Thankfully Owned – 1 Corinthians 6:20 (Part 1)
Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies
by Bob Burridge ©2011
The world often glorifies individual independence. Authority is only respected when it benefits the individual. The opposite of oppression is foolishly though of as complete freedom to indulge one’s self.
God gives us a very different set of values. We are not here just to live the most enjoyable life we can achieve for ourselves. We are here “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever,” as the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it.
The Heidelberg Catechism starts out similarly but gives more detail and personalizes it. Question 1 asks, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” Here is the way it answers that question.
That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.
Paul explained this in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
(19) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Our relationship with God is something far more intimate and profound than some realize. The Holy Spirit dwells in every believer in a special way.
Back in chapter 3 Paul warned those who caused trouble among God’s people saying,
(16) Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (17) If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
The temple he’s talking about here isn’t a physical dwelling. The Holy Spirit is God. He needs no physical home, and he is altogether everywhere all the time. There is no place in all the universe where he isn’t completely present.
He dwells in us in the sense of having a special relationship with us. In the ancient Temple he displayed his presence and power by symbolic furnishings and ceremonies. In the believer he displays his presence and grace by how he transforms our thoughts and lives.
Together we as a church are his body, assembled together to be the bride of the Savior. We are the ones who are here to specially show his presence to the world around us. Along with this we are specially comforted by the Good Shepherd who loves us and guides us always. In this sense we are the Temple of God on earth.
Therefore we should treat every believer with great respect. That which belongs to Jesus Christ in this way should not be treated with disrespect, or used sinfully or selfishly.
To help us with hard moral judgments, this passage gives us an important general principle: In whatever we do, we should remember that we belong to God. We are not our own.
God created us for his own glory. We exist for what he intended us to be. He redeemed us with the price of the blood of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
If we dare to take what belongs to God, and treat it as if it is ours to do with only as we please, we commit thievery against God himself, and rebel against his gracious love.
There are no excuses to get around sin and self-centeredness. No matter how hard it may be, we should never set God’s interests aside or make them take second place to our own. The only right paths are the ones that bring glory to God. All of what we are is under that obligation in body and soul, in our thoughts, words and deeds, to be dedicated to the honor or our Creator-Redeemer.
But to those redeemed by Christ this is more than just a mere obligation. Obedience and faithful devotion are ways of showing gratitude for God’s grace and care. This is the only way to truly expect God’s blessings. All we have is undeserved, but our Lord never promises to bless our sinful solutions to our problems.
When tempted to do those things you know offend God, this simple truth should stop us and turn us to God for strength to resist.
Remind yourself that you are not your own. All that you are belongs to God. You must not use your body, your mind, your time, your talents in ways that are immoral. There can be no good reason to abuse that which belongs to Christ.
Only the most arrogant foolishness would expect to steal successfully from God.
There was an interesting story carried by FOX news a few years ago: Some teen thieves broke into a house while the family was away on vacation. While they were busy collecting things to steal they were being watched. The owner of the house left his web-cam turned on broadcasting the whole thing over the internet. Another lady in another state was watching the whole crime as it took place. She looked up the local police number using the internet and called it in.
While the officers were on their way she kept describing everything the thieves were doing. by the time the squad cars surrounded the neighborhood the teens had left the house. But they had a full description and within minutes of the crime they were all in custody. Would they have gone ahead with the crime if they knew they were being watched? Probably not.
God is not only watching us, he owns us as his own. How foolish when God’s people use what belongs to God to serve their sinful and self-serving desires. They should know that God sees all they do, and that he has redeemed them at such a high price from their evil bondage.
We all need to remember that we are not our own. And the owner is always watching.
Our fear of getting caught shouldn’t be the issue though. Our concern should be not to offend the God we have learned to love so much. When we sin with our thoughts, bodies, belongings, possessions or time, God is witnessing it all and is offended. Being aware of that should make us stop, repent, and turn to God for forgiveness and strength.
Since we are his who created us and redeemed us, may God help us all to obey and to serve our Loving Savior with all we are and have.