1Cor 7:14                  God’s Guidance in Marriages                 4/25/2010      ßà   

 

  • Due Benevolence (1Cor 7:1-9)

 

 

 

#1.       Christ and the Church (Eph 5:22-33, Eph 1:4, Rom 4:25, Tit 3:5-7)

 

 

 

  • Let Her Remain Unmarried (1Cor 7:10-11)

 

 

 

#2.       If She Be Pleased to Dwell With Him (1Cor 7:12-13, Matt 7:1)

 

 

 

  • Sanctified and Holy (1Cor 7:14, Matt 18:6)

 

 

 

#3.       You Are Not Under Bondage (1Cor 7:15-16)

 

 

 

  • Be Content in the State You Are in (1Cor 7:17-29)

 

 

 

  • The Wife Is Bound by the Law (1Cor 7:39-40, Rom 8:2)

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 7:1 (2X). We have come to a famous chapter in this Epistle to the Corinthians. Almost the entire chapter deals with marriage and divorce. Therefore the title of this sermon is, God’s Guidance in Marriages (2X). In this day and age almost 50 % of the marriages in this country end up in divorce. And so, if we ask God’s guidance in this matter we can imagine that there are almost an infinite number of questions we can ask from God. Most of these questions fall into two groups: First, down to earth practical questions about physical contact between a man and his wife, and Second, questions that are patterned after Christ and the church, and how this metaphor translates to practical guidelines in our marriages. As a matter of fact, this is also how this chapter is divided. Verses 1 through 9 deals with physical contact. The rest of the chapter deals with Christ and the church. Let us now read verses 1 through 9, and hear God’s guidance in these matters.

  • Due Benevolence (1Cor 7:1-9)

1Co 7:1-9  Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

What is verse 1 speaking about? Actually verse 1 is not speaking about touching but about marriage, and about fornication that was so prevalent in the city of Corinth, because of the many temple prostitutes that were there in Corinth. God already dealt with fornication in chapter 6; now in chapter 7 He is dealing with marriage. Paraphrased God says in verses 1 through 3, “It is good for a man if he does not marry. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. And when they are married, Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence.” What does that mean, “due benevolence?” According to Webster’s Dictionary, “benevolence” means “a disposition to do good”, or “an act of kindness”, or “a generous gift.” And thus “due benevolence” refers to the loving acts of kindness that are due to his wife, because the husband is commanded to love his wife. And likewise the wife should render loving acts of kindness that are due to her husband. These loving acts of kindness are not restricted to the dinner table, but should be present all the time, including in bed. That is what verse 4 is speaking about. Therefore God says in verse 5, “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time.” Do not withhold the sexual intercourse that your husband is entitled to, for he is your provider. And do not withhold the sexual intercourse that your wife is entitled to, for she is your helpmeet. And if you do withhold it, let it be with mutual consent, and let it be only for a time. And make sure that you come together again in order that Satan does not tempt you for your withholding. Then in verses 6 through 9 the apostle Paul introduces another subject matter: He says, “I speak the following by permission, and not of commandment.” What I am going to say now is not a commandment from the Lord, but a permission to speak: “I wish that all men were as I myself; celibate, not married. I have received this gift from God. But every man has his proper gift from God, and not every man has received the gift to be celibate. I say therefore to the unmarried men and to the widowed females, It is good for them if they would remain unmarried even as I, for they will have more time for the Lord if they remain single. But if they do not have self-control to abstain from sex, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn.” Now, when we read this in verse 9, it sounds very threatening. What is the meaning of “to burn?” The Greek word means, “to be inflamed with passion.” It does not necessarily mean “to burn in Hell”, although this could be the consequence of unbridled passion leading to a life of fornication. It is better to marry than to burn. Please put a sticker here and turn to the Epistle to the Eph.

#1.       Christ and the Church (Eph 5:22-33, Eph 1:4, Rom 4:25, Tit 3:5-7)

We have here a passage where husbands and wives are commanded to love one another. But when we have come to the end of this passage, God says in Eph 5:32, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” In other words, God has been speaking of Christ and the church all the way from the beginning in Eph 5:22. This is what we should have in our minds when we read this passage from the beginning. O Yes, there are practical rules for husbands and wives, but that was not the primary reason why God inserted this passage here in the first place. But the only way we can get a clear understanding of our condition as the eternal church, is when we also include the Biblical view of the body and the soul. The Lord Jesus repeatedly pointed us in this direction. Even though modern theologians tend to forget the concept of a separate body and soul, we need to bring back this view: A human being consists of a body and a soul, which is also called a spirit. Let us now read Eph 5:22-33,

Eph 5:22-33  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in

particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

What is God communicating to us in these twelve verses? Paraphrased God says that He has given us the institution of marriage, and that He has patterned it after Christ and the church. And by this is meant the eternal church, the church consisting of all the saints who are ever coming into existence including the saints who have lived and died in the past. In other words, the church in this passage consists of all the elect, who are also called the Bride of Christ. Long before the foundation of the world God the Father chose a Bride for His Son, and the Bride He chose consisted of wicked people who were not worthy to be called the Bride of Christ. But long before God created the first speck of dust, He placed the names of all these who were chosen, called all the elect, He placed the names of all the elect into the mind of God the Son. For this reason God wrote in Eph 1:4, “According as he hath chosen us in him (in Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” The Father placed our names in Christ in order that our souls might stand justified before Him, holy and without blame. In other words, the Father declared our souls justified and holy and without blame by placing us in Christ, for Christ as the representative of our souls must remain the spotless Lamb of God, in order that He can be our Redeemer. This act of God, the placing of our names in the mind of God the Son, was the pebble that caused an avalanche of mercy and grace later on in history. When we rejoice later in the NH&NE and reflect on the history and the reason why we are there in glory, we can point to that first act of God: placing our names in the mind of God the Son, with the result that Christ came into the world and died on a cross on our behalf, and then He rose from the grave to declare our souls justified for the second time, because He paid on the cross the penalty for the guilt of all our sins. God says in Rom 4:25, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Then in our lifetime God the Holy Spirit brought the Gospel to our ears, and made us hear the spiritual message of Christ crucified for our sins. It was then that God made us hear the call of God from Tit 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The washing of regeneration means that God the Holy Spirit has washed the sins from our souls and made our bodies new creatures in Christ, capable of doing good works which God has before prepared that we should walk in them, for it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. This is God’s justification for the third time and it involves the body also, for the soul by itself is a spirit and cannot do any works. God said in Tit 3:7, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” At this point in time, after God’s justification for the third time, only our soul has been fully saved; if we would die our soul is ready to go directly to Christ in glory, but our yet unsaved body goes into the grave. Since our bodies are still not holy and blameless by a long shot, God declared our bodies justified, like He has declared it for our souls, on account of what Christ has done for us on the cross. “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” O yes, we still sin, but since we died to the Law our sin is not charged to our account. That is why after our regeneration we are no longer called sinners, but saints. Now, the metaphor in Eph  5:22-33 tells us that we, the church, are the wife and Christ is the husband. We must obey Him as the Head of the church. And how much does Christ love the church? He gave Himself for it. Literally he Greek text says, “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water in the word,” which does not refer to the washing with water in baptism, but “the washing of the water in the word”. In other words it is the washing of sins that takes place when the water of the Gospel in the Word of God is accompanied by God the Holy Spirit and we experience the miracle of the regeneration of our souls. We hear the water of the Gospel message, and God the Holy Spirit causes us to hear the spiritual message, and causes us to believe, and our sins are washed away; this is the washing of regeneration. Something is washed away from our souls; not the guilt of our sins, for that has been washed at the time of the cross; but the empty sins are now washed away from our souls, and God Himself, all three Persons of the Trinity, has come to live in our souls, and our bodies are declared justified, so that our unsaved bodies also become servants of Christ. And like the man and his wife have become one flesh, even so Christ and the church have become one flesh, for we read in verse 30, “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” And so, as soon as regeneration has taken place, we have become inseparably united with the Lord Jesus Christ. But this condition was predestined before the foundation of the world when the Father chose us to be one of the Bride of Christ. This then is the nature and the essence of Christ and the church. Please turn again to the First Epistle to the Corinthians chapter 7, 1Cor 7:10 (2X). And let us now apply this principle to all the remaining rules concerning marriage found in this chapter. The first topic that comes up is:

  • Let Her Remain Unmarried (1Cor 7:10-11)

1Co 7:10-11  And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

We see here an introduction to the sinfulness of man. A divorce has occurred. A wife has departed from her husband. God’s command was: Do not depart from your husband. Like the church was joined to Christ, so we are joined to Christ, and so the wives are joined to their husbands. If our bond to Christ is of any value to us, then we certainly do not want this bond to be broken. What is the spiritual meaning of departing from our husband? It means that we, who are either male or female, have left the church, the organization that Christ paid for with His own blood, the church that will be presented to Himself without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. If the church that we have left is a faithful church, then this is the meaning of leaving our husband. And when we have departed we should not get remarried to another church, which will not be a faithful church, for there can be only one faithful church. Therefore, when we have departed because our interpersonal relationships with other members of this church have soured, we should remain unmarried. Or we should get back to that faithful church, and iron out the difficulties, like we would do that in our human marriages. Then we read in verse 11, “and let not the husband put away his wife.” It means that those who are in the leadership of this organization should not lightly expel any member. Even if someone would be excommunicated, the purpose of this disciplinary action is to lead the sinning member to repentance, and so pave the way for his or her return to the congregation. Furthermore we find in verse 10 the words, “Unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord”. What does this mean? The apostle is hereby indicating that the words that follow were already taught by the Lord Jesus, for example in Matt 19, or in Mark 10, or in Luke 16. Then we find in verse 12, “To the rest speak I, not the Lord”. What does this mean? It means that the Lord Jesus has not spoken about these things, but the teaching that the apostle now brings is new. Let us now turn to the next topic.

#2.       If She Be Pleased to Dwell With Him (1Cor 7:12-13, Matt 7:1)

1Co 7:12-13  But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

Let us put this situation in the spiritual context. If the church has a member that believes not, but that person is pleased to dwell there and listen to he Gospel message week after week, then let not the church expel this person, for faith is a gift from God. And if God has not given this person faith then God must have His own reasons for withholding this gift. The church does not know if this is a temporary withholding of the gift of faith, or if this is a permanent condition. We are not saved by our understanding or by a faith which is perceived as saving faith. We are saved by Christ and then our faith is Christ’s faith. And perhaps this person is mentally incompetent. We cannot look on the outside what is going on inside that person. We should not be judging what we cannot see. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”. Obviously, God hates divorce. The key words here are, “and she be pleased to dwell with him”. As long as this person is pleased to dwell in the church, the church should be open to all who are willing to hear the Gospel. Likewise in the marriage. If the wife is always criticizing the husband, and is fighting over every decision he makes, and refuses to cook for him, and is a devil in bed, then obviously she is not pleased to dwell with him. But if she loves her husband and is pleased to dwell with him, then he should not put her away, for the Lord hates divorce. The same story holds true for the saved woman who has an unbelieving husband. If he loves her and is pleased to dwell with her, then she should not seek to divorce him. But if he despises her and abuses her with either verbal abuse or with physical abuse, and he threatens her with divorce, then obviously he is not pleased to dwell with her. If then finally the divorce comes let it come. The Lord has called her to peace. But then she should remain unmarried, for God stated that in verse 11. Let us now look at verse 14.

  • Sanctified and Holy (1Cor 7:14, Matt 18:6)

1Co 7:14  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

What is the meaning of the word “sanctified”? To sanctify means “to set apart for service to God.” The word sanctified does not mean “saved.” And what is the meaning of the word “holy”? The word “holy” means “separated to God’s service.” The word holy does not mean “saved.” The Greek word that was translated “sanctified” is the past tense of a verb, and the word “holy” is the adjective of the same word. And thus, what is 1Cor 7:14 saying? God says here that the unbelieving husband, who is pleased to dwell with his believing wife, is set apart for service to God. He allows his wife to worship the Lord, he does not hinder her serving her Lord, and at the same time he provides for her. Even if he does not go with her to church, by providing for her he is indirectly serving the Lord. Likewise, the unbelieving wife, who is pleased to dwell with her believing husband, is set apart for service to God. She allows her husband to worship the Lord, she does not hinder him in serving his Lord, and at the same time she provides for his meals and provide him a home where he can be at ease and find spiritual rest. Even if she does not go with him to church, by providing for him she is indirectly serving the Lord.

“Else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” What does that mean? Let us take the example of the believing wife who has an unbelieving husband. If he is pleased to dwell with her and does not place any hindrances in her service of the Lord, then she would take the children with her to church. And thus the children are raised and instructed in the ways of the Lord, both in the church and at home; they hear the Gospel all their life, and they see the happy marriage of their parents. God has provided for them a Christian home so that elect children can be nurtured in the fear and admonition of the Lord. In that case the children are “holy”, meaning they are set apart for service to God. We cannot do the work of choosing our children to be the elect of God, but God frequently arranges for elect children to be brought up in a Gospel home; and God frequently arranges for non-elect children to be raised in a home were there is strife and enmity against God, and where the children see the enmity in their parents. In that case the children are “unclean”. The word unclean means “morally or spiritually impure.” Children who are surrounded by an unloving environment usually grow up to be themselves unloving and morally and spiritually impure. This does not completely determine their destiny, but their environment leads them to become rebellious children. And after that anything goes. What brought all this disaster on? It was brought on by the unbelieving parent who wanted nothing to do with the other parent to bring the children to church, and to raise the children in the fear and the nurture of the Lord. The unbelieving parent shows by his actions that he is unworthy of hearing the Gospel, and he also withholds the Gospel from his children. The Lord Jesus said of this parent in Matt 18:6, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” This parent has trampled the Son of God under foot, and counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing. That is why he and his children shall inherit the wrath of God, and that is why the sins of the fathers will be visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate God (Ex 20:5). Let us turn to some happier moments:

#3.       You Are Not Under Bondage (1Cor 7:15-16)

1Co 7:15-16  But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

If the unbelieving partner wants to leave, let him leave, for God has called us to peace. If the unbelieving spouse is not pleased to dwell with the believing spouse, for whatever reason, then there is no peace in the house, and the children grow up in an environment of strife and backbiting and hatred of God. God’s advice is, “Let him depart. You are not under bondage in such cases.” What does it mean to be “not under bondage”? The Greek word that has been translated “under bondage” is derived from the Greek word “doulos”, which means “slave.” In other words, God says, “You are not enslaved in such cases.” What is meant thereby? A man and a woman who engage in marriage are enslaved to one another, like we, the church, are enslaved to Christ. We are bound to Him forever, and we want to serve Him forever. So the man and his wife are slaves of one another. They are bound to each other as long as both partners live, and they are commanded to serve and love one another as much as a slave loves his master and wants to serve him to the best of his knowledge. But when the unbelieving partner wants to leave, God says, “Let him leave. A brother or a sister is not enslaved in such cases.” He wants to leave, let him leave; he does not realize what a wonderful servant he had. But if he does not appreciate your work and labor of love for him, then let him go out into the world and find out for himself what treasure he has left behind. God hates divorce, but God’s love for you is a million times greater than God’s love for him. But if he delights to dwell with a believing wife, and if she delights to dwell with a believing husband, if no enmity against God enters into the relationship, then God may eventually save our unsaved spouse, for the unsaved spouse continues to hear the Gospel in word and in deed. Can we be sure that our unsaved spouse will be saved? No! Can we be sure that our unsaved spouse will not be saved? No! Therefore, do not separate the ties you have with your unsaved husband, or with your unsaved wife. But if they do want to depart, let them depart, for God has called us to peace. We do not know what the future brings. But God knows, and God has the entire world history in His hands.

  • Be Content in the State You Are in (1Cor 7:17-29)

1Co 7:17-24 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

The dominant theme of this passage, 1Cor 7:17-24, is the message that we must be content in the state in which we were called by the Lord. This is repeated in verses 20 and 24. Were we uncircumcised when we were saved? Let it be. Do not seek to be circumcised. Were we slaves when we were saved? Let it be. Do not rebel against your human master. But if we get the opportunity to be free, use this opportunity, for Christ has bought us with a great price. Therefore we should be servants of Christ, rather than the servants of men. Now this principle has many applications.

Were we bound to a wife when we were saved? Do not seek to be loosed from her. Do not divorce her, for God says, “the two shall be one flesh”. Therefore, if you do have a wife, she is your helpmeet; she is your right arm. Will you cut off your right arm? This is how severe a divorce is. And when you have cut off your right arm, will you pick up someone else’s right arm and attach it to your body? That would be a foolish thing to do. But that is what a divorce and remarriage is. Therefore God commands that we should be reconciled to our former spouse, or remain unmarried.

Were we divorced when we were saved? Do not seek to remarry, for this is like seeking to join another gospel. It is idolatry. The only other way is to be reconciled to your former husband, which spiritually means we would rejoin the church from which we were divorced.

Were we divorced and remarried when we were saved? Do not seek to be divorced from your 2nd or your 3rd or your 4th wife, for the Lord hates divorce. Continue in the state wherein the Lord has called you. He only has the answer for all the problems we have heaped upon ourselves by our sinful life styles

When we continue to read in this chapter we might get a different opinion. For example we read in

1Cor 7:25-29,  Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

The virgins in verse 25 refer to female and male virgins. The apostle Paul is advocating that it would be better for men not to marry, and remain a virgin, like he is. For example, in verse 27 he asks, “Art thou loosed from a wife?” By this he meant “Are you loosed from a wife” through death, not divorce. And thus when He says in verse 28, “But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned” this can refer only to those whose wife has died. The apostle would not contradict himself when he said in verse 39, “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth”.

  • The Wife Is Bound by the Law (1Cor 7:39-40, Rom 8:2)

1Co 7:39-40  The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide,

after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.

Think of the metaphor of Christ and the church. The wife, the Bride of Christ, the church, is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth. Which law is this? Think of Rom 8:2, where God says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Which law is it that binds the church to Christ? It must be the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, for Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death has been banished out of my life, since I have died to that law when Christ died on the cross and I died with Him. What does that mean here in the metaphor of 1Cor 7:39? It means that I, as a member of the church of Christ, as a member of the Bride of Christ, am so tenaciously attached to Christ, more so than I ever would be if the law of sin and death had commanded me to be attached to Christ. I am voluntarily attached to Christ, for Christ has made me free. But my desire to be attached to Christ is greater than any law could make do. And this force, this strength of binding the Bride to Christ, is present in the marriage bond between a husband and his wife. “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth.” What law is this? It is the law of sin and death, for that is the law that says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” As long as her husband lives she may not be married to whom she will. But if her husband is dead then this law allows her to be married to whom she will, provided it is a marriage approved by the Lord. It cannot be a mixed marriage, and it cannot be a marriage with a man who has been divorced, and his wife is still living. And so, here again we see the wisdom of God in arranging everything in His creation in an orderly, and coherent way, in a way that reflects His wisdom. He thought it all through before He created this universe, and His wisdom is unsearchable. We can say that God created man with an innate attraction for the opposite sex, but this we do most of the time for selfish reasons. But God created the concept of Christ and the church for totally unselfish reasons, for He adopted us to become the Bride of Christ for our benefit, and for our glory. Praise be to God for His indescribable gift.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.