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Monday, April 24 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.

Conclusion:

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.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:10 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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