Title: Relationships: To Be or Not to Be … married
Text: 1 Corinthians 7
Introduction: Ps 119.18
The focus of our study these recent weeks in 1 Corinthians is answering the question: What does a healthy church look like? What are the marks of a healthy church?
Many of you are gardeners. I assume you look at your plants and ask yourself – maybe not out loud, but surely in some fashion – what can I do to make my plants grow, thrive, and produce? If you’re not getting what you think you should, you ask yourself – and probably out loud to the plants – why do you look so bad? Are they not getting the water they need? Are you watering too much? Are you watering the wrong way or at the wrong time? Are there nutrients in the soil? Is some animal or creature hurting these plants, stealing the fruit? If you’re new at gardening, you ask yourself: what are the signs of a healthy plant.
And then, you make a course correction in the way you tend your garden until the plants are healthy and productive.
As we begin the journey through chapter 7, I’d like to answer a couple of questions before you even know to ask them.
- Let’s begin by looking at verse 1; rd v1; this phrase now concerning, is used a few times over the next couple of chapters to address some questions that were apparently asked of Paul in the letter he received from the Corinthians. v 25.
- In answering their questions, he will clarify for them the strength of his answers by where the answer comes; Rd v 10a, 12a; 25; 40; when we see this, one wonders does this mean that it isn’t inspired by God; Answer: It is! All Scripture is God-Breathed.
- Here is another question that might arise as you read his instructions: Was their situation particular to them alone? And, therefore, would that concern us? rd v 26; some have said that their situation (present distress) was particular to them and doesn’t apply to us. I disagree. The situation itself is unique for that moment, for that church; however, the principles of the relationship dynamic would still apply to the universal church. I’ll explain this in greater when we get there.
- Verse one is a colloquialism used in that day. We still use it today and many like it. Rd v 1; actually, a closer, word for word translation would be: good to a man a woman not to touch. But that isn’t even a literal word-for-word translation: good to a man a woman not to kindle. This word for ‘fire/kindle’ is found also in Acts 28.1-2; The specific teaching was a euphemism used to describe the intimacy between a man and a woman; it appears that there was a ‘false teaching’ going around the church at Corinth that intimacy was wrong, therefore, marriage shouldn’t take place.
Transition: So, Paul answers this question and says… Answer #1:
I. Get Married (2-9)
exp.: rd v 2-5; so, Paul gives a basic outline of what is right between a man and a woman (who are married BTW); in v 6-9 he gives a quick synopsis of v 25-40; There is better and there is best; it is best to remain single, but you don’t have to – and, you’re not in sin if you choose to marry; so, get married;
t.s.: and in v 10, he gives another answer…Answer #2;
II. Stay Married (10-11)
exp.: rd v 10-11; Get married and stay married; even if you separate, remain unmarried because there is always the hope of reconciliation; this word ‘separate’ means divorce; Mt 19.6; what God has joined together, let no man separate; and Rom 8.35ff; Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
app.: So, don’t divorce (and you know what God thinks about Divorce – Mal 2.16 – He hates it), but if it happens – don’t marry someone else (because technically you’re still married); Mt 5.31-32; why is it adultery? Because she or he is still married!
Ill.: Bro. Don used an example years ago: An epoxy is created when you combine two separate compounds to form one. There is the epoxy resin and a 2nd compound, a hardener. Typically, these two compounds are stored in separate containers. Two tubes, when I was a kid. Today, you might find them in two separate syringes that join together when you press the syringes.
The mixing of the compounds forms a chemical reaction between the two separate pieces – which bind them together. The epoxy is so strong after this chemical reaction, that to break it, you damage both two pieces. Parts of both pieces splinter and remain with the other.
You may say, Oh, I’ve separated these two pieces, but the reality is that they’ve still parts of each one joined together with the other!
Ill.: one more – just for fun. Consider the difference between relationship and fellowship. Many of us have relationships through birth and marriage. You say that person is in my family. So, that is the relationship you have with that family member. For me, it is my biological mother. I never really knew here. But she was still my ‘mother’. As for fellowship – there was none. Relationship vs. Fellowship.
There is a man I know and love, from a church I used to serve in. As a new pastor, we were driving down the road in our small town and there was a man who looked exactly like my friend. We looked at him and he looked at us. No response. No Hello, no wave of the hand, no smile. Nothing. Nothing more than if you were in your front yard and watched a bird fly from one limb to another. I was like, “Dude, that man looks just like you!” He said, “yeah, he’s my brother.” Turns out, that was his relationship. But come to find out and it was that way the whole time I lived there. They didn’t speak. Relationship vs. Fellowship.
You can get divorced. You can never speak to each other again, but you’re still married.
t.s.: So Get Married and Stay Married; The 3rd answer he gives is…
III. Work on your Marriage (12-16)
exp.: rd v 12-13; don’t simply leave a spouse because they are non-believers; stick with it and work on that marriage; rd v 14; your godly life will impact theirs; who knows but that they might get saved! Your children need that godly influence, too. Now, I wish to address what Paul is talking about culturally:
- Arranged marriages
- A spouse becomes a believer in the course of time
- He’s not talking about a believer marrying a non-believer. 2 Cor 6.14;
app.: in their society and culture, as in ours, divorce came easily; Paul was saying, stay and work on your marriage; w/ God, there is always hope.
t.s.: Now, I’d like to skip v 17-24 for a moment and move to Paul’s 4th answer:
IV. Some should not marry (25-40)
exp.: rd v 25; before we look at his specific answer, I think it is important to gain an understanding of the Gk culture; two separate philosophies:
- The Ascetics – this guy is a monk; he denies himself all worldly pleasures; the 2nd group…
- The Epicureans – taught that it was fine to feed your physical desires because the physical didn’t touch the spiritual. Paul wants to refute both ideas; rd v 26; so now Paul gives us the 4th answer: Some should not marry. But, why? He gives them 4 reasons:
- The Present Distress (26); Evidently, there was a present struggle in their society. Paul was saying It’s easier when you’re alone (Ecc 4.9-12); rd v 27; if you’re not married, don’t seek to be, but if you are, don’t try to get out of it; now he gives us the 2nd reason for some not to marry; rd v 28;
- Worldly Troubles (28); simply put, I want to spare you that; and quickly, he gives a 3rd reason; rd v 29;
- Time is Short (29-31); there are two words in the Gk for time:
- Chronos – Chronology; deals with a period or duration of time;
- Kairos – deals with a specific time, or as the ESV translates it – an appointed time; Life is short and the appointed time of Christ’s return is very soon. He continues; rd v 30-31. This present world is passing away, and in v 32-34a he gives the 4th reason;
- Because of the Preoccupation involved in Marriage and Family; rd v 23-34a;
Conclusion: I’d like to return to v 17-24; rd 17-24; I think this hits home for us!
- Don’t always be trying to change your present circumstances; be content in where you are!
- Don’t try to rid yourself of your Jewish marks or to gain them; Be content with who you are!
- Don’t try to escape your responsibilities or even change them, but if God opens up the opportunity, by all means, avail yourselves of them. Be content with how you are doing!
- Your 1st responsibility is to God (23) and His glory! And that is in your marriage, in your job, in your life. Be Content in God!
But you might ask: How can I bring glory to God now? I’ve messed up so many times in the past? Answer: Grace. If you’re sitting here this morning or watching via the stream, understand that we’re all sinners and we all need God’s grace. Your failures, my failures, your sin, my sin, your rebellion and my rebellion are real. It all needs the grace of God.
I worry that too many folks will just get down because of their past. That isn’t the point. The point is grace and forgiveness! So, you didn’t do things right in the past. Too many folks let that be their focal point. You don’t have to stay there in the past – repent and ask God for forgiveness.
- God will be glorified through our successes and failures. I prefer it be my successes, but my failures prove him right, too! Here is the concept of repentance: repentance is simply acknowledging that God is right, and I was wrong.
- Maybe there is some repentance that needs to take place. The beauty of a bad situation is mercy. In God’s infinite mercy, he has provided a way for us to experience forgiveness and mercy through our repentance – the turning away from our sin.
Father, I haven’t done things the way you’ve designed. I’ve made decisions that showed I was really lord of my life. Please forgive me.
If you have already done this… trust in what God says: 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Finally, I want to say a word about what happened in Uvalde this past week. 22 people dead at the hands of a sick individual. In Luke 13.1, Jesus was confronted about a tragedy that took place in his time. 13 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
First, this isn’t a ‘how-to’ on addressing people who are going through such a tragedy. Jesus isn’t speaking to the victims or those who suffered a loss in the tower falling. He’s addressing people who are critical of those victims. You see they assumed that those people suffered because they had sinned. The reality of sin is that it doesn’t just affect the sinner, but it affects all of us. I sin and you’re affected.
Do you remember in John 9, the disciples asked Jesus of the blind man: who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus said neither, but that God’s glory might be displayed in him.
The tower didn’t fall on these people because they were worse sinners than others. And those Galileans didn’t die horrible deaths because they were worse sinners than other Galileans.
But here is the lesson: 1. Everyone is a sinner, and none is any worse or any better than any other. 2. Everyone dies and no one really knows when or where or how it will be. Some people die young and some die old. But everyone dies. Therefore, Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to call for repentance because we’re all sinners in need of forgiveness. And then we should live our lives for God – for His Glory!
In reference to Uvalde, some of you may be asking what can you do? Alto Frio needs folks to volunteer every day to help care for the ~150 Law Enforcement officers from around the state who are serving in the Uvalde Area. And the 25 or so members from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association working in Uvalde. Alto Frio needs workers, money, and items. Call Kim St. Clair at 830-834-9210 and see how you can volunteer.
There is also a place online at altofrio.com where you can donate. http://www.altofrio.com
I got word this weekend that some folks from Tarpley Baptist drove over Friday and volunteered to get the camp ready to receive those officers and workers from Billy Graham’s Center.
Whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all for the glory of God in your life.