Jan 19

The Choice is Yours

Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato are some of the greatest philosophers of all times. These men affected thought for a thousand years in the Western world, and they were all Greek. It’s no wonder that the Greeks of the first century prided themselves on their wisdom and philosophies. However, opposing the Greek model was the teachings of a humble Jewish Rabbi, and His influence was growing around the world through followers like Paul.  

Paul was well versed in Greek and Jewish thinking. He knew the differences in the cultures, and he devoted himself to presenting the church as a beautiful and holy bride in Jesus name. It was Paul’s familiarity with the Greek culture that allowed him to speak counter-cultural diatribes as we see in 1 Corinthians 6.

12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  (1 Cor 6:12-13)

The Greeks would instantly recognize these sayings from their culture and teaching. For instance, the phrase about food and the body (i.e. stomach)  was a common saying. It is dealing with a Greek belief that the body is inferior to the spirit and we no longer have physical bodies after death. Because of this belief, different Greek sects treated the body in various ways. Some would practice asceticism where they denied the body of all pleasure and comfort thinking the body was evil and it would purify their souls, while others would indulge the body because it didn’t matter after this life anyway. Here in 1 Cor 6, Paul is talking to those who would indulge the body, especially with sexual indulgence.

The male Greek culture was generally promiscuous, with prostitution being a widely accepted business. The Greeks looked down upon the prostitutes, who often were slaves, but did not judge the men who used them. Some Greeks even argued that prostitution was useful to help lower adultery rates. There seem to be some fancy rationalizations going on there for sin, but the point is that Paul and the Corinthian church was living in a highly sexualized culture. Added to this is the temple prostitutes used for worshiping various deities.

 The Greek culture was diametrically opposed to Godly morality in this area of life. Paul was calling the Corinthian church to make a clear break from the culture. Paul gave a choice to the Corinthians to unite with a prostitute or with the Lord. He adds one more jab, oh yeah and “you are not your own; you were bought at a price.” It’s a double innuendo, Jesus paid the price to redeem us, just like Greeks buy slaves and prostitutes.  Once again Paul is showing the depravity of the Greek system. Men buy girls for sex slaves. God buys us to be holy temples.  

Our bodies are His, both in this life and the one to come. The Holy Spirit dwells within us now. What we do with our bodies matter. However, we still struggle with a sin nature that wants to indulge in every way it can. We say, “I have the right to do anything” just as the Greeks did, but then we don’t have the ability to say as Paul did, “I will not be mastered by anything.”  Some things in our lives control us, some sinful, some just bad habits. Whatever the issues, it is still something that we must make a decision to put away for God. If we want the Holy Spirit controlling us, then we cannot let something else sit on His throne in our lives.  

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