Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 7
Run from sexual sin! – 1 Corinthians 6:18a
Paul continues this warning in chapter 7, only he brings his advice into the context of the marriage relationship. God created sex for the marriage relationship but Paul makes it clear that we can also sin within that relationship if we do not love each other the way God intended.
The Church in Corinth has written Paul a letter with their questions and he attempts to answer those questions first based on what He knows God has commanded and second based on the wisdom the Lord has given him. Let’s look at Paul’s advice based on direct commands from the Lord:
Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.
So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows – it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust. But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife. – 1 Corinthians 7:1b-11
Paul goes on to speak from the wisdom God has given him. He instructs those who are believers but whose spouse is an unbeliever to remain in the marriage relationship. If the unbeliever insists on leaving, let them go, but perhaps it is through your love for your spouse they will find salvation in Christ (7:12-16).
Paul speaks to those who are married and to those who are single and says – God has given you a special gift (7:7). To those who are married, God has given you the gift of your spouse. To those who are single, God has given you the gift of freedom from many of the earthly responsibilities that come in a marriage. His advice for everyone is to live in such a way that we are able to serve the Lord with our best, with as few distractions as possible. So if you are single, God has given you the ability to give yourself wholly to Him. If you are married, live in that relationship the way God intended (sexual relationship included) so that you do not create distractions for each other but that you enhance your spouse’s ability to serve God and they do the same for you (7:32-35).
We have talked about sexual sin for three days now. It is not the most comfortable subject to discuss, but I believe necessary. The enemy tries to destroy the meaning and purpose of sex, perverting what God intended for good. When we mess up in this area, we are missing out on God’s perfect plan for our lives. It is how reputations are stained, expectations are misaligned and marriages are destroyed. Paul has spent several chapters teaching on this subject and so here we are in our chronological journey through the Bible in 1st Corinthians talking once more about sex. It is one of those things we have to understand in order to avoid Satan’s attempts to let it destroy us and break apart what God has joined together.
So what do you BELIEVE about sex? Not the most comfortable discussion to have, but if we do not know what we BELIEVE, it will be the very thing that pulls us away from God.
I believe Paul’s best advice for all of our relationships is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. If we define love for each other the way God defines it, we will build each other up and make each other better servants of Christ. If we let selfishness and quarreling into our relationships with each other, we become a distraction from God’s purpose for our life and for the lives of those around us, spouses included.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no records of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…
Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,13
Let’s pray right now for that kind of INTENTIONAL LOVE…