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Reasons for Remaining Single, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
February 17, 2023 3:00 am

Reasons for Remaining Single, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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February 17, 2023 3:00 am

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We can see that marriage is a permanent thing and you're there to stay, but that doesn't have to be bad. It can be good, but it's still true, isn't it?

It's permanent. And he's saying simply this, if you have the gift of singleness, think about it, because if you ever choose to marry, that's a final choice. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It's definitely a joy to witness the wedding of two committed Christians and see God bless their lives as they serve him together and in most cases raise a family. But what if you're not married and perhaps you don't have a strong desire to find a spouse? Are you somehow missing out on God's best by remaining single? John MacArthur sheds light on that issue today in his series called Guidelines for Singleness and Marriage here on Grace to You.

And now with the lesson, here's John. Take your Bible if you will now and let's look together at the seventh chapter of 1 Corinthians. The relationship that God has designed for most people is marriage.

There's no question about that. The relationship that God has designed for most people is marriage. And marriage is good. Marriage is a good thing. In 1 Corinthians 7, 2, right there, let every man have his own wife, let every woman have her own husband.

This is acceptable. This is God's standard. In Proverbs 18, 22, who so findeth a wife, findeth a good thing. And it goes on to say that God looks on it with favor. Marriage is a good thing. In Jeremiah 29, 6, there is a command sent out to go and take wives and beget children and tell your children to take wives and beget more children. God has established as the majority standard of life relationships that people be married. In 1 Timothy 4, he even says heretics will come along in the last days who deny the Lord and they will forbid marriage.

But that's considered a heresy. Marriage is acceptable to God. Hebrews 13, 4, marriage is honorable and the bed is undefiled. So God looks very favorably on marriage. But for everyone, marriage is not the normal. God has given some people the special gift of being single. They do not need to be married to fulfill God's will. In fact, in fulfilling God's will to the very fullest, they are better if they stay single. And the reason I think this is such an important study is that the church tends to categorize single people as abnormal and it isn't so.

Because God has so designed it for some. Verse 7 of this chapter, I would that all men were as I. He says, I wish everybody was single, but every man has his proper gift, one after this manner, that is after singleness like me, and another after that, that is like marriage. Some are gifted for marriage and some are gifted for singleness. Singleness is a special gift of God. Single people do not need to be looked on as if they're different, strange, abnormal, unfulfilled, unqualified for certain service, not at all. In fact, you know something, people single, people aren't really single because they have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.

They're uniquely designed by God for function within the body of Christ. Now in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is dealing with issues in Corinth regarding being married or being single. Now he has clearly said that for some, singleness is right, but not for everybody. If you have the gift of singleness, Paul says, exercise it.

Now from verse 25 to 40, he gives five reasons they ought to exercise. Five reasons to stay single if you have the gift. If you have the gift of singleness, he says, remain single because of the pressures of the world, the problems of the flesh, and the passing of the world. The fourth point supporting staying single is the preoccupation of the married. If a person stays single, he doesn't get engulfed in the preoccupation of the married. You say, well, what is the preoccupation of the married? What are they preoccupied with?

The answer is each other. Look at verse 32. But I would have you without care. Now what he means there is free from anxiety.

I would have you free from anxiety. He that is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But he that is married cares for the things that are of the world, how he may please, what? His wife and is divided. When you get married, there is a dividedness in your life.

It isn't bad. It's just a fact. Now fifthly, and this is the last reason he tells the single people they'd be better off to stay single if they have the gift. The fifth one is the permanence of the union.

Well, when you get married, you are married. And that is it. And there's no turning back. Verse 39. Let's jump down to 39.

We'll get back to the others. Now the wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives. Well, that's a long time.

Now this is a lifetime arrangement. Now some people have questioned why this passage is in here, 39 and 40. There's a whole lot of discussion about it, and I don't know that I can give you the absolute answer to why it's here.

But I'll tell you what I believe. I don't believe it's isolated. Some say it's just a tack on to answer an issue about widows.

I don't think so. I think basically, though it does answer that issue, it is here as just another reason for remaining single. Why? Because of the permanence of marriage. You'd be better off if you have the gift to stay single because once you're married, that is it.

And you'll never be able to exercise the potential again. So think a long time before you do. Marriage is permanent. Once you're stuck, you're stuck. Now I'm not saying that everybody who's married is stuck. But there are some people who are married and stuck. And you know that. It isn't that it's bad.

It's just that it's permanent. Some marriages are bad. You can get a woman who clings so much that you can't do anything. You know, I know some men who would serve the Lord if their wife ever let go of them long enough. In Proverbs 21, 9, it says, It is better to dwell in a corner than with a brawling woman in a big house. Believe me, there are people who are looking for such corners. You know, it's better to be all alone in a corner than married to the wrong one, right?

Listen to verse 19. It is better to live in the desert than with a contentious and angry woman. And that's why a lot of times you'll hear a man say, I got to get out.

I got to go. I must be alone. It's better to be in the desert than with a contentious and angry woman. What am I saying by that? I'm saying that very often marriage can become a bondage, a negative bondage. It is truly a positive bondage, a loving bondage, a fulfilling and meaningful and happy bondage.

But it is permanent. When Jesus was speaking in Matthew 19 to the disciples and he was telling them about how marriage was permanent, and he said if anybody marries and if anybody sets his wife apart without adultery, he causes her to commit adultery, boy. And he was emphasizing that marriage is a solid bond and it's unbroken for any other reason than adultery.

What the disciples responded with was this. Hey, we think it'd be better if it's so permanent to stay single. And he said, well, that's right, but not all of you can handle it. So, they came to the same conclusion that the permanence of marriage is a good reason to stay single if you have the gift. Because once you're married, the responsibilities, the encumbrances, that which you must give to your marriage is set and you must give it. Now, I want to add to that, people, that I look at my marriage as a friendship and a companionship. And that overbalances all of the negative factors that would ever be there from a ministry standpoint because I can't live without my wife.

Because I love her and I love my children and I wouldn't have it any other way. But all we're pointing out here are the basic facts of the union, not our attitude toward it. We can see that marriage is a permanent thing and you're there to stay, but that doesn't have to be bad. It can be good, but it's still true, isn't it?

It's permanent. And he's saying simply this. If you have the gift of singleness, think about it, because if you ever choose to marry, that's a final choice. And you can't go back unless there is a death. And then he says in 39, if the husband does die, you're still at liberty to be married to whomever you want, only what? In the Lord.

Only in the Lord. Romans 7 says the same thing. The only thing that severs a marriage is death. Now Jesus, of course, said that divorce and Paul added the unbelieving departs. But apart from sin, apart from that, in the marriage of Christians, there is no way out.

It's permanent. So once you've made the choice, he says, that's the choice. And when we marry people, they say, until death do us part. And that's what God intended. After that, she can be married, but she can only marry a Christian.

And there's a basic principle there, folks, only in the Lord. I believe Christians are only permitted to marry Christians. Somebody said, well, that is the best, but certainly God would allow in many cases for us to marry unbelievers to evangelize them.

I don't believe that. I don't believe marriage is a good ground for evangelism. When you will marry an unbeliever, in effect you're saying to that unbeliever, Christianity is important to me, but not very important.

Right? Because if it was really important, you'd marry a Christian. Christian fellowship meant that much. Listen to Deuteronomy 7, and this is God's standard from way back. The Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land where you're going to possess it. And he's cast out nations before you to make the land ready for you. The Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites.

And I expect you to know how to spell all of those on the quiz. And when the Lord your God shall deliver them before you, you will smite them and destroy them and make no covenant with them. And you go in there, boy, you're going to get rid of all those pagan people. Now listen, neither shalt thou make marriages with them. Thy daughter thou shalt not give to his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me that they may serve other gods. Now sometimes in a mixed marriage somebody does get saved, but more often than not somebody gets dragged away. From Deuteronomy 7 it hasn't changed. You can go to 2 Corinthians chapter 6 and Paul says the very same thing. Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. What concord has Christ and Satan? It doesn't make any sense. So marriage is permanent.

The only way out is death. And then if death did occur, he adds to the widows here, they may remarry only in the Lord. But verse 40, she would be happier in my judgment if she just stayed single, if she had the gift in the first place.

And I am convinced also that I have the Spirit of God. What he's simply saying there is all these people were saying, the Jews were saying, well boy God says to get married. And somebody else saying, well the Spirit of God said to stay single. And Paul says, well I'm telling you a few things and I have the Spirit of God just like they do.

It's sarcastic. My opinion, the word dakeo, it says I think in the King James, that doesn't sound good. It sounds like Paul saying, well I think I have the Holy Spirit. Not Paul. I also have the Spirit of God that I'm giving you divine revelation.

It's a frequent word used to speak of something absolutely certain. Alright, should a person stay single? Yes, if he has the gift, yes. Why? Because of all these reasons. And so this is important to say to the Corinthians. So all the single people are saying, well that's very good. But there's one other factor. There's one other factor in the whole thing and that's verses 36 to 38 and that is the fathers. You know, marriages were arranged by the father. And you can't have a whole section to single people without saying something to dads. And dads, I hope this says something to you.

It really says something to me. In Old Testament society, the arranged marriage was the norm. And so Paul's got to talk to the fathers. It was true in the Roman society. Did you know that in the Roman society, the parents chose the partners? And in fact, in the history of the Roman Empire, they said that one of the beginnings of the breakdown of Roman authority was when Roman parents lost the right to counteract the desires of their children to get married.

That began the breakdown of the home that was part of the seeds of the dissolution of the whole Roman Empire. And so even in the Roman Empire at this time, the parents chose. Jewish Old Testament, the parents chose. For example, Hagar selected a wife for Ishmael. Abraham selected a wife for Isaac. Judah's selection of Tamar to be the wife of his son, Ur.

These are all common in the Old Testament. Jacob was told what family to go to, wasn't he, to find his wife. There was a little bit of option there because it was a few daughters to choose from. And he worked seven years and they gave him the wrong one with a veil on. Man, I'm telling you, if you're going to marry somebody, check out what's under that veil before you get to the ceremony.

Paul, that kind of stuff. But there was the selection of the family. There are even instances when a king or a priest selected a wife. A Pharaoh gave a wife to Joseph in Genesis 41, and another Pharaoh gave a wife to Hadad the Edomite in 1 Kings chapter 11 verse 19. Jehoiada the high priest got two wives to give to the boy king Joash in 2 Chronicles 24, 3. Didn't do him any favors in doing that, a high priest of all people, but it happened.

It was a parental thing. And history tells us that around the year 500 B.C., marriage brokers even developed, called shadkan. These brokers were just available.

You remember Fiddler on the Roof, matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match? That's precisely what those were, traditional Jewish marriage brokers. And when you had your daughter come to the age where you wanted to get her married, you just went off to the marriage broker and said, I want one this and so, and with such and such background from a such and such thing, and all of a sudden the marriage broker would look through his listings. And, you know, I don't know whether it was like the lineup where they all came in and you picked, but there was a working out of the situation. This was historic, and the family would work it through the broker.

How'd you like that, girls? That'd be interesting. Now, some even feel that in Israel's early history, the bride and the groom had absolutely nothing to say about it. It's been said that they were just totally unconsidered.

But I don't agree with that. I think that as best we can tell from the Scripture, the young man had something to say about it, that it wasn't just his father walking in on the day of the wedding and saying, here's your bride. Oh, hello.

It's nice to meet you. You know, it wasn't that. And it wasn't, well, you're going to marry, you know, what's her name, whatever you want.

I'm not interested in what you want. You're marrying her. It wasn't that kind of a situation. Apparently, the young man had the right to some kind of choice. There's a couple of places where we could look, but I think 1 Samuel 18, 20, and Michael, Saul's daughter, loved David and they told Saul and the thing pleased him and Saul said, I will give him her. Now, here was an illustration of a woman loving a man and a man loving a woman and the father giving consent. So, it was not out of the ordinary for such to happen. So, I believe that even though the marriage arranged by the family dominated the society, usually there was some kind of love relationship or often there was some kind of love relationship and consent from the children.

Song of Solomon expresses tremendous love between two people. It was more than just a political thing, more than just a parental agreement. The will of the man was involved and I'm sure also the will of the woman came into the situation as well.

Now, that's pretty much the way it was. The father would decide it and certainly the mother would agree and the kids were involved in some way. Maybe there were times when their will was overruled, but there were times also when they were considered as a part of the decision.

This was the general pattern. So, when you come to 1 Corinthians and Paul is writing these Christian people, they're still in that pattern pretty much if they're Jewish and that was also the Roman pattern that the parents would choose. So, he's going to say something to the fathers to help them in their part of the situation. Verse 36, all that to get here. Now, as we look at verse 36, it says, and I'm going to read it to you, interpreting it as I read it. If any father, and that's what the word man refers to here, if any father feels that he behaves himself unfairly toward his virgin daughter.

If any father feels that he behaves himself unfairly toward his virgin daughter. Now, what does that mean? Now, listen.

Here's a father. He looks at the world around him. He hears everything that Paul is saying about it's better to be single, it's better to be single, it's better to be single. And you know what?

He decides in his mind, it's better to be single. I consecrate my little daughter to the Lord. I'm going to give my little daughter to the Lord.

That's neat. Father, have you ever thought like that? Does your little daughter grow up thinking, when are you going to get married? Who do you think you're going to marry? And you start from the very first, you have a boyfriend.

We do this with kids. Many people, and pretty soon all they can think about is marriage. Here's a father who says, I want you to give your whole life to Christ. I want you to devote your whole life to the building of the kingdom of God. After all, marriage is only temporary and we get to heaven, none of us will be married anyway. I want you to be single and free and you, and boy, I'm going to commit you to Jesus Christ and to His service. What a neat thing for a father to do.

Terrific. It's like one family was telling me that we were talking about this and a little guy, they went home and they were sitting around the table and one of their children said, you know, after hearing that message, and I love our family so much, I don't ever want to get married. I just decided to be a cell beat all my life. So you can decide that your children are going to be cell beats all their life when they're little. Because they're not going to argue, right?

They're not going to argue about that. And here's a father who's done that. And man, I'm going to devote this little life to the Lord. I'm just going to consecrate this little gal to the Lord and I'm not, I don't want to even gamble with marriage. But you know what happens? The father realizes that he is behaving himself unfairly toward his virgin daughter. You know why?

He made a nice decision, but you know, he got a problem. Verse 36, if she passes the flower of age, what that means is if she reaches sexual maturity, if she reaches the apex, if she reaches the time when she has all of the sexual sensitivities, and what happens? And need so requires.

What does need require? That she what? She marries. It becomes necessary, that means. If I make a vow for my daughter, but I realize I'm not being fair with her, because now that she's reached sexual maturity, she desires to be married. What do I do? He says, let them do what he will.

He sins not. Let them what? Marry. Let them get married. It was a nice idea, but she didn't get the gift.

The Spirit of God didn't give her that gift, and that's a gift the Spirit of God gives. If she doesn't have the gift, the father's saying, man, it's obvious she doesn't have the gift. All she talks about is this guy, and apparently there's a guy there that wouldn't say, let them marry. There's a them.

Somebody's hanging around. And you see, he is behaving unfairly toward his daughter, because if he doesn't let her get married, he's going to tempt her to immorality physically, to immorality in her mind, and to seduction. And so he realizes, I can't do this to my lovely little daughter as much as I'd want to devote her to the Lord.

There's a guy here, and she's saying yes, yes, yes, and I'm saying no, no, no, and it's not right. So dads, hey, it's a super idea if you want to devote your daughter to being single, or your son. But if they get to the age of sexual consciousness, and they require marriage, let them marry. It's no sin. You don't have to keep some vow. We're not in the vow age anymore. Now, verse 37 takes the other side. Nevertheless, he that stands steadfast in his heart, and there is the fatherly decision, father's firm resolution in my heart, I am decided that she's going to be single, or he's going to be single.

You made a firm resolution? Good. God leads through a father's decisions. Don't you believe that? God leads a family through the father, and he makes that decision, having no necessity.

What does that mean? The daughter doesn't need to get married. She's not putting any pressure. She has no special sexual urge for marriage, and so her father has no obligation. He stands steadfast in his heart.

She has no necessity. He then is given power over his own will. He's so decreed in his own heart that he'll keep his virgin daughter. He does what? He does what? Well, father, you made it good to see.

You know today how that would go over? Well, why aren't you married? My father decided I should be single. Cruel man. The Bible says he does what?

He does what? Does well. If you were to decide that for your daughter, and your daughter had no great strong sexual urge, you would do well, father.

Mother, you would do well. It's a good thing. So he says that, father, look, if you stand fast in your heart, and you feel it's right, and she has no necessity for marriage, you have power over your own will, you sow decree in your heart to keep her a virgin, fine, you're doing very well. What is all this saying to you? I'll tell you what it's saying to me. God wants some people what?

Single. And we do well to consider that with our own children. So then, verse 38, he that gives her in marriage does well, but he that gives her not in marriage does what? Better? You're kidding. Is that what it says? You say, who said it? God.

What do you mean? Underlying verse 38 is the gift. You don't do your daughter any favor if she doesn't have the gift, right? But if there's the gift of singleness, and marriage isn't necessary for your son or your daughter, that's fine to give her in marriage. The gift is optional. It's the only one that's optional. But if you don't, you're doing even better if you'll let them use the gift.

It's a question of advantage, people. Well, this is an interesting chapter, isn't it? What is it saying to us? Marriage is good, and for most of us, it's the only way to live. And I love it, and I wouldn't trade it. And I know you wouldn't either, and it's fulfilled the way God designed it.

But listen to me. Marriage is good, fulfill it, enjoy it, sustain it for life, but so is singleness good. Fulfill it, enjoy it, use it for God's glory. That's the message of 1 Corinthians. Your Christianity will exist and grow and mature and prosper whether you're married or single. That isn't the issue. So he settles once and for all the Corinthians hang up about how marriage affected spirituality.

It has no effect. What you are, married or single, has no bearing on your spirituality. God wants some married for special reasons and some single. And I think, beloved in the church, we need to be aware of this. We need to recognize it, and we need to be accepting and loving with those that are single, and if we're single, with those that are married, and understand the full complement of the body of Christ.

Let's pray. Lord, we ask your Holy Spirit to seal to us what we've learned and shared and expressed and to teach us and to help us to teach others these same great truths. Thank you for all the parts of the body of Christ, the married ones and the single ones. Those set aside in marriage to be examples, to raise children, to nurture them in the things of the Lord, to teach them your ways, and those set aside in singleness to be free, to serve you, to be mobile, to be available, to be single-minded. For that full complement in your design of the body, we give you gratitude. Father, help us to search our own hearts and look carefully at the options of your callings before us and choose wisely and well for us and for our children. We praise you in Christ's name.

Amen. That's John MacArthur, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, continuing his current study on grace to you, titled Guidelines for Singleness and Marriage. John, it strikes me that the Bible speaks with absolute clarity when it comes to God's plan for marriage and singleness, but actually goes against the prevailing attitude in our culture. And although these seem to be, I think, some of the most important truths in Scripture, they are neglected among believers who follow the culture and follow their feelings, and it can be a struggle to teach these things and see them played out in the life of the Church. Yeah, well, of course, the world has encroached on the Church to such a massive degree that most relationships are defined by the world, even among people who go to church. They're not taught the deep things of doctrine. They're not taught even the core truths that make a foundation to any kind of relationship. There's so much effort to try to adapt the Church's message to the world that, in effect, in many, many cases, the Church's message is completely lost.

It's just drowned out in the cacophony of worldly voices, and that's a tragic loss, obviously, to everyone, and particularly to believers who are stuck in a situation very often where they're genuinely converted to Christ, but they're not fed anything that's going to help them navigate life and grow in grace. So as we bring our study to a close, we've been exploring God's guidelines for singleness and marriage, and this is not some homespun interesting talk and advice that we've been giving. It's the Bible on this, which means it's the Word of God, the Creator, the One who basically designed humanity, who designed men, women, sexuality, marriage, and even singleness. So Guidelines for Singleness and Marriage has explored all these areas and more and provides practical help for so many people who are trying to find, in many cases, their own identity or their partner and are on some kind of foolish search on the Internet, connecting with some dating site, without a foundation of understanding the Word of God.

So the series Guidelines for Singleness and Marriage is available for free download at our website. I'm saying all this to let you know that. Remember, also, the 1 Corinthians Commentary covers this material in detail, so you can have it on the Commentary and you can order the downloads. And don't forget, if you want to purchase the entire MacArthur New Testament Commentary series, there's no better time than right now, and the price is discounted 25 percent.

But the sale ends today, so place your order now. Yes, do. Friend, this audio series and the Commentary will clearly show you what 1 Corinthians has to say about marriage and how you should apply these truths, whatever your marital status. To download Guidelines for Singleness and Marriage, or to pick up the 1 Corinthians Commentary or the entire MacArthur New Testament Commentary series, get in touch with us today. Call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to That's our website, and there you can download Guidelines for Singleness and Marriage, the audio files, or any of John's 3500 total messages, including hundreds of sermons that we've never aired on the radio. The audio messages, as well as the written transcripts, are available free of charge at Our website is also the place to go to take advantage of the current special pricing on the MacArthur New Testament Commentary series. These commentaries are the product of more than four decades of John's teaching ministry, and they are excellent for pastors, lay leaders, or anyone who wants to study and know God's Word in greater detail. Right now you can order the complete MacArthur New Testament Commentary series at 25 percent off the regular price. That's a great deal. So call to place your order, 800-55-GRACE, or visit our website,

Here's the address one more time, Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to watch Grace to You television this Sunday. Then be here next week when John looks at exactly what God saves you from when you come to Christ. He'll be starting a series titled Delivered by God when another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time comes your way on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-22 12:25:56 / 2023-02-22 12:38:35 / 13

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