August 3, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (1 Corinthians 7)

Submitted by Gina H. from Gracepoint Davis Church

1 Corinthians 7:1-5

This passage clears up some misconceptions that the Corinthians may have had about sex (perhaps because of their particularly immoral background and the sexual immorality of the culture around them).  What does this passage teach about sex, about marriage, and about the modern notion that “my body is my own to do with as I please”?

This passage shows me God’s hear–that He doesn’t want to deprive His people of anything good, but that He wants them to have every good gift in its proper timing and circumstances. The Word of God teaches that we have a God who knows our needs, and who wants to provide for them. Because in our sinfulness we are able to twist and warp things for our own selfish and greedy gain, God places these boundaries in place. The boundaries are not to restrict us, but to make the good gifts of God able to be truly enjoyed without the ways that we can break and ruin everything good with our twisted and dark hearts.

Even within marriage, the Word of God has directives for us regarding how we use our bodies, and again I see God’s heart of love and protection. Imagine a married couple who deprive one another–that would put them in the position again of being tempted to sexual immorality, and so the understanding between even a married couple is to be others-centered in their relationship.  Our time, energies, emotions, resources, even our bodies are not our own to do with as we please, but for the sake of blessing and loving in the proper context, such as marriage in this text. Even in a marriage, the world’s values tell us that it’s for us, for us to be served and to get love, to have our own physical and emotional needs met, but we are given the reminder here that God’s design for marriage is that each person is called instead to think of the needs of the other over their own preferences, and that’s when the marriage can flourish, as God intended.

1 Corinthians 7:12–14 (ESV)

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

“‘Sanctified’ and ‘holy’ cannot here mean ‘saved,’ as verse 16 proves.  Rather they refer to ‘the moral and spiri­tual impact of the life of the believer’ on the rest of the family, making those other family members ‘set apart in a very special place…as God’s ob­ject of devotion.’” [Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 135]

As a Christian, how can I have a “holy influence” toward non-Christians around me, especially my family members?  

The fact that I have the knowledge of the life-giving Gospel in my circle of family and friends, many of whom do not have that personal knowledge of the salvation and love of Jesus, puts me in a position of great burden and responsibility towards them, to show them the love of God. I can do this by first praying for them, as I have that special privilege to have direct access to God because of my personal relationship with Jesus. And as I pray, and grow in my burden for them, I need to let that lead me to action, such as through a conversation that I have with them, sharing the Gospel with them, showing empathy and concern for them so that they could know that God is concerned about them as well. We’ve been hearing messages on Exodus at the Sunday Service, and have seen that when God saw the burdens and suffering of the people, He came to Moses and sent Moses to them, to tell them that there was a God who wanted to deliver them. Likewise today, God still sees the suffering of His people, and He wants to send me, and those who know Him personally, to them, to tell them that there is a God who wants to deliver them. So that means I need to go and share with them about all I’ve experienced about God. I think especially with family members, they are the ones who have known me all my life, know all about my issues and quirks and hang-ups, and you could think that you can’t share the Gospel with your own family, they know you too well to think that God could be real in your life. But because of God’s love for even my family, He has placed me in their life as the Christian who can pray for them. They are blessed because they have me in their life able to pray for them and share about God with them! So I can’t shrink back from my call to love and share with them, but see it as that personal burden as well as privilege, to be that person through whom they can be blessed and come to know God.

1 Corinthians 7:17-24 

Why is it appropriate for believers to “remain in the condition in which he was called”? 

It is because it’s the life that the Lord has assigned to him (v. 17). If you’re a slave, of course if the chance to be set free is availed to you, take it. But the point is that whatever situation you are in, that’s not your true identity and source of significance. A single person anxious about marriage for the future, is the beloved of God, and does not need a spouse in order to feel loved and secure. A married person dealing with the concerns of his spouse is still first and foremost to be devoted to God and to not place the marriage relationship over his relationship with God. The life to which one is called at the present time, is a chance for each person to honor God whatever his status, to have that testimony of God’s faithfulness no matter if the change of circumstance comes. If change of circumstance/status becomes paramount, then I have not trusted in what God can do in my life in my current situation, that He wants to work in my life in that current condition, and have missed that chance to honor God today, while I can, in whatever position I am in.

What “condition” do I need to “remain in” and not “be concerned about it” (v. 21)?”  What may God want to teach me through my present situation?

I’ve had to learn a lot about marriage these past ten years. That when I seek my own needs to be met, to be treated a certain way by my husband, and seek to control him and the ways he should change to meet my expectations, that first of all, that change does not happen, that I cannot change him, and that second, the marriage does not work very well, because I am going against God’s design in that condition of marriage when I just focus on my marriage and what I want it to be to meet my own preferences. But when I accept the fact that before I am someone’s wife, I am a beloved daughter of God, cherished and unconditionally loved, secure in His love, then I don’t feel the need to seek to find that security in my marriage through how my husband should treat me. And when I accept my condition, that I am in a marriage in which God tells us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, it’s when I actually struggle to obey this, that the marriage can flourish, and there is peace and harmony and joy. I think God wanted to teach me about my own wrong values and expectations, my own pride and pettiness and selfishness through my current condition, and I hope that I can continue to learn to submit to God in this area, so that I can honor God and give praise to Him for all the ways that He has carried us.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

What is the relationship between the brevity of life and the life that Apostle Paul exhorts believers to live as expressed in the phrases “live as if they had none,” “as if they did not,” “as if they were not,” and “as if it were not theirs to keep”?

If this earthly life were to go on forever, then why not just indulge in my marriage, family, emotions, physical comforts, consumer goods, etc…? But if life is short, and there is an eternity to face, either with or apart from God, then that means that eternity is the greater reality. And that people all around me are either going to be apart from God or with God for eternity. And I can choose to either indulge in my own comforts and emotions and worldly desires, and ignore the need of others to hear about and experience God, or I can use all that God has given me – even my marriage, home, money, resources – to love others and show them God’s love that they can also receive. Life is short, and I have one life to live, to use for maximum impact and purpose in the scheme of eternity. That means that anything else about me, any other condition that I am in, is really not the point of my life, but just things given to me, to steward for God so that they could be used as a blessing to others.

Personal Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for giving such meaning to my life, and showing me that my worth and security is not based on my condition in this earthly life.  Thank you that I have been given such a higher and ennobled life, that does not need to be lived enslaved by just my own selfish earthly desires, by certain conditions in my life that I seek, but that I can give honor to You no matter my condition. Please teach me in my current condition to be able to live as not engrossed in the things that I have, so that I can live my short life on earth towards the greater reality of eternity.

Submitted by Ming from Gracepoint Davis Church

1       Corinthians 7:1-5

This passage clears up some misconceptions that the Corinthians may have had about sex (perhaps because of their particularly immoral background and the sexual immorality of the culture around them).  What does this passage teach about: (1) sex; (2) about marriage; and (3) about the modern notion that “my body is my own to do with as I please”?

With regards to sex: Having ended Chapter 6 with the strong charge for the Corinthian church to flee from sexual immorality, and coupled with the prevailing sexually immoral culture of Corinth that the young Corinthian church was daily faced with, Apostle Paul teaches both them and us in the beginning of 1 Corinthians 7, that sex ought to be between a man and a woman committed to one another in marriage. Period. Even though the Corinthian culture was such that sex between unmarried individuals was accepted as “ok” or “normal,” the Corinthian church was called, instructed and taught to keep sex between a married couple, consisting of a man and a woman committed in marriage. The concept of “sleeping around” or “casual sex,” “hooking up” or “one night stand” was not acceptable. And this pertained to both married and single individuals. Again, sex was reserved for marriage. Furthermore, verse two (and arguably the end of verse 5) teaches us that sex, or more aptly put, the desire for sex is indeed a powerful thing. Looking at the culture of Corinth, Apostle Paul recognized that the temptation for sexual immorality was no small thing and therefore continues to pen that because the temptation is so great to fall into sexual immorality, then it was best that each person get married and fulfill/satisfy one’s sexual desires/needs with his/her own spouse. As he writes later in verse eight, “For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

With regards to marriage: It’s within marriage that a man and woman are to submit to one another and meet each other’s sexual needs. Apostle Paul goes so far as to state that a husband’s body is not just his own, but that his wife has authority over it and vice versa. Both parties are asked to not deprive one another for to do so would open up the possibility of one and/or both to fall into sexual immorality by seeking to be satisfied sexually by other means (i.e., having an affair).

With regards to the modern notion that “my body is my own to do with as I please”: Apostle Paul is pretty much saying, “No, it isn’t!” Without reiterating yesterday’s DT fully, 1 Corinthians 6 ends with, “19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Basically, our bodies belong to God as they are the “containers” within which the Holy Spirit resides in. Apostle Paul furthers this notion that our bodies are not our own by clearly stating in the beginning of chapter seven that within a marriage, our bodies, my body, is not my own. My body not only belongs to God, but it also belongs to my wife. It is hers and ought to be given over to her to meet her needs. That said, I cannot do whatever I want to do with it for it belong to her and should I “destroy” it, “taint” it or “corrupt it” in any way it will negatively affect her.

Given that we live in a world today where the culture is actually not very different from that of ancient Corinth, Apostle Paul’s words ought to be taken seriously. The truth is that we do live in a sexually immoral culture filled with numerous temptations to sin sexually. We live in a world saturated with so many messages from the media, movies, music, TV and even the news that one’s body is his/her own and that it’s “ok” to sleep around and engage in premarital sex or other sexually immoral acts before marriage. We live in a world where pornography is easily accessible and has enslaved so many people. We live in culture where “hooking up” and “casual sex” are accepted on the college campuses.  And sadly, so many fall into sexual temptation.

Most tragically, no one is ever told of the cost–the emotional damage of one day getting married to someone who deserves your all, deserves your body, and deserves all of your intimacy.  By living according to the modern notion that “my body is my own to do with as I please” one runs the high risk of becoming like a piece of overused tape which after being intimately applied to and peeled off of numerous surfaces has lost its “stickiness” and is therefore no longer able to closely bond emotionally with someone.

Taking Apostle Paul’s words to heart would perhaps enable us to pause when faced with such temptation and remember that our bodies belong not only to God, but someone else. As a married man, my body belongs to my wife. As a single, everyone is off limits. That said, I need to commit to daily remembering the truth that I belong to God, my wife and this church and therefore, I cannot ever think that “my body is my own to do with as I please”.

1 Corinthians 7:12-14

“‘Sanctified’ and ‘holy’ cannot here mean ‘saved,’ as verse 16 proves.  Rather they refer to ‘the moral and spiri­tual impact of the life of the believer’ on the rest of the family, making those other family members ‘set apart in a very special place…as God’s ob­ject of devotion.’”  [Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 135]

As a Christian, how can I have a “holy influence” toward non-Christians around me, especially my family members?  

I can have a “holy influence” towards non-Christians by concretely living out God’s Word/Commands in the Bible, which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Love them in the same way that I have been loved by Christ (John 13:34-35). Concretely this may mean sacrificing one’s time, money, emotional resources so that their needs are met. Over the years, I’ve come to see that one of the ways that I can love my family is by being the first one to serve/volunteer in taking care of whatever needs to get done. As someone who has been selfish all my life, it was a pleasant surprised to my parents when I started becoming aware of the various things that needed attention, such as helping my parents or many siblings out with whatever they were going through. It also included the mundane things of life such as me going out to buy groceries (i.e., Costco shopping) for the household (which at one point consisted of nine people), preparing dinner and then cleaning up while everyone else was enjoying dessert and coffee.

Moreover, I started to take the time to really get to know my siblings, listen to them, and get involved in their lives. Growing up, I was that distant and aloof older brother who always seemed too preoccupied with obtaining “greatness” in this world that I hardly ever seemed interested in their lives and all of the “ups and downs” they were going through. However, having experienced God’s detailed love for me and knowing that He cares greatly about every aspect about my life, I am fueled to pour out that same type of love to my siblings with the hope that they will see that it’s not because I have the ability/capacity to love this way. It’s because I was first loved by God that I now have the desire to really get involved in their lives and share God’s love with them. And throughout the years, I think I’ve gotten much closer to my siblings and have been able to share with them the Gospel message and more specifically how God’s Words addresses each and every single one of their fears, anxieties, questions and frustrations with both themselves and others.

Another way that I can be a “holy influence” is by what comes out of my mouth. What do I talk to them about? What interests me? What do I share about my life to them? The answers to these questions can either point them towards or away from God. That said, I have tried over the years to refrain from overly talking about the things of this world. It should be noted that while I do talk to them about the latest movies, gadgets, trends, stocks, the European economic crisis, and whatever was featured in the most recent issue of the Economist, I do not do so with the same enthusiasm and/or sense of importance that I used to.

Instead, I’ve tried to have more substantial/thought-provoking conversations with them so that they might ever so slightly be more open to Christianity.

And each time I’m able to weave into my response bits of the Gospel message along with why I do what I do and why I have decided to follow Christ. And by being able to respond in this way, I am able to gently challenge their worldview and cause them to reconsider whether they have indeed allowed the many “good” things of this world to prevent them from experience the “best,” which is Christ.

1 Corinthians 7:17-24 

Why is it appropriate for believers to “remain the place in condition in which he was called”? 

First of all, by remaining in whatever condition one was called, I am able to declare to the world that it is God who is in charge of my life and not me. He is the one who calls the shots and who determines whether I am to move forward or to wait/remain. Logically, this makes sense given that God is God and by definition is much more qualified to lead our lives vs. anyone else. However, when I look at my past, I have either gotten impatient or in a state of pride have thought that I know best as to how I should live my life. As a result, I end up taking matters into my own hands. Like Adam and Eve, I arrogantly thought that I know what’s best for my life and end up throwing Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” out the window on my way down a quick and chaotic path towards self-destruction.

Waiting upon God also shows my trust in God, that He is indeed my faithful provider, my Jehovah-Jireh. So often times it’s my lack of faith in God’s goodness, His desire to experience life and have it to the full that has caused me to not wait and to impulsively act. Like the Israelites who gathered more than a day’s worth of Manna, I have experienced the unpleasantness of not trusting in God and taking matters into my own hands. The result is that I’m left with a stinky mess to clean up. And in the context of this passage, Apostle Paul is not only addressing one’s marital status (e.g., married vs. single), but also one’s vocation/job. With regards to both of these topics, we are to remain with God. And as a single guy seemingly many years ago, this was not an easy thing to do because I was anxious about marriage. I didn’t want to be the last of my peers to get married at the age of 30. In fact, I know that many young single people get anxious about marriage and feel the need to take matters into their own hands in this area of their life. They don’t trust in God’s goodness and that God has what’s best in mind for them. I know this, because I was one of those people who foolishly took matters into my own hands and as a result brought upon much heartache, pain and anguish by not remaining with God. Thankfully, God had mercy upon me and blessed me with a wonderful wife, whom I married at the age of 30. Ironically, I was also the last of my peers to get married.

Personal Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to me through today’s DT regarding sex, marriage, and how I ought to view my body. My body is yours O Lord, bought at a costly price and now by your grace a part of this church. May I always remember that my body does not belong to me, but to you so that I may daily strive to live a life that is both pure and pleasing to You. Help me as well to always be a “holy influence” around those that you have placed in my life who have yet to experience and accept your Gospel message. Help me to fight against my selfishness, and my desire to preserve myself and remain comfortable by remembering the fact that perhaps it’s through my life that you want to impact them with your love. Finally, please strengthen my faith and trust in your promises, and most of all the truth of who You are as my faithful provider and heavenly Father. Let me now grow impatient with life’s circumstances and take matters into my own hands, but rather trust in you and “remain with you” until called to move, especially as Linda and I are going to become first time parents next month. May you be the God of my life every day. I pray all of this in the name of your precious son Jesus Christ, Amen.

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