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Marriage and its Many Problems

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 26, 2021 8:00 am

Marriage and its Many Problems

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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July 26, 2021 8:00 am

A church struggles to come to terms with what it means to serve the Lord. But it's not easy. All around are greedy and debauched people. Inevitably some of sinfulness has begun to infiltrate the church. Sound familiar? This scenario is not just our own; the early church of Corinth faced many of the same problems! Dr. Boice's study in 1 Corinthians reveals a striking similarity between own battles and the struggles the early church, here on The Bible Study Hour.

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Looking to the Bible studio review infinitive ministry of the annoyance of confessing agility featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically tonight were looking at the seventh chapter of first Corinthians, where Paul discusses marriage and I've entitled a study marriage and its many problems. I pointed out last Sunday evening that our problem today is the secular worldview, which begins with this as a closed universe, which is the silent world of modern things and which excludes God and therefore naturally excludes spiritual realities and ultimate responsibility goes along with the fact that if you have a closed universe, thereby excluding God man become self-sufficient and buttressed by the philosophy of Darwinian evolution becomes perfectible. We may not be perfect yet but were on our way. This is what most people think. Therefore, the thing to do is to carry along in this way as fast as we can with all the gusto at our disposal and the first thing comes in at that point they were going to do this and do it effectively. Then no restraints should be allowed as a matter fact any restraint is evil.

Any limit must be bad.

And so man in this self-sufficiency seeks to be autonomous with no ultimate responsibility to anyone but himself. I tried to point out as I introduce that my Sunday evening is that Christianity is the antithesis of this in every single area we don't deal with a closed universe.

We deal with a universe that is made by God and is therefore responsible to God. We don't deal with the self-sufficiency of Manman important just man made in the image of God, by all means, yes, but not self-sufficient and not perfectible as God himself does the perfecting. As far as autonomy goes, we are simply not autonomous the were no God. We could have a claim to be autonomous. Even then we might not necessarily be but if there's a God, we most certainly are not autonomous and we are responsible to him and it's within that framework that Paul introduces these matters before us by one of them had to do with sexual immorality and Paul talks about that the end of first Corinthians 6 that's one particular aspect of the problem. The kind of thing that says well if it feels good do it. That's all that counts. Paul points out, as we saw that breaking the law of God in this area is not beneficial. It is enslaving and it's dishonoring to God.

Now in first Corinthians 7 he deals with marriage and for the first time in this letter he seems to be dealing with a question that the Corinthians had asked him up at this point you deal dealt with problems and he knew they had, but they had been so concerned with those problems he dealt with their pride in their wisdom.

We talked about the divisions in the church. They seem to take that all in stride. There was immorality in the case of Amanda let his father's wife.

They had dealt with that in an open way, no doubt considering themselves very broad-minded Paul run up all those matters I had raised that with him but here for the first time in chapter 7, something that apparently they had written to him about the way he begins it now for the matters you wrote about the number matters like that in this book, so they had said we begin to get the ideas we read this chapter, what about a situation in which and then they would spell it out. Should a person be married in that particular situation and what about this kind of the difficulty should a person get a divorce and that kind of a difficulty in this is what Paul is dealing with money is hard to handle this an easy outline form. Let me suggest in a general way.

The gist of what Paul says are taken in three or four categories. First thing Paul talks about his marriage and what Paul says about marriage is that marriage is good, the point at which you have to start marriage is good, we read this in. And all because we don't enter fully into the kind of questions that had been given to Paul by the people in Corinth with 10 to say well it's hard to see that is really saying that is good. They obviously ask him whether in the situation in which they live in a situation where they were under persecution where they were at the very front lines of the battle of evangelism in the Greek city states of their day whether it was good for the person to be married and that kind of a situation. The weather would be better for the sake of the gospel that a person remain unmarried and Paul response to that in the situation to say in my judgment and that kind of a situation. It's good to remain unmarried be like me because I'm an evangelist and I certainly am free from family cares able to carry on a very effective ministry.

Going from city to city in a way that I would not be free to carry on the ministry. If I were married, we read that we say oh yeah what sounds like he saying that the unmarried state is the state to be desired. Above all else is as if we hear Paul saying, by all means stay unmarried, but if you got to get marriage just can't resist it if you're just burning with passion.

Well, it's better to get married, then the hand fornication. We read it that way yet to Paul about this, you say, also wrote the Ephesians 5th chapter where you have really a beautiful description of marriage, which she says they are God ordained in order to illustrate the most sublime of all spiritual truths, namely the way the Lord Jesus Christ is the faithful husband and bridegroom of the church and how we the church or his bride Paul Yassin says that there is not saying something utterly different here Paul is saying that marriage is good, but notice he is not saying marriage is the only good there's the problem you say because we're not at that edge of the spectrum in our society where we say old yes the celibate life is the thing.

And anybody who marries is a second rate Christian where the other side of the spectrum where, because of the important than the pressures of our society. We say oh yes, marriage is the only thing you gotta have a sexual relationship and if you don't have that well then you just a second rate person you can't possibly be fulfilled and understand the Paul is saying.

Marriage is good, but it is not the only good in the single life is good. God calls you to that but it is not the only good question that he wants to raise in which he places before us and before any other Christian is simply this lot is not calling to which God has called you, I suspect as I read this that there was a division in the church between the Jewish mentality and what we would call a super spiritual Greek mentality the Jewish culture. Marriage was required. That was the normal thing and it was just the only thing that really allowed you to be a full person very important man get married woman get married in the Greek culture. Well, it wasn't quite that way, the Greeks had division and their philosophy between spirit and matter, and in that particular division of the Greek culture spirit or the world of the mind ideas was good and the body matter and such things were bad. All they recognize that there was a certain necessity there, but anybody who really wanted to be a philosopher. The way the secular spirit of the Greeks would express it or, in the Christian community wanted to really be a spiritual person really should abstain from anything physical because I was bad because what Paul would say. At that point is that God is created the body as well as the spirit and God has created marriage as well as the fact that God is called some of the celibate life and therefore neither the extreme of the Juno nor the extreme of the Greek right, but rather marriage was good, though not the only good now in the context of this first paragraph as he begins to talk about the goodness of marriage is talking about the goodness of sex is very explicit. This is a sort of thing that Christian teachers always talk about today. Yet Paul is shy at this point he's quite open.

He says looking marriage of man and the wife are to have a sexual relationship and he says the reason for that is that in marriage. God is made of two individuals, one flesh sold the wife's body is no longer just her body and the husband's body is no longer just his body, but rather, each belongs to the other and for that reason, a life was not say well I don't want to have a sexual relationship and the husband must not say.

Well I don't want to have a sexual relationship, and therefore hold back or she says well I'll hold back because somehow that we do that maybe will be more spiritual. Paul says that's wrong within marriage. There must be that spiritual union and it is a good thing. In the sexual union is a good thing. And furthermore, if you don't have that you're letting yourself open to all kinds of temptations and problems start to realize that that sort of mentality would be a problem in our time because our culture is so much on the other side talks about sex sex sex and sometimes nothing but sex but there is that in Christian relationships. At times, good friend of mine Howard Hendricks, who is a professor at Dallas theological seminary spends a lot of time counseling Christian people and he says one of the difficulties he discovers sin marriages, Christian marriages, especially among young couples and he sees many of them among the seminarians with whom he deals is it one of the other parties. Usually, the wife and this particular situation, thinks that somehow sex isn't the kind of thing.

A godly person would do all it might be necessary but it's it's not the sort of thing you would do if you were really spiritual and therefore when husband has a desire for sexual relationship like kinda holds back on that and things well and always young and immature yet tender, I suppose it's a sort of thing you have to do, but maybe as he grows in the Lord.

This will become less necessary.

That's a terrible thing. Sometimes these wives say the Howard Hendricks yes Dr. Hendrix but you don't understand he has so much desire and he points out, and I think, quite rightly, that I desire is given to the man by God says what did you think you are marrying a man with no desire that's part of what makes him what he is one of the glories of a married relationship is that the wife is the sole person on the face of the earth was able to satisfy that desire and the particular man that God is given is not bad but is good and that is what Paul is saying and if you think it's bad and you get into a frame of mind where you say well you know maybe a little bit of sex but not too much sex because after all, you get the trouble that way. Paul says the opposite is the case, begin holding back on that you'll find that there will be trouble, but will be trouble, but involves somebody else so that's the first thing he says now the second category of problems that he deals with our those involving separation and since I've begun to put it in that way saying marriage is good, let's talk about separation and say separation is bad, what is talking about verse 10, following to the married I give this command line with the Lord. Wife was not separate from her husband.

But if she does, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband and the husband must not divorce his wife Paul talks very explicitly in the next paragraph about divorce and is very strong on that.

I think when he talks about separation.

Here in verse 10 he is talking about something else. I would separation that may lead to divorce.

That's why he throws in the line that there must not be divorce when he talks about separation saying it's bad is not necessarily saying that in every possible circumstance, it can never happen. Sometimes there are situations where separation perhaps through time becomes necessary are situations where a wife is married to a drunken proof of husband and her physical life is in danger and perhaps not only hers, but perhaps the health and the well-being of the children ball might say, although he doesn't explicitly say so here than in such a situation, it might be necessary for the sake of the health of the children in the wife as well that there be separation, but Paul says if separation occurs. This is not what your to do. It's not the way it's to be worked out, but if that happens. If it becomes necessary by virtue of circumstances.

The wife and that kind of a situation is to remain unmarried, or else by the grace of God in time be reconciled to her husband's even though Paul is dealing with what is quite obviously the fruit of sin in human life, he finds himself in an entirely different world of thought that in a world that characterizes much of our contemporaries. People today say well you know things don't work well that's all right just break off, you know, start again. Nobody expect anything, to be perfectly still all marriage dissolve the marriages and everything you wanted to be, well, you just ended. Paul is entirely on the other side of that Paul is saying, look it may happen because it's a sinful world, but a separation becomes inevitable. But he says if it does, here's the consequence of understand it in advance of your Christian and your living by the standards of God then you're alternative. At that point is not remarriage to someone else. But either reconciliation to your spouse from whom you're separated or else remaining unmarried for the rest of your life, all people say all the typing that's impossible.

That way well the answer is that if you're a Christian, God will give you the grace to do what God tells you to do and this is what Paul says he brings another matter. This point begins to talk about divorce in a significant way in which he talks about three times over in these verses Paul says you must not divorce. You must not divorce. You must not divorce any pics on both sides of the husband must not divorce his wife.

A wife is not divorce her husband and somebody says well what about a condition where the Christian is married to a non-Christian everybody knows they're taught anything about Christian view of marriage that marriage is to be a union in the Lord to be a union of body would body with just the sexual union in the union of soul was Saul, which is a union of minds of the union of spirit spirit which is a spiritual thing and that's possible. Obviously, only if both parties are Christians. Suppose you have a man.

It was a Christian and a wife who is not a wife was a Christian and a man who is not be proper in that kind of a circumstance to the Christian to divorce non-Christian in order that they might establish a true beautiful spiritual Christian home almost think that Paul would be inclined to say that yet.

Paul says here more emphatically than any place in any of his writings if the person involved is a Christian that Christian must not divorce. The other party, and he gives several reasons for well he says is a matter of the children and their set apart to the Lord in the home. Even if there's only one Christian parent. Anything you might be the means of reaching the non-Christian spouse and he says God is called us to peace not to disunion and so on. But suppose the non-Christian leaves. Suppose the non-Christian says I don't want to be married to a Christian, I meant to go, what you do that. That's what Paul deals with probably there had been cases like that. Paul says if that's the case, well then, if the non-Christian goes they go. There's nothing you can do about it. Divorce becomes inevitable in that situation of the Christian is no longer bound that marriage now at this point there is a difference in interpretation among Christian commentators that phrase verse 15 believing man or woman is not bound and sent circumstances been interpreted in two ways. Some of said well it means that the question is no longer bound that marriage is not bound to pursue the unbelieving spouse, whether man or woman all over the Roman world trying to get the marriage back together again can't be done can't be done.

That's all it means and other people of said well know, it means that you're no longer bound to the marriage you're free from the marriage of if you're free from the marriage. You have the right to remarry in my opinion is that the first is right because I think there's so many other passages in Scripture to that effect. The Christian is not even in a situation like that where divorce apparently becomes inevitable to remarry. I think several times over in this chapter Paul says the same thing as well.

Verse 39 woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, whatever husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes. And so on.

That's what I think. Let me say that even if the second is true even if this is a case where I do not believe it is substantiated anywhere else in Scripture, but even if it is the case that here Paul is saying in this particular circumstance. If a Christian is married to a non-Christian in the non-Christian leaves in the divorce result, the Christian has a right to marry again for the first time as a Christian, even if it is saying that notice that it is saying that about a particular situation in which a Christian is married to a non-Christian, and not to Christians recently emphasize that is because we have a very dangerous thing happening in the evangelical church today. This verse is regarded as an out by those who are having difficulty in their marriage and the way to handle it. In some situations is to trying to maneuver things in such a way that is possible to regard the partner with whom you're having difficulty either as a non-Christian, or acting as one goes like this in the 18th chapter of Matthew Lord Jesus is speaking and he gives instructions for dealing with a brother who was created some offense and he says what you do in a situation like that is still your brother and try to make it right.

And if your brother refuses then you take a witness with you and the two of you go three of you go and try to make it right. And if that still fails, you bring it to the attention of the church and if after the church becomes involved in the matter. The erring brother doesn't repent of his said that your to treat them as a tax collector, a Republican but is this to be church discipline, the argument goes that it's possible for somebody to act in a recalcitrant way.

This would be possible in the marriage is spouse either husband on the one hand or a wife on the other can act that way you can bring church discipline, and if they don't respond well that you can treat them as an unbeliever, and if you're treating them as an unbeliever, you can divorce them, which is what it says in first Corinthians 7 and you can get remarried. A people haven't gone through that might think that.

I suppose rightly that that somewhat convoluted reasoning. People who find themselves in that situation today having difficulty in a marriage, but to nevertheless want to live as Christians find that extremely attractive when I want to say is that that is not what the Bible teaches. Certainly that is not what Paul is teaching the situation that Paul speaks of here concerns if it concerns remarriage of all which I don't believe it does but of the concerns remarriage at all the concerns the marriage of a Christian with a non-Christian in the non-Christian, breaking off the marriage by the divorce law for Christians is simply this separation comes among Christians in its inevitable it may be inevitable but in that case, the Christian is to remain unmarried, or else be reconciled with the spouse say those are hard words for people who are suffering in relationships which are not harmonious, but that is the teaching of the Word of God that is necessary for the strength of families the preservation of righteousness within the church and for the good of society very last portion of this which actually is a long portion beginning with verse 17 Paul talks about what I would call contentment he brings in a number of different illustrations. What is really saying here is, he deals with this matter is that we should be content to abide in whatever calling God has called us we might look at this at first say well it seems like Paul is progressing here little bit. Certainly some of the things that he mentions are strictly speaking, applicable to marriage talks about a man being circumcised or uncircumcised Jew were not the slave or free man yes or no brings in those examples. But what is really talking about is contentment saying the same thing is true in these matters that concern marriage. He says it is called you to a married state.

Be content with the married state and use that for his glory and make that everything that God can possibly make the marriage be. And if on the other hand, God has at least at this point in your life called you to a single state try to be married because God's grace is sufficient also for the single life and God will bless that to you save. I don't think I can do that. That is if you're unmarried and you want to be or you say I don't think I can do that.

That is if you're married and you wish you weren't missing.

The problem there is the problem of sin, which simply is to say that we are so focused in our sinful state and stimulated to it by our culture upon ourselves that we can't imagine.

Continuing in any relationship which from our point of view is not the most satisfying and personally fulfilling thing in the face of this planet say this is not Christianity. If you say to yourself, well, what I want to be is fulfilled and I'm single and I can't be fulfilled single. I got to get married, or if you say well when I got a B is fulfilled, and I can't be fulfilled in this relationship. I'm gonna break this off and try again. I just have to start again. Thinking that way you're thinking is the old man.

That's the sinful nature within which says me first before so I got to satisfy me. What Paul says instead is like you got a break that there's no real growth in the Christian life must you do break that what you have to begin with is the will of God and serving God. You gotta recognize that you're not your own, which are bought with a price. Even the precious blood of Christ in your here to serve him because you do a single life. You should combat all joy to serve him in the single life in the because you will married life. You should count that all joy to serve in a married life.

Furthermore, that it's from back framework that outlook upon things that God is able to use you to bring the fullest measure blessing in the lives of other people. Someone else all yes but you don't understand. Well, it may be that I don't understand pastor sees many difficult things, but the longer you live, the more difficult. Some of these problems seem to be you. Say yes. I don't know what I would do if I were in the circumstance. That's all true but you see what we're to do is not be determined by whether someone else understands us or not, or even whether we understand the situation ourselves, but what we do is to be determined by what the word of God says where we live by that.

We find that even if human mobs disappoint us the love of the Lord is sufficient and is able to take us up to him and were going to sing as we close has a wonderful story with it. It's my man named Matheson his name was George. He was engaged to be married to a beautiful girl and then he had an accident in the accident left him blind as he lay in the hospital recovering from his accident blind, wondering what was going to happen to him in his life and what would happen to him in the relationship. The girl came to see him and she said I can't spend my life married to a blind man and so she broke it off. Here was George Matheson, a man who had lost his sight and I would lost his love thrown back upon the love of God, and it was out of drafts great grief that he wrote what has become one of our great hymns. This love left him. But the love of God picked him up all love that will not let me go wrote George Matheson. I rest my weary soul in the I give the back. The life I owe that in mind, ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller, be all light follow a small my way. I yield my flickering torch to the my heart restores its borrowed Ray. They didn't buy sunshine displays its day made brighter fairer be all joy sleekest meets true pain.

I cannot close my heart to the I traced the rainbow through the rain and feel the promise is not in vain that mourn shall Peerless be oh cross lift to stop my head.

I dare not ask fly from the I lay in dust life's glory dead from the ground or blossoms read life a child endless be. That's a great love and it's not the love of man or the love of woman. It's the love of God, let us pray our father, we recognize that because of our sin and the involve situations of our lives, brought about by sin.

There are things in Scripture which are part to receive. We wish they weren't that way in our father, you speak clearly you speak to us, you tell us what we should do when you tell us to abide in that state in which were called in to be content with what you do in our lives and our father.

That's what we would do and if we find it difficult we would do is, George Matheson did learn to rest in that eternal and unchangeable love that never lets us go so and that love go on thought and bitterness but enjoy and compassion and from strength to strength, to the praise of the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord. You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888.

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