Godly Living

Is it impossible to live a pure Christian life in today’s society? Living clean in a dirty culture is not a new problem.
Corinth was the site of one of the largest churches in the Roman Empire. The city was destroyed in 146 BC and rebuilt 100 years later as a Roman colony. It attracted a variety of people during the resettlement, who brought with them their perversions. The temple of Aphrodite stood on a 2000-foot plateau overlooking the city and boasted a thousand priestesses whose revenue from prostitution supported the priests and represented the bulk of Corinth’s wealth. Historian Richard L. Niswonger states: “The city’s reputation gave rise to the Greek term korinthiazesthai, which meant to behave immorally like the people of Corinth” (p. 227). Adding to this depravity were numerous idolatrous festivals known for their self-indulgent and sensual qualities; bingeing and purging were competitive events among partygoers whose immoralities were legendary. It also boasted an active support of athletic contests, like the Isthmian Games. Every three years, bronzed-bodied athletes gathered from every corner of the Empire to compete completely nude in events ranging from boxing to chariot races.
It was in this setting that Paul wrote the Corinthian church, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers… And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you’” (cf. 2 Corinthians 14-17). Could a Christian, in this environment, maintain purity, when “everybody is doing it”? Paul thought so, and demanded: “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
We are no more handicapped than the Corinthians; our society is no worse than theirs. We are without excuse. We must “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12), our environment notwithstanding.
JDS