The apostle Paul debunked the false notion that because our physical bodies will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 6:13) they have no spiritual or eternal value. He informed the Corinthian believers, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
God cares about what we do with our bodies because they belong to Jesus Christ in an intricate spiritual and physical union: “Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, ‘The two are united into one.’ But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him” (1 Corinthians 6:15–17, NLT).
In 1 Corinthians 12:12–31, Paul expounds on the concept that a Christian’s body belongs to Jesus Christ and that all believers “together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (verse 27, NLT). How can we take our bodies—intimately united to the Lord Jesus Christ as they are—and use them for unholy purposes? Yet some believers in Corinth were visiting temple prostitutes and having sex with them. A Christian does not have the right to use his body to sin intentionally. Jesus Christ paid a high price to redeem believers with His own body and blood (Matthew 26:26–28; Mark 10:45; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 7:23; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18–19).
You are not your own means God purchased you and now possesses ownership of your body. We were once slaves to sin and death, but Jesus “gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:14, NLT). God made us “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). The old sinful flesh “has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NLT).
You are not your own means you no longer serve the selfish desires of your flesh but are now a servant of God’s kingdom. Paul instructs, “Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (Romans 6:13, NLT). “True and proper worship,” explains Paul, is to offer our bodies to God as living and holy sacrifices because of all He has done for us (Romans 12:1–2).
You are not your own means your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament accentuates the holiness of God’s special dwelling place in the temple. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies where God dwelled, and only once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:1–34). Extreme caution had to be taken not to defile this most sacred of places.
As believers, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead” dwells in us (Romans 8:10–11). As the united body of Christ—the church—we are God’s temple because the Spirit of God lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Our physical bodies are “a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22, ESV); therefore, we must take utmost care to “cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God” (2 Corinthians 7:1, NLT; see also 2 Corinthians 6:14–18).
You are not your own means you are called to devote your body to God, putting to death the deeds of your sinful nature and living through the power of the Holy Spirit. Before salvation, our bodies were “slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin,” but now we “give [ourselves] to be slaves to righteous living” (Romans 6:19, NLT). We do this by walking in the Spirit, starving the flesh, being led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16–26; Ephesians 5:18), and practicing self-control and discipline (Romans 6:12; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Thessalonians 4:4). We seek God’s kingdom first (Matthew 6:33), we hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6), and we feast on God’s Word (Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalm 119:9, 11; Matthew 4:4; John 6:63; 1 Peter 2:2; James 1:21).