1 Corinthians 6:19, “You are not your own.”
The simplicity and counter-intuitive nature of this sentence is amazing….
Though this word is plural, Paul seems clearly to be addressing each individual Corinthian. When he says, “You,” he means, “each one of you.” And so, the word means, everything that is themselves, everything that they call “I” or “me,” the identity, the collection of hopes and passions and ideas and experiences and desires and quirks that makes up an individual, that makes up a self…..that entirety that is most fundamentally ourselves…..concerning this, Paul says, “that does not belong to you.”
Are Not Your Own
Unbelievable…I do not belong to myself. The entity that I know and refer to as “myself,” or as “me,” this most intimate and fundamental concept in my mind…..that—indeed, he—is not mine…..I do not belong to myself…. If anything assaults the foundations of the American cultural worldview (the one in which I’ve grown up and by which I have been formed) it is this….that the individual is NOT their own, the individual is NOT autonomous, the individual is NOT their own Lord and ruler and captain…..rather, the individual BELONGS to another.
We do not own ourselves……and if we do not own ourselves, we do not own our time, our money, our achievements, our abilities, etc. etc…..we belong to another. We belong to another. How this concept cuts the legs out from under boasting (or, at least, ought to)! How this concept—if grasped—ought to shrivel the bitter fruits of envy on the vine! This concept tells us that anything stored away in the vaults of self exaltation or self advancement is lost forever….all the treasures and time and effort that we pour into lifting ourselves up is worthless….we do not belong to ourselves. There is, in a sense, no my self to exalt! There is only Christ’s self…the self, the me, the I who belongs to Christ, and—in Christ—to God.
How did this happen? How did we come not to belong to ourselves but to God? Well, first off, we never belonged to ourselves. To be free from God is to be a slave to sin and death (John 8:34; Romans 6:16). So all people are ruled and, in a sense, owned by someone / something other than themselves. However, Paul explains that we have come now to belong to God because we were “bought with a price” (v.20). The price being the “precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). We have been ransomed from our old slave masters by the lifeblood of our incarnate God, so that now we might be of “one spirit” with Him (v.17), filled—as living temples—with the Holy Spirit (v.19), and united by that Spirit to Christ with a union analogous to—albeit, infinitely fuller than—that of a husband and wife in marriage (v.16).
This is the status of every believer….one spirit with the Lord such that they are rightly considered both to be members of His body and living temples in which His Spirit dwells…and if His Spirit is in us, uniting us to Himself, we are not our own, we are His, and He is the Father’s. By the ransoming death of the Son, the Spirit is in us so that we belong to the Son, and the Son is the Father’s so that we too are the Father’s in the Son. We are not our own, we were bought with a price—therefore, Paul says, therefore “glorify God in your body”.
Our bodies—which also belong to Christ, this is not gnostic teaching in which only the “spirit” is Christ’s while the body is inconsequential—our bodies are to be instruments of righteousness, they are to be enfleshed words of God (little “w”), echoing our Lord the enfleshed Word of God. Thus what we put into them, what we do with them, etc. etc. really matters. We are to glorify God in our bodies….which are, ultimately, His bodies.