Abraham made no progress so long as Terah was present
So long as Terah was living they pitched their tent at Haran, when they ought to have been in Canaan
We need as Christians to distinguish between:
Pressing on with the Lord
Following Him at a distance
Caleb whole heartedly followed the Lord
He that honours me I will honour
Need to run with a whole heart in the commandments of the Lord
Abraham wasn’t running with a whole heart in Genesis chapter 11
Was Abraham caught between human affinity to his father and obedience to God
Consider the significance of family ties here
Secular pressures can draw us away from obedience to the Lord
It is easy to find excuses for not going on with God when the real problem is the flesh.
How close are we walking with God?
Gods work cannot be thwarted
Gods mind cannot be frustrated
“Into the land of Canaan he came,” (12:5)
Abraham didn’t stay on the fringes of Canaan 12:6
Abraham passed through the land
Don’t stay on the fringes of Christian experience
God singles out Abraham for blessing Genesis 12:7
Are we in the enjoyment of fellowship with Christ?
Enjoying Christ in our own souls
Genesis 12:6 the canaanite was still in the land and thus Abraham had to stand in witness to a hostile, idolatrous and immoral world.
We live in a world that is fleeting transient and passing
Canaanites were opposed to everything that God was about
Abraham stood in testimony to the Canaanites by raising his altar to the true and living God
We need to raise an altar where we are to God
Between superstition and superficial religion there is but a fine dividing line, cf. Mars hill, “to the unknown God”
Abrahams back sliding
The Spirit of God will record :
Genesis 12:10 Abraham goes down into Egypt
Yesterday’s confidence and faith will not suffice for tomorrow
“Let Him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”
Abrahams sojourn in Egypt is followed by lies and deception
No God speaking
When Abraham is in Egypt
God imparts not only saving grace but restoring grace
Recovery 13:1 he came up out of Egypt
Abraham was the friend of God
We are not only the friends of God we are the sons of God
Jacob wrestles with the Angel, it is just Jacob and God
Here is an eternal moment in the life of a carnal man
Jacob now has power with God and man
Consider Moses, the people had turned to a golden calf
There’s a man who is different
“If your presence go not with us, let us go no further”
We must have His presence
Not just content with the presence of God
Moses believed in Grace upon Grace
We need the presence of God
God is a very present helps help in time of need
Moses prays; show me your Glory
Mark 1 – the Glory of God revealed in Christ and in time
‘come and see’ – caught up with Christ
Andrew fished for men with a fishing rod
Simon Peter fishes for men with a fishing net
Simon Peter – you will be called Cephas
Christ knew where he was and Christ knew where he would be
Christ knew where he was and where he would be
Peter up the mount of transfiguration
Peter offered to build 3 tabernacles :
Elijah was a mighty man of prayer and faith
Elijah brought food by the raven, an unclean bird
Then the Brook dries up, what happens when we feel the blessings of God have been withdrawn from us?
Elijah to the widow of Zarephath, ‘give me first’, a step of faith
Elijah on mount Carmel, brought fine fire down from heaven
Elijah confronted the monarch and his idolatry
Elijah calls on God from Carmel
Elijah calls on God and the fire falls
On the mount of transfiguration Peter has a divine encounter as God breaks through
A moment of Divine encounter
The mountain is enveloped with the Shekinah Glory
The light of the eternal God
That light of God veiled the mountain
Christ is not one amongst equals
Get into the presence of God
Tell Him our heart
Pass over the burden to Christ and then listen for His voice
The first passover was in Egypt
Was their appreciation of the passover as precious 12 months down the line as it was on the first passover?
Then remembered the passover in Joshua 5
When they kept the passover in Joshua 5, the manna ceased
The Lord wants to take us forward but we must appreciate the lamb
Christian experience is not only to get us to heaven
It is to bring heaven to us
To form Christian character in us
It was an eternal moment when Christ died on Calvary
Christ in agony in the garden, anticipating being made sin for us, sweat as it were great drops of blood
Calvary was an eternal moment
Hebrews 9:14 ‘who through the eternal spirit’
The divine moment
Walk before me and be thou perfect – to Abraham
John 2:11 – The Lord chose a wedding scene to reveal His Glory
Christ desires to enter into the joy of family life
Ask him to show you His Glory
That this question arises at all highlights the fact that all is not well at Corinth
It is doubtful that the need ought ever to have arisen to ask this question about meat sacrificed to idols.
The sensitive conscience wouldn’t have eaten food sacrificed to idols – no problem
The spiritually minded wouldn’t have offended them by eating it – no problem
But there was a problem!
If the situation was as those ‘in the know’ (8:1-2) concluded; namely a problem between those who are spiritually mature and who know better – namely us, and those who are not spiritually mature and who do not know what we know; namely those of a ‘weak conscience’ then the conflict ought to have been easily and quickly resolved by someone of spiritual maturity and understanding, if indeed that was where they were.
If the spiritually enlightened could really see that there was nothing (v4) in the idol and nothing in the meat and if those spiritually strong were really able to discern ‘weakness’ rather than difference of perspective (v7) in others, they as the spiritually mature ought to have been able to demonstrate how spiritually mature people deal with issues of no eternal consequence –
Sensitively – With insight into the immaturity of the brother they are dealing with
Sacrificially – With a willingness to sacrifice meat of no consequence for the spiritual prosperity of their brother
Spiritually – esteeming the conscience of their brother, way above the food for their belly
Instead it became a:
Stumbling block (8:9)
The spiritual elite lacked sensitivity, spirituality and a sacrificial spirit – they were not as spiritual as they thought they were!
The question seems to have been asked of Paul:
‘well Paul, you and I both know that these things offered to idols are nothing. ‘
‘we have been convicted and convinced of the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord; that there is but one God. ‘
We have heard how the true and living God speaks through His Word
‘ So we know, you and I Paul that these idols are fake’
To this seems on the surface to initially agree (v1)
But then he puts a major caveat on it all:
‘knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. ‘
“And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” (8:2)
The approach condemned in verse 2 is not knowledge or wisdom or understanding per se; after all we are exhorted in many places in the Word of God to seek after knowledge and understanding:
Pro_2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Pro_2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Pro_3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
Pro_4:1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
Pro_4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
Pro_4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
Pro_5:1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 1:5-8)
The attitude condemned in 8:2 is not knowledge
It is not the ATTAINMENT of knowledge that is the problem
It is the ATTITUDE of knowing that is the problem
That confidence not in the knowledge but in myself because I know.
It is the effect that knowledge can have on the unspiritual mind – puffing us up (8:1-2)
It is an attitude which so often manifests itself as the arrogant; ‘there is only one handle on this problem and I’ve got it’
There are 2 ways you can see this; my way, the right way or your way; the wrong way.
Or as one liberally minded brother put it:
you serve the Lord in your way
I’ll serve the Lord in His
It is not the ATTAINMENT of knowledge that is the problem
It is the ATTITUDE of knowing that is the problem
To consider that in what we know there is no gainsaying, no possibility of growth, nor of development, to close our minds to any other aspect of the truth.
This is the distinction between:
the blind man of John chapter 9
the Jews of John chapter 9
The blind man can’t answer all of their questions (John 9:25); “I know not”
here was a baffling problem; Jesus Christ was surely a real live human being,
Was Jesus Christ not made of the same stuff as the rest of humanity is, descended from Adam?
If He was a person then surely He must have had His faults like all men?
Did the Jews not appear to name one; an infarction of the Jewish legal code (Jo 9:16)?
The blind man would hardly have known anything of the virgin birth; the Deity of Christ, the impeccability of Christ, nor of the Lordship of the Creator over the Sabbath rest.
There were answers to the accusations of the Jews but they would not be known to the blind man!
It is not that he is ignorant and foolish either.
The contrast in John 9 is not between; we the Pharisees who know and understand and you the blind man who is illiterate, ignorant and lacking in understanding! This is not a contrast between the:
ignorant and the enlightened
But rather it is a contrast between the:
humble and the arrogant
The blind man does understand and know what happened to him; “whereas I was blind and now I see” (John 9:25); yet his knowledge is incomplete (9:35-36); but so was the knowledge of the Pharisees – incomplete; in fact how embarrassing; there they were; having spent their life studying for an honours degrees in gnat straining and a PhD in hypocrisy and along comes a blind, illiterate beggar and pops them a question they don’t have a clue about (9:30-34) “and dost thou teach us?” Well actually he does. That didn’t go down well at all, did it?
What really distinguishes these 2 men is not their ATTAINMENT of knowledge but rather their ATTITUDE to knowledge
Their ATTITUDE to what they don’t know:
The blind man – marked by humility towards the unknown and certainty towards the known (John 9:25,27)
The Pharisees – marked by puffed up self confidence and arrogance (John 9:30,34)
The blind man is willing to acknowledge that whilst he is certain of what he knows (9:24,30) he will not be dogmatic about what he does not know.
He is happy to trust God where he cannot trace God.
The Pharisees on the other hand are not only adamant about what they do know but are equally emphatic about what they don’t know, because they have such confidence in their own opinions.
The Pharisees had deified their own knowledge as absolute!
They had turned their knowledge into an idol.
They ‘knew that they knew’ and that precluded the possibility that there was something which they did not know.
With this came pride, arrogance and intolerance.
They refuse to be taught (Jo 9:34); “dost thou teach us?”
“he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (8:2)
Not WHAT we know but HOW we know.
Knowledge of God and of the ways and mind of God must be guided by love for God.
“But if any man love God, the same is known of him.” (v3)
The love of God is an acknowledgment of trust in the absolute
The love of God is acquiescing my will / knowledge / understanding to His
I am not absolute; He is!
Here is a man who acquiesces to God
Here is a man who does not claim Lordship over his own life
Here is a man who does not deify self
Here is a man who acquiesces to God
This is the distinction between:
Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”(Job 13:15)
Jobs comforters who it all worked out in their own heads as to who was at fault here; namely Job
Verse 3 is usually taken to mean that:
‘ if a man loves God that man is known by God’
This of course is very true:
Loving God as the evidence of God knowing us; that the evidence that God knows a man, or that God has saved a man should be and will be seen in the fact that that man loves God. The man who God ‘knows’ with that special meaning of ‘knowledge’; that meaning of intimate or saving relationship:
“O righteous Father, — the world hath not known thee:but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:25)
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:9)
The man who God knows in a saving sense, will have had a work of transformation in his life, he will have been indwelt by the Spirit of God and the very first fruit, if not the only fruit of the Spirit that will be seen in his life will be that of “love” (Galatians 5:22)
1 John 4:7,19
Loving God is the consequence of God knowing us. Unless God knows a man, in the sense of saving a man, such a man cannot love God, by nature; ‘there is none that seek after God,’ (Romans 3:11) and it is God who takes the initiative amongst those, ‘who are dead in trespasses and sins’ to quicken us (Ephesians 2:1). “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1Jn 4:10)
The problem with the standard view here is that verses 1 and 2 are not about God knowing us but about us knowing God as we ought.
Verses 1 and 2 are not really about how God knows but rather they are about how I know.
“And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” (verse 2)
There is another way to understand this verse however.
The second half of the verse literally reads:
‘he is known of him‘ (JND Translation)
This could mean as CK Barrett notes that it is not that:
‘God has been known by him’
‘God is known by this man. ‘ (CK Barrett p190; Blacks NT Commentary)
In other words:
‘The man who loves God, that man knows God. ‘
Not simply that knowledge makes us love God; that loving God is a consequence of knowing God; which is true enough, but something altogether more profound than that.
Verse 3 starts with’ love’ and not with knowledge
It is not the thought that the knowledge of God makes us love God but rather that the love for God allows us to know Him.
Loving God is a condition for knowing Him, for making any spiritual progress.
This is no new truth!
“And he said to them all, If anymanwill come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luk 9:23-24)
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Mat 10:37-39)
That is that the knowledge of God flows from the love of God
True knowledge has its origin in love!
Truth is a product of love!
We understand this truth well, maybe so well we are apt to forget it; that was it not for the love of God there would be no knowledge of God!
John3:16 – It is because God So loved this world that the act of revelation and thus redemption came.
Had God not loved we would know nothing of Him.
His love motivated the giving of His Son
By this giving comes salvation (John 3:16) and the revelation of God
‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ (John 1:18)
Illust: At the head of the Afton, there is a great reservoir, from which we all benefit for cooking and drinking and cleaning, but that reservoir is a long way from your kitchen sink, so that watery resource flows through conduits, pipes right to your home.
The knowledge of God, that great reservoir flows likewise through pipes, pipes of Divine Love.
Gods love is Gods means of bringing His knowledge to us.
Of course by implication, any revelation which claims to be of God or from God would need to be consistent with this truth.
If what is claimed as being the teaching of Gods Word is:
Or if that revelation of truth cuts us in half like an icy blast from the North Pole, we can be pretty sure that it does not arise from the warm currents of the love of God.
It is immediately spurious, as was the claimed revelation here in 1 Corinthians chapter 8.
Of course 1 Co 8:3 doesn’t quite say that, what 1 Corinthians 8:3 says is; ‘if any man loves God, that man knows God,’ in other words, a revelation of the knowledge of God, given in love can only be received in love.
In other words to know God, I must first love God.
God will only reveal Himself to those who love Him
God refuses to reveal Himself to anyone who does not love Him!
” Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:6)
Anyone who does not love Him cannot receive the revelation of Him:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. ” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him…If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (Joh 14:21-23)
For God to reveal Himself to a Soul who does not love Him would merely increase their hatred for Him and increase their condemnation, such a revelation would simply be a revelation of Gods Judgment!
Consider the revelation of Christ in the Gospels; the more the High Priest knows of Christ The more he hates Christ.
Consider the reaction of the Sanhedrin to Stephen testimony (Acts 7:54ff; 7:57ff).
Consider Pharaoh in Romans chp 9
Consider Nebachudnezzar in Daniel 3:14ff
The solution to the problem of 1 Corinthians chp 8 comes from an unexpected source – CONSCIENCE!
Is conscience not subjective?
Is conscience not inferior to absolute truth?
Is conscience not the consequence of the fall?
Is conscience not the moral immune system – sensitive to the presence of foreign spiritual material?
What do we do when conscience says no but personal knowledge says yes?
When conscience tells us, “God would not approve”, but knowledge says’ “it’s ok!”?
Do we move towards knowledge even when it causes offense to conscience, to a sense that God would not be pleased?
Where do we go?
What is the priority?
Our sense of pleasing God?
That pursuit of knowledge even in the face of the sense that this is not what God would be please with, for me (v7) or for others (v11), deifies and idolises what I know:
‘I know that I know”
A knowledge that quashes conscience and brings violence to our trust in and pleasing of God is a knowledge that hinders and that does not help.
Irrespective as to wither conscience is right or wrong in its deduction, what is absolutely true is the reality that I am faced with a choice; to do that which I ‘feel’ is wrong but ‘think’ is ok.
To go where I sense that God will be displeased but where perhaps I personally wish to go!
When faced with the choice which way do I go?
The direction tells me everything I need to know about the true desires and priority of my heart.
The Betrothal theory of Matthew chapter 19 has many notable strengths
It has been adopted over the years by a number of very able students of the Word of God: John Heading in his commentary on Matthews Gospel, and Jack Hunter
It answers or rises above the 9 objections we gave last week to the exception clause theory of Matthew 19:9
It has the added strength of having some background in Matthews Gospel in the events of Mary and Joseph, wishing to put Mary away privately due to her conception during the Betrothal period.
“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” (Mat 1:19)
“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,” (Mat 1:24)
The theory has to my mind 2 weaknesses however:
The context of Matthew chp 19 is that of marriage, it is a question and answer session over marriage, therefore to answer the Pharisee questions about marriage with an answer about Betrothal seems to be a bit off subject. In response to this it is generally asserted with great confidence that Jewish Betrothal went way beyond our Western ideas of engagement and that a betrothed couple had the leak rights of a married couple.
This takes us to the second problem as to the exact character of Betrothal. Despite the confidence of the advocates of this idea that betrothal was so close to marriage that the terms could be used interchangeably, there is really a paucity of biblical evidence for this. We do know that in Deuteronomy 22 When it came to rape that the rights of a betrothed woman were the same as the rights of a married woman rather than being the same as the rights of a single woman. The AV versions also refers to Mary as Joseph’s wife in Matthew chapter 1; although the fact that the Greek words for Man and husband, woman and wife are the same can lead us to overly read into the terminology here. Luke will refer to Mary as Joseph’s espoused wife. We also know that Joseph sought to put Mary away privately during the betrothal period, something, which so far as I can see would have been impossible under marriage.
In the AV Joseph and Mary are referred to as husband and wife during the betrothal period. This seems on the surface fairly strong evidence for marriage and betrothal being synonymous, however consider:
“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Mat 1:20)
ie Mary is not yet his wife!
However in Luke we have a distinction:
“To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.” (Luk 2:5)
Considering the history which we have from the OT scriptures on pre marital practices we really are left somewhat in the dark regarding the precise nature of betrothal in a biblical context:
Abraham and Sarah – we know very little
Isaac and Rebecca seem to have nothing in the way of betrothal per se, marriage being arranged by a 3rd party followed by what seems like a more or less immediate marriage
Jacob and Rachel and Leah – any betrothal here seems to have been pretty perfunctory in so far as Laban felt free to substitute Leah for Rachel.
David obtained Michal as a reward for services rendered and Abigail as a consequence of the death of her husband and Bathsheba by a circuitous route
So little authoritative biblical help here.
Our knowledge of what betrothal meant to the Jews therefore appears to rely on extra biblical sources and I personally would hesitate to be dogmatic about that.
Encylopaedia Judiaca: “Shiddukhin as such has no immediate effect on the personal status of the parties – it being only a promise to create a different personal status in the future (Resp. Rosh 34:1; Beit Yosef EH 55). Nor does the promise give either party the right to claim specific performance from the other – since a marriage celebrated in pursuance of a judgment requiring the defendant to marry the plaintiff is repugnant to the basic principle that a marriage requires the free will and consent of both the parties thereto.”
Alfred Edersheim: “ From that moment Mary was the betrothed wife of Joseph; their relationship as sacred, as if they had already been wedded. Any breach ot it would be treated as adultery; nor could the band be dissolved except, as after marriage, by regular divorce.” (p106)
2. Marital Violence
Having considered what you have said about the absence of any exception clauses in Matthew chapter 19 and 1 Corinthians chapter 7, what about the case of marital violence. Is a woman (or man) expected then to stay in an abusive relationship? The simple answer here is of course no. The important issue though is surely, is there any indication in scripture that the Lord does not expect us to stay in those kind of relationships?
If I could highlight however 1 Co 7:10-11 which whilst instructing us not to leave our spouse, Paul then in an uncharacteristic fashion proceeds to tell us what to do if we do leave our spouse; “but and if she depart” (7:11), in other words 1 Corinthians chp 7 combines the biblical and creatorial ideal of marriage; that it is not to be broken with a down to earth realism and appreciation of the true nature of fallen man – that it will not always be possible to stay in a relationship and for a variety of reasons unspecified in the text we may be forced to leave.
Our commitment is to marriage and to the Lord, not to being perpetually abused.
Importantly however, just as the laws of men cannot break the marriage bond neither can the lawlessness of men, we have the liberty to leave but no liberty to try again for someone a bit better than the last one (7:11).
3. Is the believer under Deuteronomy 22?
In Matthew 19:9 you interpret it in the light of Deuteronomy chapter 22 and see that under OT law marriage was effectively annulled by pre marital fornication. Does that mean that you are saying that believers are now under the law of Deuteronomy chp 22?
There are 2 ways you could take this:
a) Either as a NT endorsement of an OT text presenting it’s abiding relevance to all believers at all times, in the same sense as we have the re-echoe of the 10 commandments in 1 Co 6:9-10., not so much as a legal exception clause but as the abiding standard expected by God of those entering into marriage.
We can certainly be assured that as with the law Gods standards have not changed.
(b) It becomes clear however from subsequent texts (Rom 6:14; Gal 2:21; 5:4) that the believer is no longer under law and so whilst the Lord highlights to the Pharisee the only legitimate basis for the annulment of a marriage in the OT we cannot claim this today as a legal right; as a Divine standard, certainly but not as a legal right, because under Grace we no longer have legal rights. I would judge then that whilst Deuteronomy chp 22 continues to reflect the Divine standard of Righteousness, as with all law the NT believer is not under it and would not claim it as a legal right. I would judge that this lies at the root of its omission from Mark and Luke.
4. What about divorced and remarried people?
We have spent a considerable amount of time looking at why marriage is indissoluble and at the absence of any credible exception clauses, so what about when divorce and remarriage is a fait a compli? What is the status of people who have previously been divorced and remarried? Can they be accepted into fellowship or as some have indicated is divorce and remarriage effectively the unforgiveable sin?
Pragmatically I do believe that whilst divorce and remarriage is wrong it is no less the recipient of Divine Grace and restoration than any other sin. I believe that there is very good evidence in the NT that amongst Gods people there were those who had been divorced and remarried:
i. John 4 – The Samaritan woman at the well became the first missionary to the Samaritan, and yet married 5 times! Is it feasible that she would have been excluded from the church which which resulted from her evangelism?
ii. 1 Timothy chp 3 – the elder was to be the husband of 1 wife
iii. In 1 Corinthians chp 7 almost all possible permutations of marriage which the Corinthians would have encountered, are addressed by the apostle Paul, except one; that of those who were previously divorced and remarried! Were such conditions acceptable to the Corinthians; undoubtedly they were (1 Co 5:1ff). A believer coming then to 1 Co 7 who had previously been divorced and remarried would have only 1 section applicable to them (1 Co7:17-24).
3 scenarios presented in this section:
1. Unmarried (v8-9)
2. Married (v10-11)
3. Mixed Married (v12-16)
v12 – There is nothing said in Matthew / Mark / Luke or John about this scenario; “but to the rest speak I, not the Lord.”
Some were obviously entertaining the idea that if they were married to an unbeliever they ought to put that unbeliever away (v12) or leave him (v13).
Why would they have though like this?
For a commendable reason: v14 – Sanctification and holiness
Paul has already taught the defiling nature of relationships with prostitutes in 1Co 6:15-17 and will give teaching on unequal yolk in 2 Co 6:14ff.
Consider through the Word of God the damage done and dangers encountered with an unbelieving spouse:
Solomon and pagan wives
David and Michal – discouraged him
Job and his wife; ‘curse God and die.’
Moses and Zipporah (Ex 4)
Hosea and Gomer (Hosea 1:3ff) – a heart break if thre ever was one
Samson and the Philistine woman and Delilah
What is interesting is the argument which Paul will use to to assure them that it is alright to stay together (v14)
If we are saying that union with an unbelieving partner is defiling then to be consistent we would need to affirm that the fruit of that union is also defiled, that is the child and if we are compelled to put away our spouse we would also be compelled to put away our child, to be consistent; since that is unthinkable, then it must be legitimate to maintain both our relationship with our child and with our spouse.
V15 – The 3rd NT text sited as evidence for freedom to remarry after divorce
‘let him depart’ – permission to depart
‘bondage’ : 1402: ‘douloo’ : to make a slave or servant – never used of the marriage bond
Does this imply the right to remarry?
Problems with seeing a Pauline Privilege in 7:15:
1. Contradiction with 1 Co 7:10-11: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”
2. Contradiction with 1 Co 7:39; “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” (1Co 7:39)
3. The problem of missing scenarios. What about an unbeliever putting away his wife? Why is this not spoken of in verse 15? Technically remarriage would seem only explicitly permitted where the unbeliever leaves? If it is desertion which justifies the remarriage then why is it only desertion by an unbeliever? Why should a believer abandoned by an unbeliever be able to remarry and yet a believer abandoned by a professing believer is not (7:10-11)? What about a woman ‘forced to leave.’ She is not technically abandoned, she has left and yet it may be under threat of violence or her life. If anyone deserves to marry it is surely her. Yet this scenario is not dealt with!
4. The problem of legality again. We fall into the same problems as before with exception clauses. Where we have exception clauses we have exceptions to what? Exceptions are to rules and regulations; this is the language of legality or legalism! We often link legalism with a strict and austere form of Christianity; one with many do nots and thou shalt nots. That can certainly be true. Remember however that the masters of legality themselves; the Pharisees, often used it as a tool for liberalism and immorality where it suited them (cf. Matt 19:3; Mark 7:11); not to impose regulations but to find ways around them!
So who left who? Not as straightforward as you might think! Bear in mind that property and often the children belonged to the husband in Roman law! The husband could ‘leave’ with everything and thus put the woman out – so she physically left the home! Who left who?
When Samson left his Philistine wife; who in reality left who? Samson got up and left certainly and yet was that not as a consequence of his wife in heart leaving him first? Did she not betray his trust and her loyalty to his enemies the Philistines? I’m sure a good lawyer would have a field day with that one. That is sadly what we become when we start to acknowledge exception clauses; lawyers!
You may well say that is just splitting hairs, actually its defining rules and laws and exceptions; for if we have exception clauses that is where we are – under laws and rules!
What about a man / woman leaving the unbeliever?
5. ‘bondage’ : ‘douloo’ : 1402 : to be a slave; this is never used of the mariage bond. It is used of:
Slavery in Egypt (Acts 7:6)
Slavery to Righteousness (Rom 6:18)
Slavery to God (Rom 6:22)
Slavery to man (1 Co 9:19)
Slavery to the world (Gal 4:3)
Slavery to alcohol (Titus 2:3)
Slavery to corruption (2 Peter 2:19)
V15 does not set out to give permission to remarry at all and in fact there is no mention of remarriage, v15 gives permission to the believer to; ‘let them depart’ (v15); permission to acquiesce to the demands of an unbelieving partner who wishes to leave; this is different from permission to divorce and remarry.
Verse 15 is not permission to remarry, it is permission to let them go.
Permission to let them go is only relevant if they are going and thus this is the only scenario dealt with.
Verse 15 is written to diffuse an intolerable tension between a believer trying their very best to be obedient to the ministry of 1 Co7:10; 20-24 and an unbelieving partner who is pulling in the opposite direction.
In response to the Corinthians questions about marriage; Paul appears to agree with their suggestion that ‘it is good for a man to touch a woman,’ but only good for those so gifted and not everyone is (7:7).
Sometimes we don’t see gift as gift!
Some people are naturally fitted for a particular life of service:
Jacob – the father of 12 boys; you need your wits about you for that job, you would need eyes in the back of your internet router; Jacob the schemer; the wheeler and dealer. Jacob could spot a made up story when he heard one; how a wild beast had ripped his youngest son to shreds, devoured him whole without leaving so much as a finger nail, having carefully first removed only his outer coat of many colours!! – Jacob was suspicious.
Moses 40 years with the grumbling nation of Israel in the wilderness, you would need a lot of patience! Moses is peculiarly fitted for the task as the meekest man in all the earth; “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Num 12:3)
Samson and his strength
David – “the sweet psalmist of Israel,” (2Sa 23:1), a man of deep emotions and reflection is also a man after Gods own heart; nothing superficial about him.
Paul – the Theologian and thinker, taught by Gamaliel, a Pharisee, a man peculiarly suited to expounding the Word of God.
Each individual is a unique mixture of grace, gifts and abilities.
‘To avoid fornication’ (7:2)
What’s so bad about fornication?
Does the media of our day, the stars of the day, the films of the day, the celebrities of the day not attempt to normalise / glorify these extramarital relationships?
Notice how prevalent a sin fornication is in the bible; how often it is recorded:
Judah and Tamar
Dinah and Shechem (Gen 34)
Reuben and Bilhah (Gen 35:22)
Lot and his 2 daughters
Israel in the wilderness
Samson and the Harlot from Gaza
Samson and Delilah
David and Bathsheba
Absalom and Davids concubines
Tamar and Amnon
If we include the polygamies there are even more cases of fornication.
A sin affecting not only the ungodly Canaanites but equally the great and the good: Judah, Lot, David, Samson and not just the carnal Absalom, Amnon and Herod.
It was frequently through fornication / sexual immorality that the great and the good blotted an otherwise unsullied copy book.
What’s so bad about fornication?
1. Frequent / common problem affecting both the great and the good and the godless alike.
2. It is a problem with spiritual consequences:
1 Corinthians chp 6:15ff : the physical affects the spiritual
David Psalm 51:1-12,17
Solomon (1 Kings 11:4) – cuts across the spiritual strata and the generations; ‘It came to pass when Solomon was old…” (1 kings 11:4)
3. It is the corruption of Gods creatorial order
‘let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.’ (1 Co 7:2)
One man and one woman – the original creatorial order and pattern
‘for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and these twain shall be one flesh.’ (Gen 2:24) – word spoken by Adam? From Matthew 19:5 it becomes clear that these are actually words spoken by God and quoted by Christ. Whilst it might appear from the text of Genesis 2:23-24 that Genesis 2:24 are the words of Adam, according to Matthew 19:5; the are in all probability the Words of God Himself, drawing a conclusion from from the creatorial work of Genesis 2. In other words, because of what I have done with Adam and Eve this is henceforth how the whole of human society will be organised and arranged. Marital relationships are a reflection / consequence of Gods creatorial work. Genesis 2:24 is a reliable commentary to read on the Word of God; it is Gods commentary on His own work! All subsequent marital relationships, the structure of society would be patterned after Gods creatorial work.
Marriage is one of the few remnants of Eden. No wonder it is under such attack.
It is important to see that the Divine ordinance of marriage in Genesis 2:24 for all subsequent humanity is patterned on the creatorial order of God in Genesis 2:23-24. This is important for our understanding of 1 Corinthians chp 7. Some will suggest that there is a difference in the ministry of chp 7 depending upon wither or not a marriage or divorce was pre conversion or post conversion. It is quite clear that the nature of marriage / validity of marriage is not altered by conversion. It is quite clear that marriage is a creatorial ordinance and as such is not materially altered by conversion; any more than your chronological age is altered by conversion or your health status is altered by conversion.
A conjugal ordinance rests on a creatorial order.
4. It is an attack on Gods character
To understand this you must appreciate what is so special about the creatorial order.
Man looks at creation and considers; wow isn’t that nice:
Fruit for me to eat
Water for me to drink
Flowers for me to see
Beaches for me to go on holiday to.
Well here is a shocker, creation is not all about me!
Creation is all about God.
From our studies in Romans chp 1:18-23 we are aware that creation is and was Gods first means of communication to mankind.
Of significance in Creation Gods character is revealed: His eternal power (Rom 1:20) and Godhead (1:20) and His Glory (1:23).
Creation is Gods first means of revealing His character.
You will have noticed, as you read through Genesis chapter 1 how the character of God, is subsequently progressively revealed in the Word of God and finally and fully revealed in Christ. The seed plot is here in Genesis chapter 1:
‘let there be light’ – a reflection of the nature and character of God; ‘I Am the light of the world’ – Gods creation is infused with light because of His Character. Life can exist deep in the Marianna Trench, 10km deep, in total darkness, at 1000 atmospheres of pressure, but this is not good enough for the God who is Light!
‘God saw that it was good,’ (1:4,10,12,18) – Gods creation is a reflection of Himself – Good.
‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed and fruit tree yielding fruit.’ God is the source of all fruitfulness; ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; because apart from Me you can do nothing.’ (Joh 15:5)
‘Let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years’ (Gen 1:14) – God is a God of order; ‘declaring the end from the beginning,’ and ‘To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:’ (Ecc 3:1)
‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly, the moving creature that ahth life,’ – He is the God of Living waters; ‘He that believeth in me as the scriptures have said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’
‘let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing and beast…’ (Gen 1:24) God gives life. ‘In him is life and that life was the light of men.’
‘let them have dominion…’ (1:26) – God is a God of order; ‘The most High God ruleth in the Kingdoms of men and giveth them to whomsoever He choseth.’
So too in marriage – a creatorial order; Gods character is seen; God is faithful; ‘yet He abideth faithful’ (2 Tim 2:13); God is reliable; ‘I change not.’
God is a God of union and communion; Christ and the Church (Eph 5).
God likes what He is. God is what He likes. There is no sin in Him.
God hates what He is not – Sin
v2 “let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband” – By implication if I am going to hold to this and respect this I am going to also reject ‘divorce and remarriage’ – no adultery; this is my wife, this is your life.
V3 “due benevolence” – favour, goodwill, notice there is an equality of favour and a difference of function.
In NT times marital rights were very much skewed in favour of the man, with Roman and Jewish men able to have multiple wives. Jewish laws on adultery differed for the man and the woman. A woman who had a relationship out with her marriage was guilty of adultery. A married man was only guilty of adultery if he had a relationship with a married woman. This perhaps answers the question often posed from John chapter 8 – what about the man taken in the act of adultery? He may not have been guilty of adultery!
Biblical recognition to the sexual needs of both husband and wife.
V5 ‘That Satan tempt you not for your incontinence’
think of those times in the Word of God when men failed, when women failed too.
Those episodes were not totally unpredictable:
Judah and Tamar (Gen 38:12ff)
Judah left widowed – unmet sexual needs
Tamar left without husband – unmet needs
This fall does not occur in a vacuum but in a setting in which Judah and Tamar are open to temptation, to some extent the scenario is predictable.
If predictable then it is preventable.
David and Bathsheba
Occurs when Bathshebas husband is away from home
Samson (Judges 14ff)
Consider Samson, the character perhaps more than any other in the OT we might associate with sexual immorality and fornication.
Samson had a series of illicit relationships; Judges 16 – Harlot from Gaza and Delilah
It was ultimately that final relationship with Delilah which would destroy him.
We have drawn many a lesson from Samson over the years – a story replete with lessons and teachings for us today – lessons on the attack of Satan, on the restoring Grace of God, lessons on final recovery, lessons on the slippery slope of compromise – Samson is drawn deeper and deeper into the trap of Judges 16; physical, emotional and ultimately spiritual.
Consider the background to Samsons downfall – his first relationship; his first marriage, whilst it was to a Philistine woman, which would ultimately be its undoing, yet in other respects every ting was done properly and above board:
i. Judges 14:1 ‘and saw a woman’
ii. Judges 14:2 – goes to his father and mother
iii. Judges 14:7 – Talked with the woman
iv. Judges 14:10 – marriage ceremony
v. Judges 14:15 – legitimate marriage ‘husband’
After the marriage and riddle – Samson leaves (Judges 14:19), but naively – maybe child like returns for his wife (15:1-2) whom he fully expects to be waiting for him!
He even respects his father in laws instruction (Judges 15:1)
His wife, having been taken by another is now burned to death by the Philistines
It is against this backdrop that we can / ought to appreciate the failings of Samson:
A broken marriage
A wife taken by another
An adulterous wife
Ending in the violent and cruel death of his wife
Yet Samson did seem to love her:
‘she pleaseth me well’ (14:3)
‘she pleased Samson well’ (14:7)
Returned for her in Judges 15:1
Samson was the big man with the soft heart, a broken heart
Note how his final downfall unfolds – with words re-echoeing of his first love; Judges 14:16; 16:15
“lest Satan tempt you for your incontinence”
Samson failed in the testing and tempting
Yet the temptation did not occur in a vacuum
A number of years ago, during a trip to the north west tip of Zambia, close to the Angolian border, a missionary friend related to me the real life tragedy that has become for me something of parable of human happiness. Diamond smuggling across the Angolian border is a high risk activity but a highly profitable one. A local villager grasped the opportunity of a lifetime to swap his meagre but sufficient possessions and live stock for a bag of such contraband and arrived at the house of the missionary hoping to cash in some of his new found wealth for hard US dollars. The bag was placed on the kitchen table, with delight the grinning millionaire poured out its polished coloured contents over the table. A sack full of childrens glass marbles, as foreign a commodity to the impoverished Zambian as uncut diamonds bounced onto the floor. In seconds happiness was turned to gut wrenching disappointment.
1 Corinthians chapter 6 adds to the already frustrating and at times fruitless human pursuit of happiness the realisation that many who think they have found it, are just about to lose their marbles. A claim to happiness may represent the joy of finding peace with God through His Son Jesus Christ. ‘I am happy,’ may mean, ‘I have cracked it,’ it may mean ‘ I have life and I have life in all of its fullness,’ ‘I am happy,’ may mean that I have had the barrier between me and God removed and know who He is; He is Jesus Christ and I am living in the real joy of His presence and power. Alternatively, as was the case for some at Corinth; ‘I am happy’ may simply mean I have totally missed the purpose of life, I live in ignorance of God, and I have shut myself off into a self contained and self fulfilled cocoon of satisfied natural desires and needs; my stomach is full, my sexual desires are satisfied, my financial needs are catered for and in this bubble of a God denying delusion, I am content and happy. Happy that is until God Himself opens the sack and pours out before His judgment seat; glass marbles and a lost life.
Just added; a new message preached from 1 Corinthians chapter 6 by J Stewart Gillespie: