1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 44
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|At some point in our lives, folks, we have got to stop living out of our past and live as products of the cross. We have got to let the Word of God renew our thinking and get our ideas not from what society tells us, not from what experience dictates, but what does the Word of God say and stand upon it.|
1 Corinthians 7:2-3
Should I Marry or Remain Single – Part 2
Now, we enter into verse 2. All of these verses build on each other. It’s like one step and then another one builds on top of it. In verse 2 he says, “But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.”
There are three things that I want to show you. We’re going to hit verse 3 in the third point that I want to bring out. Stay with me in this because I’m beginning to see things in this. Paul is trying to turn everything right side up. The culture of Corinth had so messed up and marred what marriage was supposed to be that many of the single people, obviously were going around and saying, “Hey, I’d just as soon stay single. Why get married?” But Paul is putting things back into proper perspective, getting their minds renewed on the fact that this is God’s will and God’s will is good and acceptable and perfect.
First of all we’ve got to begin with a definition of immorality. I know we looked at immorality in chapter 6 but we need to do it particularly in this context and I’ll show you why. In verse 2 he says, “But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman (or each wife) have her own husband.” The Greek phrase “because of immoralities” is dia de tas porneia. The word dia is important. I wanted you to hear it. The word translated in the New American Standard is a good translation. Normally the word dia means to be through or involves a separation between something.
Let me give you an example, diabolos, the word for devil. Dia means through, and bolos means to cast. Together they mean to cast in between and separate. So it has the idea of separating something and staying separate from something. But here it has more the idea of on account of, for the sake of, or as the New American Standard, the better translation here, is because of. But it still has the idea of separation built into it. The King James Version adds a little phrase in italics which is good. He says, “avoid fornication.” Now, you have the idea to separate yourself from immorality. There should be a separation from immorality in the believer’s life, but before we make that separation, we must define immorality. That’s so important.
The New American Standard translation brings it out much clearer than the King James Version or the NIV. It says, “immoralities,” plural, because that’s the way it is in the Greek, porneias. You see, if you use it as one word, it kind of misleads you, but when you put it in the plural, you begin to understand. There’s so many things tempting us in the immoral society that we live in. Paul just simply throws it all into one category and says that there are going to be many ways in which you need to separate yourself from the immorality of this world. The plural, again, is not rendered in the other translations, only in the New American Standard.
Immoralities, what is the definition? Let’s start here. In no way, in no way does the word immorality have anything to do with the rightful sexual intimacy within the marriage bond. Now, what happens is people tend to think the word “sex” and immediately they throw it into one big catch-all area and everything fits into it. No sir! That’s not the way it is. This is where the problems have come in many marriages, not understanding the difference of immoralities, plural, and the sexual intimacy within the marriage. Perhaps a woman who’s had a bad marriage brings her daughter and her children up to think of sex as shameful because she sees it that way. Or perhaps somebody has had sexual abuse in their past and they have drug that perverted idea into their marriage. Not perverted because they had anything to do with it—they may have been innocent parties—but perverted because of the one who caused that to happen in their life; and they still think of sex as a shameful thing.
Perhaps there are those who continue to put all of it into one category for whatever reason or not. But the effect is devastating. It will get in your head and suddenly the Word of God does not have any bearing on your life. At some point in our lives, folks, we have got to stop living out of our past and live as products of the cross. We have got to let the Word of God renew our thinking and get our ideas not from what society tells us, not from what experience dictates, but what does the Word of God say and stand upon it. There is garbage in people’s minds when they think of the word sex. It automatically, because of the society we live in, throws everybody into a funny realm and they don’t even want to talk about it anymore. You’ve got to make that distinction. The sexual intimacy in marriage is one of the most beautiful things God could have ever created for creation. But when you take it out of the context of marriage, then you have the ugly, then you have the bad, then you have all the other stuff. So you’ve got to make that distinction and stay separate from this over here but remember the sexual intimacy in marriage is not only that which God ordained but that which God Himself commanded.
The word “immoralities” refers premarital sexual relations with another person, whatever kind that might be, and includes a sinful extramarital sexual relations with someone outside of marriage. It includes the sin of homosexuality. It includes the sin of incest and on and on. But, again, I want to keep saying it. And I don’t like this any better than you do. But I’ll tell you what, folks. Let’s just say the truth and go on with it. It does in no way, no way does it include the rightful sexual intimacy within marriage. That is not included in anything Paul is saying. But can you see how somebody who lives in a secular world where sex is thrown out as one particular physical gratification thing and you can see how a person who’s single would say, “You know, I don’t even want to get married.” You can see the questions that are coming from the kind of pagan culture these people are coming out of. Corinth was almost as bad as America is today. So this ought to somehow relate to each of us.
So many parents do not make this separation terms to their children. I want to tell you. My heart goes out to those who have to do the counseling because you wouldn’t believe the situations that come up as a result of it. Maybe that parent does not want their children, particularly daughters, to be promiscuous as they were so, therefore, they make sex bad and ugly and that child grows up with a perverted understanding of what it’s all about. Therefore, one day when they finally get married, they even dread that intimacy within the marriage bond, all because a parent never made that distinction. The parent never made that definition of immorality versus the sexual intimacy in marriage. They never bothered to explain the difference.
In Genesis 1:27-28 it says, “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…’” I’ll tell you what. They’re cloning cows and sheep but when God said that there wasn’t any cloning going on. There wasn’t any other things invented. There was only one way for that to be carried out and it was a command by the same holy God who spoke this world into existence. We must understand what God is saying here in Scripture. A definition needs to be there that divides sexual immorality, as we defined it, and the sexual intimacy in marriage, which is the most beautiful thing God could have ever created for that oneness of two individuals to experience.
In Revelation 22:15 is a great verse to circle in your Bible. I want you to see the context that sexual immorality is put into. In Revelation 22:15 Jesus said, “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” I want you to see the context, the company that the word “immorality” keeps. The word “immoral persons” is the word that comes from the word porneias, which we’re studying. It is interesting it is found in the context of dogs. That’s what sexual sin is outside of marriage. It’s nothing more than an animalistic desire that means nothing more than self-gratification.
I told my daughter years ago, “Stephanie, he’s going to look at you and the stars are going to be in your eyes and stars are going to be in his eyes and he’ll say, ‘Stephanie, I love you.’” I said, “Stephanie, don’t be stupid. Back up and make him explain what he means by loving you.” I want to tell you something. If that boy wants anything physical out of you and it’s not inside the marriage bond, there’s not one ounce of love in his head for you. All it is is lust and all he wants is nothing more than an animalistic desire of a dog to physically gratify himself, period. Look at it for what it is. We need to draw that line. The love that we have for one another is a respectful love. It’s a love that the fruit of the Spirit produces. It’s a love that man can’t even produce. And if it’s going to meet God’s design it’s got to meet the requirement that He has for it. So we need to see the difference of immorality and the beautiful sexual intimacy that God has given in the marriage bond. An act of love inside of marriage is nothing more than an act of lust outside of marriage. Fornication or immorality is never allowed for the believer, but that does not in any way include the beautiful sexual intimacy within the marriage bond.
So the definition of immorality needs to be here. Make sure we understand the questions that are asked in light of the answers Paul is giving.
God’s defense system against immorality
Secondly, I want you to see God’s defense system against immorality. I love this. I’ve never seen this before in my life. It’s beautiful how it just begins to develop. You can only get it going real slow, taking the words one at a time. Obviously destruction comes when we don’t follow God’s design. I’m not blaming anybody here, but I am not going to back off what God says is His idea. What God commands, God enables. So let’s keep the standard where it is. God raised it up. God’s the one who spoke it.
Verse 2 says, “But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” Now if you’re not careful and you read that real quickly, you can get the idea that there are two people dating who have been dating for a long time. Things are getting a little hot and heavy so finally the ole boy looks at the girl and says, “Do you know what? We don’t want to sin, so let’s go on and get married. Then we can gratify our desires, and it will be okay.” As if physical gratification is a justification for marriage. You could read the verse that way. Have you ever read it that way? It doesn’t say that. That’s not at all what he’s saying and we need to understand that.
Immorality was as rampant in their culture as it is in ours. Paul wrote of the culture they came out of. Look over in 6:9. Let’s just pick the words that have to do with immorality in verses 9-11. We’ve already studied this. We’re not going to go back and restudy it. Just read it to remember the culture they came out of it, what’s going on in Corinth. He says in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, (here we go), nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals.” We described all those when we studied chapter 6. Those are the sexual sins that he mentions. Then he jumps to verse 11. “And such were some of you.” You used to live that way. This is what affected your life. He says, “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.”
So with this in mind, you have to know in a casual reading of the verse, their society would make it appear that marriage was the way for sexual gratification. That way a Christian could get married and not sin against God as the people around him were sinning. Any marriage that is ever based on physical attraction alone and physical gratification almost never succeeds because that is the poorest excuse known to man to marry somebody else.
Ephesians 5:25 tells us marriage is built upon love and respect. You’ve got to understand what happens when two people get married God’s way. In Ephesians 5:25 it says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” You see, marriage is not an excuse for sexual gratification. No, no. It’s a covenant relationship that two people, fully understanding the responsibility on both sides, enter into.
I wonder if you know that word “covenant.” When I do a marriage ceremony normally I talk about the covenant at some point. I love to do it because it helps people understand that this is more than just two people running down the aisle saying their vows before a preacher.
Covenant is also the word “testament.” We get the word “Old Testament” and “New Testament” from it. That’s the same word. The word means to cut. It’s the strongest word in any language known to man of a relationship, the binding relationship that we’re talking about here. You can’t find a stronger word. God chose this word out of the vocabulary of the human race to describe His relationship with you and I.
There were two parts to covenant and you find it all through Scripture in the Old Testament, but you don’t ever find them all at one time. You have to do a lot of historical research to find all of this. But you see bits and pieces all through Scripture. First of all was identity. You see, this particularly with David and Jonathan and the covenant they cut and entered into with one another. First there would be the exchange of robes. I love this. That has to do with possessions. It’s covenant oneness. You’re coming together in covenant oneness.
I usually tell the groom and the bride, they’re always standing there goo-goo eyed, you know. They don’t have a clue where they are. They’re trying not to lock their knees so they won’t pass out. If you get that far in the ceremony, chances are you might finish it. I usually tell them even though they haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about. I’m saying to the groom, “Listen. Everything you own, she now owns.” And I say to her, “Everything you own, he now owns.” But here’s the down side. Everything you owe, she owes. And everything she owes, you owe. That’s part of it. It’s a covenant oneness. You’re entering into that.
I know of a couple who started a marriage that had a marriage agreement built up of what was his and what was hers. I thought to myself, “You want a preacher to sign his name to this?” God would never sign His name to that. You don’t even understand covenant. You’re going to enter into marriage. You enter into oneness.
But the second part of the marriage covenant was they would exchange belts. You see this with David and Jonathan, particularly. The belt was where they carried the weapons. Of course that was a symbol of protection. I always tell the groom, “Do you realize that you’re saying today that you’re entering into a covenant bond with this person and you’re saying that you’re going to provide for her, that you’re going to protect her, your life is going to be spent to watch over her?” And then I obviously say back to the woman, “Your whole life is lived as him being your one possession. You’re going to be faithful to him. That protects that relationship.”
Then it comes to the exchange of names in a marriage ceremony. The disciples became Christians at Antioch. Abram became Abraham. The word for “Yahweh,” the breath, was added to his name. Sarai became Sarah when they entered into the covenant with the Living God. So there was a change of names. Again, the covenant identity. The woman gives up her family name for all these years and takes upon herself the name of that husband.
I know of situations in our secular society where they don’t do that. But we’re talking about God’s plan, not their plan. God had it long before they had it. You know, somebody said that the Titanic couldn’t sink. I’ll tell you what. Anything man puts his hands on will sink, folks. That’s why marriages are falling down the drain. Because man has got his hands on what God designed.
The second part of that covenant was the most difficult. This is when usually I do the down on the floor ceremony. That’s the commitment part. Whoa! They would sacrifice an animal. Remember Genesis 15 when God cut covenant with Abraham and He sacrificed the animals and he put one half of one on one side and one of another, formed the path. That path became known as the path of blood or the way of death. Death to what? You’re leaving a way of living, singleness, independence, and you’re entering into a new way of living, dependence upon one another. No longer are you going to live that way anymore.
We have the same idea in the Christian faith. You present your body a living sacrifice. You don’t live independent of God any more. You live now dependent upon Him. You enter in the same way. That’s why God chose that language. It’s so picturesque for us to understand.
Well, they would enter into that path. This is the tough part. They would cut each other’s wrists and put their arms together. They would take a rope and wrap it in a figure eight. That was a picture of the symbol of infinity, the blood of one then would be flowing into the blood of the other. And while their wrists were together and the blood was flowing into the blood of the other, they would in that place, in the path of death, two halves of animals on both sides, there in that path, they would say their vows to each other. Do you think they were entering into a covenant to gratify physical desires? Friend, they were entering into a holy relationship with one another that rarely is even heard of in America today, or in Corinth of that day.
Once they had said their vows, they immediately put a powder into that cut. When that cut healed there would be a purple scar on that arm to remind everybody they were in covenant with one another.
I wonder about Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son. You know, Jonathan and David, as far as Mephibosheth knew, were enemies. But they were in covenant with one another. When Jonathan died, Mephibosheth was out in the desert. He had been kicked out of the palace. His daddy was dead. He hated David. One day there came a knock on the door. “Mephibosheth?” He opened the door and there were two of David’s big soldiers, and they said, “The king wants to see you.” Boy, he began to shake in his boots. He came into the presence of David. The Scripture says over in 2 Samuel that he walked into David’s presence and said, “I’m a dead man. I’m a dead dog.” He thought he was dead right in the presence of the king. But the king said, “Mephibosheth, relax. You’re going to live in my house and you’re going to eat at my table.” Mephibosheth probably thought to himself, “What in the world happened to cause this?”
David takes him in, and that night he’s sitting there at the king’s table. As he’s sitting there, one of the servants walks by and says, “You louse! You child of Jonathan! You don’t need to be sitting at this table. Who do you think you are?” He walked on, but David heard it. David looked over at Mephibosheth and said, “Mephibosheth, pass the biscuits.” Mephibosheth reached over and got the biscuits and handed them to David. When David reached out, he intentionally used the arm that had the mark on it. When he did the robe fell off his arm and there was the mark of the covenant. Mephibosheth said, “Now I understand. My daddy cut a covenant with the king.”
I tell you what. This is not covenant theology by the way, but you let Jonathan be the Jesus picture in the Old Testament and you let David be the Father. The Father sent His Son. Jonathan was the only one in the whole family of Saul who David could cut covenant with. And Jesus was the unique Son of God on this earth and He cut covenant with His Father on the cross. Because He cut covenant with the Father as a man, we as men can enter in through that covenant by faith. You’ve got to understand covenant, folks. It’s important. There’s a mark.
Then they had a reminder. There were gifts given. That was to remind them that they were in covenant with one another. They might have some seedlings of pine trees or whatever so they could plant them and grow a forest. I’m sure the wives would love that. What do we do today? We get a ring, don’t we? What is that ring? It’s a memorial of covenant. It’s to remind you that you’re in covenant with someone. What’s it to remind you of? Well, it’s round which pictures the everlastingness of the love that God has put within you to enable you to do what only He designed. It’s also the beautiful, costly metal which is the beautiful purity of His love within us. I used to think if I ever lost my ring, my marriage would fall apart. It wasn’t in the ring. It’s in the person who lived in me to enable me to fulfill those vows that I made to Diana.
By the way, they’d have a meal after that. They even did this at Mt. Sinai, by the way. They said, “Go up there and tell God, Moses, that we’ll do everything He tells us to do. I guarantee you we’ll do it.” That bunch of rednecks. They hung themselves right there. They hung themselves right there. That’s exactly what God wanted them to do. You have to be lost before you can get saved. By the very act of eating and drinking, they sealed that as a covenant. That’s why the Law becomes as a tutor to lead us to grace. The Law is what frustrates us and shows us we can’t do what we said we were going to do. Therefore, grace is the answer.
The final thing about the covenant was they were pronounced as friends. I love that in John 15 Jesus said, “You’re no longer slaves but you’re my friend.” Do you know marriages are falling apart today, folks? It’s because marriage partners aren’t friends. I can truthfully say today the best friend I have on this earth is my wife. Let me say this to you. Many of you are always wondering how in the world can you be gone so much from your home and from your wife and have any kind of marriage. Oh, I hope you’re asking that question, because there’s going to come a day that God’s going to allow me to let Diana share with you why. God spoke to her and helped her understand the calling that God had put on my life and how she lives in light of that. I want to tell you something, friend. It just excites and thrills my heart to have a wife who is a team player, but also a wife who’s my friend, trusts me and understands me. That’s what marriage is supposed to be.
Well, that’s God’s design. So you think the verse means, “Oh we can get married and then we can gratify ourselves.” Do you think that’s what he’s talking about? Are you kidding me? Having said all of that, marriage becomes the greatest protection against sexual immorality of anything that God has ever designed. It’s in the world. All of us are tempted. Everybody hates to admit they’re tempted. I want to tell you something. If you ever meet a man or a woman who says they’re never tempted by anything immoral you’re either meeting a liar, somebody who’s dead, or something who hasn’t got a clue. Why can’t we just be honest?
What is it that keeps us protected? It’s the grace of God, yes, but I want to show you what we can do to protect one another from the temptations that are everywhere. The trap’s set for all of us. Before we were saved we chased after sin. After we get saved sin chases after us. God has a protective defense system. That’s what I want you to see here.
In verse 2 of chapter 7, he says, “But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” Son, watch this. “Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” are phrases to the married at that time. He’s not saying to all the singles who are asking the question, “Okay, ya’ll go out and get married.” No, no. Let me just show you something. All of you who are married, let me just tell you something. There’s a team effort here if you’ll understand what he’s saying. The word “have” is the word echo. It’s the word that means to have and keep on having in the sense of possessing her, not possessive of her. Oh what a mistake people make in that.
I remember when I first started dating Diana. She was working at an air conditioning firm. There was not a woman in there but Diana. As pretty as she was, I became possessive, jealous of anybody who even looked at her. I want to tell you something. I just about messed up before we got married. I’d just started dating her. It’s amazing how possessive you can be. That’s not what he’s saying. That’s not the word at all. It means in the sense of possession. It’s in the present imperative tense. In other words, it’s a command. That’s interesting. It’s a command. So there’s an attitude involved here. Active voice means you make a choice, present tense, constantly.
The word “own” is heautou. It’s the word that means more than one’s very own. It means a part of me. It’s an attitude a man has that his wife is literally a part of him, of his own body. That’s what it means. For the man to consider her just like he would consider himself. She’s a part of him.
Look over at Ephesians 5:28. Is this not what Paul is saying there? Whoa! I love the Word of God. It just gets a hold of you and all of a sudden you say, “That’s what that’s talking about.” Ephesians 5:28 is exactly what he’s saying in 1 Corinthians 7. How’s a husband supposed to love his wife? As Christ loves the church? Verse 28 reads, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own (what?) bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.” So that’s an attitude. I want to tell you, folks. That goes into play in a second.
Secondly, it says, “Let each woman have her own husband.” Now the first words are the same, “let her have,” echo, present imperative active. But here’s the difference. When it comes to her own husband, it’s a different word. It’s not the word heautou. It’s the word idios. It means her very own possession. No man could ever fill the shoes of this man and she’s going to spend her life letting him know that, that he is the only one. So when it comes to people in the church or people around them, hands off because she is a part of his very own body. That’s the way he treats her. He is her very possession and nobody else can ever fill those shoes.
I want to tell you something. When this is lived out, acted out under the grace enabling power of God, I promise you that it becomes one of the greatest protective measures against immorality the world has ever seen. That’s when that couple is finding something of a bliss and a joy with one another that they never ever think to look outside. I’ll tell you what. If we could just get the men straight on this thing, that our wives are a part of ourselves, marriages would be amazingly different in America.
I thought about 1 Timothy 3:2. Look over there for a second. He’s talking about an elder. There are three words for elders: the position of elders, overseers, and pastors. In 1 Peter 5 all three are used to describe the same people. One’s the office. One’s the responsibility. One’s the heartbeat of it. But look here in 1 Timothy 3:2, “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife.” It’s amazing to me how that’s translated. I just do not agree with that. I’m going to get cards and letters. The word “husband” and the word “man” are the same word in Greek, and the word “woman” and the word “wife” are the same word in Greek. Everything else that he mentions here about the elder is character. A husband of one wife refers more to status. Why would he change the list? However, if you changed that and say “a one woman man” you just put character back into the list. That makes more sense than “a husband of one wife.”
He says the same thing to the deacons, and I think this is what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 7. What he’s saying in Timothy, he’s saying the elders. The leaders model this kind of thing. In other words, if you want to see how it works, check them out because that’s the way they’re to live. The man is to possess his own wife as a part of his body. It affects his whole attitude toward church. She is to let him know every day, “There’s nobody else who can fill your shoes. You’re my very own husband.” Built into this is God’s protection against the immoral temptations of the wicked world in which all of us live.
He continued to stretch that out and explain it in verse 3. So we have a definition. We’ve separated between immorality of the world, of the flesh, and marital intimacy, which is beautiful. We’ve tried to make a separation there. Secondly, we see that God has a defense mechanism here. So if it’s a single person walking around saying, “Hey, I don’t know if I want to get married or not. Look at all the failed marriages. Look at the adultery. Look at all the stuff.” God says, “Hey, quit looking at all that and look at Me and look at My will and do it My way and you can enjoy everything I have for you.” Don’t ever let a failed marriage by somebody else keep you from even wanting to be a part of what God has for you.
Our determination as a team
Well, finally, there’s a determination, if we’re going to work as a team, that a couple’s got to have. We find that in verse 3. He says in verse 3, “Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” That’s pretty good, but it leaves out a word. The King James Version picks it up.
The Textus Receptus has a word here that this one doesn’t have. Let me read it to you in verse 3. “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence.” That’s not in the New American Standard because it’s not in their text. “And likewise the wife unto the husband.” Now, I read this in the King James Version, because that word “benevolence” clarifies something the New American Standard leaves out. The word “fulfill,” in the New American Standard, and “due,” in the King James, is the same word, opheilo, which means you owe a debt.
What Paul says is that a husband owes a debt to his wife and the wife owes a debt to her husband. By the way, the context is marital sexual intimacy. We’ll get there the next time. We owe a debt. There’s a sense of gratitude and a sense of debt that we owe to each other as husband and wife. But if you leave it there, it’s kind of like, “Oh, thanks a lot. I owe a debt. Okay, what are we going to do?” It’s like you can be mechanical with a debt that you owe. No, no. It’s much more than that.
The heartbeat is in the word “benevolence.” The word “benevolence” means the good will with which you go about paying that debt. In other words, it’s not something you just do mechanically. It’s something inside of you that’s a joyous thing that you choose to do.
It’s only used two times, here and Ephesians 6:7 where he says, “With good will render service as to the Lord and not to men.” The idea of a good intention, good will. Now, put that into the mix of 1 Corinthians 7:3. “Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife” has the idea joyfully, with rejoicing and with a desire to want to please her. That’s the whole idea behind it. It has heart and feeling behind it. Give to your spouse that which will eliminate any suspicion that you would rather be with somebody else and do for her or him what you would want them to do for you. The context would say to us that when it comes to the area of sexual intimacy, never is the Christian believing spouse ever to enter into that intimacy for self-gratification. But since he owes a debt and has a desire given from God to please his wife or her husband, whichever, then they do it for the benefit of the other, not for themselves and then God is able to bring the whole thing into the full picture that He wants it to be.
As I was studying this, it came to my mind that you’ve got to put the grace aspect in this, because the whole context of 1 Corinthians is being attached to Jesus, a vessel, through which His Spirit works. This doesn’t work unless you’re living. In other words, it there’s a couple who is having problems, the first thing the apostle Paul would say to you, “Just make sure that your walk with God is what it ought to be. Make sure that He is what your life is attached to.”
I use the triangle to those couples that I marry and, hopefully, they’ll remember it two or three years later. Jesus is at the top. The groom and the bride are on the bottom of the triangle on opposite corners. I tell them, “Don’t ever live for each other like the world tells you to. You live for Jesus. Don’t you dare live for each other. Then Jesus in you will love the other through you and if you’ll follow that triangle enough it will pull you closer and closer and closer together. That’s the way it works. It’s not going to work any other way, folks. It starts with whoever needs to drop anchor and get their life right with God. That’s where it starts.
Marriage is a great institution. It’s a great thing that God has for mankind. In other words, there’s things in the area of sexual intimacy you think that you can get with somebody outside the marriage bond. You’re crazy. Only in the marriage bond can you ever find the fulfillment, sexually, that you’re looking for, because God planned it that way. That’s why the flesh is never satisfied and people can’t stand it. They’ll go with one and another and another like those dogs in packs. But when you build the covenant relationship into it and you put grace in that equation and you get a walk right with God, then the harmony within that marriage is going to be unbelievable. The will of God is good and acceptable and perfect. Don’t let a bad marriage mar your understanding of what you want for yourself in the future. You want what God wants. If God wants marriage, you pursue it with great vigor but remember it’s got to be His way or it won’t work. He has the design. He’s the only One who can fulfill that design. Bad marriages can make you think it could never work. God says, “Yes it can.”
Let’s just say I’m riding down the road and get a speeding ticket. I leave that scene and I’m thinking, “I don’t like policemen. I would never be one.” Well, that doesn’t matter. I’m still going to pay the ticket. It’s still going to cost me. Folks, if you’re going to put your eyes on failed marriages, help yourself. You want to put your eyes on Jesus and let Him have for you what He wants you to have. That’s the key. I think that’s what Paul’s doing in 1 Corinthians 7. He’s putting it back up where it ought to be. That’s what he’s saying.