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Sabbath School Lessons on The Spiritual Life - Experiencing Jesus Christ as Lord
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 9: Lord of Our Body Temples *
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
- Temple: Physical or Spiritual?
- Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. What aspect of my body makes
it a "temple?" (Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit lives
- 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!)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- Temple Context
- 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.)
- 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.)
- What other phrase is in quotation marks in 1 Corinthians
6:12-13? ("Food for the stomach and the stomach for
- 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
- 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.)
- Is this an argument we hear today? (Absolutely.
"God made me this way, so what I am doing is
what He wants.")
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Assaulting the Temple: Sexual Immorality
- 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
- 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.)
- If you were Satan, and you knew that sexual
immorality was particularly offensive to God, what
temptation would you press?
- As you look at the world around you, how strong
is the push for immorality?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- The Temple of Others
- 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
- 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
- Read 1 Corinthians 10:28-29. Whose conscience is being
protected? (The conscience of the other person.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- Friend, God asks us to keep our body temple free from
sexual immorality. Will you determine to flee from this
- Next week: Lord of Our Labor.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.