In 1 Corinthians 6, the Apostle Paul includes a strong command that will sound counter-cultural to any American in the early 21st century: "Flee sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18).
As we read this command, we may ask, "How can Paul say this?" The short answer is that Paul's gospel-centered theology drives the way he thinks about ethics and lifestyle issues. To see this, we need to zoom out a bit and look at the larger context.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Paul is addressing a sexual ethic that is grounded in individual autonomy ("I have the right to do anything" - v. 12) and a mechanical view of the body (v. 13). In other words, certain beliefs are driving behavior in the first century Corinthian church. What you believe eventually shapes how you behave. I'll come back to that again in a minute.
But I first want to make sure you notice that Paul addresses their belief system and shows how Christian belief paves another way. If individual autonomy and a mechanical view of the body lead to a permissive sexual ethic, how does Christian belief (theology) address this? Look closely at 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 and you'll see how Paul brings up specific theological truths to lay a foundation of belief:
All of this is theological groundwork that leads to the lifestyle command: "Flee sexual immorality." Our behavior should strive to reflect true Christian belief.
My over-arching desire isn't to single out sexual immorality in this post (while it is serious, there are many other sins that also deserve attention as well!). Rather, my desire is to learn from 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 as an example of how belief and behavior are connected. What you believe eventually shapes how you behave.
And so my final encouragement is for you to think closely and care deeply about what you believe. With the Bible as our guide, good theological tools at hand, and a community of other believers to provide counsel, think closely and care deeply about what you believe. Christian truth and the good news of the gospel actually means A LOT about who you are (purpose, value, dignity), who God is (sovereign AND good, holy, loving, AND just), and many other things. Dig deeply into this - true Christian belief is beautiful.
And then remain diligent with connecting the dots between what you belief and your behavior.
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