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1 Corinthians #8 – The Single Adult Christian and Sexuality


Up to this point, Paul had been dealing with the sins reported to be known in the Corinthian congregation. Now he takes up the questions about which they had written to him.

Some liberal critics have accused Paul of being against both marriage and women. These accusations are not true, of course.

Nor is it true that in 1 Corinthians 7:6, 10, 12, and 25 Paul is disclaiming divine inspiration for what he wrote. Rather, he is referring to what Jesus taught when He was on earth (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18).

Paul had to answer some questions that Jesus never discussed; but when a question arose that the Lord had dealt with, Paul referred to His words. Instead of disclaiming inspiration, Paul claimed that what he wrote was equal in authority to what Christ taught.

Christians Married to Christians (1 Cor. 7:1-11)

Apparently one of the questions the church asked was, “Is celibacy [remaining unmarried] more spiritual than marriage?” Paul replied that it is good for a man or a woman to have the gift of celibacy, but the celibate state is not better than marriage, nor is it the best state for everybody. Dr. Kenneth Wuest translates Paul’s reply, “It is perfectly proper, honorable, morally befitting for a man to live in strict celibacy.”

1 First Corinthians 7:6 makes it clear that celibacy is permitted, but it is not commanded; and 1 Corinthians 7:7 informs us that not everybody has the gift of remaining celibate. This ties in with our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 19:10-12, where “eunuchs” refers to those who abstain from marriage. “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18) is generally true for most people; but some have been called to a life of singleness for one reason or another.

One purpose for marriage is “to avoid fornication.” First Corinthians 7:2 makes it clear that God does not approve either of polygamy or homosexual “marriages.” One man married to one woman has been God’s pattern from the first. However, the husband and wife must not abuse the privilege of sexual love that is a normal part of marriage.

The wife’s body belongs to the husband, and the husband’s body to the wife; and each must be considerate of the other. Sexual love is a beautiful tool to build with, not a weapon to fight with. To refuse each other is to commit robbery (see 1 Thes. 4:6) and to invite Satan to tempt the partners to seek their satisfaction elsewhere.

As in all things, the spiritual must govern the physical; for our bodies are God’s temples. The husband and wife may abstain in order to devote their full interest to prayer and fasting (1 Cor. 7:5); but they must not use this as an excuse for prolonged separation. Paul is encouraging Christian partners to be “in tune” with each other in matters both spiritual and physical.

In 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, Paul applied the principle stated in 1 Corinthians 7:1 to single believers and widows: If you cannot control yourself, then marry.

The Responsibilities of Marriage Partners (7:2-6)

Because of fornication it is better for every man to have a wife.”

Sexual drive is God given; but must be fulfilled within the bounds of marriage. Love is something which is expressed by seeking the best for another even when the emotional enthusiasm has diminished.

Paul’s inspired judgment is that man has the right of choice in the question of marriage.

Obligations in marriage.

Sexual intercourse in marriage is not just permitted; it is commanded. The husband and wife belong to each other. Deprive not one another except by mutual consent. Could relate to temporary separation during a time of religious involvement. Without the consent, separation should not take place. Agreement based on a time of prayer. Such prayer was not commanded.

Generally thought of during specific needs and times.

The necessity is there to come back together to avoid Satan’s temptation which is ever present. The idea of separation between husband and wife is a concession, not a command.

 Paul’s Personal Example (7:7-8)

Paul possessed self control with regard to sexual desires. He credited his self control in sexual desire to a gift from God. Paul wished everyone possessed that gift as he did 1 Corinthians 7:9. 

Better to marry than to burn.”

“Burn” – Has to do with present sexual feelings or desire. Does not mean burn in torment. Paul stresses the need for marriage as the means of controlling sexual desires. Marriage should be exercised before sex; not as a result of having sexual encounters. Sexual desire is God given and therefore, not impure if placed in the context of marriage (Hebrews 13:4). In spite of the distress, marriage is better than being overtaken by temptation.

All covenants with God have a visible sign.

Sex is the Marriage Covenant’s Visible Sign

And sex is a sign of the marriage covenant between a man and a woman and God. Sex is a visible sign that makes visible the invisible reality of the union of the two people. The sign of the marriage covenant is sex.

According to the Bible, every other woman in the world a man relates to as a sister or a mother, but only one does he relate to as a wife. The sign between you and that only other person who you relate to as your spouse is sex.

It is designed to be a sign of permanence, safety, security, faithfulness.

Implicit in having sex is the promise of faithfulness. Sex communicates to the other person’s heart and to God the father: “I am touching you because I promise never to leave you nor forsake you. The exchange of our most intimate gifts communicates permanence. That is why sex belongs in marriage.

In this context, we are able to see why sex as a single adult is so damaging. When you have sex with someone as a single adult you are doing two things:

1) you are making permanent promises to the other person’s soul while you have temporary intentions. This creates confusion, anxiety, and insecurity.

2) Sex as a single adult makes a mockery out of the covenant between a man and a woman before the Lord and brings you into a state of spiritual disconnection. It doesn’t matter how brief the hookup or how strictly physical it is, sex outside of marriage leaves devastation emotional and spiritual devastation in its wake.

1 Corinthians 6:18: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

The way we typically see things is as commitment increases so does physical intimacy. We basically earn the right to be more intimate as we stay with the person longer. If you haven’t been allowed to have a kiss after three dates then you might get a little upset because you have the right to have a kiss. That’s what dating people do. “We are dating, come on. I’m going to go find someone else.”

However, what the Bible indicates is that if there are only two types of relationships, those you relate to as brothers/sisters/fathers/mothers or husbands/wives, then there are only two levels of sexual intimacy. No sexual intimacy or total sexual intimacy. Please don’t tune this out because it’s some preacher guy who is out of touch. There is no middle ground. No “friends with benefits”. No “hook-up buddies”. No dating and doing everything but intercourse. Because sex includes more than the act of intercourse.

I am not trying to draw a new set of rules for you. I am trying to get you to think about your sexuality in a new way. The way you relate to the opposite sex. Relating sexually as if you were married to that person you are dating brings incredible relational, emotional, physical, and spiritual confusion.

And you are setting yourself up for failure.

Sex as not a birthright or a mile-marker needed after so many days in a relationship. The damage from sex as a single adult comes not because you don’t have the right person, but because it is in the wrong context. The truth

is that the only place where sex is going to be satisfying to your soul is when it is the visible sign of the invisible covenant you have made with that one person of the opposite sex. It is the way we demonstrate our commitment to the covenant to that one person for the rest of our lives.

Managing your Sexuality as a Single Adult

So how does a single person resist the temptation? Sometimes the sex drive seems almost overwhelming especially for those single adults who are single again after being in a marriage relationship where they enjoyed sex in its rightful context.

Here are some practical steps to managing your sexuality as a single adult:

Do not seek sexual satisfaction through touching or being touched by another person, even if you stop short of sexual intercourse.

A lot of single adults will draw a line at not having intercourse but will do everything else. They call it messing around. For married people, “messing around” is the onramp onto the freeway.

Single adults consistently operate in this realm of “messing around” doing everything but the final act and then they wonder why they cannot manage their sexuality.

Do not seek sexual gratification through self stimulation.

Self stimulation does not solve sexual pressure. Many Christians believe that it is a healthy way to deal with their sexual desires. But it is not. Not only can self gratification become habitual, but it produces guilt, is accompanied by lust, and, most importantly, contradicts the God-given design of sexuality.

The sexual act is not designed to be done alone for selfish gratification. Sex is created for relationship with the opposite sex in a marriage covenant. When you gratify yourself, you are training yourself to not need another person physically, emotionally, and mentally, to satisfy yourself. It is pseudo sex.

The more you train yourself to satisfy yourself physically before marriage, the more likely you are to satisfy yourself physically after you are married. Because it’s not really about sex. It is about our lazy, self-centered desire, to satisfy ourselves rather than give ourselves to and for another person. The answer to your pent up  sexual desires is not gratifying yourself, but resisting temptationResist and avoid sexual stimulation.

James 4:6a-7 6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil  desires…7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

It is a no-brainer that pornography is destructive and works against you in your quest to be sexually pure. But the real test is what you do with the more common sources of sexual stimulation. R-rated movies, Men’s Health magazine, the newspaper, television, music videos.

In our society you cannot escape sexual stimulation, but you can refuse to seek it. And you can avoid it often when you see it coming. This will tell you whether you are enslaved or free. Can we say no to our bodies that want us to keep looking?

This becomes easier the more we focus on Christ and pure things. There is no better way to overcome a bad desire than to push it out with a new one. It is in prayer that we summon the divine help to produce in us that new desire for God. Fill your mind in God’s Word.

There is nothing that renews the mind like regular meditation on the Scriptures.

Embrace Christian Community

Hebrews 10:24: Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

The struggle to resist temptation and manage your sexuality must be done in with the help of others seeking the same goals. For some of you the odds are not in your favor of having a lot of success with this because you are surrounded by people who do not believe the same things as you. Every conversation and outing is focused on sex and hooking up. Christian community gives you strength and support. Others will join to help you get to where you want to go instead of trying to rip you off course. You can pray for each other and hold each other accountable.

Make Spiritual Compatibly the Highest Requirement for Romantic Relationships

2 Corinthians 6:14 (Holman Christian Standard Bible): Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and  awlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?

The Bible clearly teaches that it is not appropriate for Christians to be in a relationship where an unbeliever has control over their life. This is especially true for dating relationships. It is hard enough to stay sexually pure as a dating couple when you are both spiritually aligned  with Christ as the center of the relationship. But when the  people is not in agreement and one is trying to remain sexually pure and the other does not have the same goal, guess which one will eventually win? You must make spiritual compatibility your highest priority.

Don’t get Desperate.

Desperate people make poor choices. Desperation begins when faith in God’s future and the enjoyment of the present disappears. When you believe that it will never happen unless you begin to take steps to make it happen yourself because you are just sick and tired of waiting.

When you get desperate you make mistakes. You will make compromises you never intended, date people you should never have dated, marry someone that is not a good fit.

As a single adult, the Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 7 that it is a special time in life where you can pour yourself into ministry and serving others more than at any other time in life. It is a time to live for God boldly, to grow close to him and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Do not become desperate. Desperate people make desperate decisions and pay drastic consequences.

Conclusion

Many want that sexual experience because we believe that that is the pinnacle of feeling loved by someone as a human. But we can learn to replace that with the love that can only be found in the total abandonment to Jesus then we can begin to be loved completely by him and him  alone.

There is going to come a day that even though you are  in a great marriage that there are areas that your spouse can never satisfy.

Inside the covenant of marriage sex is like a great meal, satisfying and nourishing. Outside of marriage it is more like candy. It might give you a short rush, but is full of empty calories with no nourishment. And a steady diet of it will make you sick. It will make you sick in your relationships with the opposite sex and it will make you sick in your relationship with God. Jesus has given us a choice. Now what are you going to do with it?

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in 1 Corinthians, Sermon

 

1 Corinthians #3 True Wisdom -1 Corinthians 2:1-16


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When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3  I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5  so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

Simple and Straightforward. Paul came not with excellence of speech or wisdom, but with the testimony of God. Wisdom refers to man’s wisdom. Paul preached one message: Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

It is worth noting that Paul had come to Corinth from Athens. It was at Athens that, for the only time in his life, as far as we know, he had attempted to reduce Christianity to philosophic terms. There, on Mars’ Hill, he had met the philosophers and had tried to speak in their own language (Ac 17:22-31); and it was there that he had one of his very few failures.

Some suggest that Paul seemed to say to himself, “Never again! From henceforth I will tell the story of Jesus in utter simplicity. I will never again try to wrap it up in human categories. I will know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him upon his Cross.”

I disagree! It is not unusual to find out ‘where people are’ in their understandings and then seek to ‘teach them’ to a different place.

Not With Superiority of Speech. Paul preached the simple gospel in simple terms. The gospel is: the salvation God has provided for man through the death of Christ on the cross. The death of Christ is in the past, but the effect is ongoing even to today.

The Source of Paul’s Message. Paul explains that the message came not from him, but from God. Paul admits that he came with fear and trembling, so they had no reason to glory in him. The message was a demonstration of what the Spirit of God had taught him.

Here we have to be careful to understand. It was not fear for his own safety; still less was it that he was ashamed of the gospel that he was preaching. It was what has been called “the trembling anxiety to perform a duty.”

The very phrase which he uses here of himself Paul also uses of the way in which conscientious slaves should serve and obey their masters. (Eph 6:5). It is not the man who approaches a great task without a tremor who does it really well.

The really effective preacher is he whose heart beats faster while he waits to speak. The man who has no nervousness, no tension, in any task, may give an efficient performance; but it is the man who has this trembling anxiety who can produce an effect which artistry alone can never achieve.

The message was not a demonstration of the wisdom of man, but of the power of God.  Paul did not rely on any type of trick with regard to the gospel, but simply let the facts speak for themselves.

Paul’s approach in Corinth.

  • His method (v. 1) – Did not use human rhetoric (eloquence).
  • His message (v. 2) – Simple, clear and frank presentation of both the person of Christ and His redemptive work.
  • His manner (v. 3) – In weakness, in fear, in trembling.
  • His means (v. 4) – Not in persuasive words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit of power.
  • His motive (v. 5) – So that your faith may be not in the wisdom of man but in the power of God.

No one can argue against the proof of a changed life. It is our weakness that too often we have tried to talk men into Christianity instead of, in our own lives, showing them Christ.

Paul’s actions in Corinth were purposeful, not accidental or haphazard. It was not that Paul was ignorant or uneducated, nor was it that Paul only knew about Christ and Christ crucified (verse 2). Paul determined that this was all he would know while ministering in Corinth (or anywhere else). He chose to limit his knowledge to those truths which would save men from their sins and transfer them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

God’s Wisdom and the Wisdom of This Age (2:6-9)

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9  However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–

The wisdom which Paul proclaimed was not of this world; for it was worldly wisdom which caused Christ to be crucified.

  1. Mature – Those who have reached a certain goal in their lives; for they have honestly accepted and obeyed the message of Christ.
  2. The immature reject the message of Christ; preferring the wisdom of man.

The Nature of God’s Wisdom. We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery.”

Salvation was purchased by the Son, but it was planned by the Father. Those who talk about “the simple Gospel” are both right and wrong. Yes, the message of the Gospel is simple enough for an illiterate pagan to understand, believe, and be saved. But it is also so profound that the most brilliant theologian cannot fathom its depths.

“Mystery” – That which would not have been known if it had not been revealed. Before God created anything, He thought about and planned our eternal destiny through His Son (Ephesians 3:3-5).

The Rejection of God’s Wisdom. Rulers of this age were motivated by worldly wisdom. Paul refers back to the Jewish leaders. If they had based their wisdom solely on God’s word, they would have accepted Christ as the Messiah.

The idea did not originate with man, but with God. The idea originated with God before the foundation of the world. God reveal them through the Holy Spirit, who searches the deep things of God.

Let’s notice the characteristics of this wisdom.

This wisdom comes from God, not man (v. 7). This wisdom tells the mature saint about the vast eternal plan that God has for His people and His creation. The wisest of the “princes of this world [age]” could not invent or discover this marvelous wisdom that Paul shared from God.

This wisdom is hidden from the unsaved world (v. 8).

Who are “the princes of this world [age]” that Paul mentions? Certainly the men who were in charge of government when Jesus was on earth did not know who He was (Acts 3:17; 4:25-28). When Jesus on the cross prayed “Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), He was echoing this truth. Their ignorance did not excuse their sin, of course, because every evidence had been given by the Lord and they should have believed But there is another possibility.

Judaism, under the rule of the chief priests, in an uneasy relationship with Herod Antipas, ‘the king of the Jews’, played their part by keeping the local people on side with Rome’s decision.

The satanic forces, including Satan himself, did not understand God’s great eternal plan! They could understand from the Old Testament Scriptures that the Son of God would be born and die, but they could not grasp the full significance of the cross because these truths were hidden by God. In fact, it is now, through the church, that these truths are being revealed to the principalities and powers (Eph. 3:10).

Satan thought that Calvary was God’s great defeat; but it turned out to be God’s greatest victory and Satan’s defeat! (Col. 2:15) From the time of our Lord’s birth into this world, Satan had tried to kill Him, because Satan did not fully understand the vast results of Christ’s death and resurrection. Had the demonic rulers known, they would not have “engineered” the death of Christ. (Of course, all of this was part of God’s eternal plan. It was God who was in control, not Satan.)

This verse is a quotation (with adaptation) from Isaiah 64:4. The immediate context relates it to Israel in captivity, awaiting God’s deliverance. The nation had sinned and had been sent to Babylon for chastening. They cried out to God that He would come down to deliver them, and He did answer their prayer after seventy years of their exile. God had plans for His people and they did not have to be afraid (Jer. 29:11).

Paul applied this principle to the church. Our future is secure in Jesus Christ no matter what our circumstances may be. In fact, God’s plans for His own are so wonderful that our minds cannot begin to conceive of them or comprehend them! God has ordained this for our glory. It is glory all the way from earth to heaven!

For those who love God, every day is a good day…God will use it for good or cause all things to work out for good. It may not look like a good day, or feel like it; but when God is working His plan, we can be sure of the best. It is when we fail to trust Him or obey Him, when our love for Him grows cold, that life takes on a somber hue. If we walk in God’s wisdom, we will enjoy His blessings.

How God’s Wisdom Is Revealed (2:10-13)

“…but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

Paul shared deep things:

  • Things that are for the “mature” (teliois).
  • Things that are not “from” the pagans or the
  • Things that are “of” God.
  • Things that are a “mystery” and have been “hidden.”
  • Things which manifest the eternal plan of God.
  • Things that cannot be “discovered” by men.
  • Things prepared by God only “for those who love Him.”

The Holy Spirit and Revelation. The Holy Spirit brought these things into view.

“Deep things of God” – The very core of God’s mind. Includes God’s redemptive plan. The Spirit revealed the entire plan of redemption and so we cannot expect additional revelation from God on the subject. These are just some of the ‘deep things of God.

God revealed them through the Holy Spirit. This has always been the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • The Old Testament writers wrote and spoke by Him (2 Peter 1:21; 1 Peter 1:11).
  • The prophets spoke by the Spirit (cf. Micah 3:8).
  • Jesus also spoke by the Spirit (Luke 4:18-19; Acts 10:38).
  • His apostles and prophets did the same (John 16:12-14; 1 Peter 1:12).

2 Peter 1:20-21 (NIV)  Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Who really knows the thought of a man except the man himself; by the same token who knows the mind of God except the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit understands the mind of God. Therefore it became the Holy Spirit’s function to reveal that thought process to men such as Paul, who delivered it to man through the spoken and written word.

Promises Made By Jesus Regarding Inspiration

  1. Matthew 10:19 – The apostles were promised that whatever words they needed would be given to them by God.
  2. Luke 12:11-12 – The Holy Spirit will teach the apostles how and what they were to say.
  3. John 16:12-15 – The Holy Spirit will remind the apostles of all that Jesus taught and will guide them into all truth.

NECESSITY OF SPIRITUAL RECEPTION OF GOD’S WISDOM (2:14-16)

The Natural Man (v. 14). Unspiritual one who does not welcome openly and freely the things (ideas taught by the apostles in verse 13) of the Spirit.

They are foolishness to him. He cannot know them because they are spiritually examined. He views life physically.

The word accept (NIV), in verse 14 means to receive as a guest, to welcome one openly and freely.

The Spiritual Man (v. 15). “One who is governed and filled by the Spirit of God.” (Thayer p. 523)

  1. His identity – spiritual.
  2. His ability – judges all things.
  3. His immunity – judged by not man.
  4. His secret – possesses mind of Christ (cf. Philippians 2:5ff).

Spiritual Understanding Prohibits Glorying In Men.

If the church understood the spiritual message of the redemptive nature of the cross, they could not glory in the men who brought the message and thereby cause division.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in 1 Corinthians

 
 
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