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What does it mean to glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:20)?

glorify God in your body

In a broader teaching about holiness and maintaining a Christian testimony in the world, the apostle Paul turns to the subject of sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:12–20). He reminds the believers in Corinth that their physical bodies belong to the Lord (verse 10). As Christians, our “bodies are members of Christ himself” (verse 15) and “temples of the Holy Spirit” (verse 19). “You are not your own,” Paul concludes, “For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, ESV).

The English verb glorify in 1 Corinthians 6:20 is translated from the Greek term doxazō, which means “to honor; to positively acknowledge, recognize, or esteem one’s character, nature, or attributes.” Paul presses Christians to honor and acknowledge everything they know about God’s holy character with their human bodies. God desires our actions and behaviors to emulate His holiness in everything we do.

Ancient Corinth was notorious for being a center of prostitution. The practice was generally accepted as a social convention and intermingled with pagan worship. Worshipers believed they could appease pagan gods and receive blessings and good fortune if they joined in ritual sex acts with temple prostitutes. Some church members, who were not yet renewed in their minds (see Romans 12:2), persisted in such practices. Therefore, Paul set about correcting their worldly thinking about prostitution and other forms of sexual immorality.

In no uncertain terms, Paul insisted, “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18, NLT). Paul gave his pastoral trainee Timothy similar instructions to “run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living” (2 Timothy 2:22, NLT).

At salvation, believers are united with Christ (Ephesians 5:31–32). They belong to Jesus and are bound to Him in a covenant relationship that is more intimate and enduring than marriage (1 Corinthians 6:17). The Holy Spirit “moves in,” indwelling and transforming the believer’s body into a sacred place, a home for God’s holy presence (Hebrews 10:10). In union with Christ, we receive a new nature and identity (2 Corinthians 5:17).

If a believer engages in sexual immorality, he or she violates that new creation, which was purchased at a very high price, the blood of the sacrificed Lamb of God (1 Corinthians 7:23; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:12, 14; 1 Peter 1:18–19). Sexual sin takes the believer’s body—which has been joined in holy union with Christ through the Holy Spirit—and dishonors it. It violates our spiritual union with Christ because sexual immorality disregards His divine character, nature, and attributes. It is like dragging our Savior through a filthy gutter or into a brothel.

Instead, Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1). Glorifying God in your body means doing your best to avoid sin, offering yourself up in sacrifice, dying to self, and making sure everything you do is holy and pleasing to Him (Romans 6:1–7, 11–14; 13:12–14; Galatians 5:24; Colossians 3:5; 1 Peter 2:11; 5:8–9; James 1:21).

God the Father created our bodies; Jesus, His Son, redeemed us and made our bodies members of His own body; the Holy Spirit dwells in us and makes our bodies His temple. If we truly grab hold of this truth, as Paul did (see Philippians 1:20–21; Romans 14:8), we will glorify God in our bodies.

We glorify God in our bodies by honoring Him in the way we live and consequently revealing who He is to the world (1 Corinthians 10:31; Romans 4:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12; 1 Peter 2:12). We honor Him when we serve others with our spiritual gifts (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12), when we do good deeds that bear much fruit (John 15:8; Matthew 5:16), when we live by the Spirit, displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–26; Philippians 1:9–11), and when we do God’s will on earth (Hebrews 13:20–21).

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What does it mean to glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:20)?
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This page last updated: May 6, 2024