January Devotional

We're going through a new series in January called "The Autonomy Myth." In this short series through 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Pastor Todd will take an exposing look below the surface of sin, and help us understand the fundamental "why" behind all the "what's". Join us each Sunday in January for this very practical and helpful series! Along with this series, we have produced a daily devotional in order to encourage you to spend time in God's Word every day. Every Sunday in the month of January, you will receive an email from us with a week's worth of devotionals that will lead you through daily Bible readings, devotional thoughts, and prayer prompts that coincide with our sermon series. We believe that spending time with God every single day is the best way to grow spiritually and strengthen your faith. There is nothing greater you can do in 2020 than to make time with God a part of everyday life.

January Devotional

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1

Introduction to the Corinthians
by Chris Eller

Before you begin, please read: 1 Corinthians 6:12–20

A commentator once referred to Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians as 1 & 2 Californians. That comparison stuck in my mind. Like modern-day California, Corinth was one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. It had two harbors and sat at an critical crossroads for both land and sea shipping. This made Corinth a vital hub for commerce and, consequently, a very prosperous city. It was also the capital of immorality and vice.

The highest point in Corinth was a mountain called the Acrocorinth on the south end of the city. Atop this mountain, the city built the temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Working in the temple were more than 1,000 temple prostitutes who were there to serve worshipers of Aphrodite. Needless to say, the character and reputation of the city as a place of gross immorality and vice became known throughout the empire. So much so that the word “Corinthianize” became a common word for practicing immorality and a “Corinthian Girl” was another name for a prostitute. It was to the church in this city that Paul penned his two letters we know as 1 & 2 Corinthians.

This gives you some perspective as we dive into our new series called “The Autonomy Myth: Dealing with Sin’s Deep Root.” Our home base during this series will be 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, a short passage of Scripture in which Paul outlines the basis for a biblical morality to a people comfortable living in a culture of gross immorality. This series will have great application for us in 21st Century America. For we, too, have become a church comfortable living in increasingly immoral times. Nothing is off limits in our culture. From the prevalence of pornography in the majority of homes (https://conquerseries.com/15-mind-blowing-statistics-about-pornography-and-the-church/) (regardless of religious affiliation) to the acceptance of Drag Queen Story Hour (https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/community/marion-public-library-faces-criticism-over-upcoming-pride-event-drag-queen-storytime-20190617) for early elementary children, we live in a land that is increasingly defined by our broad acceptance of sexual immorality.

But this is not a new problem. The Apostle Paul addresses the problem of a “live and let live” lifestyle common to Corinth, common to California, and common to Central Iowa. This series is not just a call to moral purity, but to help us see sins deep root which is that our desire for autonomy; living a life without God’s rule and reign over our lives.

Thoughts to Ponder

– How has moral acceptance changed over your lifetime?

– Does the Bible outline what is acceptable and unacceptable for the believer when it comes to morality?

– Is there one area of your life you want to see victory during our series this month?

Prayer Prompt: Father, I understand I was bought for a price, the very blood of Jesus Christ. Help me to glorify You in my body this month by __________________________.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 2

A Warning Against Hardened Hearts
By Mandee Mostrom

Before you begin, please read: Hebrews 3:12–15

In this passage, the author is speaking to Jewish followers of Christ. This audience grew up hearing Old Testament stories. These Hebrew disciples had begun memorizing scripture in their youth, so when they read this letter, they knew the context of this rebellion in verse 15 all too well. They understood every detail that led up to it and the suffering and death that followed. As elders first retold their ancestors’ journey from slavery in Egypt to the long awaited Promised Land, children listened, wide-eyed with fear and awe. I imagine they sat enthralled as they learned of the epic parting of the Red Sea with such stark detail, they could practically taste the salt in the air and feel the rocky, yet dry seabed beneath their feet. With wrinkled brows, they pondered over the cycle of grace and grumbling between God and his people during the subsequent 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, a journey we now know could have been tackled in a mere eleven days!

Numbers 20:4-5 explains the rebellions, when the Israelites stopped trusting in the Lord’s plan once again, started quarrelling amongst themselves, and rose up against Moses and Aaron: “Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates and there is no water to drink.”

Pardoning their attitude, God graciously told Moses and Aaron how He would give water to this disgruntled congregation through them, but Moses disobeyed. He acted out of anger, yet God provided a gushing stream to quench His people’s physical needs. Nonetheless, there was still a price for the preceding epidemic of disbelief and disobedience: Death. I encourage you to read the full story in Numbers 20:2-13 as well as Psalm 95:1-11 to grasp the every dimension of this harrowing tale.

You see, the New Testament Hebrews understood that the root cause of a hardened heart was simple: unbelief in the one true God. Because of their engrained knowledge of scripture, many of them heeded this warning against hardened hearts in Hebrews 3:12-15 with a bone-chilling fear of their gracious Lord and Savior. On the other hand, there were others who did not. Today, our response to the author’s warning to “take care” and “exhort one another daily” and “hold our original confidence to the end” still hinges on that same steadfast belief.

Thoughts to ponder:

– Does your original confidence/belief waiver in seasons of wandering the wilderness?

– How do you daily exhort your brothers and sisters from hearts hardened by the deceitfulness of sin?

– Is there sin in your life that threatens to deceive and harden your heart in unbelief?

Prayer Prompt: Lord, you are worthy of fear and praise, but oftentimes, I don’t fear you as I ought. Please help me to take care, exhort my brothers and sisters daily, and hold my original confidence in You firm until the end. Protect me from the deceitfulness of sin and the hardened heart of unbelief in times of wandering and trials. Thank you for your continued grace. Amen.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 3

It’s a Heart Issue
By Ryan Willhite

Before you begin, please read: Psalm 51

“This isn’t even worth repairing. It makes more sense just to get a new one.” How many of us have heard that at some point in a material sense – vehicle, appliance, lawn mower, etc.? David wrote Psalm 51 at one of the lowest points of his life and kingship, after his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. We can only imagine the guilt, pain and shame in his heart as he cried out these words to God. Yet in penning an oft-cited passage on repentance, he doesn’t ask for a repair or a tune up, but instead to throw out the old and start with new material.

There are multiple ways to summarize this chapter, but we could do worse than to focus right in the middle in verse 10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” The Hebrew word for create is the same one used in Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth. It carries the sense of something pristine and unblemished right off the showroom floor. David realized that the solution for sin was not to just take the current condition of his heart and make improvements, but to completely hand it over to God to be made new. In fact, Psalm 51 is filled with words like wash, cleanse, blot and purge.

Much of our culture takes the complete opposite mindset – that we are naturally good people who just need an adjustment here and a top-off there and then we are running even better than before. David knew that a periodic adjustment wasn’t enough to conquer his sin. Instead, what was necessary for him is also what is necessary for us – abandonment, completely and constantly from the time of our salvation through our lifelong journey of sanctification. True victory over sin doesn’t require a self-improvement program, but a Savior.

Thoughts To Ponder

– What are the differences for us practically between approaching life as a good person needing an adjustment vs. a sinner needing abandonment? What examples of the former approach do you see in our culture?

– In what area of your life are you currently taking a fix-it approach to sin? What is necessary to abandon it over to God for cleansing?

Prayer Prompt: Father, help me avoid the simple self-improvement advice that surrounds me and completely abandon my sin, shame and striving over to you. As David cried in Psalm 51, wash me, cleanse me and purge me according to your will.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 4

Rest and Pray
By Travis Walker

For many, Saturdays are a day of rest from the work you have done all week long. For others, it is the busiest day of the week. No matter if you got to sleep in this morning or if you were up earlier today than any other day this week, our prayer for you is that you get to spend a little time today resting and praying. As we begin 2020, I can think of nothing more needed than rest and prayer.

A verse that is near and dear to my heart is Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I love how Jesus beckons us, and then when we come to Him, we don’t get a to-do list, instead we get rest.

Today, just spend time with God. Find a comfy chair, a warm blanket, and maybe a cup of coffee and sit at the feet of your heavenly father in prayer. Remember that this relationship with the Father was made possible by the work of Jesus on the cross for you. So, enjoy the reality that you can speak with the creator of the earth and call him Father!

Come to Him and receive the rest that He offers. I pray that you don’t view time with God as work, but as a gift of rest and peace. If time with God is work, pray and ask Him to change your heart and mind about your view of it.

Prayer Prompts

1. Thank God for the blessings of 2019

2. Thank Him for another year to serve Him

3. Ask Him to help you love Him more and cherish your time with Him in prayer and Bible reading.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 5

On Sundays, we ask that you just attend our Sunday Services with a notebook and pen in hand. Listen to the Word of God shared and write down what strikes you as thought-provoking, convicting, challenging, or needs more thought. Allow the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God in your heart, mind and soul and be willing to make changes as you listen to His promptings.

MONDAY, JANUARY 6

What Makes You Happy?
by Mark Larwick

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:12-14

Welcome to the first Monday morning of 2020.  This first full week of the new year is a new opportunity, regardless of whether you made any recent resolutions or not.  Today is an opportunity to establish new routines or continue with familiar ones.  Today is an opportunity to make progress towards goals for this day, month, and year.

In the midst of what may be a busy day today, pause to consider not only the goals that you have, but the motivation behind those goals.  It seems the unofficial motto our culture has today is, “Do what makes you happy.”  That echoes a slogan that some in the Corinthian church appeared to use in 1 Cor 6:12 which stated, “All things are lawful for me.”   While there is truth that there is freedom in Christ, Paul makes the counterpoint that, “not everything is helpful.”  The Greek for “helpful” in the verse comes from the root word sumphero, which can also mean beneficial, profitable, or useful.  But to what end should our actions be “useful” toward?  Should the aim of our actions be ourselves or something else?

Paul clarifies in Rom 6:18 that we have freedom not in order to serve ourselves, but to serve Christ.  He says, “having been freed from sin, you became slaves to righteousness.”  The Corinthians’ error was to believe that freedom in Christ meant they could do what made them happy.  The reality is that the end of our slavery to sin doesn’t mean we have the right to do whatever makes us happy.  It means we’re still slaves, but to a new master, Christ.  Like the Corinthians, we can become immersed in our own goals, pursuits, and comforts in 2020.  We can become wrapped up in our phones, our work, our children, or pleasures.  We can even justify sin in our mind in the name of freedom.  But when we view the purpose of the possessions and relationships God has given us as bringing ourselves pleasure, we miss the point of it all.

True happiness is found when we first and foremost consider this day how we can be a faithful slave to righteousness. How can we serve Christ and in so doing serve others?  When this is our aim, our actions become helpful (sumphero) with the help of the Holy Spirit to bring glory to Christ.  When our focus is on Christ, true satisfaction is found in Him. This means the greatest resolution one can have is to follow Him closer each day.

Thoughts to ponder
– What goals do you have for 2020 and what is the motivation behind those goals?
– What possessions, relationships, and opportunities has God given you this day to serve Him?

Prayer Prompt
Father, as I set daily habits in the midst of a world where many things are competing for my attention and desire, help my actions and desires to focus on Christ so my life is useful for you.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 7

A Wretch Like Me
By Mandee Mostrom

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:12

One theologian, J.B. Lightfoot, interprets 1 Corinthians 6:12b this way: “All are within my power, but I will not be put under the power of any one thing.” This concept reminds me of the popular mantra of today: “Only God can judge me.” Once upon a time, my life revolved around the mirage of truth within these statements. Why?

Deep down, I believed it was my right. I grew up learning all about my wretchedness as a sinner, but my hardened heart kept me from seeing myself as a sinner. After all, I was a good kid. This part of my story may be familiar to some and foreign to others, so consider the next few verses as a sort of litmus test. Read them. Then, ask yourself: Do I really believe this?

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind, our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6

I went into my twenties without considering myself a sinner, let alone a wretched one! I abstained from the “major” sins. Eventually, my pride, self-righteousness, and unbelieving heart caught up with me, and I slipped up again and again. I remember writing in one journal, “At least I still have my purity.”  Until one night, without my will or consent, I didn’t.

At that point, I finally believed that I was a good for nothing wretch of a human being, but even in this newfound wretchedness, I was blind to my sin. I blamed the man that stole my hard-earned purity until my sorrow seethed into hatred. After that, I lived a lifestyle hellbent on taking advantage of all things within my power. I basked in sin, telling myself that it was about time I took my share of God’s grace.

Hindsight and my Savior have shown me that long before I was raped, sin already had dominion over me. I was a powerless slave to it. I toed the line for so long without even realizing that I was lost in (sexual and non-sexual) sin long before I lost my virginity. I was dominated by it, and only Christ had the power to set you and me free!

Thoughts to ponder:
– Do you believe yourself to be the wretched sinner described in the above verses?
– Look up the following verses for the rest of the story about the all-powerful Savior who has defeated sin on your behalf: Romans 6:6-7, Isaiah 40:28-31, 1 John 1:7-9
-Is there any sin that threatens to dominate you?

Prayer Prompt:
Lord, I am a wretched sinner, but you are the Savior of sinners like me. May I bask in your grace and glorify you in all that I do because of this truth. Amen.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8

Bought For A Price
By Chris Eller

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:13

When Paul penned his first letter to the church at Corinth, he was addressing a people living in a culture of crass hedonism. Hedonism is a philosophy or worldview that originated in Ancient Greek culture. Simply put, it is the belief that good and evil are defined by personal pleasure or pain. That which is good brings pleasure; that which is bad brings pain. Our ultimate purpose in life is found in enjoying pleasure and avoiding pain.

As you read 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, you can see Paul is addressing common phrases in Corinthian culture that underscore this hedonistic philosophy. The common sayings are in quotes: “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food.” The belief Paul is challenging could be stated this way: “I’m hungry, so I eat. I want sex, so I hire a prostitute.” Whatever the body wants, the body gets. If it brings pleasure, it’s good; if it brings pain, it’s bad.

Paul points out the fallacy in this belief. Our bodies were bought for a price, and as a Christian, we are now joined to the body of Christ. When we pursue pleasure at the expense of purity, we defile not only our moral character, but the entire body of Christ!

Hedonism as a worldview not only defined Corinth, sadly it defines us today. Much of the media and advertising we are exposed to today reinforces the hedonistic philosophy of America: “If it feels good, do it.” As Christians, we must reject this philosophy. It is not that we must reject pleasure, but we must carefully guard the object of our pleasure. We are to pursue pleasure in our Lord Jesus Christ and in His word. We are to seek fulfillment by living morally pure lives that build moral character in ourselves and bring honor to the body of Christ.

The Apostle Peter stated the calling of the Christian well when he said, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” — 1 Peter 1:14-16.

Thoughts To Ponder

– The keyword in a culture of hedonism is “feel.” Instead of saying, “I think we should do such and such,” we say, “I feel we should do such and such.” Try being mindful today of how many times you do something because your “feelings” are guiding you to do so.
– How do you think pleasure and feelings guide our culture? Pay attention to how many times today advertisements appeal to your pleasure or feelings.
– What is the difference between feelings and faith? How can you make decisions based on faith rather than feelings?

Prayer Prompt

Father, I know from Your word that I am called to live a holy life, just as You are a holy God. Help me today to be holy by walking by faith in the Spirit and not in the pleasures of the flesh.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 9

The Purpose of Life
By Travis Walker

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:13

Have you ever tried an occupation or a career path that wasn’t a fit? Something you weren’t made for or called to? My experience has taught me that this can be one of the hardest and darkest times of your life, even if on the surface the details of the experience look incredible.

Our text today addresses this topic on a much more serious level. “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” What we are faced with in this text is the main purpose of the body and an example of a false purpose many people pursue with their bodies. Our text teaches us that a life focused on anything but bringing glory to God is a failure.

As Pastor Todd said in his sermon on Sunday, “The body’s purpose is to worship God.” I am convinced that until we learn it’s purpose and let the body fulfill it’s purpose, we will never experience the joy that comes from this. We will constantly be trying to find joy and fulfillment in things that ultimately can never accomplish that. Physical fitness, sexual intimacy, food and beverages are all good things, but they were never meant to be the purpose or goal of our lives. Only living for God and worshipping Him with your life will bring you the joy, fulfillment and satisfaction we all desire.

Thoughts To Ponder
– What is an example of something you thought would bring you endless joy and fulfillment that you eventually realized was unable to do that?
– When have you experienced the joy and fulfillment that comes from worshipping God?

Prayer Prompt
Heavenly Father, I apologize for living my life for things that I was never meant to live for. Help me to live my life for You and Your glory and experience the fulfillment that only You can offer.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 10

Created with a design and a purpose
By Ryan Willhite

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:14

God raising us up by his power – 1 Corinthians 6:14 is a verse with deep theological and personal meaning. However, if you are like me you may at first glance think that it seems a bit out of place with the verses we have been reading so far this month. How does a hope and promise of resurrection relate to sexual immorality? Various commentators have various thoughts on the placement, but one thing is abundantly clear – our bodies matter greatly to God, so much so that we will have them into eternity.

Eternity is a difficult concept for us to wrap our human minds around, but if we really lived like our bodies would be raised again after death (albeit in a glorified form) how different might our lives on earth look? Sexual sin, or any other type of sin with our bodies, would be not only unnatural but unthinkable. As a dad, I often observe my young children using their toys in ways for which they were not designed. Sometimes they break right away and other times they seem fine even after being stretched to their limit, but in either case there is a risk of unwanted results when the will of the creator is not followed. So it is also when we use our bodies outside the will of our Creator. Just like the Corinthians, we also use something designed for glorification for purposes of sin and pollution.

This could easily spiral into a depressing read that holds us to a standard none of us meet. However, God’s ownership of our bodies, now and into eternity, doesn’t have to be viewed as restricting but instead liberating. I think of a Hindu friend of mine in college and the limited amount that I know about other eastern religions that to varying degrees elevate the soul above the body. In some cases, adherents try to obtain a higher level of “goodness” by increasingly denying any type of earthly or sensual pleasures. In contrast, the God of the Bible does not instruct us against enjoying the pleasures of his creation, whether that is a great meal or sexual intercourse within the context of marriage. Instead, we are encouraged to enjoy those things within his glorious and omnipotent design – a freeing thought today, tomorrow and forever.

Thoughts to ponder:
– What practical differences should it make to us as Christians knowing that our bodies will be raised for eternity along with our souls vs. other religions where the soul is elevated above the body?
– What is a specific area in your life (sexual immorality or other) where you are challenged/tempted to live temporally vs. eternally? What is one thing you can do in the coming days to begin addressing it?

Prayer Prompt:
Father, help me to live my earthly life within your glorious design for my body, enjoying what you designed me to enjoy, avoiding what you designed me to avoid, and keeping eternity front and center with my thoughts and actions.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 11

Hope of a Bright Future
By Travis Walker

A text that is similar to 1 Corinthians 6:12-14 is 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. These texts discuss our earthly bodies, but then point us toward a greater reality, which is eternal life with God. Today I encourage you to open your Bible and simply read 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. Let this image of eternal life with God encourage you and fill you with hope of the future.

Prayer Prompt
Heavenly Father, life on this earth is hard. Every day I deal with my sinfullness as well as the fallenness of this world. Today God, help to focus on the truth that one day I will be with you in the perfect place that you are preparing for your children.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 12

On Sundays, we ask that you just attend our Sunday Services with a notebook and pen in hand. Listen to the Word of God shared and write down what strikes you as thought-provoking, convicting, challenging, or needs more thought. Allow the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God in your heart, mind and soul and be willing to make changes as you listen to His promptings.

MONDAY, JANUARY 13

Members Of Christ
by Mark Larwick

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:15-17

Our world is becoming increasingly digital. It’s easier to connect with someone via social media or text than getting together. It’s easier to pay with a phone than pulling out dollar bills from a physical wallet. It’s easier to listen to a preacher online than be known by a local church body. It’s not that the conveniences that our world offers today are bad in and of themselves, but they’re part of a trend that downplays the necessity and importance of the physical.

In the world we live in, it’s important to remember that your physical body matters to God. He created it and sustains it. If you’re a Christian, he will raise it and transform it one day just as Jesus’ body was raised. If someone asked you what the gospel is, would you include Jesus’ physical burial and bodily resurrection as essential to the gospel as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 15:4? Or would you simply stop at “Christ died for your sins”?

Your body is very important to God. It’s so important that Paul makes the point in 1 Corinthians 6:15 that your bodies are members of Christ, which is part of his larger argument against sexual immortality. Does the fact that your body is a member of Christ impact the way you view your body? It has implications for how you treat your body each day (food, drink, exercise, sleep, etc). It also has implications for the things you do with your body. Are you working to serve God and serve others each day, or is your body participating in sinful activity (Paul was explicitly calling out sexual immortality in 1 Corinthians 6). Participating in sexual immortality not only has spiritual consequences, but it also results in uniting your body, which is a “member” in Christ, with another.

We find all sorts of ways to justify sin if we want to. We can also find ways to downgrade the importance of the current physical world since we look forward in hope to a better future than what we experience today. But if we realize the importance of our physical body as a member of Christ, then the way we treat our body and the actions we participate in with our body take on heightened significance.

Thoughts to ponder
– Recognizing that your body is a member of Christ, what should you start doing with your body?
– Recognizing that your body is a member of Christ, what should you stop doing with your body?

Prayer Prompt
Father, help give me perspective to recognize that the way I treat my body and things I do with my body have spiritual significance. Help me treat my body well in the present, and at the same time look forward in future hope to the resurrection and transformation of my body just as Jesus experienced.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 14

Tetelestai
By Mandee Mostrom

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:15

My computer screen glowed with the image of a pale, thin woman. A crimson tint added a subtle shine to the long strands of dark hair draped over her face. The image made me hesitant to press play, but I had to know if the video’s title was true: “Des Moines attorney unveils her life as a prostitute.” Finally, I took a deep breath and double checked the source. Hmm… KCCI… How bad could it be?

To my dismay, this attorney sitting with her husband by her side and their baby boy balancing on her lap, elected to divulge into her part-time “career” as a prostitute. She openly discussed her lifestyle because she believed in decriminalizing prostitution. When they asked her husband what he thought about his wife’s voluntary prostitution, he responded with a growing smirk, “Well… I… I don’t really care that much.”

This normalization of sexual sin is our backyard reality, as it was in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 6:15 begs the rhetorical question, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” This is followed by “shall I then,” a phrase similar to the Bible’s often used key word “therefore,” and is based on the fact that our bodies are members of Jesus Christ’s. Therefore, whatever we do with our bodies, we do as members of Christ’s holy body. Let that sink in for a second before you continue.

It is safe to say that God’s response to sexual sin is the exact opposite of the husband’s response in the story. When we sin with our bodies, we are sinning against the One who was nailed on a cross for our sins. The only One who drew in an excruciating breath in His last moments of life and called out from the cross, “Tetelestai!”

“It is finished!” These same words were used in Greek commerce when a debt was paid in full. Jesus Christ paid the debt for our deepest, darkest, loneliest sins so that we don’t have to be enslaved to them. Do not be mistaken— we have freedom in this! Let us strive then, to glorify Him with our bodies and become lights in the darkness of today’s sexually saturated society.

Thoughts to ponder:
– What would God say about how you’ve used your body in 2019, the good and the bad?
– How should your growing knowledge of this “Autonomy Myth” change the way you use your body in 2020?

Prayer Prompt:
Talk to God about the realities of your answers to the questions above. Confess to Him, repent, and praise Him for His boundless mercy. Also, please pray for the family in this story and others in your neighborhood who have yet to find freedom in being a member of Christ’s body.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15

Union With Evil
By Chris Eller

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:16

One of the challenges we face as modern-day Christians reading the Bible is to understand the cultural context of the original author, in this case, the Apostle Paul, and his audience—the Christians in Corinth. It is important to see through the eyes of this culture and not through our own social, moral, and ethical expectations.

In much of the Western World, prostitution is frowned upon morally. In fact, in many parts of the world, it is illegal.

This is not so much the case in Eastern culture. We see this most clearly when we look at our understanding of adultery.

In Western Culture, adultery is committed when a married person has sexual relations outside of his or her marriage.

In Eastern Culture, there is a different definition: adultery applies when a married woman has sexual relations with someone other than her husband or a married man has sexual relations with another man’s wife. Yes, it’s a double-standard, but that is the reality for many in Eastern Cultures. It would not be considered adultery for a married man to have sexual relations with another unmarried woman or even a prostitute. In fact, in some cultures even today, this would be considered normal and acceptable. This was true in Corinth.

If you understand this cultural acceptance of sexual relations, you can see why Paul must make the argument that for the Christian, sexual relations with anyone outside of the God-ordained marriage is both sinful and destructive.

The key aspect of Paul’s teaching here is found in our understanding of his use of the word “members” in verse 15: “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!”

The word translated members is melos in the Greek which means “body part.” Paul is using a word picture to demonstrate a spiritual concept using our physical bodies. Just as a hand, an arm, a leg, a foot, is all part of one body, so each of us are parts of the body of Christ. There is no way to separate what happens to a part of your body from the rest of your body. If you injure your arm, your whole body hurts and feels the pain. Physically, we are one unit made up of many parts. It is the same for the body of Christ. Spiritually, we are one with Christ made up of many body parts.

More importantly, Paul draws from a biblical understanding of sexual relations to drive home his point. When two people enter into a sexual relationship, they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). This implies a joining together of body, mind, and spirit. This is the most intimate relationship two human beings can share with one another.

Paul’s argument, therefore, is counter cultural. The culture may approve of sexual relationships with a prostitute, but for the Christian, this should be avoided. Sexual relations outside of marriage join us physically, spiritually, and emotionally to the evil in this world and bring immorality and destruction into the home and into the body of Christ. What we do with our bodies matters!

Thoughts To Ponder

– Do you think our view of extramarital relationships has softened in American culture? How has this affected the church?
– Prostitution may not be culturally acceptable in America, but are there other forms of immorality that are accepted? Does Paul’s teaching apply?
– How do you respond to the common response today that pornography is harmless and an acceptable form of entertainment?

Prayer Prompt
Lord, open my eyes that I might see the evil in this world that brings destruction into the church and into our families, and to flee from this immorality. Give me the power to be pure in a world of increasing impurity and immorality.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 16

One Flesh
By Mandee Mostrom

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:16

For me, the New Testament phrase as it is written works as a signpost. When I read it, I have two options. Either I keep reading and hope it eventually makes sense, or I follow my cross references onto a journey that highlights the intricacies and accuracies threaded throughout God’s Word and in turn.

Today I’ll follow my cross references. I’m praying that as you join me, God will reveal himself to you in a refreshing way. The two will become one flesh. 1 Corinthians 6 is one of four times this is quoted in the New Testament. Matthew 19 adds, what therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. We’ve all heard it in every wedding ceremony since the beginning of time, but what does it mean? Why and how does the Bible use this to describe marriage and sex and unity with Christ?

In Genesis 2:24, after God formed every beast of the field and bird of the heavens from the ground, the Bible says, there was not found a helper fit for Adam. You probably know the end of the story- God makes Woman out of Adam’s rib, Adam expresses his excitement, and then comes verse 24. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall become one flesh.”

I love the KJV’s use of the word cleave. The truest meaning is to cling or adhere. Think of it like the nearly indestructible ball and socket connection between your femur and your hip— there’s a reason we don’t hear about legs getting yanked out of their sockets. The more figurative meaning of cleave is to catch by pursuit, follow close, or pursue hard. What a beautiful picture of God’s joyous design for marriage, and what a scary image of how deeply we can become entangled into sexual sin.

Praise God, there is still hope despite the depravity within the throes of such entanglements! Go ahead, follow your cross references, and you will see that the gospel is clear. Look at John’s lessons on abiding in Christ (John 5, 1 John 2). It reminds me of cleave in Genesis. It means to remain, endure, to be kept- continually. That is what Christ has for his children, the same children who are undeniably, inseparably members of Christ’s body. Cleaved. One flesh.

Thoughts To Ponder
– Reflect on times in your life when you’ve cleaved to, pursued, and followed closely to your Savior. Your sin? Your spouse?
– What similarities and differences has being a child of Christ’s changed this picture of one flesh in those three instances?
– If you are married, share your answers with your spouse; if you are single, share them with a sister or brother in Christ. Then, pursue hard after Christ together this week.

Prayer Prompt
Cry out to your Savior, share your reflections with Him, and rest in the One who has pursued hard after you from the beginning of time.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 17

One Spirit
By Ryan Willhite

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:17

The culture that we live in seems to be obsessed with the concept of one – on the coins in our pockets (E pluribus unum or “Out of many, one”), in inspirational sports movies like Remember The Titans (one heartbeat) or in song titles or corporate slogans too numerous to mention. In our fallen world, these mottos are destined to come up short in practice and leave us wanting. In 1 Corinthians 6:17, though, Paul gives us a picture of more than just an inspirational slogan. He gives us an ironclad promise of oneness with Christ.

The verses in 1 Corinthians 6:12–16 have focused primarily on the body. In verse 17, Paul raises the stakes and gives us perhaps the ultimate evidence that our perceived autonomy is nothing but a myth – as believers, we are also joined to Christ by one spirit. This goes beyond our physical actions and into our thoughts, feelings and intentions. God doesn’t just claim dominion over our bodies and instruct us on what not to do with them. He imparts his own wisdom and strength to us to help us accomplish his will.

Lest we think of “spirit” as some nebulous idea that belongs in theology textbooks but has little practical meaning, let’s look at how it impacted Jesus in his time on earth. Luke 4:1–13 describes Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. He was tempted by physical nourishment, human glory and power, which are common methods that Satan uses to tempt us too. Luke says it was the Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness (verse 1) and the Spirit that led him out to begin his ministry (verse 14). When cornered by Satan, even the Son of God did not rely on his own strength and intellect, mighty as they were. He was guided by the Holy Spirit that hovered over the face of the waters at the beginning of Genesis and beckons the saints to “Come” near the end of Revelation. This is the same Spirit that we are one with as his followers. Pastor Todd recently challenged us to be “bought-onomous” rather than autonomous – how comforting to know that the God who bought us with a price also gifted us with a priceless weapon in our daily battles with sin.

Thoughts to ponder:
– What do you typically find yourself relying on in trials and temptations in place of the Holy Spirit?
– What examples can you think of in your life where the Holy Spirit gave you wisdom or helped you avoid succumbing to sin? How did he speak to you in these situations?
– What are some common distractions or impediments that can interfere with our oneness with Christ in our thoughts, feelings and intentions?

Prayer Prompt:
Father, thank you for not just instructing me but also strengthening me as with your own Son. Help me to recognize the areas in my life where I stray toward autonomy and instead embrace the gift of oneness with your Spirit.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18

Union With Christ
By Travis Walker

A text that is similar to 1 Corinthians 6:15–17 is Romans 6:5–14. These texts discuss our “Union with Christ”, and the realities of this truth. Today I encourage you to open your Bible and simply read Romans 6:5–14. Let the doctrinal truth of “Union with Christ” challenge you and encourage you to live a life worthy of Christ this week.

Prayer Prompt
Heavenly Father, I am yours! You have paid the price for my ransom with the spotless blood of your Son. I ask you to help me live as the son/daughter that I am, representing you well to my family, neighbors and world.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 19

On Sundays, we ask that you just attend our Sunday Services with a notebook and pen in hand. Listen to the Word of God shared and write down what strikes you as thought-provoking, convicting, challenging, or needs more thought. Allow the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God in your heart, mind and soul and be willing to make changes as you listen to His promptings.

MONDAY, JANUARY 20

Flee
by Mark Larwick

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:18-20

For our three young children, the basement has scared them all at one point or another. If we have to go upstairs, and one child lags behind, it only takes a sudden noise for that child to kick it into high gear and start running upstairs. The startling noise of the furnace kicking on can cause a child to throw down that toy he/she is playing with and sprint upstairs to the safety of Mom and Dad’s arms.  I think the word “flee” would describe our children’s actions well. In a sudden moment, the fear of monsters or some other imagined danger can fill their eyes and cause them to fly upstairs in seconds.

While the fear of the basement is held within our children’s imagination, the dangers lurking around sexual immortality as Paul described in 1 Cor 6 are real and devastating. The climax of Paul’s argument against sexual immorality culminates in the command: “flee”. 1 Cor 15a says, “Flee from sexual immorality.”

In the Greek, the word “flee” is a present imperative. The idea is to flee continually, make it your habit to flee, and keep fleeing until you’re past the snare of sexual immortality.  For our children, when they hear the furnace kick on in the basement they don’t stop to reason, debate, or decide how serious the danger actually is. Their instincts kick in and they sprint upstairs continually until they’re in the presence of Mom and Dad.

So too, when we can sense there is the possibility of temptations for sexual sin around the corner, we ought to flee. You sprint and keep running until danger is far away just as Joseph did with Potiphar’s wife.  Don’t try to rationalize potential sin. Neither should you downplay the danger of sin by remaining in situations where you leave yourself vulnerable. The conclusion that Paul makes for all of us is that we ought to flee from sexual immortality.  For your sake, your family’s sake, the church’s sake, and Christ’s sake, run immediately to Christ when danger lurks.

Thoughts to ponder
– What compromising situations might I be exposing myself to unnecessarily?
– What does “fleeing” look like for me?

Prayer Prompt:
Father, help me to recognize danger and flee from sexual immortality by the help of the Spirit each day.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 21

Jesus Push
By Mandee Mostrom

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:18

Natural consequences are a common theme in my household. It is something we say when our sin is the cause of discomfort later on. My two year old daughter is still grasping this concept one painful step at a time.

The other day, we had a doctor’s appointment, and in the waiting room, I had to cut her off from our dwindling snack supply. Her response was to flail her limbs around and arch her back like some miniature contortionist, nearly whacking the man next to her in the process. She ended up whacking her head on the window ledge behind her chair instead- painful, but natural consequence. I heard a similar story the other day. A little boy had face-planted (no major injuries sustained) while attempting to run away from his mother, the only woman who loved him more than anyone ever would. Later on, she described his fall perfectly as a “Jesus push.”

It reminded me of times I’ve tried to run away from God and into the arms of men, lust, or sexuality. By God’s grace, one of my “Jesus pushes” became the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It flipped my plans upside-down, but it finally broke through a longstanding wall I had hit in my spiritual walk. Another time, my sin resulted in deep shame and physical repercussions as well.

Throughout the Bible, we see and hear about the natural consequences of sin, but these consequences are usually outside the body. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says that only the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. When I think about this in light of my personal results of sexual sin, it makes sense to me. It makes sense practically in light of all the physical results of sexual sin, like STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and addiction, and the emotional consequences like depression, loneliness from broken relationships, and shame as well.

Then, there are the spiritual consequences. If we are sons and daughters of God, we are unified with Christ in our bodies. This means that when we fall into sexual sin, we sin against our own bodies, and we sin against the body of Christ. When we run toward our physical passions and desires, we are deliberately disobeying the one and only God of the universe. He commands us to flee from sexual immorality because in our sexual sin, we aren’t only sinning against our own bodies, we are sinning against the body of our Lord and Savior.

Thoughts to ponder:
– Compare the consequences (Jesus Push moments) of sexual sin versus other sin.
– As a believer, what does it mean to sin against the body of Christ?
– How have you seen God’s sovereignty weaved within your natural consequences of sin?

Prayer Prompt:
God, it has been two weeks since the New Year, and I’m feeling _______ in my spiritual walk. Please help me to understand and cherish what I am learning in your word this month so that I can see my sin for what it is and flee from it as I run closer to you. Thank you for _____.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22

Y’all Are the Temple of God’s Spirit
By Chris Eller

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:19

As the Apostle Paul is bringing to a conclusion this teaching on what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ (union with Christ), he echoes a thought he first introduced in 1 Corinthians 3:16 — “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”

There is a beautiful word picture at play here that underscores perfectly the message Paul is communicating to the Corinthian Christians, which is your body is not your own, you were bought with a price, and you are now individually part of the greater body of Christ.

In 1 Cor. 3:16, Paul uses the plural form of “you” to make his point. This is clear in the King James translation—“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God.” “Ye” is the plural form of the word “you.” In our modern English, it would be equivalent to saying, “you all” are the temple of God.

In 1 Cor. 6:19, he changes this to an individual application of the principle—“know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you.” If we read this in the Eller Standard Version (ESV) it would read like this, “do you all not know that your body (individually) is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you.”

Again, this is a beautiful word picture Paul is drawing for us. The Church (the body of Christ) is the temple of the Holy Spirit while we individually are members of this body, and because we are members of the body of Christ, God’s Spirit indwells us, too.

So what is the practical application of this Scripture? The Reformation Heritage Study Bible provides a good summary:

Paul draws the reader’s attention to objective truths, or indicatives: you have been washed, you have been sanctified, you have been justified, your bodies are members of Christ, and your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. He then gives a command: flee fornication.

This is a complex doctrine with a simple application. When you bring impurity into your body (a temple of the Holy Spirit), you in turn bring impurity into the body of Christ, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. What is Paul’s command? Run from sexual immorality as far and as fast as you can. Don’t bargain with it, or flirt with it…run!

Thoughts To Ponder:
– What is the importance of who you are in Christ and the importance of purity?
– What does moral purity look like in today’s culture?
– Are there areas of your life where you feel convicted because you have allowed moral impurity into your life?

Prayer Prompt:
Lord, sometimes it seems nearly impossible to swim in the cess pool of today’s culture without becoming like the culture. Help me discern how I can “be in this world, but not if it” (John 17:15-17). Help me, Lord, to live a holy life through the power of Your Spirit, which indwells me.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 23

Ownership
By Mandee Mostrom

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:19

You are not your own.

You are not your own.

You are not your own.

How many times do you have to read those words or hear them preached before they seep into your marrow and change the way your blood flows through your veins? It is the opposite of what our coaches told us growing up. It is an idea that we fight against throughout adolescence and into our twenties. It is something that I don’t want to believe as I embark on my thirties and try to finagle a way to stay at home with my daughter and pursue a career at the same time.

You are not your own.

It stings a little more every time I type out the words. It stings because I know it is true. It is not something I can choose to believe or not to believe because I was bought at a price. It’s true, I am not my own. I am the Lord’s. Tetelestai. (If you haven’t, it might be helpful to read my devotional from 1/14 or look up the meaning of Tetelestai) Then, I read them again and realize how much freedom I have in this simple fact. Instead of being a slave to sin, if you are in Christ, you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are an adopted heir of the one true King (Galatians 4:3-7). You are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19b).

Thoughts To Ponder
– Today, keep things simple and reflect on all that you’ve heard and learned so far this month. Write down 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 or read it again and write down 1 Corinthians 6:19.
– Are you enslaved to Christ or to sin? What does this mean/look like?

Prayer Prompt:
Talk to God about this verse and what it means for you. How has this fact changed your life as you know it? Praise God for His saving grace! If you don’t understand or know His saving grace, pray with someone in your small group or someone you know from church and ask that person the same question.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 24

Reckless Love
By Ryan Willhite

Before you begin, please read:
1 Corinthians 6:20

I am far from musical, but on a recent car trip I came across a song that seemed to nicely tie up the verses we have been reading throughout this month. It is called Reckless Love by Cory Asbury and the bridge of the song stuck out to me most: “There’s no shadow you won’t light up, mountain you won’t climb up, coming after me. There’s no wall you won’t kick down, lie you won’t tear down, coming after me.”

There seems to be a certain cadence in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – instructions on how to properly glorify God with our bodies followed by an argument as to why we should do so (because God will raise our bodies, because we are one spirit with Christ, etc.). Paul concludes this topic in verse 20 by noting that we were bought with a price – a very powerful argument as to why we are not to use our earthly bodies in any way that we please. What the Reckless Love song particularly brought home to me, though, is that our divine protection doesn’t just end at the point we are bought. Christ’s sacrifice was once and for all to justify us, but our God continues to come after us when we stray back into our sinful nature.

This is powerfully illustrated in Matthew 18:12 (also reference in the song lyrics, by the way): “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” In thinking about my own life, while God lights up shadows I often prefer to stay in them, not wanting to show my true nature or struggles. While God climbs up mountains, I sometimes struggle to take the next step in obedience, even if it only involves stepping over a mole hill. While God kicks down walls, I hesitate to go over to the fence or across the street to engage my neighbors in conversations that may turn spiritual. While God tears down lies, I build up rationalizations as to why I should rely on my own skill, intellect, etc. in certain areas of my life. Even as children of Christ trying to sin less and glorify God more, we will at times go astray. However, we need not lose hope in this knowing that the God who saved us also continues to chase us down, demonstrating a love that could even be called reckless.

Thoughts to ponder:
– What is a time or times in your own life when God has brought you back when going astray into sin or autonomy?
– What are the areas of your life where you are most prone or tempted to go astray by relying on your own skill? What are 1-2 practical steps you can take in these areas to be more reliant on God’s power?
– The idea of being bought with a price is almost completely antithetical to the values and ideals of the culture around us. What does it look like when lived out in your neighborhood, workplace, etc.?

Prayer Prompt:
Father, I praise you for your never-ending and reckless love. Thank you for saving me through the blood of your Son and continuing to pursue me even when I pursue my own selfish and misguided plans and intentions. Help me to think more as you think, love more as you love and, above all, rest in the knowledge that, no matter how often I stray, no one will ever snatch me from your hand.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 25

If then you have been raised with Christ…
By Travis Walker

A text that is similar to 1 Corinthians 6:15–17 is Colossians 3:1-17. These texts discuss how we as Christians should fight and flee from sin. Today I encourage you to open your Bible and simply read Colossians 3:1-17. Let these verses challenge you and encourage you to live a life worthy of Christ this week.

Prayer Prompt
Heavenly Father, I am yours! You have paid the price for my ransom with the spotless blood of your Son. I ask you to help me put to death what is earthly in me, and help me to put on the characteristics that Christ exhibited. Thank you for the forgiveness you offer me and for the power you give me to pursue holiness.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 26

On Sundays, we ask that you just attend our Sunday Services with a notebook and pen in hand. Listen to the Word of God shared and write down what strikes you as thought-provoking, convicting, challenging, or needs more thought. Allow the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God in your heart, mind and soul and be willing to make changes as you listen to His promptings.

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