In the preceding chapters and verses Paul dealt with a matter of incest open sin in the assembly. Then he warned them about keeping company with those who profess Christ, yet are fornicators, covetous, idolators, drunkards and extortioners. In this chapter he expresses shock over the fact that some of them were taking fellow-believers to court before unbelievers. In the verses before us he contends that such behaviour, if not repented of, shows that such persons are destitute of the grace of God and unfit for the kingdom of God, regardless of their profession!
(Vs. 9, 10.) Without the righteousness of Christ, there will be no entrance into the presence and kingdom of God (Matt. 5:20; Heb. 12:14). Christ is our righteousness and sanctification (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Cor. 1:30). But he is also speaking of an imparted righteousness and a new life which every believer has experienced in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 6:12-15). Do not be deceived nor imagine that you shall be saved while you continue to live in sin and wickedness. Those who practise these evil deeds shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Vs. 11.) "Some of you who are now children of God, saved by his free grace, were guilty of these very sins, but you have been washed, cleansed and forgiven in and by the blood of Christ. You have been sanctified." He is not speaking here of the fact that they were set apart by the Father in divine election (though they were), or of the fact that in Christ they have a perfect righteousness and sanctification imputed to them (though they did); but the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (which lies in a principle of new life, new nature, new heart and new desires) has been created in the believer. He does not just claim to be a new person; he is a new person. He loves holiness and hates sin! (Rom. 7:22-25.) "You are also justified before God. All sin is put away and you are accepted in the Beloved, not by works, but you also delight to do his will and glorify his name."
(Vs. l2.) "All things are permissible for me" (certainly no fornication, idolatry, drunkenness, adultery, or such), that is, the things which are not explicitly forbidden in the Word of God (such as foods, drinks and material pleasures). "But all these things are not necessarily helpful to me nor good for me. When these indifferent things destroy my fellowship, peace and comfort, or cause a weak brother to stumble, they become wrong. Therefore, I will not become a slave to my appetite, desires or fleshly wants. I regard even the indifferent things of the world in the light of my relationship with Christ and his church and can set them aside for his glory."
(Vs. 13, 14.) Though food is intended for the body and the body for food, yet this cannot be said of sexual immorality, which some of the Corinthians and the Gentiles took to be as indifferent as food and drink. We must satisfy the craving of the body for food and drink, whatever food is available, but sexual desires are to be met in a state of marriage, not promiscuously (1 Cor. 7:2). Our bodies are intended to serve and glorify him in righteousness and holiness and at the last to be raised by him and made like to his glorious body (Phil. 3:20, 21).
(Vs. 15-17.) We were chosen in Christ, given to him and made one with him, our bodies as well as our souls. We are redeemed by him and in union with him. "Shall I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?" This would be an absurd and sinful thing. One who engages in union with a prostitute becomes one with her, even as the Lord spoke of husband and wife (legally and spiritually) becoming one flesh. But he who is united with Christ by grace and faith is one Spirit with him. This union is a spiritual one, complete and perfect.
(Vs. 18.) "Shun immorality and all sexual looseness; flee from impurity in word, thought or deed: Most sins that a man commits are committed by the abuse of other things and do not bring hurt and reproach on the body as sexual immorality does. The body is defiled, dishonoured and disgraced by immoral conduct.
(Vs. 19.) What is said in 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17 of saints in general is said here of our bodies in particular. The Spirit of God dwells in us, and we are not our own; we belong to him, We are not our own masters to live to satisfy our lusts, nor to abuse these temples. We are his by creation, by choice and by covenant.
(Vs. 20.) We were redeemed by Christ; therefore, we are to glorify him in all things! (Col 3:17.)