Appetites are natural things and part of the creative order of life. When you need nourishment, your hunger cravings tell you it is time to eat and replenish. Nothing wrong with that.
The Corinthians had an expansive view of this appetite(s) thing. As we see in this passage we read today, they had slogans that essentially communicated something like: “When my stomach says I’m hungry, I eat; and when sexual cravings come naturally upon me, I likewise fulfill them. They are both natural and normal, and therefore I have total freedom to indulge without guilt or consequence.”
Paul is going to challenge them that their thinking is entirely wrong and that there is no correspondence between these appetites. There is a categorical difference. The sexual appetite within marriage is a good thing, as by its nature it brings two people into one relationship.
But sexual immorality is not a mere physical thing. It brings two people into a larger one-flesh relationship that is far beyond the physical realm. And when one who is a believer (being united in spirit with the Lord) does this, the action is bringing Christ and the “prostitute” (mere sexual/physical partner) into a spirit relationship that is incongruously wrong.
His advice (vs. 18) is to do what Joseph did in Egypt – flee from it as fast as your running legs will take you! The reason is that this sin is categorically different than others. Think of it as computer hardware versus software. Sexual sin affects the hardwiring and interior components.
This was illustrated one time by a professor I had in a class. Introducing this concept he said to think about what was the first time you did or experienced ______ or ______, as he mentioned a whole host of ideas. And most in the class were thinking for practically each item that they really were not sure when or where that was. Then he said, “Can you recall your first sexual experience?” And I think everyone immediately had that memory pop up without any dredging whatsoever.
Paul concludes with a powerful thought. He reminds the readers that in knowing Christ as Savior they have the Spirit living within them as if they were the temple housing for God’s presence that goes with them. Beyond that, they should remember that this was all possible because of a price that was paid – a price that no person could ever pay, but that was paid for them by grace.
Wow, that puts a spin on it for sure. And the final exhortation is to honor God with the body as well as the soul and spirit. It all makes sense.
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. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” [Gen. 2:24] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
6:18 – Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.