“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
In the apostle Paul’s day, Corinth was a major trading center, located just a few miles from two major seaports. As the largest city in ancient Greece, the city bustled with activity, including the trafficking of slaves. Even today you can see the ruins of slave blocks where human lives were auctioned and traded. So when Paul writes, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price,” his Corinthian readers had a vivid picture in their minds. A simple walk to the town center took them past the slave market where people were being transferred from one owner to another.
Paul seized this metaphor to remind the Corinthians (and us) that when we came to Jesus Christ and accepted His all-forgiving, merciful, gracious love for us—when He canceled our sins on the cross and bore the pain that was meant for us—He essentially bought us. Our bodies now belong to Him.
If we’re honest, we probably don’t like the thought of that. Our pride makes us wonder if we would have accepted this deal if we knew that we would belong to someone else. But the reality is that our bodies were never ours to begin with.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul points out that before coming to Christ, we are slaves to sin. Our fallen nature is owned by sinful desires, gripped by destructive passions, and bent toward doing what is wrong. A quick scan of the world around us—in fact, a quick scan of our lives without Christ—reveals the hopelessness of people who, in spite of their best wishes and good intentions, are locked in the bondage of selfish, sinful slavery.
The liberating reality of the cross is that the death of Jesus paid the price to buy us back from the slave market of sin. So when we are saved, it means that we are under new ownership. God owns us and our body belongs to Him.
So, what are the ramifications of life under our new owner? Paul states it simply: You are to glorify God with your body. One way you can do this, if you are a guy, is to refuse to use your eyes as an opportunity to feed your old destructive nature. Looking a woman in the eyes with a sense of care and concern for her welfare enables her to feel safe instead of threatened. When that happens, God is glorified. And gals, getting dressed in the morning by choosing clothes that draw attention to the glory of God in your smile and attitude rather than drawing attention to your body is a great way to start the day to bring glory to Him!
When you think about it, our bodies are the total you from the outside in. So every aspect of “you” is a tool with which to demonstrate that you are no longer a slave to Satan and sin but that you have been set free to glorify the new Master of your soul. From our lips to our hands, feet, attitudes, thoughts, and actions, glorifying God in our bodies is an all-consuming privilege with lots of equipment to put into action for Him.
- Read Romans 6:15-23. What does this passage say about the contrast between life under our previous owner and life under our new owner?
- Do a spiritual self-check. Which part, or parts, of your body remain unsubmitted to the ownership of God? What difference would it make in your daily actions if your whole body were submitted to Him?
- Think about a practical way to remind yourself at the start of each day (and throughout the day) that you belong to God, not yourself. Then build that reminder into your daily routine.