Last month, we concluded Part 1 of IN THE BEGINNING IT WAS NOT SO with the teachings of Christ being presented unto Israel a nation of believers subject to the law and discovered no new teaching or revelation on the subject had been given, instead Christ simply verified the teaching of Moses in Deut. 24:1-4 which Israel had drifted far from. We must realize all Christ’s remarks found in Matt. 5:27-32 as well as Matt. 19:1-9 applies strictly to people who are in a covenant revelation with God and never to wicked, adulterous sinners such as are the gentiles before they enter into a grace covenant with God. HOW POLYGAMY VANISHED Today’s lesson applies strictly to those unbelieving lost heathen gentiles whose moral life had sunk far below the standards given in the holy law of God which Israel observed. The gentiles had no covenant agreement of any description with God until grace came. Israel, being a covenant people, was considered believers having observed God’s law since birth, thus being in the light of the law covenant whereas gentiles were not. Before examining these lost unconverted gentiles to see how one they entered into the family of God under grace, and also observe a law which is called the law of Christ, let us complete a topic we began last month though unable to complete, called POLYGAMY. Recall, God did not institute polygamy (husband and several wives). No, God instituted marriage consisting of one man and one woman only. However, out of the lineage of Cain, Gen. 4, polygamy was introduced and transferred in Gen. 6 unto the sons of God, which resulted in a flood. Generations later we saw not only the heathen gentiles but the true seed of God, Israel, now all embracing polygamy. Abraham, Jacob and many of the children of Israel lived in polygamy as did the heathen gentile and to our amazement last issue we discovered when God instituted a law to Israel, it did in no way undo polygamy. As a matter of fact, there was even a provision made in the law to show a husband what to do concerning polygamy wives. Again I state, we’re not endorsing polygamy. We care little what the religious world thinks of it. Our only desire is to see polygamy through the eyes of God once it was here. No, God didn’t ordain it. Once it was here and began to appear in the lives of his people, I don’t find anywhere in the law he ever broke up a polygamy home. Having not lived around a society of polygamy, it’s difficult for us to see how God put up with it and eventually wherever the gospel of Christ went, in gentile territory, it found it’s own route of vanishing. Recall David, Solomon, Abraham, were all polygamists.
JACOB’S POLYGAMY WIVES
Bro. Branham, prophet messenger to the age, a number of years ago made certain references to this very fact which undoubtedly was misunderstood by some who thought he was endorsing polygamy. However, he was merely trying to show how that through the loins of men who were polygamists came God’s divine will and purpose. Jacob, you recall, with four wives through polygamy fathers the twelve patriarchs, later to be known as the twelve tribes of Israel. We’re not trying to return you to polygamy. That’s not the point. If you think that, you have miserably missed the point. Yet, I repeat nowhere was God ever seen breaking up a polygamy home. Although he seriously chastened acts of adultery. I’ve said all of this to complete our line of thought concerning polygamy as it was among the gentiles when the gospel of Christ came unto them and it began to affect their lives. Yes, our life is not affected by it, thanks to the exampleship of the true revelated Christian church or (bride of Christ) throughout the first generation, as the gospel found itself deep in gentile territory, nevertheless polygamy was a definite way of life practiced 1900 years ago among the realm of gentiles before the christian period of grace came.
POLYGAMY CONFRONT MISSIONARIES
Even missionaries today who are sent from various protestant denominations into Africa and other countries which are still influenced by the Moslem religion find the society of polygamy among natives is still present. Because these denominational missionaries have gone there presenting their own church doctrine, we will say, suppose a Moslem man with several of his wives wanted to be coveted to Christianity. Right there, because of the missionaries church teaching, it seems to draw a line on the poor Moslem man in his situation. He, having 2 two or three wives (living in polygamy) the befuddled missionary refuses to accept him or his family into the christian faith. Now, beloved may I ask you if God in the Old Testament would never break up a polygamy home under the law, why then would any one desire to do so under the grace age? Why do modern day missionaries fail to recognize in the plan of God there is a place for this poor man and his family within the grace age?
EXAMPLESHIP DISCOURAGES POLYGAMY
Even though it is not written in New Testament scriptures, I am nevertheless convinced that wherever the Apostle Paul journeyed and gentile heathens were converted to Christ, Paul never broke up a polygamy home. No, don’t misunderstand me. Paul didn’t teach that there should be polygamy homes, yet neither did he go around breaking them up. No, that way of life found it’s own method of fading out of the christian era through the following generations. Because watch, when Paul presented those requirements and qualifications for church leaders (I Tim. 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9) that is bishops who were overseers of the local congregation of elders holding positions in the five fold ministry, deacons, etc. each office had to be filled by a gentile man who would lead the gentile church; men if you please, who exemplified through that of a moral character the correct christian way of life before they could ever be placed in any position of the gentile ministry of that New Testament church. Therefore, wherever that New Testament ministry traveled into that gentile territory preaching the gospel of Christ, those men chosen to uphold positions in church offices to lead the New Testament church could (1) not be a man who was a polygamist, nor (2) could he be a man who had been divorced and remarried, seeing the main qualification for each was that they should be the husband of one wife (a qualification most difficult for a woman to fulfill would you not agree?). You see beloved, it was through this exampleship of such a ministry that polygamy in the christian circle of the gentile church merely faded out of the picture. However, very likely seated in those gentile church congregations there could easily have been a few men here and there who were polygamists, but believe me, if the law didn’t break up a polygamy home, the neither did the gospel of Christ ever break up a polygamy home either. That way of life was corrected by the perfect pattern of exampleship set forth by that of the early gentile ministry as they lived and preached the gospel. Their exampleship was so much different than the exampleship of the present Babylonian church world, seeing the worldly people of this day have far more weight on the church in life, dress, etc. than the church does on the world seeing the church today follows the world in its dress, habits, customs, etc. but not so in that early church. That early church ministry exemplified such a way of life first through their own qualifications into the ministry that was so weighty upon those young gentile believers that it caused the following generation of gentile Christians who had been influenced through this polygamy way of life to simply follow, not after that route of polygamy in establishing their own homes, but instead to follow the ministry’s exampleship of the early church who, first of all, couldn’t even be in the ministry unless he was the husband of only one wife. Such an influence of exampleship set forth by the gentile New Testament church and its ministry in that way of character and life in living the gospel and high christian standard which they upheld did the job while leading the church on into higher heights and deeper depths of grace. The gentile world, wherever the gospel of Christ was preached, simply became more and more affected as time went on by the life of the church and its ministry (which had only one wife) causing polygamy among so many gentiles to simply be swallowed up. The new oncoming generation would rather follow the life of the christian church as it was truly God’s own way through the character of his church to exemplify before the gentile people God’s perfect moral relationship in marriage between that of one man and one woman (his wife).
No, God did not have to insert a written law saying you polygamists break up your homes. That simply wasn’t his way. That’s why you won’t find it written. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that the polygamy way of life was simply dissolved, vanished, or swallowed up through that route of the christian life. The exampleship set forth by the christian ministry was simply so great as the minister upheld his own qualifications of one wife, the little christian gentile polygamy homes were never broken up. However, the oncoming generation born from polygamy christian parents, as they came on the scene immediately followed the image and exampleship set 3 forth in the New Testament ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. By the time you leave the first century coming over into the second, you have a new generation of gentile people whose lives and homes have been affected enough by the christian life in the early church that it has affected lives of gentile law makers and politicians in this respect that the gentile world affected by Christianity made laws in the courts of the land that affected such future actions of polygamy homes.
SINS GENTILES GUILTY OF CHURCH IDEAS
Down through the centuries practically every church system has carried their own idea as to who could or could not be saved when it comes to dealing with this subject referred to as marriage and divorce. They have taught there wasn’t anything a man could do but what the grace of God was not more than willing to forgive. They even declare you could have been a murderer and regardless to how many people you had killed, God would forgive such an act. You could even be a total drunkard and find forgiveness. Yes, according to their teachings you could do anything and be forgiven; however, for some reason or other, that never seemed to apply to anyone’s life who had been fouled up in a double marriage. For some reason that always appears to fall under an entirely different category, because beginning with such cases here is where church creeds take over dictating what one must do or not do in order to be saved from sin. In other words, for this particular situation of remarriages, it appears that it is no longer merely going to require repentance as it would in all of the other cases. Certain other requirements now begin to enter into the picture. Usually, in order for one to be saved whose life has been involved in a double marriage, before the salvation door can be opened and Christ allowed in, that poor lost soul, according to certain church creeds, must first divorce their present mate and return to their first spouse. But recall, to this unscriptural advice we have already seen God’s answer in Deut. 24:1-4. God says positively, I forbid such a thing to be done. Because divorce on the one scriptural grounds forever separates anyone from rejoining their previous mate. Nevertheless, in the minds of certain religious people something other than repentance is required before that poor lost, entangled soul caught up in the web of divorce and double marriage can ever be brought to repentance.
GENTILES SINS INCLUDED ADULTERY
And it is because of this very attitude which has ruled certain church feelings that something other than mere repentance must be done in order for Gentiles to be saved, let us carefully examine the lives of many of the gentiles who were saved and who made up the Corinthian church before the grace of God knocked on their heart’s door offering them salvation. Turn to I Cor. 6:9-12 where we shall discover a picture of life in the raw among gentiles before grace visited them. Gentiles, you recall, lived so extremely far below the law that nothing other than the grace of God could possibly help them.
LIFE IN THE RAW
I Cor. 6:9-11 shows a list of horrible sins (including sexual sins) which the gentile people were definitely guilty of at one time according to Paul. According to Paul, these sins committed by the gentiles labeled the gentiles as unrighteous and unfit for the kingdom of God. Verse 9 declared the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. However, the key to this lies in verse 11 where Paul declared unto the Corinthian church and such were some of you, but you are not any longer because now you are washed, sanctified and justified. And not a one of the many gentiles guilty of adultery had to return to their first mate in order to be saved. Those horrible sins mentioned by Paul filling the gentile world before grace came rescuing some included fornicators (gentiles actually living in sexual immorality), idolaters (worshiper of idols), adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexual perversion), thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers (slanderers), extortioner, none of these Paul declared shall have any share in the kingdom of God. Be not deceived (or stop being misled) declares Paul, people who commit such horrible acts shall not have any share in the kingdom of God.
JUSTIFICATION – WHAT IS IT?
Paul didn’t stop there but continued on to say, and such were some of you. Before conversion you were just that kind of character; however, now you are washed, sanctified and justified and brought into a right relationship with God. And I remind you, those who were guilty of adultery and fornication, etc., did nothing 4 more than repent and believe the true gospel as did the rest of the sinners. You are washed, sanctified and justified. How? Through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God. Those dirty, sinful, unclean dogs as they were referred to by the Jews were gentile people participating in such wickedness, both men and women, before grace knocked on their heart’s door. Paul said, you are justified. And for someone to be justified means now since they are saved from sin, God looks upon that person who had committed such sins while sinners as though they had never committed any of those sins mentioned in verse 9:10. Remember Paul declared such were some of you, some of you were adulterers, fornicators and involved in other such sexual sins, but you are not that anymore because God forgave you and cleaned up your lives from these horrible sins and now looks upon each repentant sinner as though they had never committed such deeds. That beloved is what justification is all about.
EXAMINING GENTILES THROUGH LAW
Concerning gentiles (saints) always remember this, before they were introduced to grace and discovered that Christ was God in the flesh, these sinners (people of the nations) had always been examined or looked upon through the eyes of the law that none of them were worthy of eternal life. This is correct! Through the eyes of the law all gentile sinners were hopelessly condemned and found unworthy of life. Because beloved, as God looked down through the law upon the poor sinning gentile, stooped in the depth of idolatry and every kind of perverted sexual sin imaginable, those poor gentile sinners had continually trampled or broken God’s law and thus stood condemned. Recall if anyone had broken or offended the law in any one point, as far as God was concerned he or she stood guilty for the entire thing. James 2:10. And without an animal sacrifice to offer, the poor gentile unlike the Jew had nothing by which to reestablish himself in fellowship and grace with the law once he had broken it, therefore his sins continued to heap up upon him.
LAW BROUGHT NO RIGHTEOUSNESS
For that reason God declared in Romans 3:19-28 when grace did come that even the Jew who had done everything in his ability to obey the law, actually none of the time had there ever literally been any righteousness or virtue within the law itself, because the scripture declares that grace and truth came not by the law but by the Lord Jesus Christ. The law could only show man where sin lay and that man himself possessed an inherited evil nature which was responsible for his living in the wicked manner he did. Rom. 7:7-14. Therefore, in order to keep this inherited evil nature somewhat in check, at Sinai God added to Israel (his people) the law. Through that law man learned where sin lay. Through the knowledge of the law and its penalties, the Jew’s heart or shall we say his old nature, fearful of judgment as a penalty, was kept somewhat under control or from getting out of hand, whereas in the case of the wicked gentile who had no law covenant with God to control his evil nature until grace and truth could come to him through the teaching of Jesus Christ, had absolutely nothing whatsoever to curb or help control his old evil inherited nature. Hence it tended merely to run wild as shown in I Cor. 6:9-11.
COVENANT MADE ISRAEL – BELIEVER
An interesting note concerning the law among the Jewish people was that both man and woman through their physical birth had automatically been placed under the law, its requirements and penalties as well, thus causing the Jew to automatically become a believer under that dispensation of law. In order to be under this covenant with God, God instructed Abraham that all male children were to be circumcises eight days after birth, Gen. 17:9-14. Therefore, being a male Israelite seed he grew into manhood a believer from his physical birth. Jewish man by birth was born into the covenant, thus his natural Jewish birth made him a believer. Therefore, when Christ addressed Israel in Matt. 5 and Matt. 19 on marriage and divorce, reemphasizing Moses’ teaching in the law (Deut. 24:1-4) Christ was addressing believers. The only way of ever getting out from under that commitment of this covenant would be deny that law, deny Jehovah as the only true God.
NO COVENANT FOR GENTILES
Israel, although many wicked and sinful people made up the nation, was never regarded as strictly unbelievers seeing they did worship the One true God and observed his law, etc., whereas the gentiles had nothing whatsoever to do with the law of God in Old Testament times. That lost gentile had nothing; he had no law 5 which said “Thou Shalt Not”. He was totally ignorant of the law and was nothing more than a cold, hard, calloused sinner and because of his ignorance to the law in that period God could in no way merit his salvation to ward the gentiles on any basis of the law. Nevertheless, the scripture reveals God had not forever forsaken the gentiles. No, he had only held them in reserve for centuries waiting for the hour when a perfect sinless one would come who could do something, not only for the poor unbelieving heathen who was alienated from the grace of God, Eph. 2:11-13, but for the Jew as well as who had observed this law age or who had been a believer embracing the law covenant. (Rom. 11:1-25) I repeat, concerning the immorality of the hard, cold gentile heathen sinner before grace touched their lives through this grace dispensation, we are clearly shown a list of sins recorded in I Cor. 6:9-11 for which the gentile was well known. Paul declared, such were some of you but thank God because grace came you are no longer that anymore seeing he has justified you. God doesn’t even look upon you as having ever committed any of these sins.
NOTHING TO SUPPRESS EVIL NATURE
Paul did not capitalize upon merely a few of the sins revealing the horrible condition gentiles were in before the word of God was offered unto them. Paul hit the entire catalogue of sins of which gentiles were guilty, revealing what a horrible corrupt condition this gentile world had sunk into where no law of God was present to help curb or control that evil nature of lust and sin. The gentile’s life, before Christ came offering his salvation, would fit somewhere in that category of sins shown in I Cor. 6:9-10. Therefore, if this was a general picture of the gentiles and if those who commit such unrighteous deeds according to Paul cannot inherit the kingdom of God, then what hope did the poor gentile have? Watch. Paul did not end the picture of gentile depravity here, leaving them helpless. No, he doesn’t finish the picture until he gives the remedy for all that evil, sinful gentile nature acting the way it did. Aren’t you glad Paul did not specialize or capitalize on just a few special cases here? Instead he declares, and such were some of you (who now make up the Corinthian church), although you are not that any longer. Verse 11 declares, you have been washed.
How were these gentiles washed? Through none other than the precious sinless blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Lamb. But you are sanctified. See, not only washed by the blood of the Lamb, these gentiles had been set apart for service into the grace of God and justified. Oh, I love that because it shows regardless to how sinful you may have been, once you turn away from sin and come to Christ, no matter how much adultery you may have committed, no matter how many times as a sinner you had married, God looks upon that gentile who turned to Christ as having been washed, sanctified and now justified or looked upon through the eyes of God as having never committed any of that category of terrible sins of which they had been guilty. Therefore, the gentile sinner coming to Christ is totally free from his past sinful life regardless to whatever he has done.
DOUBLE MARRIAGES IN SIN
Someone will say, Oh, Brother Jackson, that no doubt is true in certain cases. God does look upon certain people’s sins (provided they are justified) as though it never happened but you see according to the way I believe it and the way I have been taught, someone who has been out in the world and lives so immoral, double married, etc., not that is a different story. God doesn’t see those adulterers, etc. in the matter as he does others. Someone please read me chapter and verse where God sees it any different. I repeat, do you now see where those church creeds enter into the picture and begin dictating or start talking to people? You have heard it said, it doesn’t matter how many banks you have robbed, God’s grace can forgive a robber. However, suppose someone said to the poor repenting robber, before you can be saved you will have to pay back every cent you ever stole. That beloved would be placing a condition on salvation, would it not? Suppose someone said to the poor drunk who had drank a barrel of whiskey in his life time, sure God can forgive you but before he does you will have to vomit up all that whiskey. True, where restitution can be made in a material way it should be done. It would help clear the conscious on the part of the individual. Yet beloved, where it is impossible to make any sort of restitution then may I say when a repenting person, regardless to what he has done, has truly repented before God and is willing to take God at his word, God is ready to take that person unto himself and clean him up. You hear testimonies of people traveling across the country who have been delivered from gangsterism, 6 drugs, alcoholism and even a life of prostitution. As far as the penalty for what they committed is concerned, not one of them had to go back and undo all those dirty wicked things which the grace of God had undone for them. But oh, when it comes to that part where some poor soul has been involved in double marriages. Watch out! Everything is now thrown in reverse. The things that church theology has produced on this one subject, the precious souls desiring to find Christ who have been injured or destroyed because of unscriptural teachings is pathetic. Perhaps you better reread that terrible list of immoral sins in which the church at Corinth had once been guilty of but was now converted from. Paul said there were believers in this church who at one time were fornicators, that is married and single people who had once lived sexually immoral. There were idolaters, adulterers, effeminate. Yes and even there were people who had also been guilty of living with their own sex. What a class to make up a church. There were also extortioners, thieves, drunkards, etc., None of these as sinners could ever inherit the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, Paul said some of these evils were found in you or to make it still plainer, these were just the kind of characters you people in the Corinthian church use to be. However, because of what the grace of God has accomplished in your life in washing, sanctifying and justifying you, you are no longer that, furthermore God doesn’t any more look upon you as ever having committed any of those terrible sins. And I remind you, fornicators and adulterers were in the group, but God doesn’t look upon you as that kind of people anymore. Living in sin and unbelief is where many married people’s lives (especially) have been trapped, tormented, wrecked and ruined by Satan while out there in the world of unbelief. Somewhere in unbelief they simply failed to reach a place of actually accepting Christ and becoming born again thus allowing the grace of God to lead that life (whether married or single). Out there in a world of sin and unbelief to often married couples become victims of divorces and double marriages then once they desire to leave that life of sin and be born again to serve Christ, they will always run into someone telling them in order to be saved they must do certain things which boils down to this. Leave your present companion and return to the first companion, which God’s word in Deut. 24:1-4 explicitly forbids for a believer much less a sinner.
GRACE FORGAVE ALL SIN
As an illustration, say a young man marries and he and his spouse, both unsaved, live together for a few years. Somewhere Satan entered that marriage and planted something detrimental which later resulted in divorce with both going their separate ways. Later in life still as sinners living in darkness they remarry and after they are well adjusted in their new marriages the day comes when one of those who was divorced (or maybe both) hear the gospel preached. The Holy Spirit convicted them of sin, and for the first time in their life they feel the real need of Jesus Christ. However, once it is discovered that one or both of these repenting sinners have previously been married, immediately they fall under the eyes of the critic. A drunkard could stagger down the aisle for salvation and wouldn’t receive half the criticism this particular case will receive. Finally, being prayed for it is evident they have taken God at his word that he has done something for their hearts. They are sure their past sins are forgiven. However, it won’t be long until the religious critics have formed a council and without any true knowledge of the word of God dealing with this subject for lost sinners on marriage and divorce, and furthermore being totally ignorant of God’s true feelings as he expressed what he did in Deut. 24:1-4 affecting that believing Israelite and not a gentile sinner, critics will begin to say now the way I see it, in order for John and Mary’s salvation to be workable and in order not to be living in adultery they will have to separate and Mary or John (whichever the case may be) will have to go back and pick up their first companion from whom they are divorced, because to these religious critics Mary and John are strictly living in adultery. Beloved, had Mary and John been true believers when their separation occurred and their divorce had been based on something other than fornication as the law of Moses prescribed to a believer and as Jesus verified in Matt. 5:27-32, 19:9 and as Paul taught the gentile believers church in I Cor. 7:10-11, they truly would be living in adultery. Nevertheless, I hope you realize that Mary and John were sinners (not true believers) when this happened. Their’s was a life of spiritual darkness and ignorance, having never experienced the grace of God, they being dead in trespasses and sins were not only guilty of committing adultery, but having offended the law in this one point as James indicated they like all sinners and law breakers were also guilty of breaking the entire 7 law, making them guilty of every commandment. (James 2:10). Having naturally broken the whole law, John and Mary stand guilty of the penalty of the law which is death and judgment. However, don’t forget Christ died to pay in full the penalty (of adultery) of the law and all past sins in behalf of John and Mary and even while in sin they did remarry, that is not anymore charged against them seeing they came as repenting sinners to Christ who died to pay the penalty for all their sins and who promised to save, sanctify and justify the two whereby he will no longer look upon Mary and John as adulterous sinners who had committed adultery anymore than he would still look upon a believer in the gentile church at Corinth as an adulterer or fornicator, etc. For recall, Paul declared unto the Corinthian church, and such were some of you but you are not that anymore. Now that you have come to Christ and been born again, you are not even looked upon as ever having committed such a terrible act. In God you now have a new life before you, your slate is wiped clean. No sin, no mark of adultery is against your new life in Christ. In Christ you have a fresh beginning. Why? Because you have been justified by the grace of God and it would be wisdom on the part of the critics not to overlook this most important fact.
GRACE COULD FORGIVE
Are you still listening? Keep in mind beloved that grace had to do something for that gentile believer which the law that ruled over the life of Jewish men and women from their natural birth could not do. What could grace offer that the law could not? The law could only condemn the Israelite who sinned. When a Jew became guilty of breaking the law, he could find no salvation, or help and no forgiveness through the law itself. Oh no, the atonement for law breaking could only come about through animal sacrifices offered yearly on the day of atonement for all the Jewish believers. Only one man, and that one man was Israel’s high priest who went into the Holy of Holies with an offering of blood unto Jehovah, Heb. 9:7. After this sin offering the guilty sinning believing Israelite could now once again for another period of time be restored back into a proper relationship with the law. However, remember also those animal sacrifices could not in themselves take away or do away with sin, instead it only served to push ahead Israel’s sins for still another year (and year after year) until Christ the Messiah would finally come and pay in full the sin debt. The yearly animal sacrifice only served, shall we say, to pay the interest on the huge note or sin debt until Christ could come and pay the debt, marking it paid in full.
TOTALLY FORGIVEN – PAID IN FULL
Since the poor sinning gentile was totally ignorant of the law, but nonetheless stood guilty of committing every sin in the book, they were hopelessly guilty (in debt) with nothing to offer in payment for their wrongdoing. Therefore, the only thing God could ever do in order to start these sinful gentiles out in a way as a true believer wherein their past sins would not be held against them was to simply forgive them. In other words, mark their slate paid in full and justify them seeing their sinful lives were so dreadfully far below the moral standard of the law that everyone stood unmercifully condemned. Therefore, there was nothing that could be done but through grace offer them a free pardon and simply declare, I forgave them and saved them from adultery as well as all those other immoral sins mentioned in I Cor. 6:9-10. Seeing the gentile’s huge debt was simply too staggering to pay and with nothing to offer, there was nothing to do with these poor gentile people but simply forgive them. Therefore, through grace God freely cancelled out their high sin debt. God’s grace, through the blood of Jesus Christ paid for that sin of every man and woman born into the family of God regardless to which of the horrible sins they had been guilty of in the list of I Cor. 6:9-10. As far as salvation was concerned God forgave them and looked upon every repenting gentile sinner who was willing to walk in his word and revelation of truth as though he had never sinned, as though they had never been guilty of doing any of those sins whatsoever.
CHRISTIAN AND LAW OF CHRIST
Remember, I said as far as salvation was concerned because when it comes to holding some office within the fivefold ministry or becoming a deacon, that is different. The man is to have had only one wife. (I Tim. 3:2-12, also Titus 1:5-6). Now that these gentiles have come to Christ for salvation, the one who died and paid for the penalty of their sins in order they might be free as gentile believers they also have become subject unto a law, even as the Jewish believer was subject to his law. The believer (both Jew and gentile) under the grace age 8 becomes subject to the law of Christ. These are not merely free from part of their past sins. No, they are now free from all their past sins. Their slate which was stained with wicked sinfulness is now clean before God. God simply forgave them of every past sin of that old life and made new creatures out of them and placed each one on the status of a righteous man or woman subject to a law also. No, the true Christian believer’s law under grace is not the Levitical covenant law of commandments given to Moses at Mt. Sinai on tables of stone (Heb. 10:16-18) but is the law of Christ written on the tables of their heart. Therefore, they who once had no law to help curb their appetite to sin openly, now has one in which they also must become subject unto.
CONTINUE IN PRESENT MARRIAGE STATUS
Bearing in mind the terrible background of the gentiles when grace came to them will better help us to grasp more clearly the fuller meaning of Paul’s statement in I Cor. 7:18-27 where he declared unto them, whatsoever status (marriage wise, etc.) you were living in when grace came unto you, abide or remain therein. In other words Paul said, were you loosed from a wife when you were saved then seek not a wife. Notice, Paul never once told any gentile converts to leave their present mate and return to their first one, as a matter of fact he told the believing Christians not to leave their mates as we shall later study. No. Were you bound to a wife when you were born again, then seek not therefore to be loosed. And never forget, with such a sinful background as these gentiles came from there is no telling how many women these heathen gentiles had lived with in their lifetime. But if you had one when saved, stay with her was Paul’s instructions. I repeat, many of these gentiles have even been living in polygamy or had in their sinful lives lived with several women as wives, however Paul says seek not to be loosed. Later we shall examine why some perhaps thought since coming into Christ they should now perhaps be loosed, especially if their companion happened to now be an unbeliever. Allow me to give you another quick example to show how contrary certain people’s thinking is toward the marvelous grace of God in this matter dealing with sinners, I was asked a question while in Africa in 1973 involving a poor sinner African girl whose life had become involved with a man and the result was an illegitimate child had been born. The man had promised to marry the girl but left her to the mercy of the world, unmarried and with an illegitimate child on the way. Nevertheless, the day came this broken hearted girl, still unmarried but scarred by the stains of sin, reached the point in her life she desired to be saved and live for Christ. The answer certain church people gave her was enough to make you sick. Their answer was totally unscriptural and pathetic, to say the least. Desiring salvation, she spoke to certain preachers or some “suppose to be Christians” telling her desire to be a Christian, the advice she received was this: she could become a christian, but she would never be able to marry. I would like for someone to read me the scripture that such a ridiculous statement of ignorance could be based upon. That poor sinner, gentile African girl was not a harlot, she had been deceived into what she did thinking as she gave herself to this man she was actually giving herself to her future husband. But the point is, he didn’t marry her, he refused.
If we were to place the case of this girl in the Old Testament let’s see if this poor young girl had done so badly as a sinner that someone could tell her, yes you may be saved, but you can never get married. I call your attention to Hosea and Gomar which we have previously studied. In the book of Hosea, you recall Hosea was a godly prophet and hat the Lord instructed him to do. Go choose a wife of whoredom and marry her. No, this terrible harlot woman was in no class with the young African girl who had been deceived into her act of sin. The woman Hosea was to marry was of a terrible character. Nevertheless, did you know God saw something honest even in that harlot woman which in the end would truly turn alright or stand. For that reason God permitted such a marriage between Hosea and Gomar to prevail in order to show forth a shadow of his personal relationship to that of his own national wife, Israel, who was nothing herself but a harlot. Beloved, if God will permit his prophet to do this and even use such an event as a type, who then is the man, whether he be a doctor of divinity or what, has the right to tell a young girl in Africa who has merely been deceived and trapped by that smooth talking devil, she could come to Christ but would have to live the rest of her life unmarried. Why it is a natural human instinct for that young girl to desire to have companionship and rightly so. Remember this, whatever the devil ha done to that young girl will never change her desire to have a companion even though she 9 gives her life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Though it is not written, should such a person of like circumstances who has given their life to the Lord, seeing now they are subject to the law of Christ they had better find themselves a Christian companion for the devil would enjoy nothing better than wrecking that life all over again once it had a clean slate with Christ. We bring out such incidents to show only that many people without scriptural permission (no doubt well meaning) are guilty of placing certain unscriptural requirements upon people who are involved in such problems once they turn Christ, especially those who had their marital life fouled up while in the world of sin and unbelief. If the poor soul is a drunkard, they don’t care. If he is a bank robber, they don’t care. Nothing is ever said about paying back one penny. Oh sure, God can forgive all of that they say, but let it be a poor woman or man who comes to Christ with marital problems and certain people have to start making an issue out of that. What a terrible thing to tell people who have been divorced and reestablished homes in other marriages. Perhaps children have now been born to this second marriage and then for someone to say you can not accept Jesus Christ unless you leave that man or woman (whichever the case may be) and return to your first companion from whom you are divorced and who, no doubt, has remarried and established a family also, for someone to say this, is ridiculous.
CHILDREN AFFECTED BY DIVORCE
If you break up that home what will you do with all those children? There are already enough children in this world who don’t have the slightest idea who mother and daddy are. Statistics released recently showed in 1972 alone over 800,000 couples in America were divorced, whereas in 1973 and estimated 913,000 ended indeed in divorce, a figure which doubled from nine years ago. Think of the countless children roaming the streets today who are products of a broken, divided home, having no idea where mother or daddy have gone. Studies who 60 percent of all children affected by divorce range between 13-18 years of age and have the dreaded feeling that their marriage will also fail as did their parents.
PROOF GENTILE SPIRIT RETURNING
Statistics showed 3 percent of these marriages between the ages of 50-55, accomplished by 1970 had been married as many as three times. No doubt about it, ours is a gentile world rapidly returning to the same old spirit of the age which ruled the world some 1900 years ago before Christ came to the gentiles. Should God permit time to continue another 15 years only the Lord knows the kind of morals that generation of young people would produce. It is nothing today to pick up a newspaper and read, as was reported by the Indiana University Residence Life Office that by 1971 as much as 75 percent of the 315 U.S. colleges already had some form of coeducational dormitories in operation which simply means college boys and girls moving in as roommates. It was further stated of the Harvard swimming pool that those who desire to wear bathing suits should swim during scheduled hours to avoid the nude coed swimmers. McCall Magazine recently published startling statistics showing 50 percent of American teenagers between 13-19 years of age are engaging in premarital sexual activity. The Sunday Oklahomian declared America is undergoing a sexual revolution. Four years ago, 2 out of 3 Americans polled on the subject felt premarital sex was wrong; however, a recent Gallup Poll revealed less than half now believe premarital sex is wrong. Church ministers, contrary to the scripture in Rom. 1:26-32 and I Cor. 6:9 which shows sins gentiles were guilty of before grace came, continues to endorse homosexuality. Two liberal religious magazines, Christian Century and Christian Ministry, dated Jan. 1972, both defended homosexuality saying it was not a sin. A poll taken by Texas Methodist on the subject of acceptability toward homosexual behavior, 60 percent of clergymen responded by saying that a practicing homosexual could also be a Christian at the same time. Does not these shocking statistics show loose flesh in the raw, exactly as flesh was in the raw among gentiles before the gospel f Christ came to them. Ours is a gentile world rapidly returning to that same kind of loose living spirit. It only goes to show beloved, the days among the gentiles are numbered and the Holy Spirit conviction is leaving the gentile. These same old evil lustful spirits which possessed the gentiles lives 1900 years ago are moving back in to occupy the place they previously occupied. While the Holy Spirit worked mightily among the gentiles there was even enough conviction in our high schools and colleges as well as our courts of the land to keep these loose, lustful spirits suppressed, even though occasionally they had been known to rear their ugly heads, only in that hour there was 10 still enough moral conviction even among the unsaved to forbid such activities to continue.
MARITAL PROBLEMS OF BELIEVERS UNDER GRACE DISCUSSED
Remember, Paul is addressing the Corinthian people and all the gentile churches as well who had once been guilty of those terrible sins, a number of which involved adultery and other perversions of sexual immorality. However, all of you who were once guilty of any such sins had been freely forgiven and therefore should remain marriage wise as you are.
SEXUAL PROBLEMS WITH BELIEVERS
In I Cor. 7 we shall see Paul begin to answer certain marital questions that have become a serious problem to these new believers especially in this 4 year old Corinthian church, marital problems they now face since coming into Christ and becoming subject to the new law; The law of Christ. What to do about unbelieving partners in marriage who simply refuse to be saved is one of the major problems. They simply don’t have the answer to cover such problems, therefore they are writing to Paul (their first pastor) asking him how they should handle certain situations. Although you will read statements in chapter 7 which at first glance might cause a person to believe Paul actually frowned upon married life; however, this is not true seeing in Heb. 13:4 he declared marriage to be honorable (or to be looked upon as honorable) and the bed undefiled but whoremongers and adulterers God would judge. No, had Paul simply been a man opposed to marriage placing far more virtue simply on virginity as some have taught saying Paul implied anyone who would marry in order to avoid fornication was strictly because of the weakness of their flesh, however, we shall show this was not what Paul taught and furthermore, whenever Paul does simply place higher emphasis upon virginity than he did marriage it was strictly for two reasons: (1) He, as well as the early church, felt time was very near the coming of Christ and (2) because of the present distress the church was entering into, Paul thought this good advice to pass on. These two factors must be kept in mind and not that Paul felt one who married was weak in the flesh throughout the remainder of the study whenever it seems Paul is implying that the unmarried (unattached) are better off than the married there in the church. Had Paul been a man who actually frowned on family life he could not have declared openly in Heb. 13:4 marriage was honorable and the bed undefiled, meaning the marriage bed unpolluted or is pure and sacred, free from stain, but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge, meaning fornicators and adulterers or those who practice vice in adultery or shall we say those who sinned sexually, whether single or married, whether single or married, God will surely punish. If a man or woman continually lives in that realm of wicked immoral living as sinners, never seeking the face of God to be saved and cleansed in order that they might be justified then God will surely judge and punish that guilty sinner with hell fire and brimstone. Paul taught in I Cor. 6:9-11 fornicators, adulterers, etc. could not inherit the kingdom of God.
TOUCHING THE WOMAN
We now approach some marital problems confronting the church, problems involving both the unattached as well as the married. Paul’s answer stems from certain disturbing questions asked him as declared in verse 1 now concerning certain things you asked about, it is good for man not to (sexually) touch a woman. (1) This is more than a mere normal touch. The word touch implies that passionate touch which leads to relationship between two parties. (2) Often in the Hebrew text, touching is at times used to represent sexual union, Gen. 3:3, Prov. 6:29, Gen. 20:6-7. Why do you suppose Paul would declare such a statement seeing in Heb. 13:4 years later he declared marriage was an honorable thing and the marriage bed unstained. Remember, his remarks in I Cor. 7 stemmed from two things: first, his feeling concerning the nearness of the Lord’s coming and secondly the present distress into which they were entering. Paul simply did not think it wisdom to become involved in the material and financial responsibility which accompanied marriage in that hour. If a person could possibly avoid this step and remain unattached, Paul felt he was better off, many mental pressures would be avoided. Paul, therefore, declared it is good for a man not to (sexually) touch a woman. Surely all would agree there. All of Paul’s statements on this subject must be placed in order and proper alignment to see Paul was perfectly consistent in his belief pertaining to the subject. No, Paul cannot place spiritual value on one 11 thing there and reverse it over in Heb. 13:4. Remember, merely being single will never produce virtue, as a matter of fact, single persons, if not extremely careful, can become selfish and self-centered. One thing a home life consists of is having to give and take. In marriage your life becomes a part of others. Therefore, you share your life with others.
MARRIAGE PREVENTS FORNICATION
Remember, you don’t complete Paul’s line of thought by merely reading verse 1, his next four verses are included in that particular line of thought which paraphrased means. It is good for a man not to sexually touch a woman; nevertheless, to avoid that dreaded sin of fornication (which is the only grounds for divorce) Paul says let every person have their own (married) companion and render unto that companion what is sexually due then and defraud not yourself from this act only when it is agreeable and permissible with both of you to do so, in order that you may give yourself to prayer and fasting and then resume relations as before in order Satan won’t tempt you in your fleshly passions to sin (commit fornication) or tempt you through your lack of self control. Paul declares to the husband and wife to come together again that Satan tempt you not to sin (that is to commit fornication). That is paraphrasing the first five verses of I Cor. 7.
WHAT FORNICATION INVOLVES
The English word fornication is taken from the Greek word porneia where also we derive another English word, pornography (illicit pictures or writings). Two translations, 20th Century and Amplified, both use the word “impurity” instead of fornication. Scripturally the Greek word “porneia” means to prostitute one’s body to the lust of another or to give oneself to unlawful sexual intercourse. Fornication, as found in I Cor. 7:2, is a word which involves far more than merely sound advice to the unmarried because scripturally it means strictly immoral sexual relations, either with someone of the opposite sex other than one’s own mate or someone of the same sex, covering sexual sins and all kinds of gross immorality, whether natural or unnatural (perverted). Jude 1:7 declares God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them who had given themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh. The Greek word “porneia” also refers to all kinds of gross immorality or lewd conduct such as one might find in a house of prostitution. The Bible covers it all in the ten commandments by saying, thou shalt not commit adultery. What is adultery? It is simply the right act perverted. I Cor. 6:18 declares one who commits fornication sins against their own body. Flee fornication, the word cries out in I Cor. 6:18. The church which ruled through the dark ages referred to as Thyatira was instructed to repent of her spiritual fornication and because she would not repent of her fornication God declared he would cast her into a bed along with (all) them who had committed adultery with her into great tribulation, Rev. 2:20-22. Here again shows the interlocking affect of the word fornication with that of adultery. Seeing we are warned to flee fornication in I Cor. 6:18 where Paul actually began discussing fornication, Paul in chapter 7 tells us how and by the way, he is the only writer who actually tells us how to avoid this immoral act of fornication. Recall, in Israel it was the only grounds for legal divorce which also freed the guilty woman, permitting her to remarry and not be guilty of adultery herself. Here in I Cor. 7:2 Paul, answering their question, declares it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid the sin of fornication or sexual immorality, let both the man and woman have their own mate. Remember, all the people, both Jew and gentile, coming into the Corinthian church now approximately 4½ years old were not all married. Since having entered the faith, from what Paul says, some believers were no having problems with their unbelieving companions. Some in the church were widows. Every question discussed by Paul in I Cor. 7 pertains to one of these three groups. Some were even searching for Christian companionship and Paul, knowing the many temptations Satan could throw at the young adult, resulted in him making his blunt statement recorded in verse 2. Nevertheless, Paul declares, to avoid fornication or to avoid those trials and may temptations of sexual immoralities which would surely confront those young people, especially approaching adulthood, the apostle says, to avoid that trap of fornication let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband.
VENUS, GODDESS OF LOVE
What a great temptation this immoral living was in the days of old Corinth. I stood in the ruins of old Corinth 12 in 1968 where Paul had established and pastored for 1½ years this very church. High on a mountain peak above old Corinth, approximately five miles away on a rocky cliff, stands the remains of the walls of an ancient temple dating far back into the B.C. period. That magnificent religious temple was called the temple of Venus, the goddess of love. In the hour the Corinthian church was establishes, as many as 1,000 young maidens lived there who were called priestesses to Venus, the goddess of love. Corinth, a beehive of activity, was a seaport town, much like Los Angeles, Norfolk, Virginia or New York. The harbor was continually watched to know when ships would come into her port bringing merchandise from different nations. These priestesses knew Corinth would be full of young sailors. The method of maintaining the expense of upkeep of this great religious temple of Venus, along with the needs of these young priestesses (as many as 1,000) being supplied was, they would come down from the temple into the streets and approach these young men to make love or to worship the goddess, Venus. Naturally, this love making to Venus brought about a certain charge and the price paid was placed in the treasury to beautify, enlarge and the general upkeep. Corinth, in al probability was a city built most around such immorality, therefore you see why Paul would write to the church such a statement; nevertheless, to avoid fornication (this sexual immorality) this church no doubt was receiving many young people who sooner or later would definitely be brought in contact and tempted with this great evil. To prevent any temptation of this immoral act Paul suggested every man have his own wife and every woman have her own husband. For what purposes, as Paul declares, to avoid this temptation of fornication. No, it doesn’t change the thought of his subject. You can’t make one verse read, he is discussing washing clothes while in the next verse declare he is ironing them. The man was to have his own wife and the wife was to have her own husband, Paul said to avoid fornication. Bear this in mind, marriage prevents fornication.
COUPLE FACE EQUAL RESPONSIBILITY
Please observe from here on we shall be hearing some things uttered never before heard as Paul addresses the gentile church. Furthermore, Paul will be placing the man and woman both on the same equal grounds or basis concerning the matters he is ready to discuss. When Paul mentions one, he will also mention the other. Therefore, we must recognize the grace dispensation has certainly done something for mankind which the law could never do. With the ushering in of the grace age, certain shadows and types of the law dealing with the relationship between man and woman vanished. Verse 3, referring to those sexual duties each toward the other, Paul declares, let the husband in return render or shall we say give to the wife what is due her. Why should this be done? To avoid the affects of verse 2 or avoid the danger of immorality. Render unto each other what you should since there is so much immorality. And the wife too must do so for her husband. King James calls it rendering due benevolence. Note, in this manner of giving themselves in these sexual duties, one to the other, Paul has placed equal responsibility on both sexes, you will have to agree, in order to avoid fornication. Allow me to illustrate this way, Paul was making no difference between the two sexes as he openly discusses both their roles in the sex act. No, Paul is not saying in verse 3 the husband should wash the clothes and in turn the wife should fry the potatoes. I word it in this manner to keep your minds alert to that which Paul has begun to discuss in the first part of the chapter. He will continue discussing that one subject of how to avoid this loose living. This immorality, this fornication until he completely closes the 7th chapter.
VERSE 2 – KEY TO CHAPTER
Another reason I must keep this thought ever before you is because once we reach I Cor. 7:15 I don’t want anyone to become guilty of merely setting aside this one verse from the overall subject Paul has been discussing throughout the entire chapter. Beloved, the theme or thought of all these verses must be kept together and the key word must be kept as the foremost in mind. Paul is teaching, through marriage, how each of these various groups, single married and widows there in the church is to avoid fornication or sexual immorality. Therefore, as he addresses these groups separately in the church in I Cor. 7, the forefront thought, or key words whereupon all the rest of the chapter hinges is to avoid fornication. Whatever Paul says to any of these classifications of groups in this manner or taking a mate will be for the purpose to avoid fornication.
SEXUAL DUTIES AVOID IMMORALITY
As we continue in verse 4, bear in mind what it is we are trying to avoid through marriage, the effects of 13 fornication. Again I remind you, Paul has placed the woman as well as the man on the same equal footing when he declares the wife hath not power (or authority) of (over) her own body, but her husband. Likewise also, the husband hath not power (authority over) his own body but the wife. The Williams translation, which by no means changes the meaning says, the wife does not have the right to do as she pleases with her own body. The husband has his right to her. In the same way the husband does not have the right to do as he pleases with his body, the wife has her right to it. Why? To avoid this prevalent immorality. Verse 5, You husbands and wives must stop refusing (implied) each other what is due unless you agree to do so just for a while so as to have plenty of time for prayer and fasting and then to be together again so as to keep Satan from tempting you because of your lack of self control or as the Moffitt translation reads, less through your lack of self control Satan begin to tempt you to sin. Bear in mind Paul’s purpose for each group he addresses in having their own mate was to avoid fornication (verse 2).
That marriage must not be a life of selfishness is easily analyzed from Paul ‘s statement in verse 5 when he declares to both sexes to defraud not the other in that of the marital sexual relationship. Don’t cheat yourself out of that role which keeps immorality away from the door of your marriage. No doubt because couples reach that point where there is no affectionate love in their relationship accounts for so much of the cheating on each other which leads to divorce. It is a marital guideline to avoid sexual immorality for saints only to keep them in the will of God and not become guilty by neither thought or deed of fornication, uncleanness or open prostitution, Matt. 5:27.
PROPER GIFT TO REFRAIN
Verse 7 already having stated what to do to avoid fornication because Paul is fully aware that all Christians within the body of Christ simply to not possess his (Paul’s) kind of gift to restrain in this manner as he (Paul) has graciously received from God we hear him say in verse 7, I would that all men were even as I myself. (But Paul was fully aware they were not) And because they were not was the reason he told them to get married. Still pertaining to that of the sexual realm Paul continues by saying, nevertheless every man hath his (own) proper or natural God given gift (in this manner) meaning God placed within man’s physical makeup at the beginning of creation this gift. Paul says every one has their normal proper gift, one after this manner and another after that. Therefore, we note in the discussion of verse 7 this desire is a proper, normal gift which relates to our discussion and that it was placed in the human physical makeup, nevertheless it must be closely guarded against until marriage. You see, it could lead to fornication.
ADVICE TO UNMARRIED & WIDOWS
In verse 8 we begin to witness Paul addressing the individual classification of believers within the gentile church facing this problem. First group to be addressed of the born again is the unmarried and widows within the family of God. To the unmarried and widows, Paul declares, it is good for them if they abide (unattached or unmarried), even as I but if they cannot contain (if they cannot practice self control, cannot restrain and control their passions themselves) if you can’t, then by all means get married. For it is better to marry than to burn (that is to be aflame or consumed with passion). Better still, the Phillips translation declares it is better for them (the unmarried and widows) to be married than to be tormented by unsatisfied desires. Weymouth translation, for marriage is better than the fever of passion. Every translation consulted appears to be using clearer words to that of the original Greek text than dos the 16th Century King James Version. The wording of the King James Version has led many people to believe Paul was actually saying it is better to marry than to burn in hell. This is not his meaning whatsoever. The word “burn” does no imply burn with literal hell fire, instead he discusses burning with an excitable passion which truly can be excited, be aflame and burn in lust which can lead to fornication in thought and deed. Therefore, we hear Paul’s instruction to his first group of believers, the unmarried and widows, to avoid fornication let each man have his own (lifetime) wife and let the wife have her own (lifetime) husband and let each render unto the other what is to them to avoid the effects of verse 2. You see, if they at times were overcome with burning passion or lust they might easily become guilty of fornication. Getting married was the route to avoid fornication and I repeat should be done if the individual personally felt 14 they should. Paul has not declared everyone would have to, because no doubt some would possess a God given gift or ability similar to Paul’s in this manner. However, Paul knew everyone did not possess this ability therefore to the unmarried and widows within the church who feel they cannot restrain has received Paul’s instructions to marry. Paul’s only concern in anyone remaining unattached (provided they could avoid the effects of verse 2) was simply to be free from all those extra added anxieties and worries such as grocery bills, doctor bills, bank notes, etc., which certainly accompanies marriage life. I repeat, remaining unattached was not the only way of life Paul was exhorting.
ADVICE TO THE MARRIED
Paul continues on to the next group, the married. Remember, he is sticking right to the point of the questions asked him and his purpose through marriage is to show each group how to avoid fornication or sinful immorality which was prevalent among the carefree gentiles of that day. Having spoken rather bluntly, Paul moves onto this next special case of believer, the married people. Well, what seems to be their problem? They had several.
(1) BELIEVER (HUSBAND & WIFE) NOT TO SEPARATE
Therefore, beginning in verse 10 we hear Paul giving scriptural instructions now unto the married groups is where both partners are believers. Please note, these instructions to the 2nd class is not Paul’s, it is the Lord giving the instructions, showing beloved, Paul never changed what Jesus had already stated to the believers there in Israel Matt. 5:32, 19:9 watch, Paul is about to address two married people, both believers in the church. The man is a christian and so is the woman but apparently for some reason are having marital problems and Paul says it is not I who is about to give you this advice. No sir, it is the Lord and the advice affects the two believing partners. A wife (who is a believer) Paul says, according to the Lord’s word is not to leave her believing husband. However, if she does leave her christian husband, she must remain single or better still be reconciled back to her husband. The Lord’s instructions to this believing husband is not to divorce his believing wife. How could he, seeing there is no legal grounds. I ask you, why should two believing revelated people, both in the same church or body of Christ not be able to prayerfully settle any of their differences? If both believing parties are willing to submit to Christ allowing him to be their first love in their life, there is simply no problem too great that Christ cannot work out, provided both believers have submitted to his will. But regardless whether you let Christ work out your difficulties or not, you are believers and therefore the Lord says no remarriage for you. Now note, Paul’s first advice given here is to the married husband and wife who both are believers, walking in the light of God’s word, therefore without the only ground to separate you stay together to avoid fornication. Matt. 5 & 19. It is very important you understand this special married case which Paul first addresses is not a case where an unbelieving mate is involved whatsoever, both are believers and therefore this is the word. If the wife does depart from her believing husband, she can never remarry, she must remain unattached for the rest of her life. Therefore, in order for her to avoid the effects of verse 2, she should be reconciled back to her husband. Who gave this order, the Lord. Paul next instructs the believing husband and husband don’t you divorce that wife. You are both suppose to be Christians and you certainly don’t have the grounds to do such a thing because how can fornication, the only grounds available for divorce, be involved in a true christian, Holy Ghost marriage? Recall, there has never been but one ground whereby a believing couple could possibly be divorced under the law. To simply not be able to get along is no grounds for divorce when two revelated, believing Christians are involved.
UNTO THE REST – VERSE 12
Note verse 12, but to the rest of the people (those who have not been addressed before, a different class). That advice of the Lord dealt with the believing mates in the church. Now don’t get these classifications confused. Unto the rest of the people in the church I myself would say though the Lord himself had nothing to say concerning it.
(2) BELIEVER & UNBELIEVER NOT TO SEPARATE
The following things Paul mentions concerns where a believing mate (man or woman) is involved or joined to an unbelieving companion. Here beloved we are about to see Paul who has already stated the Lord didn’t 15 mention anything in his statements concerning this next case, seeing the Lord gave advise strictly to believing men and women of Israel and thus had no cause to bring in such a case as will be implied in verse 15. Thus, Paul steps out on sheer revelation and says something that the Lord nor Moses had any cause to say seeing God dealt with Israel as a nation of believers from birth subject to the law. Nevertheless, Paul as a Jewish apostle, assigned to the gentiles by the Holy Spirit is authorized to say the following. Paul is the man who set the gentile church in order in all its belief and doctrinal practices. I remind you again, only under the grace dispensation could you ever have a married couple involved such as are involved here where one was an unbeliever. Therefore, I repeat again as it is most important that what Paul is about to say in verse 15 has absolutely nothing to do with a believing husband and believing wife, walking in the same revelation of truth as was being presented in the early church under the fivefold ministry of Eph. 4:11.
UNBELIEVERS UNDER GRACE
And now Paul’s instructions regarding a companion. This meant one partner in marriage was a believer, walking in the revelation of truth and attended the Corinthian church while no doubt the other mate was still caught up in some dark, pagan religion or philosophy. In the day the gentiles were coming into the grace age program, you must realize the church was being made up of some Jews who were departing from their old synagogues teaching of the law dispensation as well as gentile pagans who were leaving pagan temple worship coming over into Christianity. However, so often both companions did not come into the new faith and this created real problems in the home. The law of Moses controlled the marital life of both the Jewish man and woman. Therefore I repeat, being born an Israelite automatically classified one as a believer under that law. Not so in the grace age for so often even as it is today, the two (gentiles) having early entered a marriage vow while living in sin and unbelief, both partners did not enter the faith thus proving quite a burden on the believer. A divided home where Christ rules one heart and Satan rules the other so often through some false religion can become a heartbreaking burdensome problem. Many homes have even broken up over this one factor. How marvelous it is when both the husband and wife can affectionately live together without any reservations whatsoever, then that marriage should be one of real love, true happiness, peace and contentment as God intended and not in constant division, strife and turmoil as is so often the case.
UNBELIEVER MAY REMAIN
Here is where an unbeliever enters the picture who has been sharing their life with a believer. Yes, here is where God will permit Paul to give a revelation to the gentile church in this matter as he did grant Moses the permission, by revelation, to resent Israel with what he did in Deut. 24:1-4. Paul is granted by divine authority of his office to make the following statement which shall affect only the one case where a believing partner is involved with an unbelieving companion, seeing they are joined together in marriage. Here was Paul’s advice, advice that had never been stated in the history of the world (seeing Israel had no cause for such advice). If the christian man hath an unbelieving wife and she be pleased to dwell with him, in other words if the two partners are not having any special marital difficulties, she actually loves him and other than the fact she can’t understand the odd belief he is in, everything else is fine and she, the unbeliever is so pleased to dwell with him, willing to live with him fulfilling her role as a wife (that he may avoid immorality), by no means should the believing man divorce or put away his wife. Why? Because she is willing to live with him and be his partner to avoid the effects of verse 2. Or the believing wife who has the unbelieving husband, Paul says, if he be pleased to dwell with her and is willing to fulfill her needs as should be in a marriage, do not leave him. Note, allowing them to stay applies to both the man or woman who is the believer. In other words, if your unbelieving mate is pleased to remain with you, let them stay is Paul’s instructions.
FEAR GOD IS DISPLEASED
Verse 14. It appears here that the gentile believer or perhaps it may have been more so the Jewish believer in the church at Corinth, realizing his background, would have been more affected by this than a gentile’s before the Jew left Judaism for Christianity. Under law what is quoted in verse 14 would have truly been something to be concerned over. It appears in verse 14 that the believer, whether Jew or gentile (perhaps both) had the feeling that perhaps because they were united with an unbeliever that their marriage union bringing forth 16 children into the world would not be looked upon by the almighty as being holy or blessed. In other words, the believer feared God might frown upon their offspring produced through a marriage with an unbeliever. Now you will understand the reason I said perhaps this affected Jewish Christians more so than gentiles for under law and under the true Old Testament setting God would have frowned at such a marriage involving a believer with an unbeliever. We saw ane example of this when the believing Jew returned from Babylon, after 70 years of captivity, and had to put away all their strange, unbelieving gentile wives acquired in Babylon. You see, God wouldn’t bless such a relationship of a believer under law with that of an unbeliever who worshipped other gods. God looked upon such a relationship of a believer united with an unbeliever (gentile) as an open act of fornication.
Examining this more closely, we see some had this feeling in the Corinthian church that their sexual union with an unbeliever might now result in the same, as God might not accept such a relationship in marriage with that of an unbeliever seeing they had entered the faith. But Paul said don’t fret over that, don’t give that a second thought. If that unbelieving mate is pleased to stay with you then let them remain and here is why, because under your grace dispensation the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the marriage relation by the dedicated wife or as Goodspeed translation of verse 14 says, for the husband who is not a believer is consecrated through that union with his wife. Vice versa, the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband in that of their sexual union. As I stated, had such a thing occurred under law there would be reason for great concern; however, this is not law, but grace and under grace there may be cases where believers and unbelievers are united in marriage) because to be in God’s family one must be born again. Therefore, God assures the believer not to fret concerning their union wherein children are born, for their children are not unholy or unblessed in his sight. He does not look upon their relationship as one of open fornication against him as he did a believing Israelite from birth who deliberately violated the open command of God’s word which declared they should not take an unbelieving gentile unto themselves in marriage, nor give their children unto gentiles in marriage. All Israelites were affected by this law. That is why those believing Jews during that stirring revival in the word in Nehemiah and Ezra’s day had to rid themselves of all those gentile wives they acquired while in Babylon. The Levites as well as the Jews looked upon this situation that their children from this kind of union with unbelievers would surely be unblessed. With that kind of relationship in mind the Jewish apostle assured the believer under grace this was no threat to him. God would accept their marriage and not look upon it as a relation of open fornication as perhaps some in Corinth thought. Recall, the gentile church in that hour was made up of both jew and gentile and the marriage union of the believer and unbeliever is set apart for the glory of God.
(3) WHEN UNBELIEVER DEPARTS
However, I now call your attention to Paul’s following statement found in verse 15 where we shall examine Paul’s revelation to the church concerning what the believer could do provided the unbeliever chose not to remain with the believer. And remember this advice applies to no other group. It discusses what to do provided the unbeliever decides not to stay as Paul had declared earlier they could stay if they so chose. However, the unbeliever is going to depart, leaving the true believer stranded and totally undefended against the evil effects of verse 2. Remember, it was through a revelated message that brought about this family division in the first place, as one was a true believer in the message while the other was not. Paul says in verse 15 if the unbeliever (man or woman) depart, let them depart. In other words if the unbeliever departs on their own and forsakes their marriage, let the separation stand.
NOT TIED TO MARRIAGE
A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases. Or as Moffitt translation reads, not tied to that marriage. Paul said it, are you able to accept it. See, it is strictly a revelation from the office of the Apostle Paul, given by the Holy Spirit seeing the Lord had spoken nothing in the gospels concerning this case while dealing with believing Israel under the law He had no cause to speak along this line (seeing both husband and wife in Israel were considered believers). It is what can be done only in this one particular case where the unbeliever leaves 17 the believer. I repeat, we are not dealing with two believing Christians, here as in verses 10-11 because in that case the man and woman both were considered believers, we saw what the Lord himself told them to do. Verse 15 deals strictly with a believer and as unbeliever tied in marital bonds.
UNBELIEVER NOT TO BE RUN OFF
First Paul declared in verse 13 if the unbeliever was pleased to stay, let them remain. However, here in verse 15, if the unbeliever does not choose to stay but decides to depart let them depart. Understand you are not to run them off because if they choose to stay, let them stay, but if the unbeliever departs, let them depart. It is the unbeliever and not the believer who is dissatisfied now with the marital arrangement, no longer desiring to remain with the true believer. Therefore, when the unbeliever decides to depart, Paul says to the true believer, let the unbeliever depart. Remember, Paul didn’t say for you to run the unbeliever off. No, that won’t work for God knows the heart, but rather let them on their own accord or free will depart, let the unbeliever bring about the marital separation. And if they do, Paul says, don’t you try to hold on to the unbeliever because in such a case as this only, let the unbeliever depart for a brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases, or as Moffitt translation says, in such cases the Christian brother or sister is not tied to marriage, Lamsa translation records, but if the one who is not a convert wishes to separate, let him depart. In such cases a converted man or woman is free. For God has called us to live in peace. Williams translation of verse 15 reads, but if the unbelieving actually leaves let the separation stand. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not morally bound, God has called us to live in peace.
Now may I ask you a question? What is this innocent believer who has been left stranded going to do to avoid the effects of immorality found in verse 2 when Paul has declared that the purpose of marriage was to avoid this immorality? Verse 2 bluntly declares, to avoid fornication let the Christian man have his own wife and vice versa. Why? To avoid immorality or fornication of course. Yet, I ask you if the unbeliever chooses to depart, as Paul says, and Paul informs the believer to let them depart, what on earth will the believer do to avoid or escape the effects of immorality found in verse 2? Paul told the unmarried and widows in verses 9-10 what they had better do if they saw they could not control or restrain their passion, better to marry than to burn in that passion or lust seeing it could lead to immorality. Marriage was the route given to avoid the possibility of fornication. Verses 10-11 declared how the two believers in marriage would avoid fornication and even if the wife departed she couldn’t marry again, but she could return to her husband which would be far better. That would be their way out of the effects of verse 2.
Verses 12-14 showed the converted believer is not to put away the unbeliever if they desired to stay which showed how the believer would escape the effects of verse 2. However, once people reach verse 15, they simply become stumped. Suddenly, their revelation goes blank. I realize when I make this statement, I shall become an open target for attack. Nevertheless, I ask you if Paul was so interested and concerned in Christians in each case having their own companions in order to avoid the immorality or fornication, why is it when we reach verse 15, everyone wants to forsake this helpless case where an innocent believer, who I remind you has done nothing other than become a Christian, that is all they did to injure their marriage. One partner accepted Christ while the other refused. Why then do people want to take this one helpless case where an unbeliever left home, separating themselves from the true believer and merely hang this pathetic case out to blow any direction in the wind. Beloved, you can’t forsake this helpless case, leaving it with no protection against the possibility of immorality of verse 2. Remember, verse 2 was the key in every case and here Paul told the believer to let the unbeliever depart.
BELIEVER MAY REMARRY
Now what can be done to avoid the effects of verse 2 in the believer’s life? Remember, this advice is only applicable where the unbeliever does the departing, because spiritual wise the unbeliever is not under God’s control seeing God is not the God of the dead but of the spiritual living. That unbeliever is dead in trespasses and sin, although wasn’t it wonderful that God was willing to look upon that marriage provided the unbeliever 18 chose to stay as a marriage being blessed or set apart in his sight. If the unbeliever chooses to depart rather than stay married to the believer Paul says, the brother or sister (note Paul said sister also) is certainly not under bondage in such cases. The word bondage means far more than mere social bondage. Paul is speaking concerning that marital bondage between the believer and that unbeliever. The unbeliever, who is already Godless will no doubt remarry, but what about the true believer who is left helplessly stranded. Beloved, if you say the believer who may either be a brother or sister cannot remarry, how then will they possibly avoid the effects of verse 2 which Paul has been discussing. No, beloved when Paul reaches verses 15-16, he has by no means changed his line of thought, nor has he run out of revelation. He still continues even here in these verses to discuss how each group in that church was going to avoid the effects of verse 2. Once he reaches verses 15- 16, he doesn’t switch to another thought which would simply mean well, I am sorry. I just don’t know what the poor stranded believer whose mate has departed is going to do to avoid the effects of verse 2. I am truly sorry.
It is very simple. Paul in this one case and in this one case only says the believer is free and in order to avoid the effects of immorality the believer who was made a victim of marital circumstance is now granted through Holy Ghost inspiration, the only grounds other than immorality or fornication which, I repeat, applies only where a believer has been left stranded when the unbeliever walks away from the marriage. That stranded believer, if they deem it necessary to have another companion to avoid the effects of verse 2, may feel free to choose companionship with another although this companion cannot be an unbeliever but must be one in the revelated word of God.
STRANDED BELIEVERS ANSWER
Therefore, we see Paul’s revelation for the grace age believer, whether Jew or gentile applies to this deserted innocent believer whether brother or sister, in order to avoid the effects of verse 2, if they do deem it necessary may feel free to choose a revelated believer for Christian companionship. No beloved, God simply will not leave the innocent believer (whether brother or sister) a victim of marital circumstance. God won’t leave that honest hearted believer to the mercy of falling into immorality; therefore, the deserted believer may feel free to choose companionship, only in the Lord.
VICTIM OF MARITAL CIRCUMSTANCE
I remind you in Deut. 24:1-4 under the law God would not even permit the guilty Israelite woman guilty of committing at least one or more open acts of prostitution or fornication to be made a victim of marital circumstance when her Israelite husband, because of the hardness of his heart, divorced her. No, God would not make her a victim of circumstance seeing he permitted the guilty who man to go be another man’s wife. How then beloved, can you possibly tie the hands, spiritually speaking, of a poor innocent believing woman under grace, a woman who I remind you was not guilty of immorality, who did not commit one act of indecency and who certainly never gave her unbelieving companion any cause to divorce her. The unbeliever simply didn’t want to be tied down any longer to anything like this. Therefore, he simply leaves his believing wife stranded and helpless against the effects of verse 2 (in thought or deed). If you say this poor soul can never remarry, you have left her helpless and without a single defense against the effects of verse 2. And I repeat, God will not make any helpless, innocent believer a victim of marital circumstance.
NOT COMPELLED TO REMARRY
No, the believing woman is not at liberty to divorce her unbelieving husband seeing she is a type of the church and the church could never divorce Christ. But when he leaves her and when he divorces her for someone more his kind she has been set free. She is then set at liberty by his actions to marry again, only this time to avoid the same trouble she must marry a true believer in the Lord. If you say the woman is in adultery if she remarries then out of all these other cases Paul discusses in I Cor. 7, this is the only case Paul could not give an answer when it came to showing how this particular helpless innocent case will avoid the effects of immorality in thought or deed in days to come. But thank God Paul did have an answer, he had a revelation that would affect this case and if you say she can’t remarry under grace you would be saying that God had been far more lenient to a guilty, adulterous woman in Deut. 24, giving her far more liberty under law than he would be granting to 19 this helpless, innocent believer, stranded in a world of immorality or a believer simply caught up in this situation having become a victim of circumstance when her unbelieving mate departed leaving her stranded. I repeat, God would be far more lenient to a guilty adulterous woman in Deut. 24 than he would be to this helpless woman in I Cor. 7:15 if he would not allow her to remarry.
HARLOT WOMAN COULD REMARRY
Recall in the Garden in (Gen. 2) God joined man and woman together and said, what I have joined together let no man put asunder or tear apart. However, several thousand years later God did permit Moses to grant to Israel’s men through the law age on legal grounds for a written bill or divorcement to put away a wife, unfaithfulness, open prostitution or fornication. All these imply the same. The woman had simply no grounds for divorce. Therefore, seeing women could not divorce Jesus, speaking to believing Israel said in Matthew, chapters 5 and 19, the believing man who divorced his wife except it be on the grounds of fornication and married another committed adultery and caused that divorced wife to do the same when she remarried. That was true with Israel, they were believers from birth and knew these things were wrong. Recall, they had Moses’ teaching. Therefore, we see divorce permitted on this one scriptural grounds which you recall always freed the guilty wife.
PERMITTING HER TO REMARRY
That beloved, is why I have stressed it in this manner all the way through, for remember Moses did not declare in Duet. 24 that the husband who found some uncleanness or open prostitution in his wife had to put her away. Oh no, by no means did he have to put her away. He could do so if he so chose, seeing that he found it impossible in his heart to forgive her for what she did. It was because of the hardness of his heart he put her away, it was because of his unforgiving spirit. Therefore, God knowing there would be nothing but trouble in this home over this thing, instructed Moses to allow this believing Israelite who was subject to the law as a believer from birth to put away his wife legally by giving her a piece of paper which plainly stated this marriage is over, my wife played the harlot. It was an open, valid document to the public stating he had separated himself from this woman because of uncleanness or open prostitution. Therefore, I am no longer obligated to her physically, materially or maritally. I separate from her because of her disloyalty and unfaithfulness to me. And remember the guilty woman could remarry and not be living in adultery. Divorce on any grounds other than that one thing would certainly be open adultery.
BIBLE – GOD’S TEXTBOOK
Therefore, you mean to tell me that under grace God won’t permit an innocent woman as much privilege as he would one under law. No, he wouldn’t even permit the guilty woman to be made a victim of marital circumstance but told her she could go and become the wife of another man, although remember she could never return to her first husband who divorced her. Yet 90 percent of the people today would interpret that because of their church traditions to declare, no that guilty woman must remain single the rest of her life and if she ever did remarry she certainly would be living in adultery and if she didn’t want to be living in adultery she would have to return to her first husband that divorced her. The unscriptural things that theology has taught concerning this subject would wreck the human mind. This one subject has been taught every way imaginable. When will people wake up and recognize this Bible is God’s textbook. Do you believe, that under grace God is going to be far more severe and less understanding toward an innocent believer, especially a sister who had done nothing worthy of her situation in causing her unbelieving husband to leave her than he would a guilty woman under law.
What can be more tormenting for a young couple than for one partner to desire to serve God while the other refuses. Satan enjoys nothing better than ripping apart the life and home of some young believer who desires to serve the Lord. Satan can use that unbeliever who intentions are to live and lust after the things of the world and finally after a continuous period of bickering, generally the unbeliever themself will simply declare, I have had enough of this king of marriage. Therefore, I am divorcing you. I am getting out of here. Such a pathetic circumstance leaves the true believer stranded and defenseless unless they are at liberty to remarry. That is 20 exactly what they are permitted to do, but only in the Lord.
FEAR OF DISOBEDIENCE
Nevertheless, here is what often happened. Paul declares the believer is free and no longer under marital bondage to this unbeliever provided the unbeliever desires to depart. However, down through the ages the believer, not knowing just how to cope with the situation or how to stand on God’s word when their marriage to the unbeliever has collapsed will try to hold on to the unbeliever and many a young believer in Christ becomes greatly distressed as they have been forced by a physical circumstance of which they are totally innocent (Paul said if the unbeliever desires to stay, fine, let them stay. If they choose to depart, let them. Don’t worry about it, if you are not under marital bondage any longer, you are set free. However, fearful of divorce and remarriage, thinking they will be eternally condemned and rather than face that kind of life of uncertainty by remarrying they struggle through life alone. Many believers, rather than face life lone have been known to stop serving God in order to be reconciled back to their own unbelieving partner. All because they feared what might happen were they to face life alone.
CALLED TO LIVE IN PEACE
Praise God Paul was not stumped, he had an answer for the poor deserted believer there he did not have to say I can help all the rest of you, but I simply don’t have a word for this innocent believing party who is now stranded. No, Paul doesn’t say that. Instead he says, let the unbelieving depart. For in that case only the brother or sister is not under marital bondage. They are free. But God has called us unto peace or better still God intended that we live in peace. I ask you, how in this world is that innocent believer going to live in peace when they are constantly being tempted by this terrible circumstance or condition which has been forced upon them or how will they ever live in peace seeing they’re trying to hold on to that unbeliever and all he does is continually make life miserable for them. I grant you, gospel wise up to a certain point, it is a good thing to have to endure certain things; however, after a period of time, when it is definitely proved through patience and long suffering on the part of an honest, humble, dedicated, revelated believer that it all seemingly is in vain and avails nothing, instead it doesn’t seem to make the unbeliever conscientious of what they are doing, things only tend to grow worse. Eventually, it reaches the point if the believer is to have any peace of mind what so ever, they will simply have to do what Paul says here, let the unbeliever depart. A brother or sister is not under marital bondage, they are free.
However, note and this is beautiful, Paul goes down into verse 16 saying to the church, for what knowest thou, oh wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Meaning, if he stays, if he chooses to stay, you may be the very means of becoming your husband’s salvation and naturally that should be the first hope and concern of any true revelated believer. The gospel shows the route the believing mate should go about in order to break down the resistance of the unbeliever. This is, this believer should live a humble, Christian life in respect to patience, long suffering, etc., as much as possible. Perhaps by doing so, if the unbeliever won’t heed to the gospel preached by the ministry, who knows perhaps by watching and living with a true genuine humble, dedicated, Christian believer, it may just happen that through their testimony of life the unbeliever may become born again. However, Paul says, over a period of time if all of this sincerity has not done the job, God has not planned that this true dedicated believer should live the rest of their life in literal torment and turmoil, seeing He has called us to live in peace. After a while, there has to be a victory over this entire problem. See, beloved that is why Paul wrote to the church that in such cases the believer is no longer tied in marriage to that unbeliever. When Paul stated the believer was free, he doesn’t only mean free from all the turmoil that had been produced through this marriage, he means they are free, period. They have no marital ties to this marriage and are set at liberty in the Lord. Why? Because the unbeliever did the leaving himself. The unbeliever left. Paul said, let him leave the true believer and because it happened in this manner, this sets the believer free. Remember, the believer was not compelled to remarry. Nevertheless, were the occasion to arise, for the true believer to avoid the effects of verse 2, they are at liberty to choose new companionship, but only in the Lord. To marry another unbeliever would not only violate the word of God, but would only be asking for trouble to 21 repeat itself. No, beloved the new companionship if chosen must definitely be chosen in the Lord. The grace of God which was given or permitted to the gentile church concerning this one type of marital situation would certainly never permit a Christian believer who had previously had an unbelieving companion to leave turn right around and fall in love with still another unbeliever. Remember, Christ will not make the innocent party a victim of circumstance, such as in this particular case. I am fully aware too often people bring these situations upon themselves and when people bring such situations upon themselves, situations which produce such cases, then all I can say is somewhere their flesh will have to pay the bill for what they themselves have promoted and done in life to bring it about. Bear in mind this entire chapter 7 is dealing with marriage and the steps to be taken to avoid fornication. The purpose or key to unlock each question Paul answers are found in verse 2. Verse 2 is the focal point of this entire chapter. Remember, Paul touches each situation in respect to that of verse 2, as well as in regards to the shortness of the hour in which he felt they lived (verse 29). Paul, as well as the other apostles in the early stage of the church believed that time was running out for his day, and that the Christians did not have long in which to prepare. James even declared for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh (James 4:8) John further stated in I John 2:18 Brethren, it is the latter times, etc. Yes, many scriptures reveal this was the general trend of thought of that early church and that everyone’s lives should be in proper order for the coming of the Lord (Rev. 22:20).
REMAIN IN SAME STATUS
It is from the next two verses 17-18, Satan found the ground work in order to project a certain spirit toward the church in this thing of marriage declaring virginity or being unattached was a high holy order, etc. Believe me, in this statement Paul had only one thought in mind. Satan wanted to start a long range program where later he could produce a program of celibacy. Remember, whenever Paul mentions that one should remain unattached, his thought was merely thoughts of wisdom in order to guide the church in keeping them in that hour to be a free as possible from becoming tied down to the things of the world. Satan desired to twist Paul’s statement and cause another situation to arise, which in latter years developed into a teaching in the church called celibacy. It’s such phrases as this which furnished the ground work for that unscriptural teaching.
CONTINUED LINE OF THOUGHT
In verse 17, Paul has not changed his line of thought as he deals with the social structure of life, but as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord has called everyone we now hear Paul say, so let him walk. What is Paul saying? Because of the nearness, he feels, to the coming of the Lord and the present distress into which the church is entering as he later states, whatever the status of man was, when God called him to salvation and has so ordained for him, let him walk in that status. Paul says this I have ordained (or teach) in all the local gentile churches. When you consider that gentile man in his respective walk of life while a sinner, the status of many was they were already married while still others were not. Therefore, as the gospel of Christ crosses their pathway, some were called living a married life, others of course were still single and perhaps still others were called during that period of separation as divorce had split their homes (you will see Paul’s thought more clearly in a moment). Yes, while perhaps others could have easily been living in polygamy as it definitely was a most accepted way of life among gentiles as well as the Jews in the Old Testament period and even later. Already we have observed how through the exampleship and the lives lived by that early gentile ministry polygamy slowly faded out of the picture. Yes, in verses 17-18 Paul is dealing with the social structure of life including certain marital problems. Building his thought around the marital relationship Paul said, but as God hath distributed to every man (of his physical necessity or condition) let him abide in that particular walk or calling of life. I teach this in all the churches Paul says.
Understand this one thing, in saying let him so abide, Paul is by no means promoting or establishing a doctrine of celibacy. Paul is not placing higher honor or more virtue on virginity above that of marriage in the sense, we shall say, he was implying marriage in order to avoid fornication or immorality was showing nothing but a weakness of the flesh. No beloved, Paul did not feel that way. Had that been his true feelings he would never have declared in Hebrews 13:4 that marriage was an honorable thing or that marriage should be looked upon as 22 an honorable thing. The reason for his following remarks is because of his own feelings as well as the early church’s concerning the shortness of time and secondly the fact they were already witnessing a distressful situation which was at hand. Moreover Paul feels stirred to give the following advice to the gentile church and mind you, that is all it was ever meant to be, merely good sound advice or wisdom for the present hour in which they live. Certainly, it was not his intention to promote celibacy as some have interpreted him to mean. Let a man be as free as possible from every unnecessary obligation. Keep yourself free from the obligation of the world. Don’t get tied to anything. Why, in order that you may better consecrate your thoughts on serving the Lord. Here was the only attitude in Paul’s mind.
BODY NOT FOR IMMORALITY
If we can visualize that, perhaps we are ready to move on into verse 18. Remember, Paul has by no means left his original thought as to how these various cases in the church are to avoid sexual immorality or fornication which he first begins to speak freely of in I Cor. 6:13-20 when he stated the human body had not been created for sexual immorality, but for the Lord. However, not until I Cor. 7:2 did he tell how they should avoid this sexual immorality. No, Paul has not left his original thought, here he is only going to bring in certain other types of illustrations which he uses to widen or better clarify his thought which he is trying to get over to the church. First, he says is there any believing man having been called while being circumcised. If he has, Paul declared, let him not (change his status by) becoming uncircumcised. Why would Paul address such a statement to a gentile church? Because, if you recall there were quite a few Jews in that gentile church and it was for certain they had been circumcised. Bear in mind, every saint in the Corinthian church Paul writes unto discussing how they may prevent sexual immorality or fornication which was so prevalent in that hour, was either a Jew converted out of his old synagogue beliefs or a gentile converted out of his old pagan religious belief. Corinth was a city of many customs given heavily to idolatry and immorality. Therefore, here Paul addresses the believer who was already circumcised when called to Christ and says let him not become uncircumcised. Watch Paul, he is leading up to something in verse 27 as he instructs the church to remain in whatsoever status they were in when called. In other words, don’t be concerned in trying to undo your particular status in life you were living in when called to salvation, were you loose from a wife when Christ called you, (verse 27) then seek not a wife. In other words, it is not necessary to change that status of your life of being unattached while as a sinner when you came to salvation. To still another group he says if any (gentile) was called in uncircumcision, let him not change his status and become circumcised. It’s unimportant. Circumcision is nothing verse 19 says and uncircumcision is nothing. But there is something that is important Paul says and that is the keeping of the commandments of God. And recall beloved, you definitely saw in verses 10-11 a very clear command of God concerning the relationship of marriage between that of two believers, didn’t we? That was if a believing wife left her believing husband he has two choices, (1) remain unattached the rest of her life (till the death of her husband) or (2) she may return unto her believing husband she departed from which Paul declares is far better. No, that believer can never remarry. Beginning in verse 17 Paul is showing all these things do have their place. However, now it’s time that every man should forget his past life, those situations, and circumstances he was in while living in sin or unbelief and draw close to the living God, as the church felt time was short for all believers. And that a present distress is moving in on the church. Man should now consider one thing only and that is setting himself aside for the glory of God. Verse 20 and again we hear Paul declaring henceforth let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Were you called being a servant? Therefore Paul declares, were you called to Christ while being a servant, care not for it. In other words, don’t be spending time trying to be loosed from your slavery, but if you can be free, Paul says, use it rather (or choose it rather only to serve) for he that is called in the Lord being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman. In other words, Paul says was your status that of slavery when you were called to Christ, if you are a slave and you find it impossible to get free from your master, simply realize that in the Lord Jesus Christ and your new found faith you are already a free man. BOUGHT WITH PRICE Continuing on, Paul says, were you called while being free, then he who is free, is Christ’s servant. The pint is 23 you are still a servant, even if in the flesh you are free you still have a mighty master above you this is certainly going to hold the line on your life verse 23. You are bought with a price, therefore irregardless to whichever the situation may have been, be ye therefore servants of Christ, be not ye the servants of men. Let’s hurry on through this part and get to this main thought Paul declares in verse 24, as he continues speaking to the church, brethren let every man wherein he is called, there in abide with God. See he continues to hammer away at this one point, abide as you were when called and remember Paul has no intentions in mind of beginning a program of celibacy.
FURTHER WORD TO VIRGINS
Coming into verse 25, Paul returned to still another illustration which definitely deals again with the marital situation. Now concerning virgins, recall as Paul has already discussed fully the marital program for the married in every situation, he now turns his attention for still another word to the virgins. It is from this statement, believe it or not along with certain other scriptures, that the Catholic church take and made themselves a celibacy doctrine for her priests and nuns. It was from this setting St. Clement, the first bishop of Rome, began to teach and uplift virginity as being far more virtuous among men and women than marrying. Reading his writings, one gets the impression his idea to be a married man revealed a kind of weakness of the flesh and only people of virginity were classified as being saintly. No, Paul had no intentions of promoting the doctrine of celibacy when he discusses what he does concerning virgins. Nevertheless, Satan used Paul’s very words by slowly twisting his statements into a doctrine. Even there within the first church age that spirit of Satan was already present.
ADVICE ON PRESENT DISTRESS
Concerning virgins, Paul says, I have no commandment of the Lord, yet I give my judgment. Bear in mind, he has already told the unmarried and widows it was better to remain as he; nevertheless, if they could not contain themselves it was better to marry than to burn (in Passion). Paul is giving his judgment concerning the virgins, as I’ve already stated a number of times in the light of his feeling that time was very short for the believer. In other words, there simply wasn’t much time left. If the Lord was returning somewhere in the near future, as all first believed, there wasn’t time to tie oneself down to the burdens of family life. This was simply a word of wisdom for such an hour. Later we see where Paul gave another kind of advice concerning virgins marrying and raising a family (I Timothy 5:14). Here he said they should. Therefore, Paul was not seeking to establish a doctrine, it was only a word of wisdom. Give my judgment, Paul says, as one that hath attained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. Verse 26, referring to the hour, they presently lived in, Paul says I suppose therefore that it is good for the present distress, for the what? The present distress. I say that is good for a man so to be, be what? Be single. Be unattached. Why? Because of the present distress. On the other hand, verse 27 declares just the opposite, are you bound to a wife, seek not to be loosed. In other words, don’t run off and leave your wife in order to spare yourself a number of worldly obligations, even if you do feel the coming of the Lord is near. Please understand, what is being taught in this verse has no connection with that which was first written covered in verses 10-15. Paul isn’t changing his thought, he only seeks to give wise counsel. Art thou loosed from a wife, seek not a wife.
TIME IS SHORT
(Because of the hour, it is better to remain single) But if thou marry, thou hast not sinned, and if a virgin (girl) marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless, such will have trouble in the flesh, but I spare you (or I would like to spare you). What he means is this, and oh, how true it is. The very minute they settle down in the family life, the old grind begins. Paul knew that somewhere in that hour just ahead there were certain hardships to be faced where if you were single or unattached, you could better face these hardships. It’s difficult for Americans to anticipate such a thing. Nevertheless, many of the Corinthians (such as people in certain countries today) lived in a constant daily struggle for survival. Verse 29. This I say brethren, (and once again we see Paul’s feelings concerning time re-enter back into the picture as he says the time is short. Proving beyond any doubt all of his statements have definitely been hinged around his feeling from verse 17 on that time is short. Therefore, this good sound advice and wisdom to the believer is in order that he may keep himself free to seek a more 24 dedicated closer walk with the Lord. Watch him bring out still another thought concerning the shortness of time. As he says it remains that both they that have wives be as though they had none. No, God forbid, Paul is not saying for a man to get rid of his wife. He is only declaring that a man and his wife should both set their sights so much higher above all the natural material things of earth not living as though life itself existed here in only what you could and could not have. Instead Paul says get your eyes set on Jesus and the soon coming of the Lord. This no doubt is what Jesus meant when he said as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the son of man. For they married, built houses, and were busy eating and drinking. See, that’s the normal social picture today. People have simply become so earthly minded that they haven’t time to lift their eyes unto the Lord and follow him. Paul continues on in verse 30 with still that feeling time is short and as he says, they that weep, as though they weep not. In other words, whatever you are doing, don’t become so involved in it that you can’t change and look once in a while unto the Lord and do something for Jesus. They that rejoice as though they rejoice not and they that buy as though they possess not. Paul recognizes there were certain necessities of life that every mortal man needs while traveling this journey of life. Nevertheless, don’t permit your eyes to become so earthly centered in whatever you are doing that you can’t once in a while look up and say, father guide my soul and help me to ever live pleasing unto you. Keep me separated, Lord, and allow me not to become so tied down or so involved with natural things that I can’t truly see thee God and know what you would have for me to do today.
ADVICE FOR ENDTIME
Verse 31, And they that use this world as not abusing it, for the fashions of this world passeth away. Notice beloved this is good, sound advice for even us today because e are actually that people living in the hour he spake of, where time is short. In actuality what Paul is saying in these scriptures are actually pointing to our day. Nevertheless, Paul and these other brethren wrote all these scriptures as though the end time would come rolling in upon them at just any time, but those scriptures apply unto us. Oh, there are so many things we are going to see, (in time) once we do really move into such a setting as was spoken in these two verses. Here we will reach in and pull our different things that the apostle Paul said in respect to the overall situation. I am so glad that Paul stated this in all these various places because by using these various situations which caused him to write and say what he did, it helps us to better diagnose what he meant in these two verses. Verse 32, but I would have you without carefulness, meaning I would have you so, in order that you would not be bound down with many of these worldly cares of life. That is it beloved, all his statements made here concerning (remaining as you are) is because he didn’t want the individual bound down with all these worldly cares of life. He wanted people to be free, not worried, in order that they might worship the Lord. What a torment it is when two young people start out in life and become so financially burdened, we’ll say they have gotten their necks staked down to something, which reminds me of a cow tied to about a five foot chain and can’t go anywhere. So worried, so bothered, so burdened down that about once in six months, they may wake up to the fact, you know it has been a long time since we prayed. Paul goes on to say, he that is unmarried cares for things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord. In other words, being unmarried Paul says, the persons mind tends to be more on the spiritual matters, as Paul is writing this to benefit the unmarried Christian men in the Corinthian church who have not as yet taken the trip to the marriage altar, and not to the man out in the world seeing he doesn’t have his mind on the Lord. But he that is married, verse 33 says, careth for the things that are in the world how that he may please his wife, why? Because he not only has taken a companion, but they will be bringing children into the world and this creates more worldly obligations. It means that he will have to now look unto the world for still a greater opportunity to meet those needs of these necessities that have now been placed upon him.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WIFE & VIRGIN
There is a difference between a wife and a virgin, verse 34 declares, and remember it is only Christians that Paul is speaking of, not worldly people. Whoever heard of an unmarried worldly woman or sinner woman caring for the things of the Lord, how that she may be holy, both in body and in spirit, ridiculous. Yes, that’s what Paul says the desire of the unmarried Christian woman is, but she that is married cares for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. No truer words were ever spoken. Remember this, he hasn’t said any 25 of this to establish a doctrine but merely to give wise counsel in relation to the hour in which they live. Because note in verse 35, Paul now declares why he has spoken all this in the manner he has, as we hear him say, I speak this for your own profit, not that I may case a snare upon you, but for that which is comely and that you may attain unto the Lord without distraction. Therefore, we can plainly see since verses 17-34 Paul has taught none of this to lay down any doctrine, has he? Paul had already laid down his doctrine from verses 10-15 as to what should be done in respect to those who were married. Concerning the overall situation within the church which certainly involved many individuals, Paul has said all of this, not to cause any disappointment toward the person’s feeling, concerning that which they wanted to do (referring to getting married) but rather that he might show them how they could better live for God and serve him without begin all chained down to all of those worldly obligations they would definitely become involved with once they are married. Paul is not a man who speaks out of both corners of his mouth, he can not go against his own writing. If anyone does think Paul was implying celibacy here, let us search the scriptures to see if there is any other place virginity or celibacy was taught. Observe what Paul says as he writes Timothy many years later when he lays down the doctrine and rule of discipleship, etc. Do we not hear Paul saying he would that the young christian women marry? (I Tim. 5:14) How then could Paul make two opposing, conflicting statements. To Corinth he wrote what he did in the light he felt that time was very short and he believed the church was approaching the nearness of the coming of the Lord. Whereas in Timothy, he is writing with a different line of thought altogether. Here he is showing the young women how to stop being busybodies, his answer is, get married and raise a family. Just remember concerning virginity, whatever Paul spoke in I Cor. 7, which at first glance might appear he preferred virginity to marriage, was spoken, with his conviction that time was short and the coming of Christ was at hand, else how could Paul declare later in Heb. 13:4, marriage is honorable in all or is to be looked upon as a honorable thing and then turn around and in a few scattered phrases in I Cor. 7 be teaching a doctrine of celibacy such as the Catholic church feels he did?
FINAL WORD TO CHRISTIAN WIVES
Verse 39, In closing the discussion, Paul reminds the Christian woman she is bound by the law of wedlock unto her believing husband as long as he lives but if her husband is dead, making her a widow, she is at liberty to be married unto whosoever she will, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide after my judgment (found in verses 8-9) and I think also that I have the Spirit of God. In closing ay I say verse 39 in no way alters Paul’s advice to the Christian wife married to a Christian man found in verses 10-11 because were she to leave him or be put away from him on any other grounds other than fornication, uncleanness or open prostitution and were she to remarry, she would most assuredly be living in adultery as declared unto all believers subject to Deut. 24:1-4. AMEN