1st Corinthians - Wayne Barber/Part 46 | John Ankerberg Show

1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 46

By: Dr. Wayne Barber
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By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998
The church of Corinth had a perverted view of sex, even in marriage. They equated sexual intimacy in marriage with immorality, which was in the pagan culture around them. As verse 5 said, they were weak in their flesh regarding immoral temptations that they were facing.

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1 Corinthians 7:6-7

Should I Marry or Remain Single – Part 4

One thing I’m learning in chapter 7 is that a lot of people are not hearing what is being said in the context. They’re hearing 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 in light of their own personal experience or maybe from the experience of somebody that they know. They’re looking for 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 to answer all the questions they have regarding situations that they’re aware of. I want you to know straight out. 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 does not in any way pretend to be a complete teaching on marriage. It doesn’t cover all the bases. It doesn’t cover the attitude of the husband that he ought to love his wife as Christ loved the church. It doesn’t cover the attitude of the wife who submits herself to her husband. It doesn’t cover any of that. It is in a specific vein that Paul has now that he’s speaking what he says. If you want a complete teaching on marriage go to Ephesians 5.

In 1 Corinthians 7 we’re dealing with some questions that have been written to the apostle Paul, which we don’t have, which have to do with moral purity. That’s what Paul is addressing. So when you hear the teaching, hear it in the context from which it comes. Don’t hear it in a situation that you’re trying to help out and trying to figure out why Paul leaves out so many things. It’s not a complete teaching on marriage.

Someone said, many years ago, “You know, I’ve had a lot of sermons, good sermons, messed up by bad listening.” So you’ve got to hear it right if it’s going to do a work in your life.

The church of Corinth had a perverted view of sex, even in marriage. They equated sexual intimacy in marriage with immorality, which was in the pagan culture around them. As verse 5 said, they were weak in their flesh regarding immoral temptations that they were facing. It appears, from the statement in verse 1, when Paul said that it is good for a man not to touch a woman, that this even could have been a conclusion they came up with and a statement they were making in that time. The apostle Paul just re-quotes it as he has heard it. Perhaps that was in the questions that they wrote him when he says that it’s good for a man not to touch a woman. But his point is that not touching a woman, a man not touching a woman, is only true outside the marriage bond. He’s trying to make a difference here. It’s not immoral to touch one’s spouse.

We saw how the word “touch” is the word meaning to touch with sexual innuendo. In other words, it’s not just a simple touch. There’s a hug and there’s a HUG. We’ve said that. Someone said, and I can’t remember who it was that said, “The difference in a kiss and a KISS is two minutes.” There’s a difference here. You keep thinking about that and it’ll hit somewhere. The touch he’s talking about here is not just to hug somebody. It’s a touch with a sexual innuendo. And he says, “It’s not good for a man to touch this way a woman except in the marriage bond.” They had equated the sexual intimacy in marriage with the moral impurity of the society that was around them.

We come now to the last two verses of this little seven verse setting here. He’s talking about should I remain single or should I marry. Let’s read it together and there are two things I want us to get out of it. First of all, in verse 6 he says, “But this I say by way of concession, not of command.” Verse 7 says, “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.”

Marriage is not a command

There are two things here that we need to see. First of all, marriage is not a command. If a person was single in Corinth at that time and they were thinking, “Well, hey, the only way to escape immoral temptation is to get married. Marriage is a command.” No. Marriage, even though it’s God’s design, is not a command. Look at verse 6. “But this I say by way of concession.” The phrase “by way of” is kata, which means not only “by the way of” but “according to,” according to a measure of something.

The word “concession” is the word suggnome, and it’s only used right here. The King James Version translates it differently. Whereas the New American Standard said “concession,” the King James Version says “permission.” That throws a different light on it. Both of these translations show a different light on the same truth.

The light that comes from the King James is, “I’m saying this by way of indulgence. I’m embarrassed about having to talk to you about all of this, but I say it to you only by permission. I’m just giving you my advice. I’m not commanding you to do anything.” I don’t have any trouble with that: the difference of apostolic command and apostolic advice. But if it’s apostolic advice, it’s sanctified advice, because it’s the Word of God; it’s inspired by the Holy Spirit. So Paul is saying, “I feel a little nervous dealing with this kind of thing and I’m just kind of easing in.” That’s the idea that would come from the King James Version. I feel a little nervous. I don’t want to do this either. So I can understand why he didn’t want to write it.

But I think the New American Standard picks it up better. I like the approach it takes towards the text and the context better than the King James. The word suggnome, for instance, comes from two different words, the word sun, which means together with, and ginomai, which means opinion. It means sentiment or will, a purpose.

As a matter of fact, let me show where ginomai is used, because it’s important to understand this. Look in 1 Corinthians 1:10. We’re going to flip to several passages here, and I want to show you how the second part of this word is used. It kind of gives you an idea of what’s going on with the word. We’ve already studied this. It signifies a common agreement, something that two people can agree upon. It says in verse 10 of 1 Corinthians 1, “Now, I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” It’s translated agree, agreement, a common agreement.

Look over in 7:25, the chapter we’re in, but further on down. Here it’s translated “opinion” and will be in the next several Scriptures that I quote from. Verse 25 reads, “Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion [that’s the word] as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.”

Then drop down to verse 40. “But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is [I like that last phrase], and I think I also have the Spirit of God.” I’ve heard people say that to me before.

In 2 Corinthians 8:10 again it’s translated “opinion.” This is the second part of the word we’re looking at here in 1 Corinthians 7:6. It says, “And I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it.”

Look over in Philemon verse 14. It’s translated “consent” there. It’s interesting to see how the same word is translated differently in different places. “But without your consent [you see that idea of agreement here] I did not want to do anything, that your goodness should not be, as it were by compulsion, but of your own free will.”

Then in Revelation 17:13 and 17 it’s translated as “purpose.” So you see various ways in which the word ginomai is translated. When you add the little prefix sun to it, that changes the word. Sun means together with, so the idea of having sharing a common opinion with somebody; as we’ve seen, the word can mean opinion. It means to share a common understanding with someone. It means to share a common awareness of something. To me, that’s why the New American Standard translates the word “concession,” meaning, as a single man, Paul’s saying, “I’m conceding to a common agreement and a common opinion that marriage is God’s design. I’m saying this by concession. I’m saying this according to a common understanding, a common awareness.” That’s what he seems to be saying. “We have a common awareness that marriage is God’s design.”

But then he goes on to say, “But even though marriage is God’s design, marriage is not a command. You’re not commanded to get married; however, marriage is God’s design. Look at the rest of the verse. He says, “But this I say by way of concession, by mutual awareness. I’m conceding as a single man to agree with you that marriage is the design that God has. But I’m not saying this out of command. It’s not a command.” He has put marriage back in the priority that God wants it to be put in, but then he backs off and says, “Wait a minute! Marriage is not a command. God knows what’s best for each of us; and if you’re married, wonderful, if you’re not, wonderful. But it’s not a command to be married.” You can live a fulfilled life.

By fulfilled, I mean in the context of 1 Corinthians 7, you can live in victory over immoral temptations of your flesh because of the enabling grace of God that He has given to you. If you’re a single person, you’re not commanded to get married. You can have every bit of the fulfillment you’re looking for in life, but it won’t be found in marriage. It will be found in Christ. That’s where it always ought to be found.

So Paul is saying, “As a single man, I agree with you as a common opinion that marriage is God’s design but it’s not a command.” Fulfillment is not based upon whether you’re married or not, and victory is not based upon whether you’re married or not. Victory is Jesus and you don’t work toward it, you come from it. When you’re willing to do it God’s way, to live God’s way, God in you is the victory through you. To me, that’s what Paul is saying.

I wonder if you are single or maybe single again and you’re bitter and you’re fighting against the very circumstances of your life and saying, “God, I just can’t be fulfilled unless I’m married. I can’t be fulfilled unless I have children.” Is that right? You know, Diana shared something with me years ago. It kind of embarrassed me at the time. It kind of made me feel bad, but she didn’t mean to do that. She said, “You know, Wayne, when I first met you, I thought that when I met the right person for my life, that would bring great joy to me.” God just threw me as a grenade right into her life. She found out not long after we were married, that did not bring her joy.

Then not long after that she said, “You know, I thought it was when I had children.” Have you have gone through that? You think, “Oh, that’s what will make me happy. That’s what will fulfill my life.” When you have children, you discover within seconds that they don’t come gift-wrapped. They come as they are and you have to learn to live with that. Yes, there’s joy, but not what you thought.

Then there was a day she came to me years ago and said, “Wayne, I don’t think I’m saved.” I’ve never known anybody any better than my wife. She had just been a good person before she was saved and a better person after she was saved. I’ve just never known anybody like her. She doesn’t have any guile in her. I’m always the problem. God just knew who to put into my life. When she said, “I’m not saved,” I tried to talk her out of it. I said, “Why do you think you’re not saved?” She said, “Because.” We were having revival meeting that week. The preacher was in a luncheon session drawing circles on a board trying to show what it was to be saved and Christ living in you. She said, “I was sitting there watching him and God convicted me that I’m an unrighteous person. I’ve never seen myself as unrighteous before.” Immediately I backed off, because that has to happen before salvation. You have to know what you’re being saved from and being saved to. She was changed over night.

She’ll tell you today that the greatest fulfillment in her life is not her little granddaughter, although it’s real close. It’s not me and it’s not our children. The greatest fulfillment in my wife’s life today is the Lord Jesus Christ.

That’s what the apostle Paul is trying to say. You’re not commanded to be married. You’ve got to understand the mind-set of these people. They had perverted ideas toward sex, toward all this stuff. There were no examples in front of them so they just decided it’s better for a man not to touch a woman. Paul has to jump right in the midst of all that mud and mire and put it back into perspective. He says, “I can say to you it’s a common opinion. We all understand this. We all agree on it. Marriage is God’s design. You may not understand behind the bedroom door, but marriage is God’s design and we all agree on that. But it’s not a command, because your fulfillment is not dependent on being single or being married.” It’s dependent on your life. Live attached to Jesus Christ which has been the theme of all of 1 Corinthians. So, marriage is not a command.

Marriage is a gift from God

Now we come to the second part that I want you to see in verse 7. Marriage or singleness, whichever one you want to talk about, is a gift from God. I know some of you think it’s a booby prize, but it’s a gift from God. That’s what’s wrong with us, folks. We can’t see that all the good things that God gives to us in life many times involve pain. It involves struggle. But it’s a good thing that God gives us. We’ve already learned in 1 Corinthians that all things belong to us whether life or death or the world or whatever because we belong to Christ and Christ is God. So, therefore, we see it from a different perspective.

So he says here that either marriage or singleness, whichever one it is, is a gift from God. So where are you? The key is what does God want? He says in verse 7, “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” When I first read this first phrase years ago, it caused me to come to a conclusion. I though Paul was saying, “I wish that all were like me, single.” That’s what I thought. It just made sense. It kind of fit the context. But the more I studied it, I changed my mind.

One can see why you would come to the conclusion that Paul was saying, “I wish you were all single like me.” Here’s a missionary. He’s traveled from place to place. He doesn’t have family. He doesn’t have any strings or anything to tie him down. Therefore, wherever he goes he’s free. He’s free as a bird to be whatever God wants him to be. So he says, “I wish you were all like me.” That would sound good.

There’s no doubt that he was single. He says in verse 8 of chapter 7, “But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.” He’s talking about the state of singleness. So we know he was single. Surely that’s what he’s talking about? I want to approach it a little differently. Do you think he might be saying something else here? Let me just challenge your mind a little bit.

Back when we did the book of Ephesians, we introduced it by teaching the book of Acts. As a matter of fact, somebody recently wanted my Ephesians tapes and I said, “Be careful. You don’t want the introduction unless you want an extra hundred tapes.” We were introducing the book and did the whole life of Paul. If you know anything about Paul’s life, you know that marriage or being single was never a focus for him. It never mattered to him if he was married or if he was single. That was never the direction he was headed. That was never his thought process. His process and his focus was the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s turn to several Scriptures and let me document that.

Turn to Philippians 3:9. Here’s Paul. Here’s who we’re dealing with here. If he was single, fine. If he was married, fine. That’s not his focus, though. His focus was, “What does God want in my life?” He focused upon the Lord Jesus Christ in his life. In Philippians 3:9 he says that he only wants to be found one way. For years he wanted to be found having measured up to the Law they had come up with, those six hundred thirteen commandments. He would justify himself by that and then condemn everybody else. But he said, “Buddy, God’s changed me. The only way I want to be found now is to be found in Him Christ. Verse 9 says, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law [that’s quite a statement from the apostle Paul] but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith [why?], that I may know Him.” That means to experientially know Him.

Have you known Him this past week? Let me ask you a question. This past week did God put a brother in your life that you couldn’t love and you came before God and said, “God, I only want to be found in You. I only want to be found obeying You and, God, I choose to love this person.” And God began to create within you a love you’ve never experienced before, and you began to see that person in a different light. You weren’t seeing it through your eyes. You were seeing it through His eyes. Paul said, “That’s all I want. I just want to experience Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” That’s his focus, not whether I’m married or single. That matters very little to Paul. What matters to him is the fact that he’s living surrendered to the One who saved him and living, experiencing Him day by day in his walk.

In Romans 1:1, listen to the words of the apostle Paul. He says, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus.” Paul said, “Hey, I’ve given up my will. I don’t have a will anymore. I just want my will to be His will or rather I want His will to be my will. I want to choose what He wants me to choose. I’m a bond-servant.” The New American Standard translates it bond-servant because it’s a love servant. Paul says, “I don’t want to be just a slave and do what I do because I have to. I want to live as a love slave and do what I do because I want to. That’s the purpose of my life.” In Ephesians 3:1, as he writes from the same imprisonment that he wrote the books of Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, he doesn’t call himself a prisoner of the Jews who have falsely accused him. He doesn’t call himself a prisoner of the Romans who held him in bondage. He said, “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, for the sake of you Gentiles.” He said in other words, “I chained myself to His chariot. I’m going to live in the victory only He can give to me. Wherever that chariot leads me, that’s fine with me.”

If you put that in the context of 1 Corinthians 7, if he leads me to be single, that’s fine. If he leads me to be married, that’s fine. My joy is in Him. It’s not in my circumstance. In 1 Corinthians 4, where we’ve already studied, we saw the motivation and the heart of the apostle Paul. He says in verse 3 of chapter 4, “But to me it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself.” He says, “For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted [I’m not declared righteous by this. I’m not proven to be righteous by this]; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” That’s how he lived. In other words, if he ever had the desire to be married, he’d have to take it before the Lord and let God examine that desire. He didn’t want anything outside of what God wanted in his life.

First Corinthians 11:1 tells us he always wanted people to be imitators of his faith, not of him, but of his faith. He said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” What did he mean by that? Christ lived to the pleasure of the Father. He lived to the pleasure of his Christ. Now, when you understand the focus of the apostle Paul, I think you can better understand what he’s saying when he says, “I wish that everyone was as I am. I wish that you could live the same way. Then, if you’re single, you’re not trying to get married. You’re just enjoying Jesus. But if marriage is what God wants, that’s fine. If you’re married, you’re not trying to get out of that marriage, you’re trying to let Jesus be glorified in your life in the midst of that marriage. You would just live daily focused and centered and attached on the Lord Jesus Christ. I wish everyone lived that way.”

Paul knew he had every right to marry. In 1 Corinthians 9:5 he says, “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas [Simon Peter]?” Simon Peter was married. There was not a question of whether being married was alright. The question was, what does God want from me? What’s God’s direction for me and can I be fulfilled in Him, find all of my satisfaction in Him? That’s the key. I think what he’s saying here, then, is not, “I wish you were all single like me.” As a matter of fact, if you think about it, that doesn’t make much sense. If you’ll take the words literally. “I wish that every one [every one?] were single like I am” Number one, you just killed the whole purpose of God and procreation and everything else of marriage by saying that. I mean, he says “every one,” if you take it literally. I don’t think that makes any sense. I think he’s saying, “I wish you could live as I live attached to Jesus,” which was the whole theme of 1 Corinthians anyway. They were attached to everything but Jesus. If you’d just live as a vessel attached to Him, then whether you were single or married would really not make a difference. Sexual purity would never be a problem if people who were married and people who were single would live as Paul lived. It would never be a problem in the sense that we wouldn’t be falling to it all the time because we’d live in the victory that Jesus is in our life.

Marriage is a gift. Singleness is a gift. And it’s grace that enables them both. Look at verse 7 again. “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” Now the word for “gift” there is charisma. It has the little ma on the end of it that’s different. Charis is grace. Charisma means the actual gift itself. It incorporates three ideas. First, the heart of the fact that God gave it when we don’t deserve it. Second, it incorporates the gift itself. And third, it incorporates the divine enablement of God to sustain that gift in our life, whatever it is. If God has given you the gift in the context of marriage, God will give you the grace to enable you to bear up in that marriage and be everything He wants you to be. If you’re single, then God will give you the grace. If He’s given you the gift, He’s given you the grace, the enablement to live single and be absolutely fulfilled in Him. He’s given you that grace.

So Paul says, “Each man has his own gift.” Isn’t it interesting that we think of gifts in 1 Corinthians only in light of chapters 12-14? We don’t think about the fact that under grace everything God gives to us is a gift. Remember back in 4:7? He says, “For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive (as a gift)? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” Everything we have as believers is a gift from God.

Contextually you have to put what he’s talking about here in the same category. The gift we’re talking about here is whether or not you’re married or whether or not you’re single. In the context the Corinthians were weak in their flesh regarding the temptations to sexual immorality. Paul is desiring that they experience God’s enabling grace to overcome the temptation that’s around them, whether single or whether married.

The term “each man” here is an interesting term. It’s hekastos, and it means each man separate and apart from the next man. This is interesting to me that in the context of marriage or singleness you have problems but what do we normally do? Pick up the phone and call somebody else whose gift and whose assignment is different from ours. They don’t understand where we are and we’re trying to get understanding from them instead of going to God and living the grace that God gives to us. That’s the way the world seems to revolve. That’s not what it’s all about. The specific gift God’s given, it’s tailor made, is the grace to live in that whether it’s single or whether it’s married.

The term idios means his own specific gift from God. So in the context, what is your gift? Is it singleness or is it being married? Well, whichever one it is, it’s tailor made for you and God will tailor make the grace to enable you to be what He wants you to be in that situation. With the grace comes enablement.

Here’s what I want to talk to you about for a little bit. I’m taking a side street. Grace is color-coded. Did you know that? That means if something’s blue, something blue goes with it. It’s very specific when it’s color-coded. When I worked for the telephone company years ago, they put me on as a cable-splicer’s helper. They sent me to Blacksburg, Virginia, and in one night’s time I knocked out over twelve thousand phone lines. They came to me and said, “We want to suggest to you that we believe God’s called you into the ministry. We don’t think God’s called you into the telephone business.”

I was on a line and I had a cable splice with big wires coming out of it. What’s red goes with red and what’s blue goes with blue and what’s yellow goes with yellow and what’s orange goes with orange. I’m just supposed to put the two colors that were the same together and crimp them. How hard can that be? It’s raining outside. I was on a pole thirty-one feet up with a little tent around me. It was dark in there and the light was dimming and I was by myself. It was the first time ever they left me on a pole by myself. Well, what was orange looked yellow to me and what was blue kind of looked a little purple. I started putting the wrong colors together and every time I’d crimp one I just killed a phone line or several phone lines. Like I said, by the time they got back I had knocked out half of Blacksburg, Virginia, and they strongly suggested I go into the ministry. Color-coded.

You say, “Why is that important?” Because grace is color-coded. In 1 Peter 4:10, he’s talking about gifts. “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another [here he’s talking about the service gift] as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” That’s the multi-colored grace of God. In other words, hey, whoa, that grace is color-coded. In James 1:2 we read, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Isn’t it funny? Over here it’s translated manifold, and over here it’s translated various, but it’s the same word in the Greek. Color-coded trials, poikilos is the word.

Put that back in the context of 1 Corinthians 7. You’re going through something and God’s gift to you is being married but your marriage is not working out very well. Okay, so you’ve got a trial. Boy, this is a red trial, isn’t it? Well, how am I going to do this? With the gift comes the enablement and it’s the same color tailor-made to what you’re going through.

In fact, if you want to have fun with this word, go over to Ephesians 3:10, and it puts in the category of wisdom, the manifold wisdom of God, multi-colored wisdom of God. God even will give you the wisdom of how to take what you already know from Scripture and practically apply to your life. So, hey, why would anybody be upset whether they’re single or married, regardless of their circumstance? If Jesus is their joy, they live like the apostle Paul, connected to Him, realizing that he says in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned in all circumstances to be content.” The word content means self-contained. He says, “I have learned that everything I need is within me, not without. I can find Him within me. He will sustain me. He will give me the joy.” The fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and peace and everything I’m looking for. Why would that person ever be bothered about being either single or being married if he’s living the way he’s supposed to live. It doesn’t make any sense, does it?

Paul knew the color-coded grace of God, and he says, “I wish all of you would live as I am. I wish you would live like me and you could live in the victory you already have in Jesus Christ.” But in Corinth that would have been a difficult transition. That’s what the whole book is all about. If you’re married, live dependent upon the grace to enable you in that gift of marriage. If you’re single, live in the grace God has gifted you to live in the gift of being single.

Do you want just what God wants in your life? That’s the bottom line, whether you’re single or whether you’re married. I’ve always wondered who it is in the marriage relationship when it’s going bad that’s going to drop anchor? Who’s going to drop anchor? Everybody waits on the other one. Well, if he would, then I would. God says, “Do what? Why don’t you just go on and live like you’re supposed to live? I’ll give you all the joy you ever thought about having?” “Well, he’s getting worse.” “Okay, fine. I’ll just drive you to the cross and conform you more and more in the image of Christ because tribulation and trials works out patience in your life and the ability to bear up under.”

You see, if it comes back to the truth of what Christianity is, then whether we’re married or single doesn’t really matter. It’s whether or not we know Jesus and can live in the fullness of His joy day by day, by being surrendered to Him in the grace that He has.

I was thinking about Philippians 4:11. Everybody has Philippians 4:13 on their refrigerator and nobody pays any attention to it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But if you put verse 11 up before it, it might make a little bit more sense. “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am”—single or married or whatever.

In the context of marriage and re-marriage in Matthew 19, the Lord Jesus told His disciples that the only reason to put away their spouse is for fornication. That’s when His disciples said, “Good grief! Why get married?” That’s how bad it was at that time. But then He said to them in verse 11 of chapter 19, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.” You see, it’s not for everybody. It’s for the person who’s married. Then he goes on down and talks about being a eunuch. He says, “Of course, this truth cannot be received by all.” I guess not. Only to those that God has spoken it to. So wherever you are, whatever gift God’s allowed in your life, wherever it is, He has the wisdom and the grace and whatever else it takes to be what God wants you to be. That’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter whether you’re single or whether you’re married. Whatever God directs in your life, He’ll give you the grace to enable that situation.

No wonder the Corinthians had problems. They were attached to everything but Christ. Remember 1:12? “Some of you are of Paul. Some of you are of Apollos.” Chapter 3 said, “You’re babies. You’ve never grown up.” It’s evident by the jealousy and strife and division and some of you are of Paul and some of you are of Apollos. He continues to follow that line. But if they’d just come back and attach themselves to Christ, sexual purity wouldn’t be a problem. And whether they’re married or single would not be a problem. They could live in the victory and the fullness of what God offered to them.

Well, it’s amazing how many people do not accept the gift that God has put within their life. They call it the booby prize or something else. They don’t see it as a gift. It comes right out of God. The word “from” there in verse 7 is ek, right out of God. He either caused it or He allows it. So whatever circumstance I’m in, He has the grace enablement to help me bear up under it and be what He wants me to be. Should I marry or remain single? That’s been the topic we’ve been discussing in verses 1-7 of chapter 7. The answer is, I think, what Paul would say. The answer is to live like he lives. In other words, you seek the Lord and then whatever He wants is right for you. If it’s marriage, wonderful; if it’s singleness, wonderful. But live in the fullness of joy that only He can give you no matter which state you find yourself. Quit fretting and quit being frustrated and accept the gift God’s allowed in your life at this time and live in the grace enablement that He’ll give to you.

You’re single. What’s your choice? Are you going to live up under that in the grace that God has given to you? Are you going to fight against the process? If you’re married, are you going to choose to bail out of the thing? It’s your choice. Paul said, “If you live like I live, I live in that which God enables me day by day. That’s where I find my strength. I’m a prisoner of Him. I’m a bond-servant. God, whatever You want is what I want.” If you’ll live that way, victory is assured because victory is Jesus being Jesus in you.

Read Part 47

Dr. Wayne Barber

Dr. Wayne Barber

Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.
Dr. Wayne Barber

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