Introduction: How many times have I heard someone say, “Your body is
God’s temple?” What does that mean? Does it mean that I have to jog?
Does it mean potato chips are off my menu because I cannot get too
fat? Must I wear a seat belt when I drive? Must I avoid driving small
cars or flying in private planes? Generally, people who use this
phrase are talking about smoking and drinking, not jogging. Does this
phrase convert issues of health, safety, fitness and temperance from
practical issues into spiritual issues? Let’s dive into our study and
see what the Bible really teaches about our bodies being the temple
of God!

  1. Temple: Physical or Spiritual?

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. What aspect of my body makes
      it a “temple?” (Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit lives
      in us.)

      1. What does that mean? Is this something like a
        pregnancy? How did the Holy Spirit get in us? (Read 1
        Corinthians 12:13. We find that we drank the Holy
        Spirit! Obviously, you need to pay close attention to
        nutritional labels! If only drink manufacturers knew
        about this possibility!)

    2. Read 1 John 3:21-24. Are we, too, living in someone else’s
      body? (I hope I have not offended anyone by sounding
      silly, but the point is very serious. Paul is using
      physical terms to describe what is obviously only
      spiritual and mental. We do not physically live in God and
      He does not physically live in us. “Living in” refers to
      living a life in tune with God’s will. We are aided in
      knowing God’s will through His Holy Spirit.)

    3. Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and focus on verse
      20. What is the reason for our body being filled with the
      Holy Spirit? (We were bought with a price – Jesus died on
      our behalf. God owns our temple house.)

      1. Is that a spiritual or physical issue? (Jesus’ death
        was certainly physical. When Paul refers to our
        bodies, he must be speaking of both physical and
        spiritual. However, the emphasis is on the

  2. Temple Context

    1. We cannot fully understand Paul’s reference to our bodies
      being a temple unless we study the context of his words.
      Let’s do that right now. Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-13.
      Notice that the phrase “Everything is permissible for me”
      has quotation marks around it. The Greek has no quotation
      marks, what are the NIV translators suggesting to us? (The
      Bible Exposition Commentary (among others)explains that
      “Everything is permissible for me” was a common saying in
      Corinth – the town in which the people to whom Paul was
      writing lived. Paul is repeating a common saying, not
      what he believes.)

      1. What is Paul’s answer to “Everything is permissible?”
        (Interestingly, Paul does not say “That’s a lie.”
        Instead, he adds that not everything is beneficial to
        us and some things can end up being our master.)

    2. What other phrase is in quotation marks in 1 Corinthians
      6:12-13? (“Food for the stomach and the stomach for

      1. What does that mean? (It means that our stomachs were
        designed to eat food. It is the same kind of logic
        (but the opposite) of the saying, “If God had meant
        us to smoke, He would have created us with

      2. What point does this Corinthian saying make? (The
        Bible Exposition Commentary explains that the
        Corinthians were talking about sex. Just as it is
        natural to eat food, so they argued our bodies were
        made to have sex – and therefore it is God’s will
        that we satisfy these urges and use our bodies the
        way God designed them.)

        1. Is this an argument we hear today? (Absolutely.
          “God made me this way, so what I am doing is
          what He wants.”)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 6:13-14. What does Paul think about
      this argument that the design of our bodies proves we were
      naturally made for unrestricted sex? (1. Paul reminds them
      that a judgment is coming: God will destroy both the
      stomach and food. 2. The creation of our body shows that
      we were meant to serve God. 3. Paul reminds us that Jesus
      has redeemed us from sin and given us eternal life.)

    4. Let’s continue. Read 1 Corinthians 6:15-17. What topic is
      Paul speaking about when he is says our bodies are
      “members of Christ” and temples? (Paul is discussing
      sexual immorality.)

      1. Focus on verse 16. What historical point is Paul
        making? (Paul reminds us ( Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5)
        that God invented sex, and He also gave us
        instructions on how it should be used. Sex is unique
        in that it reproduces life.)

        1. Look again at 1 Corinthians 6:14,17. Why is Paul
          talking about raising Jesus (and us) from the
          dead and us being united with Jesus? What does
          eternal life have to do with sexual immorality?
          (Sex is the way in which humans give life. Paul
          reminds us that as Christians, Jesus has given
          us new life. His logic is this: Why would you
          unite for new life with a prostitute, when you
          are already united with Jesus for eternal life?
          The two concepts are fundamentally opposed.)

  3. Assaulting the Temple: Sexual Immorality

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. When Paul reminds that our
      body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, is he talking about
      jogging, being fat, smoking, drinking or wearing our seat
      belts? (No. Paul tells us that “all other sins” are
      outside the body. The only sin that is against our bodies
      is sexual immorality. Our review of the context of these
      verses clearly shows that Paul is addressing sexual

      1. I have often wondered why the church is so hard on
        marital infidelity. Pride, arrogance, greed will keep
        you safely in the church pew, but have an affair and
        you get booted out of church. Is that appropriate?
        (Yes. Paul identifies sexual immorality as a special
        class of sin. It corrupts the new life process.
        Instead of preserving this process for “the wife
        (husband)of our youth,” we share it with a stranger.
        This particularly offends God because He gives us new
        life and He “dwells” in us.)

      2. If you were Satan, and you knew that sexual
        immorality was particularly offensive to God, what
        temptation would you press?

        1. As you look at the world around you, how strong
          is the push for immorality?

      3. Notice how 1 Corinthians 6:18 begins. It says “flee”
        from sexual immorality. How, as a practical matter,
        would you put that advice to work in your life?

      4. Because I believe in “truth in teaching,” there are a
        couple of points about 1 Corinthians 6:18 I need to
        share. The Greek is properly translated “All sins a
        man commits are outside his body,” as opposed to “all
        other sins.” Nevertheless, I think the NIV properly
        supplied the word “other,” because that is the sense
        of what Paul is writing. Second, a minority of
        commentators believe that the beginning of this verse
        is another example of Paul quoting from a popular
        Corinthian saying. If it is true that “All [other]
        sins a man commits are outside his body” is a
        Corinthian saying, and not Paul’s view, then that
        would seriously undercut the conclusions we reached
        that safety and health issues are practical, not
        moral issues. I mention this minority view only so
        that the reader can make an informed decision. I
        think the minority view is wrong.

    2. Read Matthew 15:16-20. Jesus says that sexual immorality
      comes out of the heart – and seems to compare it with what
      goes into the body. Is there a conflict between the
      teaching of Jesus and Paul? (No. Jesus agrees with Paul
      that sin, in general, is not about the body. Jesus tells
      us that the origin for sexual immorality is our mind. Paul
      adds that it is the only sin that is against our body.)

    3. The next time someone reminds you that your body is a
      “temple of God” when talking about diet, health, fitness,
      seat belts, etc., what should you say? (They need more
      Bible study! (Don’t we all?) Diet, health, fitness, seat
      belt wearing are all excellent ideas, but they are not the
      “temple” issues discussed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6.)

  4. The Temple of Others

    1. In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul writes that the Corinthians
      should set their hearts on the right things. One thing
      they should avoid is idol worship. Let’s pick up Paul’s
      advice by reading 1 Corinthians 10:23-24. Paul again
      repeats this common Corinthian statement, but he adds a
      new element to what he taught in 1 Corinthians 6. What is
      this new element? (That in deciding what conduct is
      acceptable for us, we need to consider its impact on our
      fellow Christians.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 10:25-27. Paul says that the
      Corinthians should not worry about whether the meat they
      purchased or are served as a guest has been sacrificed to
      idols. Why? (Paul has previously said that idols are
      nothing ( 1 Corinthians 10:19-20), and therefore we should
      not worry that meat might have previously been offered as
      a sacrifice to an idol. God owns all the meat – not

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 10:28-29. Whose conscience is being
      protected? (The conscience of the other person.)

      1. What principle is Paul teaching us? (That although we
        know that certain actions are not sinful, we should
        avoid doing them in front of others who think that
        they are sinful.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 10:31-33. What does Paul suggest that
      eating and drinking have to do with sin? (The suggestion
      is that when we decide what we should eat and drink, the
      primary factor is what impact it has on our fellow

      1. Is the “eat and drink … for the glory of God” a
        teaching on diet and health? (No. It is about being
        considerate of the views of fellow Christians.)

    5. Friend, God asks us to keep our body temple free from
      sexual immorality. Will you determine to flee from this

  5. Next week: Lord of Our Labor.