Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 27
I CORINTHIANS 6:11 – 9:7
Now to pick up where we left off in the last lesson, and that will be in I Corinthians 7:4. Remember in dealing with these circumstances the situations are probably a lot different than many of us are confronted with, and yet as our society is crumbling, and as we are falling more and more into a social fabric that Corinth was, then this Chapter 7 is probably more appropriate than most of us would like to admit. Now as we start with verse 4 we find Paul dealing with the relationship between the husband and the wife he says:
I Corinthians 7:4
“The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”
So where does that put us? Well it puts us on equal ground, and in the marriage relationship it is fifty-fifty. Iris and I have often said it’s more like eighty-twenty from both sides, but that still boils down to a fifty-fifty relationship. Now what Paul is talking about here is the satisfaction of the sexual needs of both parties of the marriage union. And that is picked up then in verse 5, and since it’s a fifty-fifty situation the husband is to be aware of the needs of the wife, and the wife is to be aware of the needs of the husband, consequently:
I Corinthians 7:5
“Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, (I think Paul is warning here never to use sex as a lever against your spouse. In other words don’t withhold sex in order to gain an advantage. Now granted other things can enter in like emotional stress or physical impairment, but all things being normal, don’t withhold consent for very long so) that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”
Do you see what we’re all up against? The sex drive is powerful, there’s no doubt about it, and God put it there for a purpose. But we’re not to abuse it anymore than we do anything else, and so if there is a consent between the two to refrain for a period of time then that’s all well and good, but don’t overdo it. Always remember Satan is always there to tempt one or the other to go outside the marriage relationship. Now verse 6.
I Corinthians 7:6,7
“But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. (Then in verse 7, Paul says something that throws a curve at a lot of people) For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”
Now we know that once Paul began his apostolic ministry, from all Scriptural indications he was alone. But my whole premise is that he had at one time been married, and had children. I’m going to take you back for the reference to Acts Chapter 26 where we see a very revealing part of Paul that too many people ignore. Most of those people think that Paul was a bachelor, and never married, and consequently he had a thing against women, and marriage. No he didn’t. But Paul was certainly alone at the time he starts his ministry as an apostle. But here in Acts we find Paul rehearsing his past life when he was active in Judaism, and a Pharisee. And he was persecuting the believers in Jerusalem who had become followers of Jesus of Nazareth, and he was trying to stamp them out because he thought he was doing God a favor. And you pick that up in Acts 26:9, and here Paul is telling these people about his conversion on the road to Damascus.
“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (as a religious fanatic) Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice (vote) against them.”
Who was the ruling body of Jews that would have been voting what to do with these believers? The Sanhedrin. Now here is where I maintain that Paul was married. If I understand the Jewish Old Testament economy, a person could not be a member of the Sanhedrin unless he was married, and had children. And the purpose was how could you judge in the area of families and relationships if you’ve never had the experience. Now let’s bring that into the New Testament into I Timothy Chapter 3, and here Paul carries it right on into the leadership of the Church with the same situation. How could leaders of the Church lead intelligently, and from experience if they’ve never had the responsibility of being a husband and a father.
And here is where I always point out that no matter what denomination you’re from, or what you think of the Apostle Paul, where do you get the reasons for your Church government and organization. Well you get it from Paul, and here we have the qualifications for a Pastor or Bishop, and the Deacons.
I Timothy 3:1-4
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, (pastor) he desireth a good work. A bishop (pastor) must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, (can’t be an alcoholic) no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;”
You come on down to the deacons, and it’s the same thing. So this whole process of leadership in the realm of the spirit demanded that Paul was married, and had children. What happened to them we don’t know. I think, and I may be as wrong as wrong can be, but I think that after his conversion on the road to Damascus, that just totally upset his whole apple cart of life so to speak. And he turned his back on that well paying position as a member of the Sanhedrin, as a member of the Pharisees, and you know in Galatians Paul says:
“And profited in the Jews religion…”
In other words, I think Paul was making big money as one of the religious leaders of Israel. And he turned his back on all that, and I think his wife and kids rebelled at the very thought of it, and she probably left him. Like I say, that’s my thought, but the Scriptures don’t tell us what happened to Paul’s wife. But whatever, I have to feel that at one time Paul was married, and had children, but something happened to them because from the time we pick up the Apostle Paul in the Book of Acts, he is alone. He doesn’t call himself a widower, or a bachelor, we just know that he doesn’t have a wife or family. Now then coming back to I Corinthians Chapter 7 it’s that single state then that Paul is referring to when he says:
I Corinthians 7:7a
“For I would that all men were even as I myself….”
Now there had to be a reason for the man to say that, because he certainly wasn’t putting the kibosh on marriage and family. But all through Paul’s letters, what was he expecting to happen at any moment? The Lord to come, and on top of that I think by the Sovereign Grace of God, Paul had a little bit of foreview of the horrible persecution that was going to come upon the Christians. Now then if all of a sudden persecution was to fall, how much easier it would be for people to be single. That stands to reason where a poor little wife wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of her husband being taken away in the middle of the night. Or having children suddenly kidnapped away from them, and not knowing what happened to them. It would be better to just be alone, face persecution, face death, and have it over with. And so I think both of these things have to be brought into our understanding of what Paul is teaching here. That number 1, The Lord’s coming (he thought) was at hand. Paul says that throughout all his letters, and of course it didn’t happen. So he tempers these relationships with that in view, plus the inkling of the horrible persecution that would be coming across the Roman Empire. So take all that into consideration. Now verse 8:
I Corinthians 7:8
“I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.”
Again he’s telling even the women that it would be better if they remain single, than to get involved again and go through the trauma of losing their husband to the forces of persecution. But in the next verse he’s going to give them an out.
I Corinthians 7:9
“But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”
Now what’s he talking about? Well if they cannot control their sexual desires, and it gets to the place that they are tempted to commit adultery to do that, then Paul says you’re better off getting married. That comes right back to what he says in verse 2.
I Corinthians 7:2
“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”
Now we come down to verse 10, and this is difficult, and I know a lot of people don’t like to face this head on, but we have to because it’s in The Book. But I’m going to temper it somewhat by assuring people that even though we are guilty of the sin of adultery by virtue of remarriage and so forth, yet every sin is forgivable. There is nothing that The Lord will not forgive, but again I think society as a whole and especially the Christian community has to understand how God looks at these things. And that’s what we have to go by. How does God look at it? Not what society thinks, not what our denomination thinks, but what does God say? And again, the problem with our whole attitude toward marriage among our young people is because they have not been taught what God says about this marriage relationship. Now verse 10:
I Corinthians 7:10-16
“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, (so this is The Word of God) 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. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, (still in paganism) and if he be pleased to dwell with her, (who is now a believer) let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, (who is a believer) and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: (who is a believer) else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. (Paul says `let the unbelieving spouse go if that’s the way they want it.’) A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, (Who is a believer) whether thou shalt save thy husband? (who is lost) or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shall save thy wife?”
Now we know that we can’t save our spouse and the spouse can’t save us, so what’s Paul talking about? Well let me bring you back again to Peter’s little epistle in I Peter Chapter 3. Here, especially in the city of Corinth, and this is the only letter where Paul deals with these things, and so consequently I have to feel that the Ephesians weren’t under this kind of situation, nor the Philippians, or the Colossians. Maybe to a degree they were, but not like they were here in Corinth. It was just beyond comprehension, and everyone of these converts of Paul had been in idolatry. So if they were married then naturally they both were, so if one of them is saved and comes out of idolatry, and becomes a believing Christian then here we have in the home this division, as one is still in idolatry, and the other a believer. How were they going to handle it? The same would be for missionaries who minister to people who have more than one wife in the family. We’re so immune to all these things, we’ve been so protected in our American society, but these things were real to these people. Now look what Peter says here.
I Peter 3:1
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; (sounds like Paul doesn’t it?) that, if any obey not the word, (they’re not a believer) they (the husbands) also may without the word (without preaching at them, without dragging them to church, without bringing them under the television ministry, without saying a word, that lost husband may) be won by the conversation (or manner of living) of the wives,” Now verse 2:
I Peter 3:2-4
“While they behold your chaste conversation (manner of living) coupled with fear. (a reverence fear, rather than being scared to death) Whose adorning (speaking of the Godly, believing wife) let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; (but rather let her win the husband by) but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, (that born again spirit within that believing woman) even the ornament of a meek and quite spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
Now what is Peter admonishing the believing wife to do? Listen, don’t nag that unbelieving husband, don’t preach at him, don’t try to drag him to church because that’s not going to work. So what does the wife do first and foremost? She lives an exemplary Christian life in front of him.
I remember when I was teaching up in Iowa, and I had a Saturday night teenager class, and we would have 45 or 50 kids that would come in every Saturday night for Bible teaching. One of the neighbors of the host home wanted to know, “what in the world is going on in your house on Saturday night?” So Gladys the host, said, “well we have a Bible study for young people.” The neighbor lady wanted to know if there was a chance that she could come and sit off in the corner someplace, and listen and watch, and naturally there wasn’t a problem with that. So this lady, who was a doctor’s wife, had a lovely home, but her husband was something else. And they don’t mind me telling this story on them, as they share it with everyone now. But anyway, she came to that class on Saturday nights over a few weeks time, and Mary Beth was gloriously saved.
Well it wasn’t but a few weeks after that, and Iris and I were attending a wedding where she was also, and she met us out in the lobby of the church, and she started to weep – I mean weep. I said what in the world is the problem. And she said, “My husband John.” I said, “Yeah, I’ve heard about John.” You see John had more than one mistress, and his wife knew it, and as a result of her Salvation he became her number one burden. And so I took out my Bible and showed her these verses here in I Peter, and I told her that this wasn’t going to be easy, but my Bible tells me that if you can do it, then God will do it. Well she said, “I’m willing to try.” So I told her just to do what she knew John likes. If he loves a good T-Bone steak have one ready when he comes in. If he likes hot apple pie, have one ready for him. Well to make a long story short, do you know how long it took to win John? 4 months. And old John told the story himself.
John said, ” I was in my office one Sunday morning, and had just seen my last patient, and I was in a hurry to get out to the country club. I was just gong to spend the day boozing it up with my buddies. Before I could get out of my clinic, The Lord just came on me with such conviction that my wife was such a far better person than I could ever hope to be, that right there in my office I dropped to my knees and said `Lord, I’m a sinner, save me, and The Lord did.'” And this man has now been a Church leader almost ever since. He is a living example of what a believing wife can do without saying a word.
Most women get the idea that they’re going to drag their husband to church, and get everybody trying to collar him, and that’s not the way to do it according to my Bible. I’ve also seen it the other way around. In one instance the husband came to the class first and was saved, and got a burden for his wife to be saved, but she wanted nothing to do with The Word of God when he tried to read it to her. But he just kept living the example, and finally one day The Lord in His Sovereign Grace caused a friend of hers, who was a believer, to just stop in for coffee one morning, and in the process of having a cup of coffee, led this lady to The Lord. And they are still living the exemplary Christian life together today. So I know this works. So back to I Corinthians, and this is all Paul is saying, that if a wife or husband finds themselves still in a marriage relationship with a rank pagan unbeliever, to just hang in there. Don’t break up the marriage if at all possible, but live the example so that the day will come when they will open their heart to The Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) and then you can have a happy marriage relationship, a happy home, and of course the children will more than likely follow suit.