The Compartmentalized Church


The apostle Paul has addressed some interesting problems in the church at Corinth. First, he warned the parishioners to put a stop to the divisions among them. The people of the church were divided because of spiritual pride. This was breaking the church down from a unified body with one purpose to a fractured group who disagreed over who had the “full revelation” of God’s truth.

After addressing the issue of division, Paul goes on to address the issue of existing sexual immorality in the church. He cautions the church against false teachings of “greasy grace” and the folly of compartmentalizing the spiritual and physical. He reminds them that Jesus lived, died, and rose in the flesh and has dominion over every area of life, not just the spiritual.

Later, Paul addressed the issue of lawsuits among believers. He rejects the use of secular magistrates in judging disputes among the believers. He then reminds the believers that lawsuits among them are a reflection that they have forsaken the law of love in favor of selfishness.

Now, Paul revisits the issue of sexual sin. And, that’s where we will pick up.

Paul begins his teaching by repeating a couple of spiritual slogans used by the Corinthians.

The first is, “All things are lawful for me”. This slogan was intended to reflect the believer’s freedom in Christ. Paul didn’t dispute the statement. It is true: believers in Jesus Christ are not justified by some type of behavioral system. But, the Corinthians were using this as a form of “greasy grace”; believing that the grace of God covered their continued life of sin. Paul gives them a couple of principles to balance out this truth and correct their error.

  1. All things are not beneficial for me.

While something may not be a violation of scriptural truth, it could be that it is not profitable or healthy for me, or conducive to a godly life in Christ Jesus. If it is keeping me from being a healthy, biblical believer, it is not helpful and should be avoided.

  1. I will not be brought under the control of anything.

Some things may not be restricted by the Bible but, by being involved with them, I come under their control. Jesus is to be my Lord – not anything else. If it takes control from Jesus, avoid it.

The second slogan used by the Corinthians was, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”. This slogan was used by the Corinthians to justify the compartmentalization of the physical and spiritual. Their point being that the spiritual and the physical are separate and you can’t expect the physical to be controlled by the spiritual. The physical does its thing and the spiritual does its thing and if you’re a believer in Christ, it doesn’t matter how you live physically, the spirit is united with Christ.

The Corinthians were actually using this belief to justify the continuance of sexual sin in their lives.

Paul’s response?

The body is not for sexual immorality.

Sexual Immorality?

Porneia – promiscuity of any type; whoredom. Equated with idolatry. From the root word that means, “to sell off your purity”.

Paul tells the Corinthians that the Lord owns the body – He purchased it by His blood. The physical body is set aside to worship God. Jesus’ body was raised from the dead and the same power raises our body above the control of actions that lead to death.

By faith in Jesus, we have become a part of the body of Christ; members of His body and are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

All sin is destructive to the perpetrator, but sexual sin is devastating because of its consequences. Notice, I didn’t say it was harder for God to forgive, but because of how God created sexual relations, sexual sin can have dramatic effects.

Why is sexual sin so devastating?

  1. Because it tears at the person’s identity.
  2. Because it attacks the deepest level of our emotional makeup.
  3. Because the rejection it can produce feels “total”.
  4. Because it undermines the deepest human relationship-marriage.
  5. Because it creates an appetite that only further unnatural behavior can satisfy.
  6. Because it opens us to the spiritual corruption of others.
  7. Because it assaults the pure lordship of Jesus Christ in your life.
  8. Because it destroys your witness.
  9. Because it can transmit physical disease and create unsupported life.

Your physical freedom from sin is proof of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Any other type of life is a life lived outside the lordship of Jesus.

Compartmentalized lives destroy the witness of the church and provide a platform for Satan to overcome those who should have him under their feet!

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