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Paul J. Bucknell
Outline of 1 Corinthians
Writing about immoralities | Dangers of immorality
View #1: Subjectivism | View #2: Fixed Standards (1 Cor 6:12-20)
Flee Immorality | Only Two Choices
Bible Study Questions for 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Introduction of 1 Corinthians 15 | Defending Resurrection (15:12-34)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20: Relativism is one of the greatest attacks against the church in the Western world. In this article we take up the issue of subjectivism and its changing standards.
Today we are looking at 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.This section follows reports about immorality among Christians. It is bad but things are always worse than you see or here. God knows how we as a people are doing today. He sees right into our hearts. Today God Himself is bringing truth into our minds so that we can be set free and be protected from these mass invasions of sensual dangers. God wants to reshape how we think about these issues. Unless you change how you think about sexual immorality, then you are going to go under and not come up.
There are two basic viewpoints out there. Relativism and Fixed which I call the authoritative viewpoint. Let me share more clearly what I mean.
1 Corinthians 6:12 is the first verse that we need to discuss. It is an odd one. At least it is odd where it stands.
"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything." (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Some Christians there in that church were saying that "All things are lawful for me." Twice the apostle repeats the phrase that was going around the church.
What is odd about this saying is that it is a biblical phrase. Paul later uses it rightly in 10:23. They probably in fact heard it originally from Paul when he told them that Jesus said that the truth shall make you free, and you shall be free indeed.
In verses 9-11, the apostle said categorically that some things were wrong - always wrong. Why is it then that now he says, "All things are lawful?"
The apostle is uncovering a subtle but deadly thought. These deadly thoughts hide under the surface of our thinking more than we realize. In this case Paul identified the words that revealed the heart belief of numerous people. Even though one might hear God's Word, they have underlying beliefs that would shuffle God's Word aside. Have you ever heard God's Word tell you to do something but your just simply rationalize it away? This was like those guys there.
In this case some were saying to these challenges that because they are in Christ, they are free. They can do anything. They are saved in Christ. In regards to immorality, a common mantra goes around saying that 'anything done in love is okay.' Now you know what I am saying, don't you? People are able to twist truths to affirm the supposed rightness of what they want to do. They are passion-ruled or desire-ruled. These are the relativists.
We often hear phrases like, "I can't do it." "That's your opinion." "That is his interpretation." "Well, that is what you believe." Their purpose is to skirt away from the real issues.
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Although we will be tempted with many sensual images, we need to be attentive to what the apostle is doing here. He acknowledges that if you do not change your attitude toward the truth, then you are lost like that family by the sea. Paul is desperately trying to help these people get free. They think they are free. But they are slaves to their passions. They are deceived by the world's thinking.
Relativism is developed very early in life. Let me ask you whether you could get you own way with your parents? If so, you were being trained to live by your desires rather than by authority. Many parents are making fatal mistakes by not insisting that children obey them. You are training them to be relativists where they learn that their desires are to be preferred over what is right.
In the end, if a person really thinks what he wants is most important, then he will misapply truth to get what he wants just as these people did misapplying "All things are lawful." Paul will later on (10:23) discuss the proper context of this truth. Some issues are not wrong in themselves. This is not the case here. These problems are clearly always wrong.
We will now go through the numerous arguments that Paul has laid out to convince these people of why God has declared all kinds of immorality wrong.
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988