1 Corinthians 6:15-17. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
What you may not know is that 1 Corinthians is actually Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, and in between these letters they had written him back with all kinds of questions and problems. As we have already seen, 1 Corinthians is a letter addressing a church that sees their spiritual freedom as a license to sin and mistreat one another. Their divisions have already caused Paul to ask in 1:13, “Is Christ divided?” Chapter 6 of this letter demonstrates even more of their divisiveness played out in the courts and in the bedrooms.
But in the midst of Paul dealing with these very specific problems, we receive one of the greatest theological statements about out union with Christ in all of scripture:
he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
Wow. Let that soak in for a second.
This of course is the foundational truth of “to live is Christ” – we share a spirit with Christ. It is the Holy Spirit, God. This is the climax of Paul’s whole argument in this section. We share whole life union with Christ. Paul will use this truth to explain the Christian’s new sexual ethic. But today let’s move backwards and use the ethic to understand our union with Christ.
When we have sex with a prostitute (or any other person outside marriage) we take on the character of the prostitute through the “whole life union” that sex creates- For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” The idea of one flesh carries the idea of a whole life union; body, soul, and spirit all united. Paul reaches back to Genesis 2:24 and the scripture’s teaching on the marriage union. Notice how in our passage he uses body in contrast to flesh. He is arguing that a sexual bodily union (one body with her) is much more than just a physical act, as the Corinthians would have argued. Rather, it is a “whole life” union (The two will become one flesh). By implication the two having sex become not just one body, but also one spirit.
Why is all that important? Because you are already one Spirit with Christ.
This amazing truth has implications for all of life (not just your sex life). We take on the complete character of Christ through our union with him. This is how God can now relate to humanity, through the joined spirits of Christ (the Holy Spirit) and the Church. This joining of spirits is ultimately what will purify our bodies and what is purifying our minds now. Not an external law or moral code, but an internal life force, Jesus’ own life, is what purifies us.
This will impact all you do and all your relationships. Your union spiritually to the crucified Christ will produce the cruciform life in you. That is, a life that looks like self sacrifice, love, grace, and serving one another. Not suing one another or sleeping with one another.
Also, because you share a spirit with Christ you are now free from sin and guilt. You no longer face condemnation. You have all the spiritual blessing that Christ has. This reality now empowers you to live bodily (your bodies are members of Christ) as he lived bodily from dependence upon the Spirit of God.
“To live is Christ” is the same thing as “you are one spirit with him.” Remember, this blog is not “To live AS Christ.” As if we only need to figure out how to live like Jesus. It is “To live IS Christ.” Which is far better. Why? Because we have his Spirit, and we have his life. A life that has already been lived in our place. Now living as Jesus is a matter of faith in the truth that to live is Jesus.
How would your life look different today if you really believed that you are one spirit with Christ? What prevents you from believing this?