1 Corinthians 7:25-40 “Is Marriage for Me?”

Three issues to consider when considering getting married…

  1. Great CAUTION should be shown before marrying in these challenges times.  25-31

A.  Our times are troubled, marry or remarry only with great caution 25-28

25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.

B.  The eternal perspective of our faith changes how we see everything… 29-31

1.  RELATIONSHIPS:  Our present understanding of marriage won’t last 29

29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;

2.  DEATH: Our weeping will not last 30a

30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; 30b

3.  HAPPINESS: Our joys will not last 30c

and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice;

4.  POSSESSIONS: Our purchases will not last 30d

and those who buy, as though they did not possess;

5.  CULTURE: Our various, worldly pleasures not last 31

31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

II.  There are inescapable CONCERNS that a marriage will face. 32-35

A.  The husband’s cares are now divided between the Lord and his wife 32-34a

32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided.

B.  The wife’s cares are now divided between the Lord and her husband 34b

The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

C.  Marriage adds great challenges to a life devoted to following the Lord. 35

35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

Unfortunately, in the history of Christianity, even to this day–the concerns that marriage partners carry towards one another have been viewed as a regrettable impediment to spiritual growth and health. Nothing could be further from the truth!  It is through the daily routines of kindness, comfort, and self-giving that make up a healthy marriage that amazing opportunities develop for the believer to grow closer to the Lord.  Paul is not chastising those who marry–he is simply pointing out a fact: a married person’s concerns ARE divided between the Lord and the spouse, but, the person’s loyalty and intimacy with the Lord are only strengthen and nurtured through obedient participation in the marriage relationship!  It is just as regrettable that person called to marriage would remain single as that a person called to singleness would force himself/herself to marry.

III.  There is the need to obtain proper CONSENT before entering into marriage.  36-40

A.  FATHERS:  Consent to arrange marriage for Christian daughters 36-38

Mike Aquiline, Director of the St Paul Center for Biblical Theology, describes some of the more horrible aspects of the culture of death that the ancient Mediterranean world devolved into during and after the years of the New Testament period of the church.  It was especially harsh for females.  Regarding the ancient institution of marriage, he writes,

And pagan marriage offered no respite from this misery. Greco-Roman women were usually married off at age 11 or 12, to a mate not of their choosing, who was often much older. (Christian girls tended to marry at about 18)  Afterward, they suffered in predatory relationships rife with contraception, abortion (which often killed the mother), adultery, and unnatural sexual acts. Infanticide was common, especially for female or defective offspring. Of the 600 families who show up in the records from ancient Delphi, only six raised more than one daughter. Though most of those 600 families were quite large, they had all routinely killed their baby girls. Dr. Rodney Stark quotes a letter from a pagan businessman writing home to his pregnant wife. After the usual endearments, he closes his letter by saying, briefly and casually, “If you are delivered of a child before I come home], if it is a boy, keep it, if a girl, discard it.” (Stark, The Rise of Christianity)

So, the decision on the part of a father in ancient Corinth of whether or not to “give” his daughter in arranged marriage was a very significant, vital decision to make.  As the Christian families increasingly opted to not participate in the marriage customs of the surrounding culture, keeping their daughters with their birth families for a longer duration—they began to be known for the high value and dignity that they placed on their sons, but especially on their daughters.

1.  To follow the cultural custom of arranging a daughter’s marriage is not a sin for a father. 36

 36 But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry.

Roman legal age of marriage for girls was 12, for boys it was 14 years of age. Most marriages were arranged by parents (husbands and wives). Faithfulness and harmony in the marriage were Roman ideals, and Christian parents also arranged their children’s marriages as did the surrounding culture.

2.  To decide not to follow the customs of the day was a good thing. 37

37 But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well.

3.  Summary: Freedom to do either, but a father does “better” to keep his daughter at home with her family longer than his surrounding culture did. 38

38 So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

B.  Consent for WIDOWS to remarry 39-40

Note: These verses are not addressing the issues of remarriage faced by those who no longer are married (such as divorced or abandoned mates) or those who have never been married.  The verses appear to address those who have actually been widowed, and apply to those whose former mates are still formally recognized as “husbands.”

39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.

C.  A good application for ALL of us regarding the consent to marry might to be be sure that we are in obedience to both our consciences and to the Bible.

Application: Singleness and Grace Bible Church

  1. The benefits of singleness will remain unrealized if you do not take advantage of them—the church community needs you! The mere opportunity to avoid the troubles of life that your married brothers and sisters face is not an invitation to live a care-free, happy-go-lucky life.  The mere opportunity to live a life of deeper devotion and spiritual pursuits does not mean that you are a St. Francis of the Singles—you still need to get your hands dirty in ministry. Use who you are, where you are, and how you are in life, right now!
  1. The burdens of singleness are unbearable when they are faced alone—you need the church community!  Isolation kills, and the mono-culturalism of only being with fellow singles or fellow young people stunts growth. Isolation intensifies temptation and relapse into harmful patterns and sin—you need the church to “rub shoulders” with friends, and to share your life with them, and to find the right kind of relational intimacy. The battle of loneliness shouldn’t be fought alone!  The answer to loneliness, particularly after the loss of mate, or a divorce or separation, is not to withdraw, and certainly NOT to seek another marriage relationship. It is to belong to the Lord, (like Paul) should you remain unmarried for the rest of your life or for a season—you need the church to share that life with!

 

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 7:17-24 Don’t leave the path He found you on (but follow wherever He leads)

Verses 17-24 form a fascinating section of chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians, serving as a type of heavy duty hinge between Paul’s discussion regarding those who either had been or were presently married (vv1-16) and his counsel regarding those who had never been married, whom he refers to by the classical term, virgins and those wives whose husbands had died (25-40).  Verses 17-24 not only serve to conclude his direction to the first group, but also serve to introduce his counsel to the second.  In these verses Paul advises both groups: Don’t scramble to leave the place in life where God found you, but also follow Him when He leads you off of that path…  This passage deserves much more treatment than I intend to give it from the pulpit this Sunday, so I’ve put together this short summary of it for your consideration.  Thanks!  Pastor Ken

  1. Paul’s Big Idea: Stay where you were when God called you to follow Him, but follow Him where He leads.  17

17 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches.”

I can imagine many places where a person might be in life that they would NOT want to “remain” in once they are called by Him to the new life of salvation!  It’s important to remember Paul is writing regarding some specific questions he’d been asked by the Corinthians regarding these issues of marriage (7:1), so we should not assume that Paul is suddenly, in response to those questions, departing from his response to go on a tangent and write about Judaism vs. being a Gentile, or slavery vs. living as a free-person.  It is reasonable to assume that Paul is still speaking of marriage issues, although he is backing off enough to give a very generalized view here, and is not giving an unalterable, fixed command for all Jews, all gentiles, all slaves, all gentiles, etc., but is instead providing guiding principles for them to apply to their specific circumstances.

Example Number One:  Whether you are from Jewish culture or from the gentile culture—don’t run away from where God found you. 18-20

18 Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.” 20 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.”

To be called while “already circumcised” simply meant that one had become a believer in Jesus Christ out of the Jewish culture of ancient Corinth.  Physically, such man had been circumcised in adherence to the Jewish law, probably as an infant.  (Some Greeks who converted to Judaism did undergo circumcision.)  But in a larger, (and I think more likely sense), Paul is referring to a man who lives with Jews, and lives as a Jew—observing the Jewish customs and traditions.  Such a man was not to try and hide where he’d come from when God found him.  (It was possible, and fairly routine, for a circumcised man to undergo a surgical procedure to reverse the circumcision—mainly to alter the cosmetic effects of the procedure.)  Likewise, a Gentile man, who would not have undergone circumcision, was not to undergo circumcision in some sort of misguided attempt to more closely identity with the culture of the Jews.  Understanding the Lord Jesus was a Jewish man, and would have been circumcised, this would certainly have been a very real possible desire for a Gentile man who had become a follower of Jesus.  In each of these cases, the believer was to consciously remain in the culture condition in which God had called him.

Example Number Two:  Live as free men who have become slaves to the Lord.  21-23

21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he, who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

It is impossible to understand this passage unless we gain a very clear idea of the vast differences between the slavery forms of the ancient Roman world and that of the Colonial and pre-Civil War United States of America.  The United States condoned, practiced, and facilitated a system of slavery the likes of which had been rarely seen in human history.  It is perhaps the most inhumane, self-defeating, animalistic system of bondage one can find in history.  Americans must own that part of our history, and never seek to forget or justify existence, just as we must not simply shrug our shoulders at the subsequent forms and presence of racism and racialization that the nation is still seeking address in its culture—even after the abolition of slavery with the Civil War.

Slavery in the Roman Empire, on the other hand, was very complex and different from the American version, and it permeated all levels of Roman culture.  Up to 1/3 of the slaves in any given Roman city were born of slave-mothers, and had grown up as slaves.  Slaves were everywhere, and one could not easily recognize a slave when one saw him or her, say, on a street in Corinth.  Your doctor, lawyer, household manager, farm supervisor, warehouse foreman, etc., and certainly your children’s teacher—was a slave.  Slaves in ancient Rome might be lashed to the oars of a war-ship, and consigned to an almost certain death.  They would be found in the mines, working alongside prisoners and convicted criminals, and liable to suffer an early death.  But also, they might be found working side by side with free-men on public works projects.  They might be married (although their marriages would not be considered legal per Roman law), might have children, might be soon to receive their freedom from a kind master, or certain to be sold to another master.  They might be freed by a master—so that the master could marry them (this is only in the case of a female slave), or, they might be repeatedly molested and raped, with the permission of the law, by a cruel master or his wife.  And get this—some of the slaves had chosen to be slaves, having “sold” themselves into a limited time of slavery to a master, usually in order to pay off a debt!  I don’t think I’ve begun to scratch the surface of the complexity of the ancient Roman world’s system of slavery—but I hope I have presented to you that it was in a multitude of ways vastly different than the horrific, reprehensible crime of slavery that our government and its forbearers allowed early in our history.

So, what was a man (or woman) to do when called by God into a saving relationship—and by the grace of God now a member of a church, perhaps worshipping alongside both other slaves and slave-owners?  Paul advises this:  “If you’re a slave, don’t worry, just make sure you jump at the opportunity to become a free-man, if and when the opportunity arises.”  His reason?  “You are now, in the eyes of the Lord, free—so live that way as the chance arises.”  And to those who had met the Lord while free-men; they were to see themselves as now being the Lord’s slave.  And to each Paul is adamant:  “Do not become the slaves of men!”  I realized there are many applications that we can make to this specific statement of verse 23; “Don’t submit to man’s religious rules.”  “Don’t be a people-pleaser!” etc.  But I think we should also be sure to affirm what the basic meaning of Paul’s instruction would be to those he was writing:  Don’t make yourself a slave to anyone on earth.  No matter how rough times get—do not enter into a slave-master agreement with anyone, ever again!”

In conclusion, Paul summarizes his point: “Stay where you were when God called you, and from there, follow Him to wherever He leads you.”

24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.

Paul does not tell Jews to act like Gentiles, as if that would somehow make them more “Christian”, or perhaps more acceptable to the surrounding, non-Christian culture.  He doesn’t tell Gentiles to act like Jews, as if it would make them more “Messianic.” (Don’t we often struggle with the desire to change the externals of our lives as a means of image-making, and not out of genuine submission to our Lord?)  Paul doesn’t tell slaves to aspire to remain slaves, but instead to seek freedom when it comes, as they have a new Master, Jesus Christ, a Master who does not suffer worldlings to hold His brothers in captivity.  This was a lesson written with the blood of its own sons, fathers, and brothers by the United States in the 1860’s.  Paul neither asks anyone to remain in bondage, nor does does he advocate running away from who we are, and where we were at in life when God called us to His Son.  And for those who met Christ while enjoying the social status of being a “free-man,” Paul reminds them, and us today who enjoy so much freedom in our American culture:  “You are now slaves to the Lord.  Serve Him alone, and never again choose slavery over the life of freedom that He has purchased for you with His precious blood.”  Changes to the external circumstances of our lives are to arise out of THE great change of our salvation, and never independent of it!

 

1 Corinthians 7:8-16 God Loves Your Marriage!

Introduction:  Paul continues his words of encouragement concerning marriage, answering questions that he’d been asked by the Christians at Corinth.  In this section he addresses the marital concerns of three distinct groups:  Those who had been (but no longer were) married, those whose marriages were in crisis, and those whose mates did not share the Christian faith.  Our approach to these verse will be guided by the observation that they are not a source of God’s Laws concerning marriage, remarriage and divorce, but are instead an account of God’s deep Love for marriages of all sorts, and desire that all marriages would function at their fullest, richest capacity for intimacy, redemption, and peace.

I.  For those formerly married, either remain single and celibate, or remarry 8-9

8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.  9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

II.  For those Christian couples whose marriage are stressed 10-11

A.  Do not separate 10

10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband

B.  If presently separated, either remain single or reconcile with your mate. 11

11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.  

III.  For believers whose mates do not share their faith. 12-15

A.  If the non-Christian mate is satisfied—remain in the marriage. 12-14

12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.  

1.  The non-Christian mate is blessed (sanctified) to be married to a Christian.  14a

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband;

2.  Their children are sanctified in having a Christian parent 14c

for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

B.  If the non-Christian mate leaves the marriage, let them go. 15-16

1.  We are called by God to a life of peace 15

15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.…

2.  We cannot ensure that our non-Christian mates will be saved by our loyalty to the marriage. 16

16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Application—What does this text mean for Grace Bible Church today?

1.  We are alert to the damage of the hardened heart.  10-11

  • Restated:       As Christians, we reject the very notion of dissolving our marriages or deserting our mates.
  • “…a hardened heart…” is the underlying reason that Jesus gave for the divorce of believer marriages.  While there are apparent provisions given in the NT for the divorce of Christians—forgiveness, acceptance, healing, and restoration are ALWAYS the preferred path to take in a marriage

2.  We honor the immeasurable worth and absolute legitimacy of marriages that are not united in faith.  12-13

  • Restated:  We wholeheartedly concur that all marriages, including those between Christian and non-Christian, are of precious in the eyes this church.
  • Many Christian ministries have done a pathetic job of ministering to their members who are in mixed marriages, and an even worse job of looking out for their non-Christian mates.

3.  We treasure the opportunity for blessing and salvation that a Christian spouse and parent offers their mates and their children. 14

  • Restated: We treasure the priceless opportunity to bring the blessing of God and hope of salvation into the lives of our mates and our children.
  • This is the Big Picture—the restoration of people to their Creator, the introduction of people to Jesus Christ.

4.         We accept the choices of our mates, but long for them to be saved.             15-16

  • Restated:  While we wholeheartedly give our affection and respect to our unsaved mates, we will also respectfully allow them to leave us should they so choose.  But…in our depths of our souls—we long for them to meet Jesus and find His salvation.

What We Owe Our Mates (1 Corinthians 7: 1-7)

Sermon: The Obligations of Christian Marriage

I.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL EXCLUSIVITY 1-2

1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good ” a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.

II.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL LOYALTY 3

3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

III.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL AUTHORITY 4

4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

IV.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL INTIMACY 5-6

5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command.

V.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL GRATITUDE 7

7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

Conclusion:  For Grace Bible Church…

1.  We define marriage by the Word of God, not our culture’s laws and practices.

2.  We promote healthy, physical intimacy in all marriages.

3.  We seek to care for and bless our mates with “fear and trembling” at the great responsibility of being a mate.

4.  We honor and recognize every gift from God—whether the gift of living in a marriage relationship or the gift of living a life of singleness.

My Body, and Mine Alone? 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

My Body, and Mine Alone?

“So, where’s the harm in a little sexual sin?”

I.  Sexual sin DOMINATES those who abandon themselves to it. 12-14

12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.        

II.  Sexual sin DISCONNECTS us from the Lord Jesus. 15-17

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

III.  Sexual sin DAMAGES both our body and our soul.  18

18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.  

IV.  Sexual sin DISMISSES my importance, identity, and purpose in life. 19-20

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

A.  My importance:  I am the dwelling place of the Spirit of God.   19a

B.  My identity: I am now a person who belongs to God alone.  19b-20a

C.  My purpose: I now live to bring honor to Him, not pleasure to me. 20b

Conclusion: Therefore…as a Christian, I no longer claim “ownership” of my body—it now belongs to God, and I will seek to honor Him alone with what I do with my body.

3.2.14 Grace in Action (John 7:53-8:11)

Grace in Action

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: If this story were acted out in dramatic form, who would the main characters be? Big Answer: They would be those who Oppose Grace, those who are Objects of Grace, and the One who is the Origin of Grace.

Introduction: Jesus was teaching in the temple in Jerusalem 7:53-82

1.         Jesus stayed the night on the Mount of Olives 7:53-8:1

53 And everyone went to his home. 1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2.         He taught in the temple in Jerusalem 2

2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.

I.  The Opponents of Grace: Those who insist the Law be applied–to others. 3-8

3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.

A.  The accusers: scribes and Pharisees 3

B.  The accused: a women set before Jesus for judgment 4a

C.  The charges: She’d been caught in the very act of adultery 4b

D.  Their attempt to trap the Lord. 5-6a

1.  “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; 5a

  • Leviticus 20:10 ‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

2.  …what then do You say? 5b

3.  Their motives were to trap Him by forcing Him to make an unfavorable                      decision 6a

6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him.

  • What were the possible responses to this “test”?  What response could Jesus have made, and what would have been the results and implications of those responses?

1)    He could have sided with the Pharisees, agreeing that she really should have been put to death.  This would have challenged Roman law.

2)    He could have sided with the Romans and the general population, and denied that the women should be executed.  This would have challenged the apparent, assumed application of the Jewish religious law.

3)     He could have done/said nothing—played it safe.

4.     He responded by writing on the ground, and challenging their application of Moses’ law.  6b-8

i.  He began to write with His finger on the ground 6a

But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.

ii.  He invited any valid witness to begin the stoning of the women, and then continued to write on the ground 7-8

7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

  • Deut 17: 6 “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7 “The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
  • Jesus put His finger on the fact that these were all hostile witnesses, and thus, could not act as witnesses in a (Mosaic) court.  He exposed their failure to keep the Law, but reminding them of the parts of the Law they’d ignored.

5.  They all left the scene, their plot having failed. 9a

9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones,

  • Heard it = Note, they heard what Jesus said (“He who is without sin…”), and began to leave. Thus, it is NOT necessarily what they may have read that made them leave…

II.  The Object of Grace: the woman, a sinner caught in her sin. 9b-11a

…and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

III.  Jesus, the Origin of Grace 11b

And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”