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Only Marriage’s Intimacy
John Barnett here and welcome to the city of Corinth. This is our second visit. As you see on the slide, we’re on week 37, and we’re going to look at 1 Corinthians 7. I have to say, when I glanced at the YouTube statistics I thought what a challenging chapter that we’re going to cover but get your notebook. We’ll need much space for many notes today because this is one of the more challenging chapters in the Bible and especially for men. Then of course open your Bible to 1 Corinthians 7 and we’re going to work through all of the chapter. Look at the key points. This is a chapter about marriage.
Remember last time, last week when I introduced the book, I told you Paul is writing back to the church at Corinth because of questions they had and problems he heard about. He alternates back and forth between the questions and the problems. They had questions about marriage, and there were two groups in the church, the first who felt we’re supposed to serve the Lord who is coming at any moment so we shouldn’t get married. Then we have the other group over here that weren’t married but were taking advantage of the easily accessible immorality that was in Corinth. Paul talks about the problem they had, understanding their sexual desires in relation to marriage. He reminds them of God’s design.
You see what that title is. Marriage and sex as God designed them to be in 1 Corinthians 7. Remember Corinth and whenever we’re talking about Corinth, we’re talking about the one church that got more chapters than any other church in the New Testament, they were special. They were special as we saw last week. To plant a church in the shadow of this Apollo temple to the sun god and that Acrocorinthus you saw in the last lesson, to plant a church in this place of darkness and evil was a marvelous miracle. As I shared with you last time, it looked a little bit like reverse evangelism. That the people that were saints in Christ were going back to being like the pagans they were before Christ.
Corinth was vital in God’s New Testament plan. He sends 29 chapters of the New Testament to Corinth. This is where we are in our year-long study. Remember we’re on the 37th week. It’s getting into September and Fall. We hope that COVID starts waning and we’re going between all the variants, but the big picture here is what are God’s plans for biblical marriage?
For those of you that are just joining us, praise the Lord, I get to meet new class members, new small group members, new friends that share wonderful things. I read this morning from one of you who said I was raised my whole life in the Roman Catholic church and went away from God. When I was seeking Him, among all the things I looked at on the internet, they said that they landed on this channel. They said I’ve been with you now for over a year. This is what they said, I’ll never forget, my life has completely changed. Since I’ve never met them, it’s not me that changed their life. Who changed their life? God, He’s the One that uses His word to change all of our lives.
This morning I was sitting out as I do every morning, reading God’s word, meditating on the verses that I’m memorizing. When I got to Daniel 4:35 and it says “All the inhabitants of the Earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will among the hosts of Heaven. “ I was going through that in Daniel and all of a sudden, I stopped and I said, Lord, You are watching all the hosts, the inhabitants of the Earth, and controlling the hosts of Heaven. You’re watching me right now. It was the most wonderful time sitting out there in the early morning, dim by the campfire that is outside of this place where we’re staying. I just worshiped the Lord. That’s what God does all over the world. Through this little study, He’s doing it in your lives, but this is what we’re doing. I want to remind you; we’re surveying the whole Bible. For some of you, you want to understand the Bible. It’s hard to understand. It’s too big. Maybe there are parts of it you’ve never understood. You’re afraid. We’re looking at the whole thing. The big picture by zeroing in on 52 key passages, but this is what we’re doing.
This is not an academic class. I have taught academic classes. Academic classes are heavy in all kinds of facts and all kinds of piling it on. Everything I’m telling you is factual, but it is packaged devotionally. What does that mean? Right here. Let’s go backward. The goal of every week is to apply the Bible to our heart, to our life, to our marriage, to our family, to our work, to the students we’re going to school around with, or to our fellow travelers through life. It’s to apply the Bible to how we relate to people and most of all, to God. That is accomplished by a prayer where we write a prayer in which we ask the Lord to unleash the truth that we’ve learned in the Bible this week into our life. The goal of this is not to learn more facts, not to have verses to tell other people what they need to change in their life. It’s to be a mirror to change my life.
How do we do that? We read the passage. 1 Corinthians 7 is our challenge this week. We find as we read it all week long, as many lessons, truths, and doctrines, as we can find. Then we use our study Bible. Let me get the study Bible out here because this week is going to be the most crucial week for you. When we get done with this chapter, you’re going to have so many things swirling through your mind. In your study Bible, the footnotes are tremendous, and you need that. This is not a big week for Systematic Theology, although that’s always good, but for your MacArthur Study Bible. You’ll need that and use it to take notes. Why you take notes is so that you take what you learn and put it in your own words. You find those lessons and truths and doctrines that you’re going to put into that prayer and say, Lord, change me, conform me, transform me. Then of course we write a title. I’ll take you through this process.
The first thing I always do when I’m starting a chapter in the Bible is trying to figure out the context. What’s the context? This is a letter written by Paul who was saved about three years after the crucifixion of Christ. He went off to Arabia, we covered that in Acts, and we covered it last week. Then he went to his hometown of Tarsus for at least seven years. Wow. Then he is discipled further by the great saints in that massive New Testament church of Antioch, which is over on the border of Turkey and Syria. It’s over in the Northeast corner of the Mediterranean. Then he launches off on his first missionary journey and this is where we find him. He’s ministering on his second missionary journey, writing letters to the Thessalonians, but ministering to the Corinthians. From his third missionary journey, he writes these letters of 1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans. Then of course we know the rest of his life. We covered that last week.
See the second missionary journey? Paul starts down here in Jerusalem, it’s in the lower right-hand corner of the map. He goes up through his first missionary journey area, comes over to Philippi and Thessalonica, then to Berea, and comes around right there. He’s in Corinth and that’s where he spends about 18 months. Then he goes on over here to Ephesus and he spends about three years with them. Then he goes back here to Jerusalem. Then you look here at the third missionary journey. Remember he has the extended period here in Ephesus, a visit to Corinth, back through Thessalonica and Philippi. Then of course ends up back home here in Jerusalem. We already covered this when we were an Acts, but I wanted you to see that.
Here’s the purpose, do you remember? The letter to the Corinthians, the 29 chapters to the Corinthians were because of their questions and because of their problems. Their questions came from those who couldn’t fully understand what the Bible said about something, some doctrine, some practice. The problems were with those who didn’t care what the Bible said and were going back toward paganism. Here’s the big picture: Christ’s New Testament Church, so you could say that Corinth, the church at Corinth, was born into a sin-darkened world. Remember they were pagans, they were living like the devil, the old cliché living like the devil. They were. Why do we say that? In your Bible let me read to John 8:44. Before we were saved this is what Jesus said. It’s a key verse to add to your memory list. Jesus said in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning and he doesn’t stand in the truth, because there’s no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he’s a liar, and the father of it. “ That’s how Jesus defined what we’re like.
From the same missionary journey let me take you over here to Ephesians 2. Look what Paul says. If you’re new in this Bible study, or if you’re new in the Lord, John 8:44 is the first verse I said. The second verse I’m showing you now is Ephesians 2:8-9. Okay. Look what Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9. He says “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. “ They were saved in Corinth. What were they like before they were saved? Back up to verses 1 and 2 of the same chapter. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which once you walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air,” that’s the devil, “the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. “ The New Testament church in Corinth was born into a sin-darkened world, doing what our father the devil wanted them to do because all of us are born that way. I was born that way; you were born that way. When we were saved, we realized that we were hopelessly bound by sin. We cry out to Christ and ask Him to save us. When we get saved, look at this, our lives have been warped by this sin-darkened world we were born into. By our sin-darkened hearts. We were born with. That produces, look at this, mixed-up marriages and confused families. Next week, Lord willing we’ll cover chapters 11, 12, 13, and 14. All that we’re looking at which I’ve already started on. I’m so excited. That talks about confused families. Today, we’re talking about warped lives and mixed-up marriages. Okay. We’ll see what God’s plan is.
What was God’s plan for believers? To live and reach out in a world so much like ours today. I would say that never in history has our world become like it was back in the Bible times. When we read about the Roman Empire and paganism and what the Bible calls licentiousness, what the Bible calls lasciviousness, those big Bible words that described the darkness of pagan Romanism. I don’t think there’s ever been a time in history since the Roman empire that we’re more like the Roman empire and almost getting worse. I know we’re getting worse; you know why? Because the closer we get to the end, the darker it’s getting.
What is God’s plan for us? How do we live in the dark world that is so much like the Bible world and how do we reach out to other people around us that are enslaved to fear? They’re enslaved to living a broken life. I hear people say it all the time, don’t you? That’s just the way I am. I listen to it and I say, but that’s not the way you have to be. I know just the way I was, but what a wonderful change in my heart and life and mind Christ has made. Whenever you see someone lamenting the problems in their own life, their weaknesses, struggles, and disability spiritually and emotionally and relationally with others. Every time they lament about their marriage or their relationship or their family, you can say, boy, I understand, but guess what? God says a new heart also I will give you all. Let me write that one down for you, Ezekiel, the book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament, chapter 36 verses 26 and 27.
Whenever I quote a verse, it’s one of my favorites and you know why I quote them? I went through them this morning. I have four different groups of verses that I alternate. Every day I go through a different pack. This morning was the 127 Bible doctrine verses. I learned them with my wonderful wife. She’s sitting over there running the switcher studio. Thank you, wonderful. Bonnie and I, when we were in Bible school, both learned these 127 verses. Did you know I review those every fourth day? All 127. That’s one of them right there. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh and you will keep my commandments and do them. “ That’s God’s promise. God wants us to reach out to a world that’s just like the Roman culture and this is what He wants us to do.
Jump over to my Bible. I want to go through the whole seventh chapter with you. You notice, I am always marking my Bible. I encourage you to do the same. Down in the description of this video, there is a description of this Bible. It’s a $19 or $20 Bible. Probably they’re going to raise the price because inflation is surging all over the world. What you see right here is just a plain $20 Bible. What I like about it, first of all, is it’s a New King James Version because that’s the version that blends the manuscripts that are most used by the early Church and the early Church fathers with the scholarship that came about during the reformation time. When those two are merged it’s the New King James. I also love the English Standard version. I love the New American Standard for the Hebrew Old Testament. I love the NIV. All of those, ESV, NAS, and NKJV, of course, King James, many people love that and for the Old Testament, the NIV are all very good translations.
Over here this is what Paul says about principles of marriage. Do you see that? That is just something the Bible publisher put in as little headers for the different sections of each chapter. Those aren’t inspired, but they’re helpful. When they’re helpful, I circle them. See, principles of marriage, keep your marriage vows, live as you were called to the unmarried and to the widows, be sensitive to your conscience, all these things. I circle them so I see some of the subjects there but look at what he says. “Concerning things which you wrote to me. “ Do you remember what the book of Corinthians is about? Their questions. That’s what they wrote to him. Isn’t it interesting? We’re seeing Paul responding on the third missionary journey to questions from his second missionary journey. All those maps I showed you and charts are to show you the context of this. He’s already been there. He’s already invested 18 months of his life, and now they have all these questions.
Have you ever gone to a church service or a conference, and you’ve heard a message and the longer you thought about it, you went, oh, I have all these questions? That’s what it was like back then only they wrote to Paul. Paul’s answers back to them are inspired holy scriptures. Do you remember what inspiration is? It’s when the Spirit of God breathed out this book through human instruments and Paul was one of them. Paul says your questions that you wrote to me about, “it’s good for a man not to touch a woman. “ You say, what is this? Like tag, don’t touch. No. In the culture, in the context, in the time period that we are talking about this was not bumping into someone in the subway or on the racecourse. Always in the New Testament world, it was a euphemism, to touch a woman, it had a sexual connotation. What he’s saying is it’s not good to be sexually involved with women. That was their question.
What is the role of sex in my life, in marriage, in ministry? Where does it fit? That’s a challenging question, especially in the culture where we live. Where Gallup and Barna and the U. S. Census have even found out that the majority of people in America who call themselves Christians do not believe it’s wrong to live together, to have sexual relationships with people you’re not married to. Look at the college campuses of America and all that goes on. They had the same questions that are facing us today. What does Paul say? “It’s good for man not to touch a woman,” but because of sexual immorality that’s when you do touch her. When you are involved sexually it’s called sexual immorality. “Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” He starts talking through, “let the husband render to his wife” and then verse 4, “the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body. “ What he’s saying is that the sanctifying relationship of marriage is what God uses to keep sexual desires in the banks of the river that they’re supposed to be.
You say, what did you just say? What I said is this. God says, and this chapter tells us, some people have the gift of singleness. If they have it, they know it. They know that they are called to focus on something for the Lord that they are single. They could be married, but they do not want to be married. They do see marriage and they see all the blessings of it. They think it’s wonderful, but they believe God’s calling for them and they’re not to be married. That’s the gift of singleness. Did you know that for the rest God says you should get married so that you avoid sexual immorality? Wow, is that difficult for me to say since in our culture young people are waiting longer and longer and never getting married, but they are sexually active from their teenage years. What does that do? It makes them feel empty. It makes them feel guilty. It makes them feel far from God. It makes them slowly desensitized to the Holy Spirit. It makes them very much unable to understand the Bible because the only way to understand this book is to have the Holy Spirit filling us. You cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit and be living in sexual immorality, which is having any sexual fulfillment outside of marriage. That’s what this chapter says.
Back to the chapter. “Do not deprive one another,” that’s sexually, “except with consent for a time. “ He’s talking to married people here. “That you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self control.” Part of the ministry of a couple for powerful prayer is for them to make a conscious choice as a couple, that for a brief time they’re going to fast and pray. Notice what he said, “fasting and prayer” right there in verse 5. They’re going to fast and pray and part of their fasting is fasting from the joy, the delights, the unifying superglue power of the marital sexual relationship. They fast from that. Even from food or coffee or whatever they fast from so that they can focus on prayer. Look what it says, but “come together again” so Satan doesn’t get an advantage.
Notice what he says. I’ll start here in verse 8. “But I say to the unmarried,” see that, I circled it. Then look at verse 10, “I say to the married,” and then look at this, verse 25. “Now concerning the virgins. “ There are three groups here. Everybody in the church is either unmarried, married, or virgin. What are virgins? Virgins are people like the term virgin means who have never had any sexual involvement with anyone. That’s a virgin. Who were the married? The people that are married. Who are the unmarried? Those are the people whose spouse, partner, husband, or wife has died. They have been widowed or divorced. This chapter is huge. This talks about divorce, marriage, singleness, and living a pure holy life without sexual immorality. What an amazing chapter and especially you can see in verse 27, he starts talking about a divorce and remarriage. That’s my Bible.
Look back at the slides. I just took you around my Bible and how I mark it. Let’s go into my journal. This is my journal, but I’ve typed it out, I’ll show you for those who’ve never seen it. These instructions are on our Facebook page. They’re down in the pictures. It’s a picture document. You can download that, print it off. It’s also on our website discoverthebook.org and I’ve put in there, the how to do this study and all the chapters we’re covering. Let me get to our chapter 1 Corinthians 7. I’ve also written the chapter, 1 Corinthians 7, the title, the summary, and all the lessons, but I’ve typed them out for you. Here they are in the next slide. This is week 37. We’re covering 1 Corinthians 7. God’s design for sex, marriage, contentment, and divorce.
Remember, every time I read this chapter I get a little different idea of the title. You can see there’s such a difference between all these titles, but they’re all focused on the same topics. Let me give you the summary. I typed all this out. Christ’s Church was born into a sin-warped, sin-darkened world of mixed-up marriages, sin-scarred lives, and confused families. However, men and women who were gloriously saved, like the Corinthians, did not automatically become great wives and mothers or husbands and fathers. Getting saved doesn’t make you instantly, perfectly, living the life of Christ. All it does is give you a brand new operating system where you have to make little, tiny daily choices to look in the mirror and say, God, where am I not obedient to your word? I ask you to change me. That process, do you remember, is called sanctification. The key verse on this is John 17:17. This is what that verse says. It’s another one of those Bible doctrine verses I was working on this morning. “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. “ This is what changes the way I think, the way I talk, what I look at, what I listen to, what I get involved in, what I do when I’m online, and in the digital world. This book, the truth of God, transforms everything.
I told you how important your MacArthur Study Bible is going to be. These next few slides I’m going to show you are pictures I took that are right out of my MacArthur Study Bible. I took a picture of it to show you my highlighting. Okay. Verse 2. There is a great danger of sexual sin when single. John MacArthur cites right there Matthew 19:12. Look at this. Marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. Marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. Marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. That’s why the disciples said, wow. They said this is too hard. Remember in the sermon on the Mount? Jesus said you cannot look at a woman and desire for her sexually without committing adultery and adulterers have no place in the kingdom of God. The place, 1 Corinthians chapter 6 says, for an adulterer, Paul said under the authority of Christ, is endless painful punishment in Hell. Jesus was very clear. The sexual desire that God designed within us is a test for whether we are going to submit to God, follow His plan, which by the way, is the best way possible to live. The most wonderful way to live.
Earlier, do you remember when we were going through Proverbs? Do you remember that embarrassing section when I was talking about Proverbs and God saying that a marital sexual relationship is like being intoxicated with the love of your partner? It gave all the descriptions that are so embarrassing to read about marital love. That’s God’s plan. Look at this. Marriage is God’s only provision. Marriage should not be reduced simply to sexual purposes. God has a higher view, and we’re going to see that in a moment. What he’s stressing here is the issue of sexual sin for single people. That’s what mobile devices have done. About 80% of pornography is consumed on mobile devices and a vast amount of that is consumed by males and a growing percentage of females. The pornification of our society is growing, but that is God’s warning.
Let’s go back to the Corinthians. When they came to Christ, they were forgiven. By the way, God forgives us. If you have called on the name of the Lord and have been saved, He has forgiven you and me of all of our sins past, before we came to Christ, present, that’s all of our struggles today, and future, to the last moment that we’re living and breathing on Earth. No matter how great you’re struggling this moment with online defilement or with just fear. Did you know that’s a sin? Fear. Living in constant fear, anxiety, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit, covetousness, walking through the mall, and being upset you can’t have everything you see. Rivalry, jealousy. All of those things are sins, but some sins are more debilitating than others. The Lord says sexual sins unite Christ to that sin because He lives in our body. We are His temple. Paul said all other sins are outside the body, but sexual sin is joining the body to perform something God says is sinful. That grieves the Holy Spirit.
I’m preaching to the choir. Anyone that struggles with any form of sexual temptation immediately doesn’t feel like reading the Bible, immediately doesn’t feel like praying, immediately feels so far from God, immediately feels an internal struggle and grieved. That’s when the Holy Spirit is quenched. Remember no matter how far we go away from the Lord it’s one step back. I’ve said that probably 50 times in our studies so far. We need to say, Lord, I was wrong. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Cleanse me and repent. Remember repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of behavior. The instant we do that God graciously forgives us and gives us everything we need again to become godly wives and mothers and husbands and fathers.
Guess what? That’s what 1 Corinthians 7 is about. We need something else. We need to be around other believers who help teach us how to believe the truth of God correctly. Then a small group discipleship time to learn how to behave correctly. If you believe you can behave. That’s why it’s so important for you not to be struggling and trying to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts all by yourself. You need someone else where you say God has convicted me. That’s why I want you to help me. That’s why in my original 52 chapter study, we had a texting thread. We made an agreement between all the members of the group that once a day we would send out a text. What we would say is yes, no, or help. Yes, means I’m in the word, I’m struggling against sin. We asked each other once a week, have you consciously exposed yourself, intentionally, to wicked things online? We would ask personally around the group. We would either say yes, no, or I’m struggling. The ones that said yes, they didn’t stay very long because they’d say, yeah, I do. That’s just how I am. They didn’t want Christ to change them.
The ones that said I’m struggling, they didn’t want to be that way. What we did is we set up a texting group and if someone said I’m struggling, we immediately called him and said, hey, I’ll come over. What do you need? What’s going on? Don’t give in to the lust of the flesh or whatever. It isn’t always pornography it can be anything. Some people struggle with taking things and stealing and lying and jealousy, bitterness, and how to behave correctly. If you believe right, you’ll behave right. You need someone to look you in the eye and say, come on, you know better than that, deny ungodliness. These new believers needed coaching, training, modeling, and encouragement in a one-on-one relationship. I would encourage you, and I’ll say this again at the end, find someone to share what you’re finding and writing in your journal and your prayer. Show them what the scriptures say, and then tell them, this is what I want God to do, and will you ask me next week what progress I’ve made? Godly behavior is a series of choices and those men and women had to be nurtured in the daily skills that would lead to victory, to loving marriages and families.
God prompted Paul to write some words that can reach across the centuries. What we’re reading in 1 Corinthians 7 can revitalize any marriage, any family, any home, any life. The key is found in the call not only for Spirit prompted agape love, that’s a sacrificial love that’s within the heart of all of us who’ve been saved, but God wanted each marriage to have this friendship love. That’s why a lot of young men are not married yet. A lot of young women are not married. They’ve never been able to become friends with a fellow believer on a spiritual level without getting that physical relationship engaged. They haven’t fallen in love as best friends. That love of friendship where you want to be together. Not because you’re going to be all over each other, but because you love them emotionally and mentally, and spiritually. You love the way they talk and the way they laugh, and you love everything about them. Then the superglue to that, it’s the sexual dimension.
Do you know what’s going on in our world today? People are super gluing themselves then tearing it apart and super gluing themselves to someone else. They’re wearying themselves with what God made to be the superglue of marriage, not just to have fun. They’re grieved and quenched and feel empty. The goal is to share life with your husband or wife. The love that glues husbands to their wives is a love that is chosen and modeled and a love that can be learned. That’s what this chapter is about.
Let me take you through everything I personally found. In verse 1 Paul explains the power of sexual attraction. It’s so powerful we need to be very careful. Verses 2 to 4, mutual loving companionship is God’s plan with mutual submission to one another. Next, not to show physical affection is to deprive one another. Remember some of those people in Corinth were so spiritual they decided they wanted to have separate bedrooms and that sex was, not spiritual. They were going to go off and serve the Lord and they left their partner in the dark and abandoned them. That’s what was going on in Corinth. Can you believe it? That’s what Paul addresses in verse 5.
In verses 6 through 9 Paul said I’m gifted with singleness, not wanting to be married, but he says most people are not. What he said is there’s nothing wrong with saying I need to be married. I want to be married. I need that partnership and companionship and love and that sexual relationship. There’s nothing wrong with that. Paul said singleness and marriage are both equally high in God’s calling. He said few are called to be single like I am, Paul said. Most of you are going to be married.
Then in verses 8, 10, and 25, Paul describes those three states of believers. The unmarried who are divorced and widowed. The married. Then the virgins who were never married. Then in verses 10 through 16, he talks about what happens if you have an unbelieving partner. Remember in the study notes, all of this is deeply covered. I can’t take our whole time to read those notes to you or to rehearse them. Part of our assignment is to read the chapter plus, one time go all the way through the study notes in your study Bible. That’s the equivalent of a Bible college education so don’t forget to do that part, especially this week. If wed to a lost person, a pagan, the sanctifying power touches the marriage, even down to the children. That’s very important. What Paul says, if you’re a married woman and have an unsaved husband, or you’re a married man and have an unsaved wife, stay married as long as that unsaved person will stick with you because your marriage will be sanctifying to them. They’ll keep seeing Christ in you. Plus, if you have children, there is supernatural protection and work on those children that God grants in an unequally yoked marriage. Where there’s a believing partner and an unbelieving partner. Wow.
There’s this whole contentment issue in 17 to 24. Then Paul says to be undistracted in ministry. You stay single if you’re called to it, but if you’re married, your priority is for your partner. See, we have a lot of problems with that today and that’s harming the Church. If you’re married, your husband or wife is your highest priority above your ministry. Some people act like their ministry and the Church are more important than their wife or family. It’s not. Your wife and family are more important than your ministry. Not the Lord. He’s most important, but how you serve Him in the local church is not a higher priority than your wife or husband, your marriage, and your family. That’s what 25 to 40 is about.
Another note from the MacArthur Study Bible, look at verse 15, this is about divorce. This is what Paul says, “Let him depart,” a term referring to divorce. When an unbelieving spouse can’t tolerate the partner’s faith and wants to divorce it’s best to let that happen to preserve peace in the family. Look at this. The bond of marriage is broken for only three reasons. One, death. Two, adultery. Three, an unbeliever leaving. What does this mean? This is a lot of studying this week. This is going to transform a lot of your understanding. You’re going to see a controversial area and from the scripture be able to come to a very clear conviction of what the Bible says.
“Not under bondage. “ When the bond of marriage is broken, how does it break? Death, sexual immorality, adultery, or desertion, the unbeliever departing. A Christian is free to marry another believer. Have you ever had anybody say, if you’re divorced can you get remarried? Yes, if your partner left you or committed adultery, but what if they didn’t? That’s the challenge. That’s what this chapter explains. That’s what you have to spend this week reading because Paul, all the way through 1 Corinthians 7, explains what God’s plan is for you in marriage, even when it’s hard. That’s that note, you can read it. To repeat, there are only three biblical allowances for marriages to dissolve, death, adultery, desertion, and here’s where each of them is described.
Here’s another note. Discontent was prevalent among the new believers in the Corinthian church. Some wanted to change their marital status. They found someone nicer in the church. Their wife they married, but they didn’t think she was as pretty or whatever. Discontentment. Some were slaves and they wanted to be free. Some used their freedom as a rationalization for sinning and going back to the old self. In general response, this passage repeats the basic principle that Christians should be willing to accept their marital condition and their social situation, which God placed them in, and be content to serve Him there. Contentment. Wow. What is that? Discontentment Is very dangerous. Paul said, “for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. ”
Then look at 1 Timothy 6. Here, let me get to 1 Timothy 6 in my Bible. Let me do it over here so you can see it too. 1 Timothy chapter 6, starting in verse 6. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and clothing, with these be content. “ What’s dangerous? “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money. “ Do you see all this discontentment? Look at verse 11. “You, oh man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called. “ Wow.
Back to the slide. Paul says discontentment is very dangerous. It’s deadly to a marriage. We are supposed to love the one that God gives us and merge our life more with them every day. Okay. Here’s the last section that talks about marriage and singleness. That’s one of the study Bible notes and you can read that.
I want to conclude with this. I’m going to go through this very rapidly. I’ve been talking so much about singleness and that there’s no sexual fulfillment outside of marriage. I haven’t talked much about marriage as God designed it. Here’s God’s plan that he’s always had from Genesis chapter 2 on. This is what He wants the world to see, marriage as He designed it to be. Here’s a chapter that sadly we don’t get to cover. I’m just going to briefly survey it. It’s not one of the 52. Next time I change the chart I’m going to add it. Okay. God-designed marriage is one of the most publicly displayed elements of His plan for the world to see. Married people are to go out and live in a dark and hopeless world that’s chasing after elusive pleasures and never finding them. They are to radiate Christ through their marriage. That’s God’s plan.
How does that work? God wants husbands who reflect Christ’s love for His Church. How do you do that? How does Christ love the Church? He loves us every day. He sacrifices for us, cleanses us, affirms us, nurtures us, protects, pursues, and never gives up on us. That’s Christ for us. That’s what Christ wants husbands to do for their wives. God desires wives who reflect the love that the Church is supposed to have for Christ. They reflect that love back to their husbands. What is that love that the Church is supposed to have for Christ?
As a member of Christ’s body, I want to follow Christ, honor Christ, respond to Christ, enjoy Christ’s presence, follow Christ’s lead, feel Christ’s love, seek time every day with Christ, and love Christ’s plan. Do you know what Jesus said? Wives, you’re supposed to love your husband in the same way as the Church responds to Christ. Wives are to follow their husbands in every way that they’re following Christ. Honor their husbands when they’re honoring Christ, respond to their husbands when their husband is trying to lead in a Christlike way. Do you understand what I mean? The same way that the Church responds to Christ is the way wives are supposed to respond to their husbands. You say my husband is not Christlike and that’s the challenge.
The challenge is husbands are not Christlike and wives are not acting like the Church responding to Christ. How do we change that? That’s what Paul wrote the book of Corinthians about. He says marriage is the second greatest day of your life. The first greatest is when you get saved. He said We each are responsible to be an Ephesians 5 husband or wife. Watching this YouTube video 70% of you are men and 30% of you are women. Okay. To the 70% over here, this is what God wants you to do. I’m going to go through each one of these. For the 30% of you that are women, this is what God wants you to do and I’m going to go through those with you. Okay.
Verse 25 of Ephesians 5 is right here. “Husbands, love your wives. “ God wants all husbands to sacrificially love their wives. How do you do that? I’ll tell you about one of the most touching moments Bonnie and I have ever had. We were in a South American capital city doing a conference for missionaries, and I was doing this through a translator in Spanish. I asked this group of pastors who were church planters if they would reaffirm Ephesians 5 to their wives. There was a gasp and the translator leaned over to me and said in English, in this culture men don’t say things like that to their wives. I said, yeah, but they’re in a new culture. They’re Christ’s new operating system so it doesn’t matter what the culture that they grew up in and their ethnic culture is. This is what God said. There was a long pause and the audience wondered what we were talking about because we were talking in English. The translator said they were not going to do it. I said, but I’m just going to tell them what God says they’re supposed to do, and they can make a choice. He said, okay.
I went like this and all 250 of them stood up and then I said, face each other. You can communicate without speaking. All the couples faced each other. It was all married couples, all believers. I said, let’s reaffirm out loud, starting with the husbands, what God wants you to do as a godly Christian leader. I said, repeat after me and say to your wife, I want to love you as my wife and give myself to you today. The translator closed his eyes, winced, and then said that in Spanish. There was silence. Then you could hear a murmur. Here’s the end of the story. Do you know what happened? As we went through this one by one and the husbands said this to their wives you could see all over the audience, even from the platform, the shiny line of tears running down their faces. On the break Bonnie had a whole group of these women come and say to her, my husband has never said anything like that to me in 25 years of marriage. God transformed a lot of hearts. Be sacrificial.
Number 2. God wants obedient husbands. I want to love you with the same devotion Christ has for me as His Church. See what it says in verse 25? “Just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her. “ Obedient husbands.
God wants word-filled men who are husbands. I want to spend time in the word, in prayer, so our marriage is sanctified and cleansed each day. See verse 26, “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word. “ Some of you might say I’d like to see that card you’re reading from. It’s right there on our website discoverthebook.org. It’s in the resource section and you can download it. It fits right into your wallet. It’s a credit card size to fit in your wallet or purse. You can download it and use that and print it off. God wants word-filled husbands.
He wants devoted husbands. Do you see what it says in verse 27? It says “that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. “ I want you to be all that God has gifted and called and prepared you to be. I’m going to work alongside you for that goal. See, that’s what makes husbands and wives such best friends. The husband’s not just concerned about his career, his plan. He says I want you to be all that God gifted and called and has prepared for you to be, I’m devoted to that.
I want to be a Christ-reflecting husband. I want to love you, care for you, nourish you, cherish you. I want to serve you in the same way that I care for my own body and its needs. Do you see what it says in verse 28? The “husband ought to love their own wife as their own body; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church. ” Christ reflecting husbands.
Next one. Consecrated husbands. I want to leave anything that hinders me from fulfilling this calling from God to be your husband. Look what verse 30 says “for we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bone. For this reason, a man shall leave” anything. It says “father and mother be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. “ He is leaving the buddies, the old things that used to fill his life and his time, his hobbies, and all of his things. I want to leave anything that hinders me. Did you know that’s at the heart of so many marriage problems? Two people living two separate lives, not merging their lives. The merging begins with husbands being willing to leave anything that hinders him from his calling. Do you know what it might be? Gaming. Leaving gaming, leaving all the time that’s spent with stuff that doesn’t matter forever.
Focused. Look at verse 31. It says “leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. “ I want to be closer and closer to you the longer we live. That’s the essence of a godly marriage.
I want to be dedicated. I commit to love you this way. It’s the way God designed marriage to be. I need your help. I want you to encourage me, even when I’m not doing as well as I should be. That’s when your husband isn’t treating you Christlike, you encourage them. Where does it say that? Look at verse 33. “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. “ I want you to encourage me, wife, even when I’m not doing as well. Did you know, many times husbands try and when they’re not trying hard enough or doing enough, one criticism from the wife pops. Men can be deflated so easily. Wives, I would encourage you to get that card. Go through this, husbands to your wife and wives to your husband.
We’ll never finish unless I do the application prayer. After this whole week in 1 Corinthians 7, this is what I wrote, and I want to pray it now. Lord, teach me how to love Bonnie as You love me. I want to be her best friend. I want to be the closest of all on Earth to her. I want to love her as You, my Savior loved me. Help me not to allow Satan a place to tempt me. You know how it says don’t give place to the devil. I don’t want to allow him a place. Teach me this contentment, it’s a learned choice in my life and marriage, so I can show others how to follow Your way by my example. In Jesus’ name, amen. Can you imagine praying that in a small group and then saying I want you to hold me accountable? I want you to tell me whether I’m treating my husband or my wife more in a Christlike manner than you’ve known or seen me in the past. Do you see how God transformed the Corinthians? Do you see how He wants to transform us?
Two challenges. Find someone this week you can share your findings with and your application prayer. Then pray for us. Right now, we’re going through the challenge of 10 weeks serving the Lord in Europe and the Pacific rim. 10 weeks. All that’s going on with travel and the regulations and the vaccines and the borders. We’re crossing six international borders so pray for us. My challenge to you is to have an amazing week in 1 Corinthians 7 then find someone to share it with. Then, Lord willing, next week we’ll look at 1 Corinthians 11, 12, 13, 14. The Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, divine love, and all that God has to say about the order in the church. Then getting to chapter 15 with celestial bodies and the return of Christ. We’re going to have an amazing time, Lord willing. Till then, God bless you. Can’t wait to be back with you next week.
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