They wrote Paul a series of questions that they didn't have answers for. They were a growing church, facing problems, facing challenges. One was issues of marriage and divorce, and they didn't have clear teaching from the Lord, from the Lord Jesus about that.
The early church had many questions about what it meant to live for Jesus in different areas of life. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares how you can glorify God in your life. But first, did you know that Skip often shares important updates and biblical encouragement on social media? To be sure you get the latest from him and this ministry, just follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Find him by searching at Skip Heitzig. That's at Skip, H-E-I-T-Z-I-G. Now, we're in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 as we dive into our study with Skip Heitzig. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church for two reasons. First reason, the Corinthians got snitched on by a person named Chloe. Paul heard from Chloe's household that there were divisions in the church. Paul found out about the divisions through that household. We're not sure if Chloe was a male or a female.
I know it sounds like a female name these days, but not necessarily so in antiquity. But the household of Chloe told Paul that there were issues in the church. That was factor number one. Second factor is Paul was getting mail from Corinth, the church itself, asking him a series of questions. And so, beginning in chapter 7, Paul goes on to answer those questions.
You'll notice it says in verse 1 of chapter 7, now concerning the things of which you wrote to me. So they wrote Paul a series of questions that they didn't have answers for. They were a growing church, facing problems, facing challenges. One was issues of marriage and divorce. And they didn't have clear teaching from the Lord Jesus about that. Maybe they knew what was written in the Gospels that Jesus said about that. But they had some very particular issues about celibacy, singleness, about marriage, about divorce, about remarriage. And so Paul answers that question in the seventh chapter.
They had questions about personal liberty, what they can and cannot do, what they're free or not free to do. In particular, can we eat hamburger that has been sacrificed to an idol down the street? Can we have a nice double cheeseburger from that pagan temple? They served the best cheeseburgers in town, but it was at a pagan temple.
Is that lawful or not? Because there really is only one God anyway. Those gods are false gods. So they had an issue about personal liberty in that in particular. So Paul addresses the area of personal liberty that included in chapters 8, 9, 10, and partly 11. Then they had questions about church order, the exercise of gifts within the body of Christ, within the public assemblies. He addresses that in chapters 11, 12, 13, 14. And then finally they had a question, doctrinal questions, in particular about the resurrection, the physical resurrection, what their body will be like when the Lord comes back and they're resurrected.
What will that be like? And that is answered in the lengthy behemoth chapter of chapter 15. Those 58 verses are dedicated to Paul answering that question. Chapter 16 is sort of an epilogue.
He ends the letter. So the first part, Paul deals with the issues that he had heard about. And chapter 7 to the rest of the book, he deals now with questions in particular that they had about all those things.
And then in particular that they had about all those things that I just mentioned. When Paul closed chapter 6, he ended with a phrase that is a phrase I think should be written above chapter 7 because it really is the general principle that he works with. So you'll notice at the end of chapter 6 in verse 19, or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and you are not your own. For you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. You could lift out that phrase out of verse 20, glorify God in your body and put that over chapter 7. Now Paul tells you how to glorify God in your physical body in terms of relationships that God has established with marriage. Glorifying God in your body.
He's going to deal with issues we all face, relational issues, relationships. Relationships really are the essence of life. I think if you boiled life down to its irreducible minimum, you would have relationships.
Strip away all the things you own, all the degrees you've worked for, all the beauty you strive after. When you get right down to the very basic things of life, it's your relationship with God, which is either good or bad, existent or non-existent. And it's your relationship with people, good or bad, non-existent or existent.
So if you boil life down to its irreducible minimum, you have a perfect axis, a vertical and a horizontal axis, relationship with God, relationship with people. Paul tells you how to have good relationships with people that you might glorify God in heaven with your body. It seems that relationships, because they are the basics of life, have the capacity for either immense satisfaction or deep agony and everything and everything in between. Relationships between men and women solve many problems we have, but they also create problems we didn't have. And Paul will address some of those in this chapter. As we get into it, you might want to purpose to compare what Paul says about marriage, divorce, singleness, just with your own life and your own measure of glorifying God in your body. Most people fall in love or they find somebody and they call it falling in love or they grow in love, whatever it might be.
That is the typical pattern. But generally, we fall in love with a personality, but then we have to live with a character, and sometimes quite a character. But it is true, it is important that we seek to discern beyond the level of outward personality, what kind of character traits the other person has, because you're being committed to that.
You're going to live with that for a long time. So chapter 7, verse 1, Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me, and he comes right out of the chute head on with the first one, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Now he doesn't mean like go up and touch somebody like that. The idea behind this, metaphorically, is it is good to be single. It is good to be celibate. It's good to refrain from sexual relations altogether. As Paul will say, he has done.
That's his calling. So he says, in essence, in verse 1, he's saying, look, celibacy, singleness is good. It's good, but it's not the only good, because God in Genesis 2 said, it is not good that man should be alone. So based on that principle in Genesis 2, the principle of first mention, it is not good that man should be alone, God established the relationship of marriage and looked upon it and said, that is very good.
But Paul would here take the flip side and say, though God did say that, it is also good. It's not bad. It's not evil. You're not wrong if you remain single. It's not the norm, but it's not evil either. And it's important to say that because sometimes, especially in Christian circles, especially in evangelical Christian circles, if you don't get married right away, people think, what's wrong with you?
What, do you have bad breath all the time, or do you have bad habits, nobody wants to hang out with you? What is the deal? As if it's a curse, it can be, but it can also be a blessing. And so Paul says, it's good. That lifestyle is a good lifestyle. I think Paul began this chapter this way because he's going to go from singleness to marriage to divorce, and implied within divorce is also remarriage. Also, Paul was Jewish, and being Jewish, he came from a very strict background that held marriage in such high regard and disparaged a single lifestyle. I don't know if you know that or not, but Judaism disparaged singleness. The Jewish rabbis had a saying that there are seven Jews who will not go to heaven, and they had a little list. And number one on the list is a man who has no wife, and number two, a wife, a woman who produces no children.
So they laid some pretty heavy trips on people in their tradition saying, you know, if you don't get married, you know, you're not going to even go to heaven. So to separate himself from that traditional ideology, it's important that this Jewish rabbi, Saul of Tarsus, Paul the Apostle, begins to say, nothing wrong with singleness, nothing wrong with celibacy. It is good for a man not to touch a woman. It's good. It's good, but now he's going to say it's also hard.
Nothing wrong with it, but it's hard to actually do, and here's what he says. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. It's good to be single, but it's also hard, and because it's hard, because you face sensual, sexual, physical temptations, it's better to get married. Now somebody is going to hear that and go, well, that's a horrible idea or foundation for a marriage. You're right, it is a horrible foundation for a marriage.
Paul is not laying the foundation of marriage here in this verse. He is simply stating what is the norm. The norm is it is not good that man should be alone. The norm is that people get involved in a heterosexual marriage that was ordained by God from the beginning.
That is normal. It's normal because very few people have the ability to remain single successfully, because what Paul will say is singleness is good, but only singleness with celibacy is good, not singleness sleeping around with other people. That's called fornication in the Bible. That's just an out-and-out sin. So singleness with celibacy is good.
Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each husband have her own husband. Both are gifts, as we will see. It is a gift from God. If you can stay single and celibate throughout a lifetime and keep any temptation at bay, that's a gift. I don't have that gift.
I knew I didn't have that gift a long time ago. And when I married Lenya, that was the answer to the dilemma that I was alone. It is not good that Skip should be alone. The problem is not singleness. The problem is being married and acting like you're single or being single and acting like you're married.
Both of those are problematic. But being single is a gift. Being married is also a gift from God.
So verse three, he now expands on it. Let the husband render to his wife the affection that is the physical affection that is due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. So the physical intimate relationship within a marriage, the conjugal relationship, is a privilege. It is a joy.
It is a pleasure. But it is also a responsibility. We are in this relationship to please one another. The wife does not, verse four, have authority over her own body. All the secular feminists love this verse.
Just kidding, not. The wife does not have authority over her own body. They're always saying, my body, my choice. Paul said, your body is choice. And you say, well, that's sexist.
Keep reading. And likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body. It's reciprocal.
It's not one way. But the wife does. We can't be sure, but some scholars believe, they guess, that in Corinth, in the Corinthian church, there were certain people who were married but believed that acting single within a marriage was somehow holy. Refraining from sexual relations within the marriage was somehow, you know, like a hermit, while you're in a marriage relationship, was somehow holier than if you just enjoyed the marriage relationship. That's weird.
That's wacky. That's not spiritual at all. In fact, it is setting your spouse up for temptation, as Paul will tell us. And so what he does is he basically gives us three parameters for any withholding of sexual intimacy with our spouse. And this is what they are. In verse 5, in verse 5, do not deprive one another except with consent for a time that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Those are the three parameters. There has to be a mutual consent. Let's sit down and talk about this. Let's refrain from intimacy, okay, number one. Number two, let's agree beforehand on the time frame of that, when it's going to begin, when it's going to end.
And number three, the reason isn't because I'm mad at you. The reason is because we're going to give ourselves to prayer and fasting. Now, prayer is something we should always do. Fasting is something that we might do occasionally for certain reasons, but fasting, typically, a person fasts a few days, doesn't fast like months at a time. We call those people dead if they do.
So it's something that you do for a short period of time. So the idea, the understanding, the context is this is something that a husband and wife would agree on in advance for spiritual reasons. They would have a joint agreement.
They would come together and here's why. Verse five, and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. You don't own you. You gave your life to her at the altar. You gave your life to him at the altar. Your body belongs to your spouse. And you are there to serve your spouse.
I am there to serve my wife, to be sensitive to her, and vice versa. It's something that we agree on. Sex is never a weapon to fight with.
It's a tool to build with. Some couples make it almost a almost a cudgel, something they're going to cudgel their spouse with. You said that so you're not going to see me in bed for a week or two.
That's totally unscriptural. He said, lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.
This whole thing of being married or being single is going to depend on the gift and calling God has given you. I say this as a concession and the idea of holding off for a period of time to pray and fast. That's just a concession, not a commandment.
You don't have to do it. For I wish that all men were even as I, myself, but each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and the other in that. Now this brings up an issue that people ask, and that is, was Paul the apostle married? Was Paul the apostle ever married? Some say no, some say yes, some say he was part of the Jewish Sanhedrin because in the book of Acts it seems like he cast an official vote like a Sanhedrin member would, one of the seventy ruling elders would. If you were a member of the Sanhedrin, indeed if Paul had been a member of the Sanhedrin, he would have had to have been married. That was a stipulation to serve in the ministry of the Sanhedrin.
You had to have a wife. But we're not sure that Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin. But even if he was, let's suppose he was, it must have meant that his wife died and he's no longer married, or that his wife wanted nothing to do with Christ, but she is never mentioned. So you can't really get dogmatic and say that Paul was once married because there's never a record that he was, or that he was for that matter a member of the Sanhedrin. So you can do whatever you want with that. He is at this point single and he makes the statement, I wish that all men were even as myself, that is single and celibate.
And he's going to explain himself as to why. But each one has his own gift from God, and I want you to see that word that's very, very important. You can't do either without a gift. You can't stay single successfully unless God gives you a gift to do that. You can't stay married successfully unless God also gives you that gift and that calling. If you would turn with me to the book of Matthew chapter 19. It is one of the places where Jesus talks about marriage, and Paul is going to make reference to that here in chapter seven. There are a couple places the Lord Jesus spoke about marriage.
One is the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter five. He said you have heard from those of old times that a man can write his wife a certificate of divorce. I say unto you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except for adultery or sexual immorality commits adultery.
And so he kind of hammers it hard there. In chapter 19 though is a conversation. It came to pass when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed him there and he healed them and the Pharisees came to him testing him and saying to him, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?
Why would they ask a question like that? Hey, can a guy dump his wife just for any reason? Because there were interpreters who thought you could divorce your wife for absolutely any reason.
There were two schools of thought in Judaism at the time, one very strict, one very liberal. The strict school said the only reason a man can divorce his wife is if she is sexually immoral. If she sleeps with another man, that's the only reason. Another said, well, you know, Moses talked about an uncleanness that the wife has and maybe that means she cooked his dinner wrong and he finds that unclean to him and he deems that as an uncleanness and he broadened the reasons for divorce to the widest possible margin. If a woman spoke to another man, if she spun in the street, if she wore her hair down in public, those were all reasons a man could divorce his wife. So one said you can't divorce for any reason. The other rabbi said you can divorce for any reason.
Which do you think the Jewish men found more popular? Any reason? Any reason? That's why they ask the question.
Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason? They're following the traditions of the rabbi. And he answered and said to them, have you not read? I love Jesus' answer this way. Don't you religious leaders ever read your Bible? Don't you know what the Bible says? Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female going all the way back to Genesis? For he said, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.
So then they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from the series Expound First Corinthians. Right now we want to share about a great resource that will help strengthen your trust in God so you can live with more confidence and peace. Forbes.com recently published an article with 22 tips for how to completely change your life in one year.
Sounds complicated. The Bible tells a different story about how to change your life. The Bible says repent and return to God and it reminds us we need to always insert but God into every situation.
Here's Skip Heitzig. But God is a phrase that appears 45 times in scripture. It's a game-changing phrase. It means that no matter who you are, no matter what you have done, no matter how you may have failed, the truth is God can make things different for you from now on. But God. Discover the power of but God in scripture and why it's a game changer for your own life with the But God teaching series from Pastor Skip Heitzig. Our thanks when you give $35 or more to help keep this Bible teaching ministry on the air. Get your CD collection today.
Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares with you what God has to say about marriage, divorce, and singleness. Singleness is good if it asks celibacy. Second, being single is good but it can also be tempting. Third, a single lifestyle is wrong if you're married. And number four, both singleness and marriage are gifts from God and should be treated as such. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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