian character. Forget not that such consistency has an equal and inseparable connection with your habitual preparation for heaven. Reflect seriously on the awful consequences of being involved, through our unwise and dangerous indulgences, in the ruin and final condemnation of our brethren. Does any man object that we make the way of piety gloomy and difficult? We reply, this is at least more desirable than to leave it insecure. (R. S. McAll, LL. D.)
The Christian rule in things indifferent
I. In the abstract all things are lawful. Because--
1. Every creature of God is good.
2. May be used with thanksgiving.
II. In practice all things are not expedient.
1. It may rob us of influence, &c.
2. It may become a stumbling-block to another.
III. In general all things must be under control.
1. Otherwise we become slaves.
2. Which is to degrade and imperil Christian character. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
The limits of Christian rights
Men in the Corinthian Church, having heard the apostle teach the law of liberty, pushed that doctrine so far as to make it mean a right to do whatsoever a man wills to do. By these self-gratification was maintained on the ground of--
I. The rights of Christian liberty. Their watchword was, “All things are lawful.” It is easy to understand how this exaggeration came about. Men suddenly finding themselves freed from the restrictions of Jewish law naturally went very far in their Dew principles. St. Paul met this by declaring that Christian liberty is limited--
1. By Christian expediency. There are two kinds of “best.” It is absolutely best that war should cease. Relatively, it is best under present circumstances that a country should be ready to defend itself. A defensive fleet is expedient, and relatively best, but not the absolutely Christian best. Now that which limits this liberty is the profit of others.
2. By its own nature. “I will not be brought under the power of any.” It is that free self-determination which rules all things, which can enjoy or abstain at will. This liberty can manifest itself under outward restrictions. A Christian, as Christ’s freed man, had a right to be free; but if by circumstances he is obliged to remain a slave, he is not troubled. He can wear a chain or not with equal spiritual freedom. Now upon this the apostle makes this subtle and exquisitely fine remark:--To be forced to use liberty is actually a surrender of liberty. If I turn “I may” into “I must,” I am in bondage again. For observe, there are two kinds of bondage. I am not free if I am under sentence of exile, and must leave my country. But also I am not free if I am under arrest, and must not leave it. So too, if I think I must not touch meat on Friday, or that I must not read any but a religious book on a Sunday, I am in bondage. But again, if I am tormented with a scrupulous feeling that I did wrong in fasting, or if I feel that I must read secular books on Sunday to prove my freedom, then my liberty has become slavery again. It is a blessed liberation to know that natural inclinations are not necessarily sinful. But if I say all natural and innocent inclinations must be obeyed at all times, then I enter into bondage once more. He alone is free who can use outward things with conscientious freedom as circumstances vary; who can either do without a form or ritual, or can use it.
II. The rights of nature. There is some difficulty in the exposition of this chapter, because the apostle mixes together the pleas of his opponents with his own answers.
1. The first part of 1 Corinthians 6:13 contains two of these pleas.
2. To these two pleas St. Paul makes two answers.
1 Corinthians 6:13-16
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats.
Christianity in relation to the body
The apostle here states, perhaps in answer to a question on the subject, that there is a limitation to Christian liberty. As the liberty which the Corinthians seemed to covet was to gratify the bodily appetites, he takes occasion to state certain things in relation to the body. Christianity recognises--
I. Attention to the natural needs of the body as proper (1 Corinthians 6:13).
1. The body has appetites, and there are provisions intended to satisfy them. To act thus is in harmony with the constitution of nature. All animal existences act in this way. Christianity, instead of requiring you to starve the body by lastings, and to exhaust its energies by pilgrimages and self-mortifications, says, “Eat and be satisfied and strong; take care of your bodies.”
2. Feeding the body, however, Christianity regards as temporary; both the food and the body must perish. They are not like spiritual existences, and spiritual supplies that have regard to an unmeasured hereafter. “All flesh is grass.”
II. Indulgence in the gratifications of the body as wrong. “Now the body is not for fornication,” &c. This is not a necessity of the body, like eating and drinking, but an immoral indulgence of its propensities. Man should attend to his bodily propensities, as reliefs, not as gratifications. Hence intemperance, whether in eating or drinking, is a moral outrage. The crime and curse of men in all ages have been seeking happiness out of the gastric, the sexual, and other propensities of their physical being.
III. That the proper treatment of the body is to identify it with Christ.
1. It is the property of Christ. It is not ours; we are its trustees, not its proprietors. We hold it “for the Lord,” and we should use it according to His directions. It is to let in God to the soul, and to reveal God to our race.
2. It is a member of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15). The Christian’s body has a vital connection with Him. He had a human body which now raised to heaven is the model into which our bodies shall be changed. This being so, sensual indulgence is an outrage on the body (1 Corinthians 6:15-17).
3. It is a temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) in which He is to dwell, be revealed and worshipped. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
The permanent element in our bodily organism
The apostle distinguishes two opposite elements in our bodily organism: the organs of nutrition, which serve for the support of the body, and to which, by a Divinely established correlation, there correspond external meats. The morally indifferent character of this domain appears from the fact of its approaching destruction; God will abolish those functions in the day of the redemption of our bodies. But it is not so with our bodies, strictly so called, which Paul identifies with our personality. This is the permanent element in our earthly organism, that which forms the link between our present and our future body. Now this element is that which is involved in the vice of impurity. And hence the profound difference between impurity and the natural functions of physical life. There exists between our body and Christ a moral relation analogous to the temporary relation which exists between the stomach and meats. The body is for Christ, to belong to Him and serve Him, and Christ is for the body to inhabit and glorify it. In consequence of this sublime relation, the body will not perish. As God raised up Christ, He will also raise the body which has become here below the property and the sanctified organ of Christ. The apostle says, “Will raise us also”; he thus expressly identifies our personality with the body which is to be its eternal organ. As the Church in its totality is the body of Christ, the organism which He animates with His Spirit, and by which He carries out His wishes on the earth, so every Christian is a member of this body, and consequently an organ of Christ Himself. Hence the practical conclusion: This organ of Christ must not be taken from Him and given to a harlot. Therein is a double crime: on the one hand a revolt, an odious abduction; on the other an act of ignoble self-abasement and the acceptance of a shameful dependence. And hence the apostle’s cry of indignation, “Let it not be so!” (Prof. Godet.)
Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord.--
I. Inexcusable. On the ground of--
1. Christian liberty (1 Corinthians 6:12).
II. Morally evil. It is--
1. To prostitute the property of God.
2. To incur a fearful penalty in the resurrection.
1. To all.
2. Especially Christian professors, who dishonour Christ, themselves, and their bodies.
1. The body designed as the temple of the Holy Ghost.
2. Redeemed by Christ.
3. Consecrated to God. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
1. In remonstrating with the Corinthians for their litigiousness, Paul was forcibly reminded how imperfectly they understood the moral requirements of the kingdom of God, and that they were quoting some of his own sayings in defence of immoral practices. If “all things were lawful” to them, then this commonest of Greek indulgences was lawful; if abstaining from the meat which had been killed in a heathen temple was a matter of moral indifference, then this other common accompaniment of idolatry was also a matter of indifference.
2. St. Paul there-fore lays down two principles. First he insists that the question of duty is not answered by simply ascertaining what is lawful; we must also ask, Is it expedient? The Christian is a law to himself; he has an internal guide that sets him above external rules. Very true; but that guide teaches him to consider, not how much indulgence he may enjoy without transgressing the letter of the law, but how he can best forward what is highest in himself and in others. Again, “all things are lawful for me”; all things are in my power. Yes, and therefore “I will not be brought under the power of any.” I am free from the law; I will not on that account become the slave of indulgence. There are several practices and habits which no one would call sinful, but which enslave a man quite as much as worse habits. And it is the very lawfulness of these indulgences which has ensnared him. He alone attains the true dignity and freedom of the Christian man who can say, with Paul, “I know both how to be full and to be hungry,” &c. “All things are in my power, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
3. Paul then proceeds to apply these principles. The Corinthians argued that if meats were morally indifferent, so also a man was neither better nor worse for fornication. To expose this error Paul draws a distinction between the organs of nutrition and that body which is part of our permanent individuality, and which is to flower into an everlasting body. These two differ from one another; and if you are to argue from the one to the other, you must keep in view the distinction as stated in 1 Corinthians 6:13-14. The organs of nutrition have a present use; they are made for meats, and have a natural correspondence with meats. Any meat, therefore, which the digestive organs approve is allowable. Besides, these organs form no part of the future spiritual body. They pass away with the meats for which they were made. They serve a temporary purpose, like the houses we live in and the clothes we wear; and as we are not morally better because we live in a stone house, and not in a brick one, or because we wear woollens, and not cotton--so long as we do what is best to keep us in life--so neither is there any moral difference in meats. But the body as a whole--for what is it made? “For the Lord.” He finds in it His needed instrument; without it He cannot accomplish His will. And “the Lord is for the body.” Without Him the body cannot develop into all it is intended to be. Our adoption as God’s children is incomplete until the body also is redeemed and has fought its way through sickness and death, into likeness to the glorified body of Christ. But this cannot be believed, far less accomplished, save by faith in the fact that God has raised up the Lord Jesus, and will with Him raise us also. And the Spirit of Christ within us inclines us while in the body, and by means of it to sow to the Spirit and thus to reap life everlasting. The only future of the body we dare to look at without a shudder is the future it has in the Lord. The Lord is for the body, and as well might we try to sustain the body now without food as to have an endurable future for it without the Lord. But if the body is thus closely united to Christ, then the inference is self-evident that it must be carefully guarded from such uses and impurities as involve rupture with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15). And if any frivolous Corinthian still objected that such acts went no deeper than the eating of food ceremonially unclean, that they belonged to the body that was to be destroyed, Paul says, It is not so; these acts are full of the deepest moral significance (1 Corinthians 6:18), i.e., fornication is the only sin which by its very nature alienates the body from Christ, its proper Partner. Other sins indirectly involve separation from Christ; this explicitly and directly transfers allegiance, and sunders our union with Him.
4. These weighty reasonings are concluded by the statement of a twofold truth which is of much wider application than to the matter in hand (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are not our own; we belong to Him who has loved us most; and His love will be satisfied when we suffer Him to dwell in us, so that we shall be His temples, and shall glorify Him. And it is the consciousness that we are God’s temples which constantly incites us to live worthily of Him. In nothing can God reveal Himself as He can in man. It is not a building of stone which forms a fit temple for God; nor even the heaven of heavens. In material nature only a small part of God can be seen and known. But through us God can express and reveal what is best in Himself. Our love is sustained by His, and reveals His. Our approval of what is pure and hatred of impurity has its source in His holiness. But if so, what a profanation is it when we take this body, which is built to be His temple, and put it to uses which it were blasphemous to associate with God! (M. Dods, D. D.)
Fornication is an awful crime
1. It robs God of His property.
2. Dishonours the members of Christ’s body.
3. Makes a man one flesh with the harlot.
4. Degrades a man’s own body.
5. Profanes the temple of God.
6. Sins against the sacrifice of Christ.
7. Devotes body and soul, which are God’s, to the devil. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
And God hath both raised up the Lord.
The resurrection of the body
I. Is possible. Christ is risen.
1. God has revealed it.
2. Is able to effect it.
III. Is a powerful argument for the right use of the body. If God honours it, shall man dishonour it? (1 Corinthians 6:13, &c.). (J. Lyth, D. D.)
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?--
Christ and the body
I. His right over it.
1. Not only by creation and redemption.
2. But by our union with Him.
II. The consequent obligation.
1. To care for it.
2. To keep it pure.
3. To use it for His service. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
The thought of the love of Jesus for us the remedy for sins of the body
I. “The word made flesh,” changed by that act the whole relation of the creature to the Creator. Before they were distinct. God chose man to knit both together. Could there be envy in heaven, surely the angels must have envied our race; nay, it has been believed that Satan fell through envy at the incarnation revealed beforehand. Nothing so illustrates the self-forgetting love of those blessed spirits, as that they should joy to be passed over, and to see us the fallen preferred to themselves. True! the purpose of God is to unite both under and in one head (Ephesians 1:10). Their ranks, it is a pious opinion, broken by the fall of the apostate angels, will be filled by redeemed men. But even this equality has not been enough. God has willed to give us a closeness of union with Himself, which He gave not to the Seraphim. And this for all eternity,
II. This constitutes the claim of Jesus on our love.
1. This is more than compensation for the fall of Adam. Jesus, in this special way, is ours; He is our near Kinsman, and more than brother. Jesus must love me with a special love, for He has not the nature of angels, but this of mine.
2. And how did He love us? What did He withhold from us, for love of us? His glory! He “emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:7). He who was and is one with the Father, entered this mortal life. He began it an outcast, and ended it by “giving Himself to be numbered with the transgressors.” In those dread hours on the Cross, what part of His sacred body did He reserve from suffering for us? (Psalms 22:14). And His Father’s face was hid from His human soul. And what doth He now? He is in that unspeakable glory, “upholding all things by the word of His power”; governing also the Church and sanctifying her by His presence. But as something nearer to ourselves individually, “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” Calvary lives on in heaven, and pleads for us still. And all this has been, is, shall continue to be done for us through the body. By taking our whole human nature, soul and body, God the Son gave us, in His own person, that special prerogative of nearness to Himself.
III. With what sacredness does this invest our bodies.
1. Limb by limb, they are the same bodies as that which God the Son took, which for us was crucified, which now is in glory at the right hand of God. All sin is misery, but sins of the flesh have yet this special misery, that they degrade that body which Jesus took. To sin as to the flesh is to insult Christ.
2. Trials you have or will have. But trials which are only of God’s allowing injure neither body nor soul. He will give the victory who allows them (2 Corinthians 12:9). But now, if thou art liable to temptation, from which thou mightest have been blessedly free, or over which thou mightest have had, by God’s grace, an easy victory--
I. Destroys all pretence to Christianity.
1. The body belongs to Christ.
2. Should be employed in His service.
3. To give it to another is to deny Him--and court destruction, which God forbid!
II. Degrades the man.
1. The harlot is the refuse of humanity.
2. To be joined to her is to be one with her--by a natural law.
III. Is impossible while we are joined to Christ--we are one spirit with Him. (J. Lyth, D. D.)
1 Corinthians 6:17
He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
--The apostle was wont to associate the commonest duties with the highest motives. In dissuading from the sin of impurity, he might have adduced considerations drawn from physical laws and social conditions; instead of this he appeals to the loftiest principles of Christianity. Note
I. The bond which unites believers to their Lord is a bond of--
1. Faith, “Whom having not seen,” &c. Christians receive with cordiality the gospel concerning Christ; they receive Christ Himself to dwell in their hearts by faith.
2. Love. They are joined to Him as the bride to the bridegroom, in a spiritual affection, in love “stronger than death.”
3. Affinity. Drawn to Jesus as sinners to the Saviour, they remain with Him as friends, congenial in character, disposition and aims.
II. The consequent unity between Christians and their Lord.
1. They are in a spirit of subjection to the Father, whose will and law are authoritative and supreme.
2. They are one in the love of all that is holy and morally admirable. The sympathy that exists regards the principles that animate and the aims that dignify the moral life.
3. They are one in the bonds of an immortal fellowship. “That they may be with Me where I am.”
III. The practical proofs of this unity.
1. Repugnance to all which is repugnant to Christ; as, e.g., those vices to which allusion is made in the context.
2. Cultivation of the spirit of brotherly love. The “one spirit” must needs be a spirit of true love, linking together the members of the mystical body of Christ, and disposing them to a sympathetic and harmonious action. (Prof. J. R. Thomson.)
The saint one with his Saviour
I. A mysterious deep.
1. There is a joining to the Lord--
2. But what does that word “one spirit” mean? The union between Christ and His people is described by--
(a) Christ and His people have one spirit. The Holy Spirit who quickens us anointed Him. The foot is baptized into the same spirit as the head.
(b) We are of one spirit with Him, i.e., we come to think and feel as Jesus does.
(c) Yet the text saith not that we are of one spirit, but we are one spirit. This is a matter to be understood only by the spiritual mind, and not to be expounded in words. “I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one.” We have known on earth friends who have become one spirit; intimacy and mutual admiration have ripened friendship into unity, till the one seemed to be the complement of the other; one soul in two bodies.
II. A manifest grace.
1. To be one spirit with Christ much more is needed than--
2. As an illustration of what unity of spirit is take that rare conjugal union of those who realise the highest ideal of the married life founded in pure love and cemented in mutual esteem. Their wishes blend, their hearts are indivisible. By degrees they come very much to think the same thoughts. Intimate association creates conformity. So the true Christian grows to think as Christ thinks till the teachings of Jesus are plain to him. Blessed consummation when their hearts at last are all wrapped up in Jesus, even as the bush at Horeb was all on fire with God!
3. Where such union exists, what does it produce? They who are thus one spirit with Christ live--
4. Let me add that if we are fully joined to our Lord, and of one spirit with Him, we shall have--
1. A word of rebuke. We have been joined to Christ, but have we been manifestly one spirit with Him? Angry--was that Christ’s spirit? Worldly--was that Christ’s spirit?
2. A word of hope. We want to have the same spirit as Christ. Well, our hope is that we shall have it, for we are joined to the Lord, and he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The true believer’s union with Christ
I. The explication of this truth.
1. Who are “true believers”?
2. What kind of union is this?
(a) Not a,corporeal union. Christ is in heaven (Acts 1:11; Acts 3:21), we on earth.
(b) Not a hypostatical, personal union; such as that of the Divine and human natures in the person of Christ. Believers make not one person with Christ, but “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13); and that not one body natural, but mystical.
(c) Not an essential, substantial union; not such an union as makes believers in any wise partakers of the substance of Christ’s Godhead.
(d) Not such an union as mounts up believers to an equality with Christ in any respect. “In all things He hath,” and must have, “the pre-eminence” (Colossians 1:18).
(a) A spiritual union.
(b) A mystical, profound union (Ephesians 5:32; John 17:20).
(c) And yet a true, real union. Not a fancy only (Ephesians 5:30). As the head communicates real influences to the body, so Christ communicates to us His Spirit and graces (John 1:16).
(d) An intimate union. Like that of the food with the body which it nourisheth (John 6:54).
(e) A perpetual, indissoluble union (Romans 8:35).
3. What are the efficient causes of this union? They are--
(a) To the whole Godhead (chap. 1:9: 1 Peter 5:10; John 6:44-45; Ephesians 2:6-7).
(b) But more especially to the Spirit of God. He it is that knits this marriage-knot (1 Corinthians 12:13; Titus 3:5).
(a) Outward. Generally all the ordinances of God (Zechariah 4:12). More especially--First, the word read, preached, meditated on, believed, improved. Second, the sacraments. Those spiritual seals and labels which God hath fixed to His covenant of grace.
(b) Inward faith. Not a bare historical, dead faith; but a living, working, justifying, saving faith (Ephesians 3:17; John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 6:56; Galatians 2:20).
II. Confirmation. That there is such a union appears--
1. From those many equivalent expressions whereby the Scriptures hold forth this union.
2. From those several similitudes by which the Scriptures shadow out this union. Believers are said to be--
3. From that communion which there is betwixt Christ and true believers.
(a) In “His fulness” (John 1:16).
(b) In His merits (2 Corinthians 5:21).
(c) In His life and graces (1 Corinthians 1:2).
(d) In His privileges and dignities. Is He a King, a Priest? So are believers (Revelation 1:6; 1 Peter 2:9). Is He a Son, an Heir, by nature? Saints are so by adoption (Romans 8:17).
(e) In His victories (Romans 8:37).
(f) In His triumphs and glory; they share with Him in His throne. All that believers are, is from the grace of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:10; Philippians 4:13), so that they do not so properly live, as Christ in them (Galatians 2:20).
III. Application. Information. Are believers thus closely united unto Christ? Hence see--
2. Examination. To ascertain whether there be such a union betwixt our souls and Christ, let us ask--
(a) A praying Spirit (Zechariah 12:10).
(b) A mourning Spirit.
(c) A sanctifying Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Peter 1:2).
(a) In Christ’s person. Christ Himself is theirs (Jeremiah 32:38; Isaiah 9:6).
(b) In Christ’s properties. Has Christ an arm of power? It is for your protection. Has He an eye of knowledge? It is for your direction. Has He a stock, a treasury, of perfect righteousness? It is for your justification, &c.
(c) In Christ’s promises (2 Peter 1:4). Which are the believers’ Magna Charta, to the confirmation whereof God has been pleased to add both His oath and blood for seals (Hebrews 6:17-18).
(d) in all Christ’s providences (Romans 8:28).
(e) In all (1 Corinthians 3:22-23).
(a) The dreadful, dismal danger of thy present estate. A soul not united unto Christ lies open to all danger imaginable.
(b) Christ’s condescending willingness to be united to thee.
(a) Be very fearful of that which may in any sort weaken your union with Christ.
(b) Wisely improve it.
(c) Labour for a frame of spirit suitable to it.
(d) Walk worthy of it. (T. Lye, A. M.)
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?
The dignity and service of the body
I. The dignity of the body. The apostle speaks in the accents of surprise, as if to imply that they ought to know.
1. Many considerations may commend the sanctification of the flesh to God, e.g.
2. But the apostle takes higher ground. The body of a Christian man is claimed and taken possession of by the God who has redeemed it--and therefore to be treated with the same respect with which a heathen would regard the temple of his idol, or a Jew the holy of holies.
3. Of course this is not true of all men. It is true that the body is fearfully and wonderfully made in all, that there dwells within it an immortal soul full of noble gifts, that body and soul are actuated by a supernatural power. But in natural men that power is the power of God’s enemy. It is to Christians alone that the text applies.
4. Now the idea of temple implies--
II. The service of the body. The Christian who thus thinks of his flesh as the temple of God cannot fail to acquire a higher respect for it, and it is evident that this higher respect will show itself in small things as well as in great. Follow the drunkard or the profligate, who abuse their natural health by sin, and see if the result be not neglect of the body, and misery and suffering in the very flesh they pamper. But let the grace of God change that man’s heart, and what a difference is seen! Now he holds his head erect and takes his place among his fellow-men.
1. We should jealously watch our bodies lest they be polluted with sin.
2. Respect for the body, as the temple of the Holy Ghost, should teach propriety of dress and manner, and even of bodily appearance. A saved body, destined for heaven, is neither to be neglected nor to be made into an idle gewgaw, but is to be treated with the serious propriety which becomes a house of God and the God who fills it.
3. We need to watch over all our habits, so as to keep the body in the fittest state possible to do God’s will. This is the highest object of health, that the members may be instruments of righteousness unto holiness.
4. Learn the due use and place of the body in our worship of God. The real seat of worship is in the heart, but when the heart is right, the body must share the service. Hence arises the propriety of outward forms of worship, of the bended knees, &c. (Canon Garbett.)
The temple of the Holy Ghost
1. There is a great danger in religion--as there is in everything else--of a want of proportion. To the natural man the body is much more than the soul. He can see his body; his soul is a matter of faith. The body can give him immediate pleasure; the pleasures of the soul lie chiefly in the future. To the care of the body there is little or nothing to oppose itself; to the care of the soul, the opposition, both from within and without, is very strong. Hence, to provide for that body takes by far the greatest part of a man’s life. When a man becomes religious these two things change places. The body goes into the shade; the soul is everything. The body is a thing to mortify. In all this because it is extravagant there is a danger that there will follow a reaction, and the body may become again too important, because it was made too insignificant.
2. Now let us see how God’s truth regards “the body.” The whole man is “a temple”; the body its walls; the senses its gates; the mind the nave; the heart the altar-piece; and the soul the holy of holies. And yet, as in common life, we call the walls and the doors the house, so “the body” is called “the temple,” so important, so sacred is “the body.”
3. Christ wore a body and wears it for ever. His discourses were very often about the body, and His miracles were chiefly upon the body. The body finds a place in our daily prayer--“Give me this day my daily bread.”
4. We also know the close connection between the body and the mind! how the state of the one affects the condition of the other; and how the body reflects the inner life of the man. What are features, however delicately formed, without expression? And what makes the expression but thoughts--love, tenderness, sympathy l Or, equally, on the other side, sin lowers, vulgarises, spoils, even distorts the countenance. The real beauty of “the temple” after all is its consecration.
5. And when you are dealing with some fellow-creature, what a new character the whole transaction would assume--if you would recognise the fact that that person is “a temple.” However poor, wretched, weak, wicked. Notwithstanding, the Holy Ghost may be in that man--working, striving. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)
The temple of the Holy Ghost
1. God does not influence us merely from the outside--play upon us as the flame flickers on the bar of the grate, but rather as the heat penetrates into the very heart and core of the iron. He enters the very centre of our being, and makes His influence felt throughout the whole.
2. This indwelling is not merely that natural indwelling which is a necessary attribute of an Infinite Being; it is gracious friendly indwelling (Isaiah 57:15; John 14:23). The apostle employs this figure--
I. To quicken our abhorrence of sensual vice. Nowhere are disorder and neglect more unseemly than in a temple; but of all kinds of disorder and neglect the most repulsive is filth. For a Christian to indulge in sensuality is to commit an abomination to be classed with the sacrilege of Antiochus Epiphanes, who offered a sow on the altar of the Temple.
II. To give an impulse to our desires for greater purity of heart and higher spiritual attainments--for those especially which imprint themselves on, and give elevation to, the bodily features. Not only should the sensual look, the bloated complexion excite our loathing: we should seek for such a state of soul as shall give a pleasing countenance. Cathedral builders used to spend much time and pains on the doorway, so as to make it worthy of the building. The face is the doorway to the soul, and it becomes us to see that it does not discredit the temple. Christian men and women should feel that the dreary look of care, the peevishness of discontent, &c., do not befit those whose bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost.
III. To stimulate us to render God His due. The temple is a place of worship. Net that we can of ourselves provide offerings worthy of God; we must ask Him to give us of His own wherewith to serve Him. But if He dwells in us He will inspire with the feelings and produce in us the fruits that constitute the most acceptable offerings. His presence is not like that of a star in the firmament which, bright though it be, communicates nothing of itself to our distant planet. It is rather like the presence of the sun, which cannot shine without brightening earth and sky and sea; without giving its colour to the rose, its fragrance to the lily, its flavour to the peach; without ripening the golden grain and cheering and brightening the hearts of men. God cannot dwell in the soul without corresponding influences; without fostering love and purity; without making sin more odious and holiness more attractive; without giving it strength to banish the one and to follow the other. Conclusion: The Holy Spirit may be resisted and grieved, and in consequence withdrawn, and the painful discipline of separation and chastisement may be substituted for loving fellowship (Hosea 5:15; Isaiah 57:17). No loss can be more grievous. Far better the keenest application of the scourge than the sentence--“Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone.” (W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)
The redeemed sinner a Scruple of God
I. Whose the Christian is. Before the apostle tells us this, he makes it evident that we must have some master. “Ye are not your own!” You are bondmen. And this is no mere figure of speech. I know that if we look around us, it does not appear true. Freedom, independence, is the boast of earth and the pride of man; but go into heaven, and the very sound of it would dismay. The creature’s real glory and happiness consist in his willing dependence on the God who made him. And this the Christian feels. While others are proudly asking who is lord over them, he knows himself to be God’s property. And this is true of the Christian at all times. God says concerning every living soul and every clay-built dwelling-place a soul has occupied, “They are Mine.”
II. How he became God’s. There were several ways by which one man might become the property of another.
1. He might be born of a slave, and the owner of his parent would have a right to him also. And if Christian fathers could entail a glorious bondage on their children, what pangs and fears would many be spared!
2. He might be purchased. And this was a transaction so common that all would enter into the meaning of any illustration drawn from it. Money transferred the Greek slave from one master to another; so the blood of Jesus is the means whereby the sinner is rescued from his native thraldom, and brought “into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” By sin he became the servant and property of Satan. The blood of Christ makes an atonement for the transgressor’s sin; in a legal sense, it does away with it, and thus annihilates that on which Satan’s title to him rests.
III. What God makes him. A temple, which imports--
1. A rebuilding, a restoration. Man was originally the temple of Jehovah, but sin entered, and, in one short hour, this noble piece of Jehovah’s workmanship became a mournful ruin. Some traces indeed of its original glory may still be discovered, but to what do they amount? They serve only to show the greatness of its degradation. His lofty understanding overthrown; his affections, which once rose to the skies, now grovelling on the earth; a spiritual being, and yet bounded in his ideas and enjoyments by material objects. But the blood of Christ having ransomed, now the grace of Christ transforms him. In the very hour when he becomes the Lord’s, a work of restoration is commenced within him, that never ends till it brings shape and beauty and glory out of a mass of ruins. And this is sanctification.
2. Dedication. It is this which distinguishes a temple from every other building. The purchased sinner is consecrated to holy purposes.
3. Residence, the abode of the Deity within it, to whom it is consecrated. We must labour to take in the idea of God dwelling within us; not carrying on His work of mercy in the heart like a bystander, but as leaven works in the meal, mingling itself with the mass it is changing. To the man of the world this is all a mystery, perhaps a delusion. And no wonder. It is understood only by experience, and of things like this he has had no experience. To the man of God it is a blessed reality. God never enters the heart alone; blessings unspeakable follow in His train--light end purity and joy.
IV. What God expects from him--glory. Now the glory of God is not such a glory as results to a man from the circumstances in which he is placed; its source is to be found in God’s intrinsic excellences. To glorify Him, therefore, is to bring these excellences into light. And the redeemed sinner does this.
1. Passively. His very redemption is an amazing exhibition of the Divine attributes. In this point of view, the creation of a world is as nothing to the salvation of his lost soul.
2. Actively. We are so to live and act that all who see us may be reminded by us of God. Now it is by the body chiefly as an instrument that the work must be done. The seat of religion is the soul, but its effects will be visible in the frame which the soul animates. (C. Bradley, M. A.)
The sacredness of the person
1. The whole person of the believer is as sacred to God as the Temple was. Stronger language is impossible.
2. Our endeavour will be to consider the sacredness and preciousness of the persons of the saints in the light of the price of our redemption. That we should take our stand by the Cross in order to obtain the highest view of human nature may not be consonant with the opinions of many. There are other standpoints.
I. The purpose of the saviour’s life was to redeem mankind. Every great life has its purpose bound up in its very inclination and disposition. This is pre-eminently true of the life of Jesus. The purpose to save men preceded every thought, and left its impress on every act.
II. To ransom mankind was the ruling passion in the life of jesus. The life of the Saviour was unique in the fulfilment of its design.
1. His life was one supreme effort that men may feel that the salvation of the soul is the highest of all objects.
2. The cold reception He received did not damp His ardour.
III. To redeem men jesus laid down his life. It was then the entire surrender of the price became apparent.
IV. What jealous care must be taken to guard this temple from the intrusion of sin! God dwells in you; let no unhallowed thought enter. Let the body be pure. There are two steps in entire consecration--the Spirit of God must sanctify the soul, and the soul must sanctify the body. Therefore, touch no unclean thing. (Weekly Pulpit.)
The Christian’s obligation to a holy life
1. That sinners of every class are excluded from heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9).
2. That sinners of every class have been changed (1 Corinthians 6:11).
3. That those who have been changed are under immense obligations to cultivate a holy life. The text teaches us--
I. That the Christian’s body is the temple of God. The body is frequently called so (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:22). Three ideas are suggested--
1. Special connection with God. God is everywhere, but He had a special connection with the Temple of old. God is with all men, but “Thus saith the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity,” &c.
2. Special consecration to God.
3. Special manifestation of God. Though the universe reveals God, yet, in the Temple was the Shekinah. There is more of God seen in a good man’s life than elsewhere throughout the world.
II. That the Christian’s being is the property of God. “Ye are not your own.”
1. This does not mean--
2. It means that our existence is absolutely at His command; that He has a sovereign right to do with us whatever is pleasing in His sight. The reason of this is assigned. “We are bought with a price.” Christ has redeemed us, and has laid on us the strongest conceivable obligation to live a godly life (Revelation 14:5).
III. That the Christian’s duty is to glorify God. Not to make Him more glorious than He is--this is impossible. A holy mind is glorified in the realisation of its ideals. St. Paul’s Cathedral glorifies architecturally Sir Christopher Wren, inasmuch as it is the realisation of his idea. Man glorifies God when he realises in his life God’s ideal of a man. All beings glorify God as far as they realise His idea of their existence. This includes two things--
1. That the human body be under the absolute government of the soul. The crime and curse of humanity are that matter governs mind; the body rules the soul.
2. That the human soul be under the government of supreme love to God. Love always--
When Pompey captured Jerusalem he entered the Temple. On reaching the vast curtain that hung across the “holy of holies,” into which none but the high priest could enter, and that only on one day of the year, he wondered what the dark recess might contain. He drew the veil aside, but the glory had departed and there was nothing there. How many Christians to-day are like that? Temples without a God. All beautiful outside. But when we lift the veil and pass beyond it to where the glory should be there is nothing to be seen. The glory is gone. This brings to our remembrance the old legend which tells us that on the night before the temple on Zion was burnt, the solemn words of the retreating Divinity were heard sounding through it, “Let us depart.” “I will arise and return unto My place till they acknowledge their offences.” Should this voice be heard to-day by you, let your cry be, “Abide with me, King of life and glory. Leave me not!” And the answer will come, “This is My rest for ever, here--mystery of love--will I dwell, for I have desired it, even the temple of thy heart.”
The temple of God must not be defaced
What right has any man or any woman to deface the temple of the Holy Ghost? What is the ear? Why, it is the whispering-gallery of the human soul. What is the eye? It is the observatory God constructed, its telescope sweeping the heavens. What is the hand? An instrument so wonderful that when the Earl of Bridgewater bequeathed in his will £8,000 sterling for treatises to be written on the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, and Dr. Chalmers found his subject in the adaptation of external nature to the moral and intellectual constitution of man, and the learned Dr. Whewell found his subject in astronomy, Sir Charles Bell, the great English anatomist and surgeon, found his greatest illustration of the wisdom, power, and goodness of God in the construction of the human hand, writing his whole book on that subject. So wonderful are these bodies that God names His own attributes after different parts of them. His omniscience--it is God’s eye. His omnipresence--it is God’s ear. His omnipotence--it is God’s arm. The upholstery of the midnight heavens--it is the work of God’s fingers. His life-giving power--it is the breath of the Almighty. His dominion--the government shall be upon His shoulder. A body so Divinely honoured and so Divinely constructed, let us be careful not to abuse it. When it becomes a Christian duty to take care of our health, is not the whole tendency toward longevity? If I toss my watch about recklessly, and drop it on the pavement, and wind it up any time of day or night I happen to think of it, and often let it run down, while you are careful with your watch, and you never abuse it, and you wind it up at just the same hour every night, and then put it away in a place where it will not suffer from the violent changes of atmosphere, which watch will last the longer? Common sense answers. Now, the human body is God’s watch. You see the hands of the watch, you see the face of the watch; but the beating of the heart is the ticking of the watch. Oh! be careful and do not let it run down. (T. De Witt Talmage.)
Keep thyself pure
(sermon to young men):--
1. Do not be surprised at the intensity of this remonstrance. Only think what a conception St. Paul had of the purity which Christ required; think what a sink of iniquity was the city of Corinth. It was London and Paris in one. It combined the worship of Plutus and Venus. The extravagance of its luxury was only matched by the depth of its licentiousness. Corinth was at that time the Vanity Fair of the Roman Empire. You might be tempted to say--Ah! no Christian could remain pure in such a place. So some of the young men of Corinth thought, and the apostle wrote to them that it was an entire mistake. I believe some of you young men have just the same notion that these Corinthians had. You say London is quite as trying to one’s principles as ever Corinth was. Perhaps so; yet even in Corinth there were those who remained proof against contamination. The grace of God proved sufficient for them.
2. Of course, he is here writing to Christian men (1 Corinthians 6:11). It was of little use to exhort others to a life of purity. An unconverted man regards himself as his own property, and naturally feels that he may deal with that property as he chooses. The alternative is to be the redeemed of the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:20). Christ gave His life for our salvation, that all who accept of Him should be saved; and if we believe, He claims us as His own. This is not a hardship, but a joyous liberty. And the secret of it is, that He puts His Holy Spirit within us, making us new creatures, with new desires, new likings, new motives.
3. Our body then becomes the “temple “ of this Divine Spirit, and all its members are under His control. It is a very solemn and suggestive metaphor. There is no consecrated edifice that is really so sacred as the body of a Christian. The temple at Jerusalem has for ages been laid in ruins:; the only temples God now owns are the two which Paul so clearly defines in this epistle; first, the spiritual society of His own people in the aggregate (1 Corinthians 3:16), and, secondly, the fleshly frame of each individual believer.
4. Perhaps the most common plea with which the impure quiet conscience is that which the apostle here challenges, “Our bodies are our own; we may do with them what we will.” But they are not your own, says Paul; your bodies are the purchased property of the Lord, and are consecrated by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What an argument against self-indulgence in any form! These are, as we are told in this chapter, sins “against the body”; desecrations of God’s own temple! And if “any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” You recollect that, when Christ was about to visit the Jewish Temple of old, and found its hallowed precincts defiled, He made a scourge of cords, and drove out all the vile intruders. There are young men in some of our mercantile houses, respectable in appearance, and gentlemanly in bearing, who, through vicious indulgence, have already gathered a hell around them, from whose tortures they can find no escape. How did they begin? By being irregular in their habits, careless in making acquaintanceships, tampering with stimulants, and theatre-going, and gambling; and finally, every conceivable form of Satanic revelry! Ah! let me ask, “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.”
5. Oh, the heartlessness of vice! It is not so long ago since a young man of good family., excellent prospects, and pleasing address, died miserably like a dog in Paris, with not one to shed a tear over his cold clay, of all the depraved profligates that had sponged him and joined in his hilarious orgies.
6. There are plenty who will try to persuade you that it is a sign of weakness to be pure, and call you verdant, orapuritanical, and ask if you are still tied to your mother’s apron-strings. And, unless you are prepared to stand that vulgar bluster, you are all but certain to be caught; and from the gates of hell shall ascend another shout of victory. I remember what a thrill went through me, as I first gazed upon the gloomy walls of the Prison de la Roquette, in Paris, which is set apart for criminals that are condemned to be executed, and read over those huge, hideous gates the inscription, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here!” Bat hardly less hopeless are those who once enter upon the path of the profligate. Facilis descensus Averni. Oh, keep a thousand miles from the verge of the pit! Avoid everything that is likely to act as an incentive to sin.
7. Perhaps you think of these bodies as mere temporary tabernacles, soon to be taken down and dissolved. There is a certain measure of truth in this, of course. But in a higher sense, the Christian’s body is not a tabernacle, but a temple, a permanent and enduring structure (Romans 8:11). Oh, with what a magnitude of interest and importance does this thought invest these fleshly temples! Some time ago an aged saint was being borne to his burial. He had been very poor, and with indecent haste they were shuffling his coffin out of their way, as though glad to get rid of him, when an old minister who observed it, said, “Tread softly, for you are carrying a temple of the Holy Ghost.” (J. Thain Davidson, D. D.)
Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price.--
Ye are not your own
1. To be “our own” is our very greatest ambition. To be our own masters, that is nature. To feel bought with a price, to forego all independence, to own ourselves God’s property, and to seek His glory--that is grace.
2. When Satan first attacked our first parents, nothing could have done so well as this, “Ye shall be as gods”; and, in that reach to be their own, they perished.
3. God has been pleased so to order it, that no man can truly say, “I am my own”; “Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are,” &c. Oh, we all know how we are trammelled by circumstances, there is not a single action in our life that is perfectly free. In what a higher sense this word is true of those to whom it was said, “Ye are not your own.”
4. Of all the happy conditions upon earth, the happiest is to give up the whole heart to an authority which the whole heart can quite love and respect--an authority also which only needs proprietorship to make the relationship exquisite and the engagement perfect. Note--
I. God’s property in you.
1. Had one whole world been given for your salvation the price would have been a large one; but the whole universe would not have given so great a sum as the death of Christ. One single life offered for you would have been vast, but Essential Life Himself was the ransom of your soul. Ought you to be a poor, wretched slave, to fear sin, death, and hell, when the Son of God took fear, sin, death, and hell into His own heart to make you free?
2. The art of man may contrive a thing, and he has a right to anything that he has made. But he contrives out of what he finds already made, not what he brings into creation. But God made your body, soul, and spirit. A father has a right to his child, but God has done more than made you His child, for He has given you the spirit of a child, to cry “Abba Father.” A husband has a property in his wife--but marriage is only a type of the union between Christ and His Church. Every man has a right to his own body--Christ has more than a right to His body, being the Head, and we all members in particular; so that each condition of life teaches us with one common voice, “Ye are not your own.”
II. The consequences arising from that fact.
1. The great privilege which attaches to being the property of God. What-ever property one has, it entails certain duties upon the proprietors, and certainly God will not fail in fulfilling the great relationship in which He stands to His creatures. Are you “not your own,” but God’s? Then observe “ all things are yours,” &c. God holds Christ--Christ holds you--you hold everything. Then if “you are not your own,” nothing which you have is your own, not your cares, griefs, or sins. God has undertaken for you in everything. The member may pass everything up to its Head--the thing possessed may refer everything to its possessor.
2. The duties which spring out of this great privilege.
Man acting independent of God
The principle which is recognised in these words is the very reverse of that by which all men are naturally actuated. We reason, we act, not as if our bodies and our spirits were God’s, but as if they were our own. This is the fault of human nature. Man is a fallen creature, in a state of apostasy. He has cast off his allegiance to God. God is not in all his thoughts; God’s authority is not acknowledged, His glory is not regarded, His law is not obeyed. And what is the cause of all this? Does he not know that he is God’s? Is he ignorant that all he is, and all he has, are from God? If the authority of God can only be established in the conscience, if His right to reign in the heart, and to demand all we are and have, be once acknowledged, what solicitude, what sorrow for sin, what opposition to self, what efforts, what prayers, what gratitude, what submission, will be the result! And who can escape the conviction that the whole heart, and mind, and soul and strength, should be given unto God?
I. What can more clearly show that we think ourselves our own, than presuming to devise our own religion? God has vouchsafed to us a communication of His purposes. He has favoured us with the inestimable blessing of revelation. Now what is the disposition with which we should receive it? We know that it is with meekness we should receive the engrafted word. But where is this meekness to be found? Truly not in natural men. It is not the religion which is most agreeable to the revelation of God, but most consonant with the opinions of the world, which they adopt. There is an amazing insolence and impiety, and casting off subjection in calling good evil and evil good, in adding to the Word of God or in taking from it, and thus in virtually finding fault with the instructions of Divine wisdom, which is in fact finding fault with God Himself, and expressing a wish that He were the reverse of what He is. It is saying, We are our own, and we will have a religion according to our own wisdom and our own wishes. It is a dangerous thing, however plausible, to contend for the right of private judgment, and to suppose that if we only follow the dictates of our own conscience, and adopt sentiments such as we think to be sound, we must be right. The rule of faith and the rule of practice remain uninfluenced by the changes of conscience, and immutably the same, whether conscience approves and disapproves, perfectly or imperfectly. And a man is equally responsible to God whether his conscience is enlightened or unenlightened, and every time he contends for the authority of conscience in opposition to that of God, he does in fact, like that man of sin, oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he as God, sitteth on the throne of God, showing himself that he is God. Error is far from being harmless. It has a most pernicious effect upon practice. And in proportion to the importance which is attached to sentiments is the evil which those that are erroneous produce.
II. We act as if we were our own by doing our own will. A respect unto all God’s commandments is the only thing which can prove our regard to His will. If we keep the whole law, with the exception of one point, we are guilty of all. Whether, therefore, we are moral, or immoral, and whether we observe religious duties, or neglect them, we are, in all this, consulting our own will, and acting upon the supposition that we are our own. Nor is the case at all altered by our good conduct proceeding from conscientious motives and the fear of God’s wrath. For a man’s conscience may be awakened, and his fears excited, so as to constrain him to do many things with the view of conciliating God’s favour, and saving his soul, while at the same time his partial obedience furnishes abundant evidence that his own will is still preferred to the will of God, and that, in the most plausible parts of his conduct, he is not actuated by any genuine principles of obedience.
III. We act as if we were our own by seeking our own ends. Whatever we do in an unregenerate state, whether it be in itself good or bad, we seek in it an end that is not worthy of God. We have said that the true end of man is to glorify God. But men seek, not the honour of God, but their own honour. They not only do their own will, but they do it for their own purposes. The original depravity of man is so entire that it is a difficult and long-protracted business to make him, with all his new and Divine nature, propose the glory of God as the end of all his ways. (M. Jackson.)
God’s right to our services on the ground of creation
I. Because we were made by Him. The more we know of the structure of the human frame, how fearfully and wonderfully we are made, the more are we persuaded that it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves. And if we consider that we are made of the dust of the earth, that if God bad not breathed into us the breath of life, we must have been nothing better than the dust under our feet; we shall see the propriety of glorifying God in our bodies which are His. And if we contemplate the rational understanding, the immortal spirit, by which we are distinguished from the beasts that perish, and assimilated to angels, and to God, we shall perceive that these are a still higher ground of claim upon us for services the most spiritual. When human creatures use their bodies and their,spirits for the low purposes of sensuality, vanity, and ambition, or without any view to the service and honour of Him whose they both are, they are guilty of an injustice to God and a robbery of God, which, if conscience were not stupefied or perverted, would fill them with horror and overwhelm them with fear. Who call calculate the value of an immortal existence and of a capacity for happiness, exalted as its Divine original, and lasting as eternity? Who can calculate his obligations to God for such an existence? And who, then, can calculate the extent of his wickedness in habitually forgetting that he is not his own in using that existence without any avowed aim to the will and glory of its Author? I need not say that the bodies of them whose god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, and who mind earthly things, are not used for the purpose of honouring God, for in all this God’s laws are violated and His glory given to another. All who live in pleasure are dead while they live and dishonour God in their bodies. And it is equally clear that they who live in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another, as well as they who argue against religion and would discourage piety, are not glorifying God in their spirits, but openly dishonouring Him. Have you considered, and do you act upon the principle, that as all your faculties of body and of mind are God’s, they ought to be employed for the promotion of His glory?
II. We were made for God. The great end of creation is the glory of God. And all things, but men and devils, do glorify Him. Angels in heaven glorify Him, and all things in heaven and earth, and in the waters under the earth, glorify Him, by manifesting His perfections. Fallen men and fallen angels only answer not the design of their creation. Now let this truth be remembered--that you were made for the purpose of glorifying God. And would you oppose and defeat the end of your existence? Shall there be no concurrence between the design of God in giving you life and your design in living? How great must be that guilt which is contracted by living in opposition to the great end of God in calling us into being! Few things excite more opposition in the human mind than the attempt to reinstate God upon His throne, to assert His right to reign in our hearts, the Sovereign of our thoughts and affections, and to maintain that it is our duty to resolve all we think, and speak, and do, into His will. This is being righteous overmuch; this is enthusiasm. Now, can anything show more clearly how completely we have departed from God, how totally opposed to Him we are in the spirit of our minds? Remember we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, and how shall we dare to appear as usurpers before our Sovereign and our Judge? If you exalt yourselves against God He will bring you down, and who shall deliver? (J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Not your own
1. The passion for freedom is probably the strongest. Nothing is more wonderful than the secret working of this passion in securing gradual emancipation. There have been times when ages of serfdom had apparently crushed it out; but at the first impulse from without it was seen that the fire of freedom did not smoulder; and when the impulse has grown strong the passion has sometimes maddened men, blinding them to all sense of justice. And so the spirit of freedom has in turn made slaves of them. It was so in Paris a hundred years ago.
2. A large proportion of the members of this church were slaves. You can imagine what a gospel the life of Christ would be to these. And, to the honour of those who organised the first churches, we must always remember that they were not afraid to welcome the slave. Well, then, you may say, “Was it not a cruel thing of the apostle to remind them that they were not their own?” Have you ever wondered why Paul should describe himself as “the bond slave of Christ”? Was it not because the people to whom he was writing were slaves, and as if he would say, “I too am a slave; I too am bound, not with iron, but by love”? What a grand revelation that was to the slaves! “Ye are Christ’s.” No chains or bondage could alter that. Better the fetter and the chain with Christ than the purple and the throne without Him.
3. And now these words have just as splendid a ring for us to-night. The law has discovered that they are true in part. The other day they brought before a court of justice a frightened, miserable woman, who had tried to drown herself. She pleaded that her life was not worth preserving. She said it was hers, and she could do with it as she liked. But the law stepped in and said, “You are not your own. Your life is not your own. You have no right to squander it.” This meant that the law is founded on the Christian principle that every man’s life belongs to his fellow-men as well as to himself. And that was what Christ came to teach. His life was given for everybody.
4. But the idea is not only what you may not do, but what you must do If you are Christ’s, then every thought, word, action, must be what Christ would have them be. When Peter and John first began to preach in Jerusalem they were thrown into prison, and strictly commanded not to preach any more in that name. But Peter answered “We must.” It is not a question whether we should like an easy-going life. We must obey God, though it leads us to stripes, imprisonment, and the cross (see also Acts 21:11-14).
5. But perhaps you think that such claims are only strong when we reach manhood or womanhood. But think of Christ, at twelve years of age, saying, “I must be in My Father’s house.” Twelve years of age, but He felt the power of the Divine “must,” and yet that One was Lord of heaven and earth. Surely if any one could go through life with no constraint it was He; but He saw that to redeem mankind, even Omnipotence could not refuse to take the cross from childhood to the grave. “Even Christ pleased not Himself.”
6. And now what part has that Divine “must” begun to play in your life? Do you feel that it is stronger than the “must” of men? Young man in business, would you let the word of an earthly master outweigh the command of the heavenly Master? Do you think you can slight Christ on the week-day and make it up to Him on the Sunday? Young men, newly awakening to find how strong the streams of tendency are in this world, look at life in the light of Christ, and not in the light of what everybody says and does. It is no excuse for looseness of conduct that it is the fashion. Christ waged relentless war against many of the fashions of His day. Servants, remember whose you are and whom you serve. You can hire your souls out and no wages can recompense you for the loss of them. There may be some here who have received from the Master on trust certain talents which they have been hiding in the earth. If you are letting your lives rust, remember you are abusing another’s property, for “you are not your own,” &c. (C. S. Horne, M. A.)
Not our own
1. The first motives which influence us in Christian experience are usually self-regarding; and it is natural and right that they should be so. Salvation stands at the beginning of the Christian course, in order that our self-regarding interests may be set at rest, and that we may thus be left free to pursue an end that lies outside them, and yet is in perfect harmony with them.
2. We are not only redeemed from death, but purchased unto God. So long as we claimed to be our own, Satan possessed a certain legal right over us. He moved man to break away from his original relations with God, and to claim himself for himself. In doing so man became a spiritual outlaw, and as such fell under the supremacy of the prince of lawlessness. The great enemy held him by right as well as by might, because it is God’s law that what we sow we reap.
3. But, on the other hand, since Satan owes his power against us to the operation of Divinely-ordained law, when once the necessities of law are satisfied, the claims of Satan against us are cancelled. Thus we are ransomed from Satan the moment that we are justified before God, and brought back to that position from which man fell of being God’s and not our own. Only Adam belonged to God because He had made him for Himself; we belong to God because He has bought us back. Thus a new element is introduced into the case, and one that appeals to all the strongest emotions of our nature. He who robs a Divine Creator of that which He has made for His own glory commits a crime, no doubt; but he who has been brought back from the fatal effects of this crime by the dearth of his Benefactor, and then declines to recognise his obligation, is guilty of an enormity which casts that other crime into the shade.
4. As the result of redemption we come under the influence of Him whose will is law throughout the universe, and whose entrance into our nature insures our true moral freedom. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes us free from the law of sin and death. But here is a new property claim, a claim de facto where the others were claims de jure. His presence is our liberty, for “where the Spirit of God is there is liberty”; but it is the liberty which comes by full surrender of ourselves to Him. He does not enter our nature either as a conqueror, trampling down all resistance, nor as a mere auxiliary to help us out of a difficulty; rather as a constitutional Sovereign to reign according to the true laws of our ransomed nature.
5. But it is not by any means the rule that we apprehend His claims all at once. When the benefit that we seek has been obtained, it is only natural that, having been greatly forgiven, we should greatly love. But, alas! these warm feelings do not always last, when they subside the devotion subsides with them. It often happens, therefore, that after a considerable time has passed from the moment of conversion, the Holy Spirit leads us back, as it were, to the cross to learn more fully the lesson which we only partially learned. We find perhaps that we have been acting as though God existed for us, instead of realising that we exist for God; and then comes the definite question leading up to an equally definite decision, Is it to be self or God? When the Spirit of God thus induces a crisis, it often happens that a very marked and definite act of consecration ensues, bringing about an entirely new epoch in our Christian life. (W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)
Ye are bought with a price.--
God’s right to our services on the ground of redemption
If on the ground of creation God has a right to our services and may demand that we glorify Him with our bodies, and with our spirits because He hath made them, it must be evident that His right to them on the ground of redemption is still stronger.
I. The guilt which soul and body had contracted, Jesus Christ hath not bought us with a price when innocent and deserving. His redemption supposes immeasurable guilt, the violation of a law which is holy and just and good, the rejection of Divine authority, the contempt of Divine majesty, the impeachment of Divine wisdom, the abuse of Divine godness, the defiance of Divine vengeance, the crime of injustice, and ingratitude, and rebellion, and sacrilege. Look at the defiled body and the polluted spirit, see in them everything that is earthly and sensual and devilish, and say if there is in them any quality to attract the Divine favour. Is there not everything fitted to excite the abhorrence of Him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity? And yet He redeems you! He redeems you from the vileness of your bodies, and the apostasy of your spirits. What, then, is the perverseness, the accumulated ingratitude and sacrilege of using bodies and spirits so redeemed for the purpose of still dishonouring Him!
II. But connected with this guilt is danger. Every sinner is exposed to the curse of God, and, but for redemption, must perish eternally. It is redemption from ruin by which you are urged to glorify God, in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Who does not feel the force of this argument? Who can feet that he owes his deliverance from ruin, his deliverance from even temporal distress, to the benevolent exertions of a friend, without feeling himself bound by ties of gratitude to serve him to the utmost of his power? And shall that be withheld from Christ and from God which is so freely yielded to man?
III. Christ redeems the body and soul, not only from ruin, but ruin immeasubable. Who can calculate the misery of them who are destroyed both body and soul in hell? Is a cold and reluctant service an appropriate return for deliverence from everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power?
IV. Christ has not only redeemed body and soul from everlasting destruction, but by His redemption has procured for them immeasurable felicity. Does the circumstance of our ears being familiar with the sound of fulness of joy in the presence of God, and of pleasures at His right hand for evermore, render the felicity of heaven less valuable? Substantiate all this felicity. View it as a reality, as a reality at hand, as that which yourselves must possess, or not possess, in the course of a few fleeting moments, and then say whether there is not a reasonableness, a suitableness in glorifying God in those spirits, and in those bodies, which are to be the subjects of this felicity through the efficacy of His redemption.
V. The greatness of the price with which you have been bought. You were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. And can you, after this purchase, question His right to your bodies and your spirits? Can you think that you are justified in withholding your services from Jesus Christ, in living to yourselves, in not inquiring into His will, in not devoting yourselves to His glory? Why should the principles of justice be recognised in your transactions with men, and renounced in your dealings with God? But God demands your services, not merely because He has bought them with a price, hut because in buying them He extends to you--
VI. The most immeasurable mercy. It is infinite mercy that redeems you from destruction the most awful, infinite mercy that exalts you to happiness the most inconceivable, infinite mercy that buys you with a price the most costly, by all this infinite mercy so manifested you are urged to glorify God. How fervent should be our love, how animated our exertions! Every thought and every affection should be God’s. Were we suitably affected by His love, we should see sin and ingratitude in every thought and word and work. The insensibility and worldliness of our minds and the inadequacy of our best returns would humble us in the dust. And our disproportionate humility itself, for making returns so imperfect, would be numbered among our grievous offences. The more of heart and soul we put into our services the more of freedom and delight shall we enjoy. We can imagine no happiness equal to that of living as not our own, living to God only, constrained by gratitude, and directed by justice to serve Him whose we are. (M. Jackson.)
Redemption and its claims
(text and 1 Corinthians 7:23):--
I. “ye are bought with a price.”
1. Redemption is a greater mercy than creation. It is no mean blessing to have been made, and to have been made a man rather than a dog, to have been blest with intellect and an immortal spirit; but for all that it would be better for thee that thou hadst never been born, if thou art not redeemed.
2. Providence also calls before our minds a great mass of mercies; but providence is second in its blessedness to redemption.
3. Redemption is that which gives effect to all the other great blessings of God.
II. Therefore redemption is the Lord’s paramount claim upon us. Other claims, such as those of creation and providence, are forcible, but this claim is overwhelming. The love of Christ constraineth us. Think--
1. What you were redeemed from.
2. Reflect most lovingly upon that dear friend who redeemed you. Not an angel, but Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever.
3. Then think of the price He paid. The text does not tell us about it, and surely the reason is that words cannot express the mighty sum. The famous painter, when he drew the picture of Agamemnon at the sacrifice of his daughter, felt that he could not depict the sorrow of the father’s countenance, and therefore he wisely put a veil over it, and represented him as hiding his face from the fearful sight. So the apostle seems to have felt. This price has been fully paid. I have seen lands which have belonged to men who were reputed to be rich, but there was a heavy mortgage upon them. But there is no mortgage on the saints. “It is finished,” said the Saviour, and finished it was.
III. The extent of this claim.
1. The first text says--
(a) The body. This body of yours is holy, and it will rise again from the dead. I charge you, by the blood of Christ, never defile this body either by drunkenness or by lust.
(b) The spirit. Keep that pure too. Christ has not bought these eyes that they should read novels calculated to lead me into vanity and vice, such as are published nowadays. Christ has not bought this brain of mine that I may revel in the perusal of works of blasphemy and filthiness. He has not given me a mind that I may drag it through the mire. Your whole manhood belongs to God if you are a Christian. Every faculty, talent, possibility of your being--all were bought.
(a) That I may not claim the right to do what I please, but what Christ pleases. I am to please my Master in everything.
(b) That I may not follow my own tastes if in any way I should so bring dishonour to the name of Christ.
(c) That I must not trust my own reasonings. If I were my own teacher, then, of course, I should learn my lessons from my own book; but I have a Rabbi, even Jesus, and I am resolved with meekness to learn of Him.
(d) That I must not seek my own ends. I must not live in this world that I may trade and get riches, but it must be that I may use them for Him.
2. In my second text the apostle draws another inference: “Be not ye the servants of men.”
Redemption, and its claims
There is within us a strange tendency to the acquisition of property, and therefore there is something startling in this announcement. We have been gloating upon our fancied proprietorship; it awakens us to the consciousness that we are only stewards. Nay, it lays hold upon ourselves, “Ye are not your own.” And this may perhaps account for the comparatively trifling success with which religion has been favoured. It allows no compromise, it claims supreme and undivided homage. Notice--
I. The great fact asserted, that we are purchased, and tee position into which we are brought because of that purchase.
1. While we would insist upon this as the prime cause of our being the property of God, we would not be supposed to invalidate others. “He has made us, and not we ourselves.” He has, from the beginning, even until now, preserved the creatures He has made. But in redemption He has so impressively displayed His interest in our welfare, His yearning over His purchased possession. The apostle’s language implies an acknowledgment of our fall, and refers to the provision of that covenant by which that fall was to be remedied. You will not fail to remark how Christ Himself spoke of those who believe on Him as peculiarly His own. “My sheep,” &c. His great purpose was that He “might purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” If that people are spoken of in their collective capacity, they are as the Church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood. As to these declarations, the statement of St. Peter comes as a hallowed appendix. “Ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things,” &c. Now, surely there can be no more strictly legal title to property than this.
2. Note an exquisite fitness in the connection between the purchase, and the position into which that purchase brings us. Such is the grasping tendency of the human heart, that it must have something to lay hold of outside itself, and it will never willingly denude itself of any object of solicitude and love. Hence, if you would dispossess the mind of one object, you, must overbear it with the preference of another. If you extirpate one affection you must introduce another into its room. We see this strikingly illustrated in the progress of human life. The tastes and habits of childhood depart, but the heart is not bereft; new tastes acquire their influence, new affections exert their ascendancy. So it is in reference to matters of a higher moment. You will never drive from a worldling the pursuit which engrosses him by a mere naked demonstration of its worthlessness and folly. All that you say is true, and the man knows it; but the spell is over him. And is it not natural, when you think of the feelings of the man, and of what you are wishing him to do? You tell him to cultivate religion: it is his abhorrence. You tell him to renounce the world; why, it is all he has. Here, then, comes the question. We cannot prevail upon the heart by the simple act of resignation to give up everything unpleasing to God. May we not induce it to admit a higher affection? Here it is that the fitness of the connection becomes apparent. “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price.” The heart, which all other means had failed to affect, is melted by the power of the Spirit, applying the gospel of God. We can deny the claim no longer; we acknowledge it at once as a natural and inalienable right, and we are bound to it with a tenderer tie, because He, to whom we are to swear our fealty, has been mysteriously one of ourselves. Our sense of possession is gratified.
3. Does not this point out the most effective method of preaching? It is not the demonstration of the moral law, but the preaching of Christ that prevails. This is the master spell; this, like the rod of the prophet, swallows up the enchantments of opposing sorcery. I announce it, then, as a natural and inalienable right. “Ye are not your own.” Everything around you urges to a recognition of the claim. Nature reminds you of it, as in the fulness of her gleeful melody she wakes her hymn of praise, acknowledging her dependence on Him by whom she is sustained. Providence reminds you of it. It sounds from the tomb, where the forms you loved are sleeping. Above all, grace reminds you of it. “I beseech you, by the mercies of God.” That is the culminating point even of an apostle’s motive.
II. The course of conduct which a consideration of such position is calculated to induce you to pursue. “Therefore glorify God,” &c. We need not remind you that by no service of yours can you increase God’s glory; but you may make it manifest. God is always glorified whenever He is seen.
1. Let your devotedness to God be entire.
2. Let your devotedness be benevolent. Spend yourselves in energetic effort for the conversion of your fellows, and for the spread of the gospel among them. And never, certainly, were we called upon more impressively to let our devotion be benevolent than now--now, when the conflict between sense and faith, between the ceremonial and the spiritual, between the idolatries and the ever-living has commenced, and a thousand voices of the universe are pealing out the challenge, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” (W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)
Redemption and its obligations
I. The proposition: “Ye are not your own.”
1. Note here two things:
(a) Derivative beings, and flow from the Source of Being.
(b) Dependent beings, and owe their continued preservation to the goodness of God.
(c) Subordinate to the First; made for His ends and uses.
(a) We ought not to seek our own. But, when gain shall be preferred before godliness, what is this but a base self-seeking unworthy of a Christian--nay, of a man?
(b) We are not at our own disposal. And this should teach us patience in all the crosses and sad occurrences of our lives.
(c) We ought not to follow our own wills and affections.
(d) We ought not to look upon anything as our own.
(e) No sin should be our own.
2. Now, lest you should be put to seek for an owner, the apostle informs you who it is that lays in His claim to you, even the great and universal Lord of Heaven and Earth, whose all things are by a most absolute and indisputable right: Ye are God’s.
Now the love and mercy of God, in redeeming us, is far more eminent than in creating us. And therefore His right and title to us, upon this account, is far greater. For--
(a) Creation only gives us a being, and in this our sinful condition only capacitates us for woe. But redemption opens a way to happiness.
(b) Redemption has been more expensive to God than creation.
II. The reason: “For ye are bought with a price.”
1. What this price is (1 Peter 1:18-19).
2. To whom this price was paid; to our great creditor, God.
3. What we are redeemed from.
(a) His tempting power is restrained.
(b) His accusing power is rebuked.
(c) His tormenting power shall be wholly abolished.
III. The inference: “Therefore glorify God,” &c.
1. What is it to glorify God?
2. How we ought to glorify God.
3. What force and influence the consideration of our redemption ought to have upon us, to oblige us thus to glorify God.
(a) The price He paid infinitely exceeds the value of all that thou art and hast.
(b) All the use which thy Saviour can make of thee is only that thou shouldst glorify Him; and, by obedience shouldst serve to the setting forth of His praise (Titus 2:14).
(c) If thou livest not to thy Saviour, who by His death purchased thee, thou art guilty of sacrilege, the worst robbery and most branded injustice in the world.
(d) If, instead of glorifying Him by thy obedience, thou dishonourest Him by thy rebellions and impieties, thou not only defraudest Him of His servant, but, what is infinitely worse, of the very price that He paid.
(a) What it is you are redeemed from.
(b) With what price He hath bought us.
For consider, first, if God had put the terms of thy redemption into thy own hands, couldst thou have offered less for the ransom of thy soul? Secondly, that Christ hath infinitely abased Himself to procure thy redemption; and therefore, at least, ingenuity and gratitude should engage thee to exalt and glorify Him,
IV. Application. Consider--
1. It is the great end of our beings to glorify God, and indeed the noblest end that we could be created for. And if thou dost otherwise
2. That God will certainly have His glory out of thee. If thou Wilt not glorify His holiness by thy obedience, thou shalt glorify His justice by thy perdition.
3. By glorifying God we do indeed but glorify ourselves. For He hath been pleased so graciously to intwist His glory and ours together, that, whilst we endeavour to promote the one, we do but indeed promote the other (1 Samuel 2:30). (E. Hopkins, D. D.)
Obedience the fruit of redemption
I. Your state.
1. “Ye are not your own!” You are not the masters of your own actions; the framers of your own condition; the proprietors of your own persons. No being can be his own, unless he be supreme, independent, self-existent.
2. Ye are “bought with a price.”
II. Your duty. This reminds us--
1. Of our complex nature.
2. That the body is not to be excluded or undervalued in religion. It is the workmanship of God, and displays much of His perfection. He has redeemed it, and will glorify it. Religion is not only a real, but a visible thing. The form of godliness is nothing without the power; but when the form is produced by the power, it is comely and useful.
3. That in all the duties of religion we are indispensably bound to glorify God in our spirit, as well as in our body.
4. That we are to glorify God in our corporeal and spiritual powers respectively by exertions peculiar to each.
III. The connection between your state and your duty, or the derivation of the one from the other. “Therefore.” The inference is natural.
1. Does not Justice demand this dedication?
2. If we do not glorify God, are we not chargeable with the vilest ingratitude?
3. Is not this glorification of God the very end of your redemption? Were you rescued from bondage to be lawless? or to become your own masters?
4. How can you determine your actual interest in this redemption, unless you have dedicated yourselves unto God? He is the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him. (W. Jay.)
Redemption by price
1. Attacks have often been made upon the doctrine of redemption, for it is well known to be the Redan of the gospel. These onslaughts have in many instances professed to be mere corrections of our phraseology. True, some may have carried ideas of the shop and the counter into their notion of redemption, but even these were nearer the truth than those who reduce the ransom paid by Christ to nothing. Paul, at any rate, was not afraid of the mercantile theory, for he writes, “Ye are bought with a price.” And did not Christ say that He came “to give His life a ransom for many”? Though we were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, the transaction was none the less real and effective.
2. It is a high honour to our fallen race that man is the only redeemed creature in the universe. Rebellious angels are left to their doom. Hence man cost God more than the whole universe beside. The Lord could speak worlds into existence; but to erect the new creation of redeemed men He must endure the loss of His own Son.
3. This work of redemption is many-sided. We have been redeemed--
I. Compensation, and yet gain.
1. Compensation. You have surrendered as believers your right and property in yourselves, for--
2. Actual gain. Our loss itself is an advantage. We are set free from self, that worse than Egyptian bondage, whose wage is death. We are set free from Satan, and is not that a gain? Once the world was our lord, but what gain it is to feel that we are no longer the servants of men!
II. High value and yet lowliness.
1. Value is clearly here, for God thinks not lightly of man, but esteems him sufficiently to buy him with the richest price conceivable. You are not a thing to be trifled with. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” Never, therefore, give up your body to idleness or uncleanness. Use yourselves only for honourable purposes, for God puts honour upon you.
2. You are precious, but you must yet be lowly, for whatever value there is about you, you do not belong to yourself. You are the goods and chattels of Christ: as you were once sold under sin, so are you now “bought with a price.” Our honour lies in our owner. God forbid that we should glory in anything except that we belong to Christ.
III. Security and yet watchfulness.
1. Security. He who owns you is able to keep you. If you were to perish, who would be the loser? Why, He to whom you belong.
2. Reason for watchfulness. Take great care of yourselves, for you are a king’s treasure. If a thing is my own I may do what I like with it, but if it is entrusted to my care I must mind how I behave towards it, or else I shall be an unfaithful steward.
IV. Consecration and yet perfect liberty.
1. Consecration. You are to dedicate yourself wholly to the Lord, because you are not partly, but wholly redeemed. Do you keep back any faculty you possess from Christ? Is not this robbery? How would you like to think of that particular reservation as being unredeemed? Which portion is it which is to be unconsecrated? The body? What, have you an unredeemed body? never to rise from the dust? or do you give to Christ your heart, but reserve your mind? Have you, then, an unredeemed intellect? Withhold not your voice, but sing for Jesus, or speak for Him, if you can, &c.
2. But there is with this a perfect liberty. To be consecrated to Christ is the sure way to give to all our faculties the fullest play. If we are encased within the compass of the law we are no more restricted than a bird which is imprisoned in the air, or a fish in the ocean. Obedience to Christ is our element.
V. Submission and expectancy.
1. Submission. “Ye are not your own,” and therefore God has a right to do whatever He wills with you.
2. Side by side with that comes expectancy. I could not do much for myself if I were my own, but if I am Christ’s I expect that He will do great things for me. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Bought with a price
In one of the American slave markets an aged negro stood for sale. A gentleman asked him, “My man, to whom do you belong?” The slave glanced for a moment at his questioner, and then, straightening himself as best he could, said, “My flesh and bones and blood belong to old Massa Carl; but my spirit am a free-born child of God, bought by the precious blood of Jesus.” This was an answer which thousands who sing “Britons never shall be slaves” could not give. Consider the word--
I. Bought. Learn that if God bought man--
1. He values man. God has bought nothing else. All else belongs to Him, but only because He has made them.
2. He wants man. We seldom buy what we don’t want. God wants the worst of us to make us better.
II. Price. There are many things we cannot value in money. An epidemic was raging in a French town. The medical men resolved that a post-mortem examination should be made of the body of one of the victims. Who would volunteer and thus sacrifice his life? One came forward; he put all his affairs straight, performed the operation, wrote his report, put it into prepared spirit, and died. Who can describe the price he paid for the welfare of others? Again, a man was dying of poverty of blood, and could only be saved by the infusion of healthy blood into his veins. A medical student bared his arm and said, “Here it is; take what you want.” They took a large quantity of his blood, and soon the sick man revived. By what system of accounts can you describe a price like that? Think, then, of the price of our redemption--“The precious blood of Christ.”
III. Glorify. In olden times men believed that they honoured God by punishing the flesh; but are we quite free from this error? Have we not cared more for souls than for bodies? Could we remember that the body should be used only for such purposes as God intends it would save a world of sorrow. Thousands are working their own bodies as they would never work their horses. Remember that they are God’s, and to be cared for as instruments for His service. (C. Leach.)
Bought with a price
1. With what ardour does the apostle pursue sin to destroy it! He is not so prudish as to let sin alone, but cries out, in plainest language, “Flee fornication!” The shame is not in the rebuke, but in the sin which calls for it. He chases this foul wickedness with arguments (verse 18).
2. He drags it into the light of the Spirit of God (verse 19).
3. He slays it at the Cross. “Ye are bought with a price.” Let us consider this last argument, that we may find therein death for our sins.
I. A blessed fact. “Ye are bought with a price.”
1. “Ye are bought.” This is that idea of redemption which modern heretics dare to style mercantile. Redemption is a greater source of obligation than creation or preservation. Hence it is a well-spring of holiness.
2. “With a price.” This indicates the greatness of the cost. The Father gave the Son. The Son gave Himself; His happiness, glory, body, soul. Measure the price by the bloody sweat, the Cross, the heart-break.
3. Our body and spirit are both bought with the body and spirit of Jesus.
II. A plain consequence. “Ye are not your own.”
1. Negative. It is clear that if bought, ye are not your own. This involves--
(a) Provider: sheep are fed by their shepherd.
(b) Guide: ships are steered by their pilot.
(c) Father: children loved by parents.
(a) To injure.
(b) To waste, in idleness, amusement, or speculation.
(c) To exercise caprice, and follow our own prejudices, depraved affections, wayward wills, or irregular appetites.
(d) To lend our service to another master.
(e) To serve self. Self is a dethroned tyrant. Jesus is a blessed husband, and we are His.
2. Positive. Your body and your spirit … are God’s.
(a) We have a beloved owner.
(b) We pursue an honoured service.
(c) We fill a blessed position. We are in Christ’s keeping.
III. A practical conclusion. Glorify God.
1. In your body.
2. In your spirit. By holiness, faith, zeal, love, heavenliness, cheerfulness, fervour, humility, expectancy, &c.
1. Remember, O redeemed one, that
2. Let the world see what redemption can do.
3. Let the world see what sort of men “God’s own” are. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
God to be glorified by those bought with a price
The religion of the Bible relates to the two great branches of human duty, the things to be believed, and the things to be done. The doctrines and precepts of the gospel, though they may be distinguished, must not be separated. The objects of our faith furnish motives for duty; and duty cannot be rightly per- formed unless under the influence of the belief of these doctrines. Consider here--
I. The duty stated. To glorify God.
1. The duty is “to glorify God with our bodies and spirits.” Let us begin with the latter. How may we glorify God with our spirits, that is, with our rational souls? This we do--
2. Our bodies--
(a) All the institutions demand the employment of our bodies. We must bow down before Him, and by external actions manifest our reverence, and praise Him with our lips.
(b) God is glorified by every species of good works which require the instrumentality of the body. Our hands may be made to glorify God when they are opened in acts of liberality and beneficence.
II. The motive offered.
1. The redemption of captives was an idea very familiar to the Greeks. As by the customs of war every prisoner was made a slave, it often happened that persons of wealthy families would be thus separated from their relatives; and it frequently happened that these relatives would send the ransom of their friend by a suitable person, who would redeem him and bring him home. What would be the feelings of a number of captives when it should be announced that a Redeemer had arrived? But when the fortunate captive heard his own name called, who can describe his exultation?
2. The deliverance of sinners by Christ bears a striking analogy to this. Men are taken captive by the devil. They cannot liberate themselves, nor can this redemption be effected by any one but the Son of God. But, though the analogy is striking, yet there are circumstances which distinguish it from that which obtains among men.
3. Now those who have been thus redeemed owe a debt of gratitude which, without exaggeration, may be said to be infinite. No wonder Paul judged it unnecessary to urge other motives.
1. Let us reflect penitently on our culpable neglect of this great duty of glorifying God.
2. Let us endeavour to obtain a lively feeling of our obligations to the Redeemer.
3. Let us esteem it a great privilege to be the redeemed servants of the Lord.
4. Let us remember that the time which remains to us is short. (A. Alexander, D. D.)
Our duty to God urged from His right in us
I. An important matter of fact to be believed and laid to heart.
1. “Ye are not your own,” &c. As to the reason of this, we may observe--
2. “Ye are bought with a price.” But if we were originally God’s property, what need was there to buy us?
II. An exhortation to duty grounded thereon. The end God had in view in purchasing us was that we might glorify Him (1 Peter 2:9). We must glorify God--
1. “In our body,” by temperance, purity, self-denial (verse 13), and bringing it into His house, and consecrating it to Him as His temple to be kept holy.
2. “In our spirit.”
1. The real nature and great evil of sin. It is not only disobedience and ingratitude, but robbery of the worst kind.
2. The amazing worth of the soul of man, which, after it was enslaved, was ransomed at so great a price.
3. The great and inexcusable guilt of those who, after all this, still will perish.
4. The great encouragement we have to give ourselves to God, and employ ourselves for Him. If He bought us, He must be willing to accept, preserve, and bless us. (J. Benson.)
Full surrender to God
A friend of mine was having an earnest conversation upon the necessity of full consecration with a lady who professed to know Christ as her Saviour, but shrunk from yielding herself fully to Him. At last she said, with more outspoken honesty I am afraid titan many who mean exactly the same thing display, “I don’t want to give myself right over to Christ; for if I were to do so, who knows what He might do with me; for aught I know, He might send me out to China.” Years had passed away when my friend received a most deeply interesting letter from this very lady, telling of how her long conflict with God had come to an end, and what happiness and peace she now felt in the complete surrender of herself to her Lord; and referring to her former conversation she said, “And now I am my own no longer, I have made myself over to God without reserve, and He is sending me to China.” Do you think that this lady is less happy obeying the Divine call, and working the Divine will out yonder in China, than she was when she shrunk from that will, and preferred to live a life of worldly ease and self-indulgence at home? (W. Hay Aitken.)
All our faculties should glorify God
Christians are like fire-engines at night. They carry a powerful lamp in front, which casts a light far ahead, but in no other direction, leaving the everlasting snake-train which they drag behind them enveloped in darkness. This light corresponds to the Christian’s hope, which casts its rays heavenward, but leaves the long train of bodily appetites and necessities which go with him through life unilluminated. Men regard their worldly business and their family duties as distinct from their religion. They carry the light of hope on their brow, and that is what they call their religion; whereas, I understand religion to be this: the right carriage of body and soul, all together. I understand that no man is living a Christian life who is not a Christian in the world, in the family, in the Church, in his mind, in his soul, in the emotions and appetites of his nature, in his hand, in his foot, in his head--who is not a Christian everywhere, and in everything in him. To take every faculty or power God has given you, and bring it under Divine influences, and make it act right--that is being a Christian; and all partialisms, by just so much as they are partialisms, are, therefore, misunderstandings or misappropriations of Christian truth. (H. W. Beecher.)
Therefore glorify God in your body.--
The phrase does not mean merely not to dishonour Him: it means to display positively in the use of our body the glory and especially the holiness of the heavenly Master who has taken possession of our person. Man has lost, in whole or in part, since his fall, the feeling which was, so to speak, the guardian of his body, that of natural modesty. Faith restores to it a more elevated guardian--self-respect as being brought by Christ the organ of the Spirit and temple of God. This is modesty henceforth raised to the height of holiness. (Prof. Godet.)
How God is glorified in the body
Real Christians are prepared to glorify God, for they are new creatures and temples of the Holy Ghost. And it is under the influence of that Holy Spirit working in them both to will and to do that they are to glorify God their Saviour.
I. By subjecting the body to His law. It is essential both to genuine piety and the Divine glory, that what we do should be not only what is required by the commandments of God, but also that it be done from a regard to His authority. A consideration which robs thousands of all their pretensions to excellence! Men are easily satisfied with themselves. They look no further than their conduct. If that is good, they concern not themselves about the Divine will and glory. And as the design of glorifying God, and a regard to His will and authority in prosecuting or fulfilling that design, are necessary if we would glorify Him indeed, so further in our regard to His will we must beware lest we mistake that will. The things by which God is glorified are the things which He requires. When, however, we combine the things which have been mentioned, when we aim at His glory, when we regard His will, and when we indeed do it, and all this from the conviction that we are not our own but His, then, in the most ordinary acts, we glorify Him indeed, we do that by which He esteems Himself glorified, we please Him. Let these things be combined then, and under their joint influence present your bodies a living sacrifice to God, and this will be a holy, acceptable, and reasonable service. And remember that the more promptitude and pleasure and zeal you show in yielding your bodies unto God the more you shall honour Him. Let not your backwardness in presenting your bodies unto God betray any want of love and gratitude and honour. The more abundantly these bodies labour the greater readiness you manifest to spend and be spent, to magnify Christ in your bodies, whether by life or by death, the greater pleasure you take in your infirmities for Christ’s sake, the more do you show your love to the Redeemer, and the more do you glorify Him in your bodies.
II. By yielding it to his correction. Christians should endeavour to glorify God as well by suffering affliction as by obedience. And they should aim at glorifying Him, not only by patience, by fortitude, by resignation, by acquiescence, and by thankfulness; but as all affliction is sent for the purposes of improvement, by humbling themselves before Him, by inquiring wherefore the Lord contendeth with them, by putting away their iniquities, and by giving their hearts and devoting their lives unreservedly to His will. But the sufferings by which Christ is most glorified in the body are those which we have to endure for His name’s sake. When we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and glory in tribulation, and esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of the world, when all afflictions, and persecutions for Christ’s sake, instead of depressing our spirits give wings to our souls by which we mount up higher and higher in heavenliness of mind and of character, then, truly, we glorify God in our bodies, and may adopt the words of the apostle, “As unknown and yet well known, as dying, and behold we live,” &c. The last act by which Christ is glorified in the body is the act of dying. And oh! who can behold a believer walking through the valley of the shadow of death without seeing that God is glorified? (M. Jackson.)
Glorify God in your body
Easter is a season which emphatically belongs to the body.
I. We do well, therefore, to give some thoughts to the body--for, do we not treat religion as consisting almost entirely of thoughts and feelings? and so we exalt the soul to the disparagement of the body. And yet I know nothing which you can say of the soul which you cannot also predicate of the body. Was the soul formed in the image of God? So was the body. No distinction is made in the narrative. Is the soul redeemed? So is the body. Did Jesus address Himself to the soul? Did He not equally to the body? How careful He was after His resurrection to identify His body. He ascended and will come again in His body. And at the last day the body is the leading feature of Paul’s picture. Such honour does God give everywhere to the body.
II. How can we “glorify God in our bodies”?
1. Generally. We should treat our body as something given us to enjoy and use for God. A part of our likeness to Christ; a part of our present being given us here to train for the services which it is to render in heaven. Such being, then, the body, we should pray about our bodies as much as about our souls. We should consecrate it in the morning to God, and deal with it all day long as a very sacred thing. You remember what St. Paul said about his body--“I keep under my body,” &c.
2. In detail.
The motive to the duty set before us in this passage is the most solemn in the whole sum of human thought. “Ye are bought with a price,” says the apostle; “therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” But how are we to fulfil this duty?
1. To glorify God is to think of God. It is evident that all human actions commence in the mind of men. The mind, under some impulse or motive, moves and then the man moves. For every act is, at first, a thought. From thence come the various actions of men pertaining to their fellows, and the other actions also which refer to God. We often say that some men do not think, but it is evident that if they did not think they would not act. But everybody does think. Men think about life and society, about dress and manners, about literature and science, about history and politics. But the great fault of man is that the range of his thought is temporal and carnal. He has but the fewest flights toward the heavens. And this is a great sin. Nothing can be more evident than the guilt of shutting out from the mind the grandest Being and the noblest idea which can reach the intellect--thought of the Infinite and Eternal One. Its sinfulness shows itself by a lower but similar transgression. What would you think of a child who lived day by day under the blessedness and the loving care of a devoted parent, and yet from design and purpose passed by that parent, day by day, year by year, and determinedly shut him out from all thought and consideration? First observe that a large portion of our fellow-creatures drop God from their thought, passively, through neglect, without intention, with no set and formal purpose to dishonour Him, but carelessly and indifferently. But another class of men set God aside purposely and deliberately. They will not have the idea of God present in their minds. They will not let the things of God circle their brains, stimulate their lives, or influence their conduct. But to think carelessly of God is neglect; to think reluctantly of Him is vicious; to think angrily and repulsively of Him is monstrous, and amounts to abomination and ruin. To glorify God, then, implies as the very first thing that we think of Him. We are to begin by opening the mind, and craving the entrance therein of the thoughts of the Eternal. To think of God aright is to take Him, formally and solemnly, and put Him before the mind, and then to contemplate Him before and behind, in the depths and in the heights, in His attributes, in His decrees, in His covenants, in the great salvation of His Son, with reverence, with awe, with humility. This it is to think of God. This is the root idea of glorifying God. But this is not enough--it is only the beginning.
2. To glorify God is to take the convictions which come from right thinking and to turn them into aspirations. This is the next step toward honouring the Maker. We must not suffer thought to become bedridden in the soul. Few things are more injurious to the mind than that passive contemplation which fails to run out into active desires or stimulated hope. It will do no good for us to think about God if such thought is not used as a means to an end, but it will do us harm. It will make us insensible. It will make us irreverent. The insensibility will be the direct result of handling an awful and majestic idea without a spiritual purpose. The irreverence will come from taking liberties with the Divine name, perchance, for mere speculation. Thought concerning God, then, is legitimate when it tends to the elevation of the soul to a higher plane of being. To think, merely to think, would be somewhat as for a river to flow from its source, and then to flow back again to its original spring. It may be assumed as a principle of our being that all our acts, internal or external, are only then healthy and genuine when they reach forward to something beyond and nobler than themselves. We see this in nature. The illumination of the sun is not self-exhausted. It comes down to earth with vivifying fructification, diffusing life, and health, and joyous animation in all things and in all creatures. And that is its beneficence and its glory. The analogy is most exact with regard to the soul. Thinking about God is not the end of God-thinking. Thinking of God is the most glorious of all means to a nobler end, that is, the glory of God. When it is mere thinking--albeit God is the object of thought--it is, nevertheless, mere speculation on God. And mere speculation, as such, concerning God has no more value than speculation concerning a mountain or a mine. Never, perhaps, in the history of God’s Church was there a man who thought so much, so deeply, so continually of God as David did. It was the occupation of his life. What was the result of this habit? What fruit sprung from this constant meditation concerning God? One single paragraph from the writings of David will show you. “Like as the hart desireth the water brooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God.” And here I return directly to the point from which I have slightly departed. Take the convictions which come from right thinking, and turn them, as David did, into heavenly aspirations. Meditate constantly on the character of God. Bring His loving and majestic attributes vividly before you. You see, for instance, that God is good. Take, then, the fact, that is the goodness of God, out of the domain of thought, and make it an aspiration of your soul. Strive after goodness--God’s goodness, as a personal possession, and run along the lines of excellence and moral beauty for the fashioning of your inner and your outer life. Take the purity of God as an object of admiration. Bring it down from the sphere of speculation, and then send it up to the throne of God--a living flame of desire for your own personal purity in body, mind, and spirit. Think of the righteousness of God! Hear it in the stern accents of Mount Sinai, in the thunders of the Law! Hear it in the expiatory plaints of sacrificed animals; see it in their flowing blood! Take the love of God. You can if you choose look at it as a distant object of thought and contemplation. But I exhort you to covet the spirit of love as your own personal possession. Indeed there is not a phase of the Divine existence, not an attribute of God, not a decree, not a commandment, however abstract it may be, but that, with the aid of the Spirit, may be fused with heat and fire from above, and become changed in our pure souls into burning desires and heavenly aspirations.
3. To glorify God is to realise the aspirations of the soul into the activities of life. This is practical religion; it answers the requirements of our blessed Lord that we do His commandments. And there can be no true religion without this habit of outward obedience. Mere conviction of the brain, or mere spiritual aspiration, separate from conduct, are each, or both together, insufficient. We must do God’s holy will. Just this test is laid down by our blessed Saviour--“If ye love Me keep My commandments.” To talk of how we feel, or what we think concerning Christ, is an idle tale. No, what our Lord desires is something which has passed out and beyond mere human conceit into actual living reality. Did you ever think of that word reality? of its full meaning, of its mighty import, of its wide scope and bearing? Reality! that is religion made personal in the Christian life, act, word, conduct, and bearing of living disciples. I beg to commend the apostle’s injunction to your earnest consideration. The master end of existence, whether in angel or in man, is the glory of God. Anything below this end is a ruinous and insulting prostitution of powers. (A. Crummell.)
Glorifying God with the body
(children’s sermon):--“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever.” Look at my watch. It may be used for many ends--as a mere ornament, &c.; but its “chief end” is to tell what o’clock it is. What have you got your body for? God says, “Use it for Me.” If you were to get a pound from your father or master, you would naturally ask, “What am I to do with it?” and you would know what was meant if he said, “Use it for me in such a way as to please me.”
I. Why am I to glorify God in my body?
1. Because He made it, and made it for Himself. When you have made a thing for yourself, you feel that you have the best right to it. If it were taken away from you, or turned against you, would you not think it very hard? During the French Revolution the guillotine was invented, and the first man who suffered by it was the man who invented it. Perhaps some one will say, “It was just what he deserved.” But suppose it had been some contrivance for saving life. If that were turned against the man who designed it, or discovered it, would not every right-minded person cry “shame”? And who made that body of yours? The cleverest man in the world could not make it. None could make it but God. God made that hand of yours for His own use. Is it not a sin and a shame to turn it against Him? Take any book you are reading, and you will see on it the names of five people who were concerned in the making of it. On the title-page is the name of the man who wrote it; at the foot of the page, the name of the man who published it; on the other side of the page, or at the end of the book, the name of the man who printed it; on a little label inside the board at the end, the name of the man who bound it; and on another, inside the board at the beginning, the man of the man who sold it. All these get credit for what they have done. Every sheet of paper I write on has the “water-mark,” as it is called, with the name of the man who made it. The very buttons on my clothes bear the name of their maker. And we all feel it quite right that it should be so. But it does not always need the name. Some people can take up a piece of cloth, and say, “this is so and so’s make,” or a picture, and say, “that is such and such a painter’s piece,” or a book, and say, “this is written by such a man, I know by its style.” And do we need any kind of mark or stamp on our body to tell us who made it? No. See that wonderful tubular bridge which stretches from Wales to Anglesea, and you will hear of its maker--Stephenson, the great engineer: it glorifies him. See St. Paul’s Cathedral, and people will tell you of its great architect, Sir Christopher Wren: it glorifies him. Go to the National Gallery, and the artist’s work, in each case, may be said to “ glorify “ him. And shall I not seek to glorify God with my body? (Exodus 4:11; Psalms 94:9; Proverbs 20:12).
2. Because He sustains it. Suppose your father were to take some poor sick beggar-boy off the street into his house--to nurse him, and to feed him, and to do everything to make him well and strong. What would you think if that boy were to forget your father? Take a stranger dog into your house, and feed it, and be kind to it, and before a fortnight is over, it will follow you everywhere. What would you think if your dog left you every morning whenever he got his breakfast, and ran after every strange boy on the street, and would not follow you, and only come in to his meals? Now God does all for your body that you do for your dog. And again I ask, may it not well be used for Him in such a way as He wishes?
3. Because He has redeemed it. Our body, like everything else about us, was forfeited; just like a thing that has been put in pawn. Is is no longer ours. It has meanwhile become the property of another. And it must be redeemed. And Jesus bought back our body, paid the price of His own blood for it, and so made it His owns. Let me again ask how you judge of things that you have bought, your knife, &c., which you have saved your pocket-money to buy. You say of any of these, as you said of the money that bought it, “it is my very own. I may lend these things or give the use of them to others, but none has a right to them like me.” In the days of slavery, when one had bought a slave, he regarded that man’s body, and all that the body could do, as his. You remember the story of the ransomed slave whom a British merchant purchased at a great price and then set free--how the liberated slave clung to his purchaser, and followed him wherever he went, and served him as no other did or could, telling, whenever he was asked the reason, “He redeemed me! He redeemed me! “Gratitude and love bound him, and made him, what I might call, in opposition to a bondman--a free slave. Now that is what Jesus has done; He has bought us, not with His money, but with His life. He has bought us and set us free. And we are His free slaves.
II. How am I to glorify God in my body? I claim--
1. Your hands for God. You have no right to use them in the service of Satan, the world, or sin. Idle hands do not glorify God, nor mischievous hands, nor dirty hands, nor dishonest hands, nor unkind hands, nor careless hands.
2. Your feet. They should go only on His errands. When I see the little feet kicking or stamping in passion, or venturing into forbidden and dangerous paths, or loitering when they should make haste, I cannot help thinking: “These feet are not for God.” “How beautiful are the feet, when they are for God!”
3. Your lips. What shall I say of profane words, untruthful words, coarse and vulgar words, angry and irritating words, unholy and impure words, light and jesting words, slandering and gossiping words? When we are going to speak of any one, it has been said there are three questions which it is well to ask--“Is it true? Is it useful? Is it kind?”
4. And so with the whole body. The ears should be for God, listening to nothing of which He would disapprove; and the eyes, turning away from all that He would not look upon. All should be for God. “Whether ye eat or drink,” &c. And how is all this to be? The root of all lies in having the heart for God. (J. H. Wilson.)
Our bodies should glorify God
The employment of the parable may be traced, says Dr. Wright, to Hillel, the great rabbi, who died a few years before the Christian era. In the Midrash on Leviticus 25:39, it is related that his scholars asked Hillel one day where he was going. “To perform a commandment,” answered the rabbi. “What special commandment?” asked the disciples. “To bathe myself in the bathhouse,” said Hillel. “Is that one of the commandments?” inquired they. “Certainly,” rejoined Hillel; “if the statues of kings placed in the theatres and circuses have to be kept clean and washed, how much more ought I not to keep my body clean, since I have been created in the image of God?”
And in your spirit.--
How God is glorified in the spirit
I. When the understanding comprehends His character. Total ignorance of His character, by implying contempt; partial ignorance of it, by implying neglect; and correct, but unoperative views of it, by implying enmity; all dishonour God. It is only when the views are both sound and practical, when the understanding is enlightened by the eternal Spirit, that we are able so to comprehend the things that belong to our peace, as to glorify God in our spirits.
II. When the conscience acknowledges His authority. Whatever we may know of God, we dishonour Him, unless conscience be influenced by what we know; for all knowledge which God imparts has a direct reference to conscience, and addresses it in the most energetic terms. But when conscience moves and actuates you in all things, and is itself moved and actuated by God; re-echoes the voice of God addressing the soul on all that is great and tender, interesting and alarming, abasing and exalting, and hears and feels every word as the word of supreme authority, with reverence and submission--then the spirit glorifies God!
III. When the affections embrace His Word. What spiritual eye can see men poor in spirit, and heirs of the kingdom, meek and inheriting the earth, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and filled with the Spirit; merciful, and monuments of mercy; pure in heart, and hoping to see God; persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and anticipating glory and honour; reviled and persecuted, and all manner of evil spoken against them falsely for Christ’s sake; and exceeding glad of this--who can behold them as the salt of the earth, as the light of the world, and remember it is the Word of God which is the instrument of all this excellence, without knowing and feeling that the giver of every good and of every perfect gift is glorified in their spirits?
IV. When the will submits to His law. This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. Who can imagine that God is to be glorified in the spirit while the will opposes Him? But let us not forget that every human will is opposed to God till renewed by grace, and that after it has been renewed it is still rebellious. The most advanced Christian has to complain, “When I would do good, evil is present with me.” God only can hold us up. And when He is pleased in tender mercy to work in us both to will and to do; to enable us to choose His commandments as the rule of our life, and to give us grace to obey them; we are then the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works: and all the honouring of God, which is implied in the relinquishment of our own will, and in the adoption of His, we cordially offer to Him; and others, seeing our good works, glorify our Father who is in heaven. (M. Jackson.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Corinthians 6". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter