Tags: 1 Corinthians 7, Biblical marriage, Christ-centered marriage, Christian marriage, commentary on 1 Corinthians, divorce, Gospel marriage, marriage, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians
In a previous post I discussed I Corinthians 7:1-10, and explained that, if you are married, God wants your marriage to be F.I.N.E., meaning that He wants the physical intimacy between you and your spouse to be frequent, inviting, natural, and exciting. He also wants you to know the real reason for your marriage.
But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
I Corinthians 7:11
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
I Corinthians 7:12
This is something which the Lord Jesus did not say in person during His earthly ministry, but it is just as authoritative since it is being said by the Holy Spirit through Paul. Believers should only marry other believers, but the failure to do so is not a ground for divorce, nor is the salvation of one spouse after the wedding, even when the other spouse refuses to get saved. Furthermore, the hostility of the unbelieving spouse toward the believing spouse because of his/her conversion is not a ground for divorce.
And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
I Corinthians 7:13-14
This does not mean that the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the sense of salvation, but that he is set apart as part of a household with a Holy Spirit influence, and possibly the recipient of special blessings due to one-half of the one-flesh relationship being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Also, a nullification of the marriage would make the children illegitimate in a sense, and would damage the blessing of their exposure to strong Christian influence.
But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
I Corinthians 7:15
This does not authorize divorce for abandonment, as many suppose. It simply prohibits hostile and forceful attempts to prevent physical separation.
For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
I Corinthians 7:16
This is an obvious figure of speech, meaning that a Christ-like testimony in the face of opposition and even persecution within the household can often be instrumental in winning an unbelieving spouse to Christ. Remember, your marriage is not primarily for your happiness, for you, or even for your spouse. It is for God to use as a means to illustrate and preach the Gospel in an unbelieving world, and for means of our sanctification.
The Know-Nots view marriage as an institution of convenience or a societal contract. The Knows know that marriage is a holy covenant relationship ordained by God, and that the love between a husband and wife is supposed to be a picture of the love between Christ and His bride, the Church.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 10, Biblical marriage, blacksmiths, Bride of Christ, Christian marriage, divorce, Ephesians 5, marriage, marriage counseling, principles for marriage, Romans 12, Samuel Chadwick
Last time we looked at the first two of four Bible principles to help us understand what God wants to do in our marriages. Think about some of the things that you have been told to do in order to make your marriage “happier.” Chances are, the things that are coming into your mind are things that focus ultimately on changing your spouse instead of changing you. How different are God’s ways from our ways!
Principle Number 1: Satisfaction in Marriage
Is being unhappy in your marriage a sign that your marriage is not “working?” No! Not when we use God’s definition of “working.” If your marriage is “unhappy,” but God is using it to conform you to the image of His dear Son, then you can find satisfaction in your marriage.
Principle Number 2: Separation in Marriage.
If you are married to someone right now, make a list of people with whom it’s okay for you to be physically intimate in a romantic or sexual way… That list should be very short. It should have one name only on it, and that name should be the name of your current spouse. That is “separation” from the affections of others.
Obviously, the principle of “separation” applies when it comes to sexual intimacy, but also, when it comes to where our devotion and affections lie, our spouse must hold a place of separation that is higher than our parents, our friends, even our children.
Then, there is the “separation” from worldly wisdom about your marriage. Let’s be honest: Who knows more about marriage?
God or Dr. Phil?
God or a psychiatrist?
God or that sweet little elderly couple that’s been married for 60 years?
God or a marriage counselor?
God invented marriage and He commanded its rules and consequences. We would have to agree that God wins out every time in a test of Who knows more about what your marriage is supposed to be!
Now I want to move on to the third and fourth principles:
Principle Number 3: Sanctification in Marriage
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
I Corinthians 10:13
Not only is your spouse ordained to be your spouse by God, but your spouse was specifically chosen for your sanctification. That does not mean that your spouse was chosen by God for your immediate, temporal happiness! Your spouse was chosen for your “ultimate” (the “ultimate” may be far off) joy, and for God’s glory. This concept of how God works has become almost alien to us in our modern society. Maybe this illustration that I’ve borrowed from a Puritan preacher named Chadwick will help to make it more clear.
One Saturday afternoon Mr. Chadwick was in his study, trying to decide what to preach in church the next morning. He could not seem to find any inspiration, so after much prayer and study he went for a walk. As he walked down a country lane, he saw a little shop, and out front were two men. One man was an awful looking oaf. He was huge, with big muscles and an evil scowl. He was pounding a giant hammer down onto a piece of metal which was lying on top of an anvil, and sparks flew with every grunting blow. Beside the monstrous oaf was a fastidious little man in fancy clothes. He wore spectacles, he had not broken a sweat, and he was simply pointing imperiously at the anvil as the larger man did all the work. This scene did not sit well with Preacher Chadwick, who, being a Puritan, prized the ethic of hard work and despised laziness. Mr. Chadwick went up to them, and said with disdain to the smaller man, “Well sir, I’m not even sure why you’re here! He’s doing all the work, and you don’t seem to be doing anything!” The fastidious little man smiled, and calmly explained, “No, sir, you don’t understand. I’m the blacksmith here, and this man is just a mean-spirited oaf. He thinks he’s destroying something. I am simply pointing out to him where to strike. Without me, he would make a mess of the job, but with my control and direction, the end product is going to be something beautiful.” Mr. Chadwick immediately knew what he would preach about the next morning!
This story is a picture of God and the devil. The devil may be pounding away at your marriage even as you read this. No doubt, he thinks he is destroying you, and your spouse, and your children, and your whole family. What he does not realize is that he is being used by God to make you into exactly what God wants you to be. One day, when you stand before God justified and sanctified and looking much more like Jesus Christ than you ever thought you could, with your children gleaming like jewels in the crown of Christ our King, I think the devil will be furious at how often he thought he was performing pure evil, when, in reality, God was allowing him to work out God’s perfect will all along!
The things about your spouse that seem like his or her faults – the very things about him or her that drive you absolutely crazy – are the very things designed by God to teach you to grow in Christ-likeness. And if your spouse has certain strengths, then these strengths are the very things which God knows must be present if you are not to be tempted beyond that which you are able to bear.
Remember that your marriage isn’t just for you – and it isn’t just for your spouse – it’s for God to use in making you more holy, which is the definition of sanctification.
Principle Number 4: Sacrifice in Marriage
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Spouses are supposed to love each other the way that Christ loved the Church. In other words, the way that He loved all the people who would one day trust Him for eternal salvation. I can not think of a single thing that Jesus should have done for the people that would one day go to Heaven, but that He failed to do. Many spouses are willing to envision a scenario in which they would dramatically die for their spouse. But few are willing to go through the mundane, day-to-day, detail-oriented task of living for their spouse. Christ did both. He lived and died for His bride, the Church. Christ gave Himself for the Church.
In giving yourself for your spouse, the primary emphasis is not on dying literally, but on sacrificial giving. Be a “living sacrifice,” says Romans 12:2. Think of some of the most serious issues that cause problems in a marriage.
Adultery? Adultery is terrible and hurtful. The pain and destruction that it causes must not be minimized. However, we have all committed spiritual adultery (unfaithfulness) against Christ, and yet He loved us anyway.
Cruelty? Mental cruelty toward your spouse is a grievous sin! It can be a form of torture. However, no one has ever been as cruel toward anyone as the people that Jesus came to save were toward Him. Yet He loved us anyway.
Physical violence? I think a man who physically abuses His wife should be whipped and then shot and then put under the jail. But no spouse has ever endured a beating like the beating that Jesus willingly took from the people that He came to save. And yet He loved us anyway.
Lack of affection? I wonder if there is anyone in the world as lonely or heartbroken as the spouse who can not get affection from his or her spouse. But Jesus was forsaken by His family, His friends, His relatives, His disciples – by everyone He cared about – and yet He loved us anyway.
Finances? How many people have I counseled with who have had their credit completely ruined by their spouse? Their savings gambled away, their children’s education spent on beer or toys or drugs or pornography. But how much of the resources that God has entrusted to us have been spent on vain and frivolous and even sinful things rather than invested in His Kingdom? And yet Jesus loved us anyway.
Christ never ever has and never ever will divorce His bride, the Church – no matter what! Has your spouse done worse to you than you’ve done to Christ? The Cross of Calvary says no – not even close.
Some people tell me, “You just don’t know what my spouse is like! I can’t love him or her, because he or she is just unlovable!” That describes Jesus’s ministry to a tee. He came to love the unlovable. I want everyone to have a happy marriage, but I’m simple and sentimental. God wants everyone to have a marriage that makes them more like Jesus. Jesus loved the unlovable. If God has chosen your marriage and your spouse to be the vehicle to teach you how to love the unlovable, then I’m sorry. I genuinely am. But, on another level, I’m also excited and glorifying God for your sake! He works in the lives of those He loves and He will one day repay every hurt with joy unspeakable!