1 Corinthians 6:16-17. 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 we call FIRST Corinthians is actually Paul’s second letter to this church. And it’s a response to their letter to him. A letter that asked Paul a whole lot of questions, including questions about sex. Questions that Paul will happily answer. And it’s in the middle of that answer about their sex lives that we get one of the greatest truths of our union with Christ ever written – he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
Let that soak in for a second.
We share a spirit with Christ. The Holy Spirit, God.
When Paul confronts sexual immorality, he doesn’t take these Christians back to the Mosaic Law. In fact, he doesn’t take them to any list of rules to obey. He takes them to their union with Christ – you are one Spirit with him.
I remember as a Christian teenager, in a Christian school, being told that sex outside of marriage was a sin. We were shown videos about all the diseases you could get from having sex. Unwanted pregnancies could occur. So why not have sex? Because it’s bad for you and God will be angry.
No one ever told me that avoiding pre-marital sex or not looking at pornography were actually about learning to love God and others. I always saw Jesus as outside of me being angry. I never saw Jesus as inside of me, loving me away from the temptations of sin. No one ever told me that the power for purity was found in embracing God’s love for me by embracing my union with Christ, by trusting that I was one Spirit with him.
But what exactly does being one spirit with Jesus mean? In 1 Corinthians 6:16-17, Paul compares your spiritual union to Christ to union in marriage. So what can marriage teach us about our union with Christ?
First, like in marriage your union with Christ is the most intimate relationship you will ever experience. Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 – the two will become one flesh. When two people get married their entire beings are joined – body, soul, spirit. The same is true in Christ. Your whole being is connected to him – body, soul, spirit. You do nothing apart from Christ. Your thoughts are his thoughts too. Your feelings are his feelings too. Your actions are his actions too. If you sleep with a prostitute, so does Jesus. That’s how close you are to Christ.
But, just like in marriage, in Christ, you still retain your individual identity. Each spouse still has their own personality, aspirations, and gifts. Marriage should not destroy these, but should rather enhance these by focusing them outward. In the same way, union with Christ does not mean you are absorbed into God losing all your individuality (you are not an egg in an omelet). That would actually be unloving. Rather, the Holy Spirit enhances our individual humanity, making us more complete image bearers (humans).
Finally, (stay with me) in marriage the union can produce a person who shares a nature with his or her parents. In the same way that parents and children share much more than simple communion with one another, they share a nature, we too share a nature with Christ. We don’t just share nice moments with Jesus, we share his very being, his essence. Communing with Jesus (praying, meditating on him, scripture reading, singing) is the outflow, but union with Christ’s nature is the source of that outflow. Acting like Jesus (WWJD) is the outflow, but having the nature of Jesus is the source.
NO, union with Christ does not turn us into gods. But it does make us image bearers of God, and it does give us the divine nature (1 Peter 1:3-4). Our human nature takes into itself the deified humanity of Christ. Not to destroy our humanity and replace it with divinity, but to transform our humanity into a holy, loving, truly spiritual humanity. The humanity we were meant to have all along.
“To live is Christ” means that we are one spirit with Christ. Like a marriage, the two have become one. We share Jesus’ nature while keeping our unique personhood. What love! Christ’s love for you says. “I truly love YOU and want you to stay you.” And at the same time Christ’s love says, “I truly want you to change and grow and be the best you that you can be – the you that’s like me.”
Do you see Jesus as outside of you looking in, or inside of you working out?
You in Christ
Have you seen yourself growing as an individual while at the same time becoming more like Christ in his character?
Christ in you
How would your life look different today if you really believed that you are one spirit with Christ?
Playlist: One with Christ.