Friday, April 28 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Last week, we concluded the three part marriage series based on 1 Corinthians 7. Some of the highlights of last week’s teaching touched on the benefits of an unmarried life for a Christian, Paul’s advice on remaining in an unmarried state as a result of the distress prevalent during the time of writing the book of first Corinthians, and also his counsel to married women and widows amongst other things. Paul buttressed the importance of staying married which is very much in line with Jesus’s injunction in the epistles. Today, we will continue our study as we look very carefully on the topic of Taking Care with our Liberty as believers in Christ Jesus.
1. Relationship Between Love and Knowledge (vs 1-3)
Paul sets the stage for his teaching on meats offered to idols in verses 1-3. In these three verses, addressed to those who prided themselves for their higher knowledge and who indulged themselves in the name of liberty, Paul lays down four foundational truths which they need to grasp.
Truth 1: Christian knowledge is common knowledge, available to all. Paul writes, “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge” (1 Corinthians 8:1a). Knowledge is not restricted to the few but is available to all. In the Book of Proverbs, error and deceptive knowledge is personified by “Madam Folly.” This woman is symbolized by the prostitute, who appeals not to the head but to the hormones; she appeals to fleshly pride and sensual desires. Her appeal is secret and sneaky. She lurks in the dark alleys, and she whispers her offer of illicit knowledge (Proverbs 7:6-27). Truth and wisdom is personified in Proverbs by a gracious and intelligent woman, Dame Wisdom. She publicly proclaims truth to all who will hear and learn, speaking openly in broad daylight and in the most public place (Proverbs 8:1-21). True knowledge is offered to all, while false wisdom is secretly and seductively presented to the naive.
Truth 2: Even true knowledge, which is wrongly interpreted or applied, can puff up the pride of the knower, while genuine love places others ahead of self and seeks to build them up. True love is not puffed up with pride, and it does not serve self-interest (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Knowledge is not opposed to love, but is to be closely associated with it, as we can see in the Scriptures (1 Cor.13:2; 2 Cor.8:7; 1 Tim.1:5)
Truth 3: Those who suppose themselves to fully know only reveal their true ignorance (verse 2). Our knowledge in this life is partial, and even that which has been revealed by God is never perfectly grasped (see 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). Those who speak arrogantly of what they know are ignorant and self-deceived, often deceiving others as well (Romans 1:28-32; 2:17-23; Galatians 1:8; Colossians 2:18; 1 Timothy 1:7; 2 Peter 2:17-19). Over-confidence is often an indication of ignorance, while humility is the outgrowth of knowledge.
Truth 4: Christians are not to boast in knowing, but to rejoice in being known by God, and this is the result of loving God (verse 3). When Jesus sent His disciples out to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God, they returned, rejoicing over the mighty works God had accomplished through them. Jesus gently corrected them saying, “… do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Here, Paul tells Christians that they should not rejoice in knowing, but in being known by God. Salvation surpasses any sheepskin (diploma) we will ever obtain.
2. Transforming Truth into Error (vs 4-6)
• It comes as no surprise to hear that false teaching leads to various kinds of evil. But it is also possible to pervert the truth (see Rom.6:1-2; Jude 1:4;Matt.4:1-11). Paul supplies us with the doctrine—true doctrine—which the “stronger” Corinthians twisted in order to justify eating meat offered to idols. The doctrine which all Christians “know” is that there is but one God. This is one of the foundation stones of the Christian faith. It is emphatically laid down in Deut.5:6-10; 6:4-9).
• There is but one God. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. He is the One from whom all things come, and for whom all things exist (1 Corinthians 8:6). While there is but one God, He exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here, Paul speaks only of Father and Son as the one true God, but it is clear that while he distinguishes Father and Son, he also considers them as One.
• If there is but one God (and all Christians know this to be true), then there are no other “gods.” Idols are symbols or representations of these “no-gods.” These “no-gods” exist only in the minds of their heathen worshippers, and not in reality. Thus, since there are no other gods than God, idols really have no meaning or significance—they represent nothing.
• If idols are nothing, then the foods offered to them are of no significance either. Meats offered to gods which don’t exist are thereby assumed to have no negative or profane contamination by their use in false worship. If this is so, as some of the Corinthians have reasoned, then meats offered to idols are certainly free of moral contamination, and thus can be eaten without moral qualms. Those who fail to think on this high level are obviously weaker Christians. And if these “weaker Christians” follow the example of their “stronger brethren,” then they are so much the better for having done so, even though their consciences are pricked by eating this meat.
• Jeremiah said it well: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Through twisted logic and compounded inferences, some Corinthians have turned the truth of God into a lie. They have made orthodox doctrine the basis for their sin. In verses 7-13, Paul will show these “stronger” brethren that they have become puffed up with knowledge, but they have failed to show love for their brothers.
3. Lacking In Love (verse 7-12)
• If the “knowledge” of some Corinthians was defective, so was their love. Having dealt with their “knowledge” in verses 4-6, Paul moves on to show the deficiency of their love in verses 7-13.
• The Corinthians were using their (defective) knowledge to the detriment of one who appeared to be a weaker brother. Paul will show them that one who loved his brother would surrender any right which would be detrimental to the weaker brother.
• While some saints with superior knowledge seem to have the right to eat idol-meat, there are others who have not come to this same knowledge. How, then, does the one with “knowledge” respond to the one without it?
• Paul now makes a very important point in verse 8. Meat is really a matter of indifference. Contrary to the thinking of the “stronger brother,” eating such meat doesn’t make him more spiritual. Conversely, if one were not to eat such idol-meat, it would not in any way diminish his standing before God. It is a sort of “Heads, I win; tails, you lose” proposition. I don’t gain anything by eating idol-meat, nor do I lose anything by refusing it. “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were thus occupied were not benefited” (Hebrews 13:9).
• While neither eating meat nor abstaining from it changes my spiritual status, what I do with this meat can have a great impact on my brother. If something is a true liberty, I can partake of it in good conscience, just as I can abstain from it in good conscience, for I am not doing what I believe to be wrong. If I am more spiritual by eating idol-meat, then my weaker brother assumes he will be more spiritual for following my example. But since his conscience is not clear with respect to idol-meat, eating of it will be a sin for him. When I insist on exercising my liberty, in spite of the fact that others do not have this liberty, I am encouraging my “weaker brother” to sin.
• In verse 10, Paul employs a very well-known term, which is translated “strengthened” in the NASB (“emboldened,” KJV, NIV, Berkeley; “encouraging,” J. B. Phillips). The word is seldom used in this negative sense by Paul, but is most often positively used with the meaning “edified” or “built up.” Eating idol-meat is reverse edification. It builds up or strengthens others, encouraging them to sin. True love, Paul has just said in verse 1 “edifies” (the same root word). Eating idol meat so as to encourage a weaker brother to sin is not walking in love! It is, instead, putting a stumbling block in his path (verse 9).
• In verses 11 and 12, Paul shows that eating idol-meat is not only a sin against a brother, it is a sin against our Lord. Here is how Paul’s argument plays out in these verses. Christ died for sinners, to save them from their sin and to sanctify them. Christ’s work on the cross of Calvary was to set men free from their sin, and to present them holy and blameless to the Father. Christ’s work on the sinner’s behalf was for their edification, for their spiritual birth, growth, and maturity. When a thoughtless, self-serving saint insists on eating idol-meat, he knows that his “weaker brother” will be encouraged to follow his example. But in so doing, the weaker brother is not edified; he is caused to stumble.
• Insisting on my right to eat idol meat may cause a fellow saint to stumble, falling into sin, and in causing this, I find myself working at cross purposes with Christ. I am therefore not only sinning against my weaker brother, I am sinning against my Lord. This is a most serious offense indeed.
CONCLUSION (verse 13)
In verse 13, Paul sets down a principle which establishes the relationship of love to knowledge and Christian liberties. No liberty should ever be exercised when it acts contrary to love. No liberty of mine should be a spiritual detriment or hindrance to my brother in Christ. If I love my brother, I will gladly forego any liberty which will cause my brother to stumble. If eating meat (any meat, or any act at all) would cause a weaker brother to stumble, then I should gladly be willing never to eat meat again. No right should be exercised which is contrary to love, and love always seeks to edify.
Monday, April 24 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
We have been looking at the issues on marriage from the challenges of the Corinthian’s Church for the past three weeks. We can establish from our studies that God hates divorce. Why? Because the joining between a man and a woman is a permanent one. Jesus said in Luke 16:18; “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.
God’s intention is to make our marriages parts of His kingdom influence on earth, by raising Godly seed within the confine of Kingdom homes. Our marriages and homes should naturally attract people to God.
We shall continue on the issues of marriage but examine the circumstances where it is not wise to marry, the benefits of an unmarried life, situations where it is right to marry and advice to married women and widows. Paul clearly distinguished between the commands of the Lord and his own counsel.
- Circumstances where it is not wise to marry: 1 Corin.7:25-28
“Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because 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 loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.”
Paul indicates that he is giving his advice, he also encourages his readers to take that advice seriously because, his counsel is not personal opinion, given without divine enablement, but is the fruit of divine mercy which was given to him. If Paul is clear to tell us when he is not giving us a command, surely we dare not attempt to pass off our ideas, preferences, or prejudices as though they are a word from God.
His reference to “present distress” in vs 26, can be connected to the persecutions of Christians (2 Timothy 3:12, Romans 8:18-25, Galatians 1:4 & 1 Peter 4:12-14). In the light of this Paul counsel that “It is good for a man to remain as he is”. Can you imagine Paul being married with children and seeking to carry on the ministry we see described in the Book of Acts?
Verses 27 and 28 speak not only to the single saint, encouraging him or her to remain single, but Paul also addresses the married believer, advising that one not seek to be loosed. Once one is married (with or without children), it is too late to reduce one’s exposure by seeking to terminate the marriage or to abandon one’s family.
- Marriage and the Shortness of Time: 1 Corin.7:29-31
“But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.”
One of the great dangers which confronts the Christian is losing sight of the shortness of the time. We must live in the light of the nearness of the return of our Lord, of the inauguration of His kingdom, and thus of the end of this present age (Rom.13:11-12, 1 John.2:17-18, Rev.1:3 & Rev.21 &22). Paul spells out several specific areas in which to apply our belief in the shortness of the time.
The first area of application is that of marriage: “so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none.” This is not an instruction for men to neglect their wives. We must connect his instruction with Ephesians 5. Husbands are to care for their wives as Christ cares for His church.
- The benefits of an unmarried life for a Christian; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.”
Marriage is not an eternal institution, but one divinely provided for men and women in this age, rather than in the age to come (Matthew 22:30). Marriage is a right, a liberty, which can be either exercised or set aside. Paul has just challenged the Corinthians to consider the possibility of remaining single, not because this makes one more spiritual than others, but because it may enhance their service in these shortened days. At every wedding, church leaders explain the benefits of married life. Here, Paul pointed out the benefits of an unmarried life for a Christian. There are two outstanding benefits; vs 32; free from concern and in vs 35; secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
Remaining single provides an opportunity for the Christian to serve the Lord unreservedly, without the conflicting obligation of attending to the needs of one’s spouse. But staying single does not automatically produce this result.
Unmarried people are free to choose how they will spend their time, money and energy. They often have many less responsibilities at home than married people do. Certainly, they will serve God better as unmarried people than if they chose to marry unwisely.
- A situation where it is right to marry; 1 Corinthians 7:36-38
“But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.”
These examples refer to the marriage customs that people used to follow in Corinth. Men were not free to choose whom they would marry. Instead, families arranged for a boy to become engaged to a girl when they were both very young. When he grew older, the boy could choose when to marry.
“If you conclude that marriage is the proper course for your life, then don’t agonize over this, do it; you have not sinned in so doing. If, on the other hand, you are able to gracefully reverse your decision, and you have the will power to do so, then release yourself from this commitment and remain single. The one who marries does well; the one who does not marry does even better.”
- Advice to married women and widows; 1 Corinthians 7:39-40
“A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.”
Those who are married should consider themselves bound to that partner until death separates them. If a woman’s husband dies, she is then free to marry because the union is broken by death. The only condition placed on this widow is that she marry another believer. Nevertheless, Paul encourages such a widow to give due thought to remaining single, for the same reasons he has outlined above. These words of advice are an expression of Paul’s opinion, but failing to heed them is not sin. It is not just Paul’s opinion, he suggests, but counsel which he believes comes from the Spirit of God. It is, we might say, inspired advice.
Chapter 7 is a kind of self-contained unit. In this chapter, Paul spoke to those who are married, whether in a mixed marriage (one partner is a believer, the other is not), or those equally yoked. These are to stay married, and not even to think about divorce. They are not to deprive each other sexually, which would only tempt them to sin. Those who are unmarried should consider the spiritual benefits of remaining single. Those who are engaged (or who are planning their daughter’s marriage) should feel free not to proceed with marriage, but they should not feel guilty about marriage either.
Friday, April 14 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Last week, we started on a three part series titled “Teaching on Marriage”. We considered Paul’s counsel, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, on issues pertaining to sexual relationship in the context of marriage. The unmarried were counselled to avoid the stronghold of sexual drive and advised to marry if they are of marriageable age. Married couples were also counselled to fulfil their marital duties to each other since they both do not have any authority over their respective bodies. We will continue on this series by considering God’s stand on the controversial issue of divorce and separation. Is divorce really an option? Is separation allowed? If yes, on what grounds? Under what circumstances? What is the relevance of Jesus’s reference to the beginning? These and many more shall be our focus today.
1. Remain married permanently (vs 10-11)
In this disputed section, Paul urges Christian spouses to remain married. Paul gives instructions that are from the Lord Jesus who spoke about the permanence of marriage (Matt 19:6-9; Mark 10:5-12). Divorce is not an option—neither for the husband to divorce his wife nor for the wife to divorce her husband. It is worth noting that there is a parenthetical statement in verse 11 (“but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband”). It is possible that Paul may have been making a compassionate provision for an abused woman. This seems to indicate that God Himself is acknowledging that some marriages, even between Christians, are so difficult and so unwholesome and so degrading that divorce is the lesser of two evils. Put this way. God is more passionate for the soul than the institution. Remember, Christ did not die for an institution. He gave His life for the redemption of souls. God will rather a person in an abusive marriage be saved than die in an abusive marriage. However, for the believer who divorces his believing spouse there are two options: singleness or reconciliation. Remarriage to a different spouse is not biblically permissible.
Also note that the permission of divorce and the issue of certificate of divorce (Deut.24:1-4) was by Moses. Jesus confirmed this in Matthew 19:3-9.
“The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
As we will also see in the next verses here in our text, Paul also said in his opening of verse 12;
“To the rest I declare—I, not the Lord [since Jesus did not discuss this]……”
If you are married, God’s intent and expectation is that your marriage goes the distance. This means when (not if) there are problems in your marriage (which has been lingering and building castles in your home), it is imperative that you go to the leadership of the church before it’s too late. Too often, couples run to the pastors and elders when their marriage is on life support and nothing can be done to salvage it. Yes, God can and will work miracles, but it is wise to include Him in our marriage trauma before it’s too late.
2. Marriage between a believer and unbeliever (vs 12-16)
In 7:12, Paul distinguishes between his own apostolic instruction and Jesus’ teaching during His earthly ministry. Paul deals with a situation about which the Lord gave no instruction in his earthly teaching.
a) Now it is very important for us to recognize that the mixed marriages Paul is addressing here are the by-products of the conversion of one of the partners. When these two individuals got married they were both unbelievers; now one of them has become a Christian. This section does not apply to a believer who violates God’s law by knowingly marrying an unbeliever. For such a person to appeal to this passage would be like a teenager killing his parents and then appealing to the judge for leniency on the grounds that he’s an orphan.
b) In 7:12-16, the discussion is not about a believing spouse initiating a divorce. Instead, the unbelieving spouse initiates the divorce. The general principle in 7:12-16 is that those who are married are to stay married (i.e. the believer should remain married to the unbeliever). But although the believer should not initiate the divorce, if the unbeliever should do so, the believer is no longer bound to the marriage. This is stated in 7:15, where Paul writes that the believer is “not bound in regard to marriage” (i.e., free to remain single or to remarry).It is however expected that the believing spouse should be more focused at winning the unbelieving spouse to Christ through his or her chaste character according to 1 Peter 3:1-6 instead of desiring to get rid of the unbelieving spouse.
c) In 7:39-40, there is a conceptual parallel where a wife is said to be “bound” (a different word in Greek, but the same concept) as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is “free” to marry as she wishes, only in the Lord. If the parallel holds, then not bound in 7:15 also means “free to marry another.”
d) Two motivations that Paul brings out for remaining in an unequally yoked marriage are the spiritual benefits that accrue to your family (7:14) and the hope that you may win your spouse to Christ (7:16). Paul says that the unbeliever is “sanctified” (i.e., set apart for God’s blessings) on account of the believer. Salvation does not change the marriage state. If the wife’s becoming a Christian annulled the marriage, then the children in the home would become illegitimate. Instead, these children may one day be saved if the Christian mate is faithful to the Lord. Paul also holds out hope that the believing spouse may influence the unbelieving spouse to believe the gospel.
e) A godly and bible based counsel will be for a Christian whose unsaved spouse has divorced him or her to remain unmarried as long as there is a possibility that the unsaved person may return. However, if the unsaved spouse who has departed remarries, I believe the Christian would be free to remarry since, by remarrying, the unsaved partner has closed the door on reconciliation. Remaining faithful to your marriage blesses your spouse and children to enjoy the exhilaration of real freedom.
3. Stay put indefinitely (vs 17-24)
Paul now departs from commenting about marriage to offer more general considerations about one’s overall situation in life. But since he continues with issues concerning sexuality in 7:25-40, we cannot interpret the present section as unrelated to the marriage issues just discussed. In order to explain the general principle he has been trying to communicate in the previous verses about marriage, Paul uses two other less urgent issues (circumcision and slavery) as examples. His main point is that after experiencing the call of God, each person should remain in the situation he or she was in at the time of that call. Becoming a Christian does not mean totally revamping one’s social status. Do not seek (or pursue) marriage; do not seek (or pursue) singleness; do not seek (or pursue) divorce to the detriment of your happiness and fulfilment in life. In fact, do not actively seek any change in social status!
Three times Paul insists that a believer is to remain in the situation he or she was in at the point of faith in Christ (7:17, 20, and 24). This means that a Christian does not have to seek “the right situation” in order to enjoy Christian freedom or to serve God’s call effectively. We should serve God where we are until He calls us elsewhere.
Again, Paul’s overarching point in this passage is God is happy when we are content. If you are single—be content, if you are married—be content. Whatever your stage in life, be content.
The rate of Divorce (and separation) in the church is as high (if not more than) as it is in the contemporary world. The fact that this has become quite rampant in the church or the world does not nullify God’s stand on divorce. God hates divorce! Yes, He does. Why? Because the joining between a man and a woman is a permanent one. Jesus said in Luke 16:18;
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.
Why? Because Divorce does not nullify the bond between a man and a woman after they are married. This is a very hard one to comprehend or accept in this modern day. So what is the remedy? It is the responsibility of each and every one of us as believers to train up our children in the fear and way of the Lord. We all want our children to marry God fearing men and women. The question and the challenge is this. How many of us are really God fearing? And how many of us are really ready and willing to raise God fearing children? The church is becoming a difficult place to find suitors for the singles. We can however make a difference by investing time in raising and building godly virtues in our children. We can make a difference.
Sunday, April 09 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study titled “The Lord’s Body” we learnt how believers should honour the Lord Jesus Christ with their bodies and the impact sexual sins have on our bodies and our spirits.
Today’s study is the first part of a three-part series on Paul’s teachings on marriage.
The tone of this chapter infers that the Corinthian church had written Paul a letter. And in that letter the Corinthians had probably asked questions which tended to belittle marriage, and had implied that it was better to break it off when contracted with an unbeliever. There was also the notion that it was better not to be married at all!
Verses 1-2: Sexual Relations was designed by God ONLY as a part of marriage
One of the questions the Corinthian church asked Paul was: “Is it a good thing to have sexual relations?” Verse 1 (MSG)
So, Paul’s answer was
“Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder.” [MSG]
Here the general rule is given to the unmarried to avoid sexual immorality because sexual drives are strong. So, if you are of marriageable age and are ready for marriage, go ahead and get married because God designed marriage to curtail these sexual drives! And secondly, He designed marriage to provide a balanced and fulfilling sexual life. But still we hear of infidelity in marriages, don’t we? The root of many of those lie in what Paul addresses in the next two verses
Verses 3-4. The duty of cohabitation on the part of the married.
The husband must fulfil his [marital] duty to his wife [with good will and kindness], and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have [exclusive] authority over her own body, but the husband shares with her; and likewise, the husband does not have [exclusive] authority over his body, but the wife shares with him. [AMP]
The Message version explains clearly what these verses refer to when Paul said:
“The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.”
It is not a one-sided affair but mutual. The failure of couples in fulfilling their marital (sexual) duties these days have resulted in sexual immorality in the body of Christ. In verse 3, Paul admonishes both husband and wife to fulfil their marital duties. That is when indeed they can experience a balanced and fulfilling sexual life. It’s a no brainer Proverbs 27:7 (MSG) says:
“When you've stuffed yourself, you refuse dessert; when you're starved, you could eat a horse.”
The NIV renders the second part of this verse as:
“. . . but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.”
Paul then goes ahead to reveal an interesting paradox. The husband and wife do not have [exclusive] authority over their bodies but it is shared!
The oneness of body in which marriage places husband and wife shows us that although is an integral part of marriage, marriage goes beyond sex. More importantly, it is the decision to “serve” each other whether in bed or out.
Verses 5-6. Agreeing on abstinence is important but moderation is key
“Do not deprive each other [of marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves [unhindered] to prayer, but come together again so that Satan will not tempt you [to sin] because of your lack of self-control. But I am saying this as a concession, not as a command.”
Other versions use the word “defraud” in place of deprive. To defraud means, to deceive, to swindle, to cheat, or trick. Some spouses hide behind spirituality to defraud their partners. So, desist from withholding sex from your spouse by any means – Paul says it must be mutually agreed if there should be any abstinence. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period if you both agree to it, and if it is for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Because Satan can use the opportunity of prolonged abstinence to introduce unholy thoughts amidst the holiest exercises; especially when it becomes prolonged. Important to note here that Paul was not commanding these periods of abstinence; he was only providing his best counsel if we would choose them.
Verses 7-9. Celibacy is not for everyone; can’t handle it? Get married! God honours both!
“I wish that all the people were as I am; but each person has his own gift from God, one of this kind and one of that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, [that as a practical matter] it is good if they remain [single and entirely devoted to the Lord] as I am. But if they do not have [sufficient] self-control, they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, and the gift of the married life to others. Also, our emotions are God-given but there are those who are gifted to be able to turn off these emotions and leave them permanently turned off! Paul was one of such and wished everyone were single like him because it is a simpler life in many ways! So, he offers another advice; to the unmarried and widows that if they can, they should remain unmarried. However, if they cannot stay single because they are not gifted they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
To “burn” refers to being consumed with the secret flame of lust, which lays waste the whole inner man James 1:14 (AMP) says:
“But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion).”
Verses 10-11: Divorce isn’t an acceptable option
In these last two verses, Paul switched from offering advice to giving a command!
“But to the married [believers] I give instructions—not I, but the Lord—that the wife is not to separate from her husband, (but even if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) and that the husband should not leave his wife.”
In effect, what the Lord through Paul commands is that if you are married, stay married - regardless. If a wife or husband should leave their partner, he/she must either remain single (that is, if the sin of separation has been committed, the sin of a new marriage is not to be added); or else come back and make things right with their partner. The only exception Jesus gave is in Matt. 5:32. Let’s read this verse in the message version
“Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.”
The world for thousands of years and to date has been plagued by sexual disorder (Gen. 19:5) and there is immense pressure on the young and old who want to maintain their purity; either as singles or married as the world applauds those who defile the laws of God. (Romans 1:32)
When we fail to follow God’s order we leave room for manipulation by the devil (Romans 1:18-32)
Hebrews 13:4 [AMP] says
“Marriage is to be held in honour among all [that is, regarded as something of great value], and the marriage bed undefiled [by immorality or by any sexual sin]; for God, will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
As singles, we should know that it pleases the Father to maintain our purity; and as married couples, we should hold our marriages in honour and not endanger our spouses if we love them; by depriving them and leaving them exposed to the attack of the enemy!
Monday, April 03 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Last week, we continued in our study of the letter of Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. Paul’s wise counsels (through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) on how Christians should handle disagreements were carefully considered. He counsels that believers should rather accept wrong instead of going before unbelievers to be judged. We will continue this evening with the rest of the chapter by studying how believers should honour the Lord Jesus Christ with their bodies and the impact of sexual sins on our body and our spirit.
- Short-term pleasure leads to long-term disaster
Nowhere is this truer than in the area of sexual immorality. For a few minutes of pleasure, countless men and women will throw their lives away. Just think for a moment about the potential consequences of sexual sin: loss of fellowship with God, divorce, disease, pregnancy, guilt, estrangement from family and friends, psychological and financial loss, damage to one’s reputation, and countless others.
“Adultery is a brainless act, soul-destroying, self-destructive; Expect a bloody nose, a black eye, and a reputation ruined for good.” [Prov.6:32 MSG]
Indeed, there is no sin in this life with such brutal consequences. This reality ought to keep us from sexual sin. Yet, if we are honest, most people assume that they will be the exception to these consequences. Honestly, they believe that these things will never happen to them. So they go on their own merry way, sinning. Therefore, the apostle Paul uses another approach in helping us overcome sexual immorality. He uses a positive affirmation: “Your body is God’s body.” Take a moment to meditate on this. As far as God is concerned, when we engage in sexual sin with our body, we are actually doing so with God’s Body.
- Refuse to be mastered by your body (vs 12)
Paul shares a principle that governs the remaining passage of this chapter in verse 12. He argues that he and the Corinthians have certain freedom in Christ, but these are to be used for our good and God’s glory. Paul writes, “ Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]”. The key word here is “Control”.
- In this verse, Paul seems to be adapting and qualifying (“but”) a saying for his own purposes. Twice Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me.” There is a sense in which this is true. God’s world is to be enjoyed. Everything created by God is good, including sex.
- Yet, sex outside of marriage is not profitable and can lead to being mastered. Paul wants the Corinthian Christians to feel free to enjoy God’s world. But he does not want them to press their freedom so far that they do damage to themselves. Immorality breaks marriages, shatters homes, brings agonies of guilt, and damages usefulness beyond repair.
- We are free, but sin still has serious consequences. We must constantly ask ourselves questions about what is expedient. Will what I am planning help my health? My emotional state? My spiritual sensitivity? My understanding of God and His Word? Will it damage someone else? Will it damage another person’s conscience? Will it affect the church’s testimony?
- Freedom does not mean the absence of constraints or moral absolutes. Suppose a skydiver at 10,000 feet announces to the rest of the group, “I’m not using a parachute this time. I want freedom!” The fact is that a skydiver is constrained by a greater law—the law of gravity. But when the skydiver chooses the “constraint” of the parachute, he is free to enjoy the exhilaration. God’s moral laws act the same way: they restrain, but they are absolutely necessary to enjoy the exhilaration of real freedom.
- Sin against God the Father (verse 13-14)
This passage is not about food; it is about sexual immorality. Nevertheless, Paul contrasts the two to emphasize how God values the human body. Here, he simply insists that food and the stomach are temporal, but the physical body is eternal. Paul states that our bodies are designed for the Lord. We can no longer talk about “my body.” Your body is God’s body. And God will one day raise your earthly body. This means what we do in our bodies in this life matters greatly to God.
- Sin against The Lord Jesus Christ (verse 15-17)
Paul affirms very clearly in this verse of scriptures that we (our body) are members of Christ (See 2 Cor.16:15,16a).
“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.”[2 Cor.16:15,16a]
However, a verse that I believe is worth meditating on for this teaching is;
“Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”
- The word “joins” or “unites” (NIV) is used in each of these verses. The Greek word was used for gluing. An immoral man glues himself to an immoral woman. A believer, on the other hand, should glue himself to the Lord.
- Why do you think the word “glue” is used of sexual relationships? After all, aren’t many sex acts purely physical, without any real personal involvement? No. Paul says it is impossible to have a physical-only sexual relationship.
- There is no such thing as casual sex, inconsequential sex, or recreational sex. The sexual act is such an intimate act that it involves and affects the whole person. And he quotes the Old Testament to prove his point.
- In Gen 2:24, God says of the sexual act, “the two will become one flesh or one personality.” We dare not dismiss sex as inconsequential. Your body is God’s body. When you have a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse, you glue yourself to another instead of God.
- When are two married couple spiritually joined? At the altar?
- Remedy for Sexual Temptation (verse 18)
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” This verse offers the first command of our passage: “Flee immorality.” It is a present imperative and should be translated, “Keep on fleeing” or “Make it your habit to flee!” The Bible’s advice for avoiding sexual immorality is simple: stay as far away as possible from the persons and places and things likely to get you in trouble. Real men and women run! They don’t stand in and fight. Some other wisdoms for guiding against sexual temptations are;
- Watch televisions and movies selectively. The eye is one of the “main gates” to the hearts and must be guided. (Job 31:1). When you go to a theater, make sure you’ve read the reviews on the movie you are going to see. When you go out of town on business trips, it is wise to watch TV blocking out the adult movies in the hotel room.
- Monitor your Internet use. Internet pornography is the most insidious sin of our day. Every man, woman, and child is vulnerable to Internet pornography. We must always be on guard! Wise parents do not allow their children to have their own computer in their room. It is also appropriate to have your computer in a visible part of your house.
- Find an accountability partner. It is nearly impossible to stay pure without having an accountability partner. Every Christian needs a godly person of the same sex to ask the hard questions. One such question is, “Are you feeling attracted to anyone at work, church, or anywhere else?” The goal must be to answer this question honestly. It is better to feel a twinge of embarrassment than to find yourself in an emotional or physical affair.
CONCLUSION (verse 19-20)
There are three important points in these last two verses. First, we are a temple of God. In 1 Cor 3:16-17, the local church is called the “temple.” Here, the same Greek word (naos) is used of the individual Christian. The term used in both passages for “temple” is not the word for a pagan temple, or even for the Jewish temple structure and grounds; rather, it refers to the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place for the people of God in the Old Testament. Paul is saying that God Himself is resident within us. Your body is His mailing address and P.O. Box. He dwells in YOU! You would probably never consider committing an act of sexual immorality in a church sanctuary, right? But the fact is, as disgusting as that would be, it would be no worse for a Christian than committing the same sin anywhere else. A church building is never called a Holy of Holies, but the believer’s body is. What a difference it would make if we lived with this realization. If the body is a house for the Holy Spirit it should only be used for the very best purposes. We should not allow anything or anyone to spoil it or misuse it. We should keep it in good condition.