When You Look At Yourself

It’s vitally important to understand the Bible’s, and therefore Christ’s, answer to human compulsion. Thankfully, there’s a passage in the New Testament that addresses this question directly.  First Corinthians 6:12 -20 puts the new life provided by Jesus Christ to an extreme test. If you ever thought the early followers of Jesus did a much better job displaying the beauty of life available in Jesus as compared to us modern Christians, the story behind this passage will surprise you. The first century church in Corinth had many ugly issues.  One of their issues was the fact that a number of men in the church were regularly going to the temple of Aphrodite and paying one of the 1000 sacred prostitutes to perform certain ritualized “favors” on them. Imagine followers of Jesus compulsively participating in illicit sex with temple prostitutes and by so doing helping to fund the mission of a pagan goddess. Can Jesus make any difference in this kind of compulsive toxic mess? Listen to what God’s word says to these men:"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. 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. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.I Cor. 6: 12 - 14It’s interesting that the apostle Paul, the author of this passage, does not handle this compulsive mess like a televangelist by screaming at these men to “Stop sinning!” Instead of attacking stinking behavior, Paul addresses the stinking thinking. He does this by describing the compulsive individual’s stinking thinking set alongside biblical truth.  Bible scholars believe the men’s “stinking thinking” was actually local religious sayings being used by the men of Corinth as their defense for their lifestyles.First, the men claimed, “I have the right to do anything.”  In other words they believed, “I am free to do whatever my appetite tells me!”  This idea came from the Greek worldview that believed the physical world wasn’t as significant as the realm of ideas and the spirit.  When this philosophy got mixed up with a misinformed understanding of God’s grace, the men simply concluded, “I’ve got a free pass to do what feels good because what I do with my body doesn’t really matter and because my spirit now has a handle on what really matters (the real facts about the universe as presented by Jesus).”These men in Corinth had one other interesting argument – “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.”  In other words, “What we do with our physical self doesn’t have any real impact on our spiritual self.” Once again this idea came from their Greek worldview that believed their bodies weren’t all that important.  In their minds whatever they did with their body didn’t really matter because it would not last for eternity anyway like their spirits would.Right alongside these interesting life-philosophies and defenses of their behavior we hear God’s perspective. To the saying, “I have the right to do anything,” the writer of Scripture adds “but not everything is beneficial, nor do I wish to be mastered by it.” It refutes this idea that we can do whatever we want in one area of our lives without it affecting other areas.  To the saying, “food for the stomach and stomach for food,” it adds “but I will not be mastered by anything.” In other words, human beings can’t habitually engage in whatever they want without it in some way negatively affecting themselves and others.It’s at this point that God’s word says something quite revolutionary.  It goes on to say, “The body was not meant for sexual immorality but was meant for the Lord.” This is one of those sentences you have to turn over in your mind for a moment. The truth is presented so simply we can miss the impact of what it’s saying. Our bodies were hand-crafted to reflect the same beauty reflected in God which also means our bodies were not hand-crafted to be abused by the ugliness of lust acted out on a temple prostitute. It further adds, “God is for your body” meaning “God is so for our body that it will be raised from the dead to last forever.” (vs. 14)  Scripture is telling very weak men, “You get out of compulsive stupidity by first realizing your body was made for glory (God’s glory) and your body actually has eternal significance to God!”The first significant truth the Bible teaches us in our struggle with compulsion is that what we believe to be true about our life determines what we do with our life.  In this particular case, Paul was telling these Corinthian men, “Your foul view of your body is determining what you’re doing with your body!”  Consider how this plays out in our normal life experience. If we believe we’re junk, that idea will find its way out into our lives. If we believe we’re worthless, that idea will infect how we live. If we believe we’re ugly, we become people who treat our physical bodies poorly, and so on. What if what we believed about ourselves was radically changed and we actually became people who believed our lives were valuable? Without the life Jesus provides, we’re left with nothing more than our low view of ourselves and the lack of health that flows from that low view. Our healing begins when we actually view ourselves the way God views us - “I am for your body and for you!” This is the first empowering truth that helps weak people step towards God and in doing so begin growing up and growing out of sin and compulsion. What do you really believe to be true about yourself?