Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 7”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 7. Last week, in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul talked about sexual immorality in the church. In this chapter, he teaches how to avoid sexual immorality in and before marriage.

  • Concerning the married, Paul writes:

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

v. 1-7 (NIV)

Pastor and author, Warren Baldwin, once wrote: “Before we are married, the devil does everything he can to get us to have sex. After we are married, the devil does everything he can to keep us from having sex (with our spouse). Sex can be one of God’s greatest blessings to us, or one of the greatest curses, depending on whether or not we follow his will.”

We are to direct all our sexual desires to our spouses and not withhold them, giving Satan an opportunity to tempt us to share that intimacy with someone else. Proverbs 5:15-20 instructs us to “Drink water from your own cistern And fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone And not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress And embrace the bosom of a foreigner? (NASB)

Paul continues instructing the married not to seek divorce:

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

…A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

v. 10-16, 39-40 (NIV)

Marriage is tough, especially if you and your spouse are not on the same page spiritually. That’s why in Paul’s judgment we are happier if we remain single. We can give all our time and attention to serving the Lord when we don’t have a spouse to be concerned with. That doesn’t mean we should seek divorce if we are married. Once we made that commitment before God, we are to honor it. If our spouses are unbelievers, or not following the Lord as they should, God will give us grace to stay and serve Him, even if serving Him causes them to flee.

  • Concerning the unmarried and widows, Paul writes:

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

v. 8-9, 25-35 (NIV)

The time is short. All that we are concerned with in this life will not matter when Jesus returns. Many single Christians fall into sexual immorality by focusing on seeking a spouse. In their pursuit to find the right one, they often get involved in the wrong relationships. If their pursuit takes longer than they’d like, they often compromise their values and marry someone that isn’t God’s will for them. God’s way out of temptation is to stop seeking a spouse and start seeking Him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. When their heart is in Him, He will bring the right one at the right time, unless they desire to remain single to serve the Lord as Paul did.

  • Concerning the engaged to be married, Paul writes:

If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

v. 36-38 (NIV)

Again, Paul is saying that it is better to marry than to burn with lust. I know Christians who will not be alone with their spouses so they will not be tempted to have relations before marriage. I once advised an engaged couple living together to either move out or get married. If their passions were so strong that they couldn’t resist giving into that temptation, then they should get married right away.

Lastly, Paul instructs that we should be content and obey God in whatever situation He has called us, whether single or married.

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

17-24 (NIV)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for these letters from Paul in Your Word. For those of us who are married, help us to be content with our spouses and not seek to be free from marriage. Help us to honor the commitment we made before You. For those who are single, help them to turn away from temptation and be content waiting on You to bring them the right spouse You have chosen for them. For those who are engaged, help them to enjoy this time with You before marriage, and help them resist the temptation to give that special gift You’ve saved only for marriage. For those who desire to remain unmarried, help them to be fully devoted to You, in body and spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.  

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 8. Have a blessed week being content in the Lord!


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 6”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 6. Last week, in chapter 5, Paul talked about a case of incest in the church and how God gave them authority to judge the one caught in sin.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

In chapter 6, Paul continues addressing problems that were not being dealt with and judged by the church. Instead they were taking their cases against one another to the world’s court to be judged by them. They trusted the authority and judgment of unbelievers over believers.

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

v. 1-11 (NASB)

Paul points out the fruit of the unrighteous (those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus) and reminds the church that they have been sanctified in Christ. He’s exhorting them to lay aside their old unrighteous ways and put on their new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).

He continues:

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

v. 12-14 (NASB)

Paul said that all things were lawful for him because he was not under the law. However, he knew the deception and power of sin and would not allow himself to be a slave to it, as he explained in Romans 6:11-14, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (NIV).

Paul closes exhorting the Corinthians not to offer their bodies to sin, but to Christ as a living sacrifice to God.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

v. 15-20 (NASB)

The Greek word translated above as “immorality” is “porneia,” which means fornication. We are instructed to flee from sexual sin, because it is not something that we can stand up against and resist. Ask any brother or sister who has fallen into sexual sin and they will tell you they never intended to give into the temptation. The amplified Bible says to flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed. They fell into it because they didn’t flee from it. They didn’t flee when the lustful thoughts began (thought). They didn’t flee when the flirting began (word). And they didn’t flee from the act (deed), because by that time the temptation was so strong they didn’t want to flee.

God always provide a way out to flee from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). In sexual sin, He gives us plenty of warnings and chances to flee from it, because He knows how damaging it is to us. Of course, when we do fall and turn to God for help, He can lift us out of any sin and heal and restore us back to holiness.

“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

James 1:14-15 (NIV)

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:24 (KJV)

 

Heavenly Father,

Praise You that with every temptation You always provide a way out. Help us to take Your way out and flee from sexual immorality in thought, word, and deed. Help us to lay aside deeds of unrighteousness and put on our new selves, created to be like You in righteousness and holiness. We praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 7. Have a blessed week walking with the Lord, taking His way out of temptation.

 

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Sin Series “Sexual Immorality”

This is the last message in my series on sin. We continue last week’s message on Colossians 3:5-7 with turning away from temptation and putting to death the things of our flesh (denying our flesh of its desires).

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.

Colossians 3:5-7

Last week, I talked about turning away from and denying our flesh of greed (covetous). This week we focus on turning away from and denying our flesh of sexual immorality.

The Bible says:

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

When talking about sexual immorality above, Paul expressed that we should not wrong or take advantage of our brothers and sisters. I don’t think we realize that when we give into sexual temptation, we don’t just hurt ourselves. I heard a story once about a young man who was saving himself for marriage. The girl he was dating at the time didn’t want to wait for marriage, but he refused to wrong her by giving into that temptation. Years later, his best friend ended up marrying the girl. His friend expressed how grateful he was that he saved her for him.

The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:13-20

When I was a baby Christian, still very carnal, I volunteered for a Christian activity and was teamed up to work with another married man. As we continued working together, I became more and more uncomfortable around him. We were talking one day and he complimented me on how good I looked. I was flattered by his compliment, and instead of kindly rebuking him and fleeing from that temptation, I continued talking to him and flirting with him. After we parted, God convicted and warned me that I wouldn’t like it if a woman complimented and flirted with my husband. God must have convicted him as well, because next time we saw each other he fled passed me without saying a word.

The Amplified version for 1 Corinthians 6:18 says to shun immorality and all sexual looseness, and flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed. We need to flee from sexual immorality in every way because we can’t stand against it. Our flesh is too weak.

Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29).  In other words, we need to get rid of and run from anything that causes us to stumble, anything that feeds that temptation and causes it to grow.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

God will always give us warnings and provide a way out of temptations. It’s when we continually ignore those warnings, and feed those desires, that we fall into sin. It’s not a sin to feel tempted. It’s a sin to ignore God’s warning and give into temptation.

In our society today, we are constantly bombarded with sexual temptations. But God hasn’t left us here to stand up against it without help. He’s provided a way out.

  • For the unmarried and widows, Paul exhorts:

“It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

…An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.

… I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:8-9, 27-35

Many single Christians fall into sexual immorality by seeking a spouse. In their pursuit to find the right one, they often get involved in the wrong relationships. If their pursuit takes longer than they’d like, they often compromise their values and marry someone that isn’t God’s first choice for them. God’s way out is to stop seeking a spouse and start seeking Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. When your heart is in Him, He will bring your spouse to you at the right time, unless He’s placed a desire in you to remain single as He did in Paul.

 

  • For the engaged, Paul expresses:

“If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.  But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

1 Corinthians 7:36-38

A Christian woman once told me that she was living with her fiancée. She said she felt convicted. She knew God didn’t approve of her situation, but she couldn’t stop sleeping with him. I encouraged her that she could stop. I told her that God’s given her a way out to endure that temptation. She could either move out or get married to him right away.

 

  • For the married, Paul exhorts:

“But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

… Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. … What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; … For this world in its present form is passing away.

1 Corinthians 7:2-5, 27-31

Do you notice how single people long to be married, while married people long to be single? Our flesh will always desire what we don’t have. Our flesh can never be satisfied. No matter how much we give it, it will continue wanting something more. Satan knows that. As I shared in the post on envy, he takes what we can’t have (what is harmful to us) and makes it appealing in order to trap us. I’ve seen him lure many husbands and wives away from their spouses and families only to trap them and leave them with deep regret. God’s way out of this temptation is to be content and enjoy our spouses and not withhold intimacy from them.

The Bible shares many more teachings on sexual immorality. I didn’t have time to list everything in this post. If you struggle with sexual temptation, I encourage you to pray and study all the Scriptures you can find on it. God is faithful to help you and provide a way out during temptation. If you have fallen into sin, God is right there ready to lift you up. Just hold onto Him.

Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.

Psalm 37:24, AMP

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for ministering to us through this series on sin. We know that Your divine power have given us everything we need to live a godly life in Christ. We submit our soul to You; our mind, will, and emotions. Help us to follow Your Holy Spirit so we do not gratify the desires of our sinful flesh. We praise You that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Sin has no power over us because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

*If you know a brother or sister in Christ who has fallen into sin, I recommend Pastor Greg Baker’s ebook Restoring a Fallen Christian “Rebuilding Lives for the Cause of Christ.” I started reading it shortly before this series and I found it very inspiring and helpful.



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