I Corinthians 7:10-16

Dr. Steve Viars November 12, 1991 1 Corinthians 7:10-16

- tonight we're continuing our study of I Cor. 7
- two weeks ago we looked at the first part of the chapter
  and studied biblical principles of sex
- tonight we're going t0 look at verses 10-16 and study
  "Biblical Principles of Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage"

- let me remind you of something we said last time about the
  way we interpret these verses

- one of our principles of Bible study is that we determine
  what kind of literature we're studying

- INPUT - what is unique about the way chapter 7 is set up?
   (answers to questions that the Corinthians had asked Paul
    in a former letter)

- INPUT - Because that’s true - how does should that affect
          the way we seek to understand this passage)

          1) should recognize that Paul is giving a full
              treatment of the subject addressed.

          2) Because these are specific answers to specific
             questions, we must be careful not to draw
             general conclusions that the writer never
             intended us to draw

             - following the unity principle will help keep
               us on course

- the subject we're talking about tonight is critical
- one out of every two marriages ends in divorce and if
   you're going to have a church in the nineties, you must
   deal with this issue
- there's probably not a person in this room who has not been
   affected by divorce in one way or another
      - either because you've been divorced or a friend,
         family member, etc.

- God has been very gracious in that He's given us answers on
   this subject to help us please the Lord in this area like
    all others

- let me make three quick statements to help guide our
    discussion tonight

1) My goal is to primarily study I Cor. 7:10-16, not
   everything the Bible says about this subject. We will
   refer to some of the key parallel passages and I've
   considered many others in preparing our study, but this
   could easily blossom into a 8 week study and that’s not our
   intent at this time.

     - if you'd like to do some additional study...(rec.
         booklets and handouts)
     - (make the point about how that’s one of the great
        things about consistent leadership - a great wealth
         of materials to use)
2) There are folks who take a different position on this
    subject than us.
      - Our church has tried to be careful about studying the
        Word of God thoroughly before taking a position.
      - we believe we're right and we have a number of
        biblical reasons for our position on this subject.
      - however, there are literally dozens of possible
        positions on this subject, and we recognize that
        other folks who are godly individuals and
        accomplishing much for the Lord may hold a position
        different than ours
      - this shouldn't be a position that divides the
      - we fellowship with a lot of people who see this issue

3) Our goal tonight, after understanding what the
    verses say and mean - is to find specific applications
    for each one of us.
     - regardless of your position on divorce and remarriage,
       there are some very clear issues that emerge from this
       passage that should help each one of us identify ways
       we can be changing and growing.

- READ 10-16

- it's important that we see that Paul is talking to three
   different groups of folks here
     - that’s the way we're going to divide our outline
       - I. God's word to believers married to believers
       - II. God's word to believers married to unbelievers
                who want to stay (in the marriage)
       - III. God's word to believers married to unbelievers
                who want to divorce (don't want to stay in
                the marriage)

- tonight - God's word to believers married to believers

- so let's start with:

I. God's Word to Believers Married To Believers - (His word
      to them is) Don't Divorce

    - I'd like you to notice that Paul makes an unusual
      statement in verse 10 when he says "I command, yet not
      I, but the Lord"
    - let's take a minute and talk about what that means

(next week we will look at the other side of that where Paul
  says - "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord" - that one
  can be confusing so I want you to know I am planning on
  dealing with that next week when we come to it)

    A. Meaning of "...Yet not I, but the Lord..."
        - Paul's reminding the Corinthians that the issue of
          believers married to believers was directly
          addressed by Jesus Christ
        - undoubtedly, He's thinking about passages like
          Matt. 5:31-32, Matt. 19:4-12, and the parallel
          passages in the other gospels where our Lord said
          things like the verses we have in your notes
        - in those verses, the Pharisees had a debate going
           - one group said you could divorce your wife for
             any reason - the other group said it could only
             be for repeated adultery for which the person
             refused to repent

        - so they came to Christ and said - "Is it lawful for
          a man to put away his wife for any cause?"

- Jesus answered (Matt. 19:4-6) - "Have you not read that
   He who made them at the beginning, made them male and
   female; And said, For this cause shall a man leave His
   father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the
   two shall be made one flesh?

      - INPUT - Paul was quoting Jesus - and Jesus was
                quoting who?  (God the father in Genesis 2:24
- then the Lord said - "Wherefore, they are no more two but
    one flesh - What therefore God hath joined together, let
    not man put asunder."

- so the first point anyone needs to make about this subject,
   regardless of their position on divorce and remarriage is
   that God's plan is for one man to be married to one woman
   for life

- God the Father said it, God the Son it, so the apostle Paul
     repeats it:

    B. Command - Don't divorce!

        - Paul wants to be so clear on that, that he repeats
          the command from both perspectives
            - v. 10 - to the Christian wife - don't depart
                  (don't divorce your believing husband)
            - v. 11 - to the Christian husband - don't put
                 her away (don't divorce your believing wife)

        - I think we need to ask then:

        1. where did divorce even originate?

             - the answer is not - God originated it

             - let me ask you to turn to Deut. 24:1-4

             - some folks want to use this passage to say
               that God instituted divorce
             - that’s not true - God is simply regulating
               a practice that’s already going on
             - the Jews were divorcing their wives and
                 sending them away, leaving that woman in a
                 position where she couldn't support herself,
                 she couldn't remarry, and she was open to
                 any slander and gossip anyone wanted to make
                 her the subject of

             - God said no - I don't want you to divorce, but
                if you're going to - here's the way you have
                to do it

        - now, a moment ago, we read verses 4-6 from Matt. 19

        - the Pharisees responded to Jesus by saying - "then
            why did Moses command to give a writing of

        - Jesus set them straight on that by saying (verse 8)
           "Moses, because of the hardness of your heart
            permitted you to put away your wives, but from
            the beginning it was not so."

- that's why Malachi 2:16 says - The Lord hates divorce

         - now we'll talk about some of the exceptions and
           special cases in a moment and also next week, but
           let's just "chew on what we've bitten off for a

- God says to believers who are married - Don't divorce

- now, some things ought to happen in our hearts when we hear

- for one thing, this ought to give us a tremendous amount of

        2. gives hope

            - INPUT - why is this true?  (because God would
               never tell us to do something that is
               impossible to do)
            - when folks want to act like believers - there's
              no problem that can't be solved
               - no issue that can't be addressed and handled

            - now I realize someone may be here tonight and
              say - God has been very cruel in giving this
            - that person probably has never experienced a

            - divorces aren't cuts - they're rips
            - and a loving God...
               - who knows us better than we know ourselves
               - who loves us more than we could ever know
                  - has been very kind and gracious in
                    putting this roadblock up on the divorce
                    trail and saying - Believers married to
                    believers - you can't go down this trail
                      - you must, and you can, solve marriage
                        problems biblically

- in addition to giving us hope, this truth also ought to
    call us to commitment

        3. calls us to commitment

            - knowing you're going to have something for a
              long period of time dramatically changes your
              comitment to it

            - Kris and I recently had to have some work done
              our blue car that cost about $300
            - that’s been a great car
            - for a number of reasons, we've decided to keep
               that car for a good while to come

            - that affected the way we viewed that bill
               - we're committed to keeping the car
               - we're not even thinking of trading it in
               - so we've got to get the one we have fixed

         - that’s the problem with some married couples
            - they're so busy looking at the possible marital
              trade ins that it affects their commitment to
              the current model - their current spouse

        - Kris and I decided long ago - we'll never use the
          word divorce - not even in jokes
            - surely not in threats
            - that subject is off limits

- Kris knows - she's stuck with me
- we better work on making our marriage the best it can
    possible be - because we're committed to obeying these

- now I'll say this - being married to Kris makes that easy,
     for which I'm very thankful
- Kris grew up in Elkhart and her pastor was Dan Gillete
    (whom some of you know)
- I went to college with Pastor Gillete's boys - so he knows
     both Kris and I

    - recently we saw Pastor Gillette at a conference and he
        put his arm around me, looked at Kris - and said,
        "that’s the best thing that ever happened to you,
    - I'll tell you, humanly speaking - he's absolutely right

- I think all of us who are believers married to believers
    need to ask - Are we living out the practical
    implications of these verses?
      1) Do you have hope that problems can be solved - and
         are you godly and courageous enough to roll up your
         sleeves and find biblical solutions to those
           - see, its the weak man that goes out and finds
             another woman
           - its the sissy that sits around and fantasizes
             about how much better it would be being
             married to someone else
           - it doesn't matter if the world holds that kind
             of person up as being macho, cool, tough, a
             "real lover" and all that
               (almost like - stick a Marlboro cigarette in
                his mouth and you've got a real man)

           - it doesn't matter if the world holds the woman
             who would go out and find somebody else as being
             "with it", or being the "nineties woman"

      - God's kind of man - and God's kind of woman has
        the strength, godliness, and the faith, and the hope
          - to get busy and get those problems solved

2) Are you committed to not using the "D" word?
    - some Christians are always holding the divorce trump
    - they're always holding that over their spouses head
        - they stomp out of the house and squeal the tires
          out of the driveway and nobody knows where they've
     - or they say - well, we'll just divorce
           - go find somebody else

- God says to believers - don't divorce

- INPUT - what is going to be impact on the children in
          Christian families where dad and mom say "we're
          going to live in accordance with this principle and
          its implications?

- another thing we could say about this command is:

        4. is a word of caution for singles

  - INPUT - why is that true?
      - (marriage is for life - there's at least one thing
         worse than not being married - and that’s being
         married to the wrong person)

      - INPUT - in fact, when the disciples heard what Jesus
          had taught in Matt. 19 - do you remember what they
          said?  (Lord, it's better for a man not to marry)

         - of course they were taking the principle too far,
           but that demonstrates that they understood the
           seriousness of Jesus' statements
             - don't divorce

- now, I think we have to honest with the Scripture and say
   that the Lord did give an exception to the verses we've
   been looking at from Matt. 19

- there are three things that end a marriage, biblically
     1) death
     2) the exception we're about to study
     3) desertion - which we'll study next week

    5. Jesus' exception to this command

        - turn to Matt. 19:9 (read)
        - Matt. 5:31-32 (read)

        - the word that is used there is the word "porneia"
          from which we get words like pornography
        - in the Bible, the word is used to describe all sorts
           of sexual sin


        - now, you might say - well, what do folks who don't
          believe in any biblical reason for a divorce do
          with these verses?

        - the answer is - they try to do something with the
             meaning of fornication so that the verses don't
             apply today
        - some say Jesus was referring to the Jewish
           betrothal period - others have other views

        - bottom line is - Jesus did give an exception clause
          here - and he used the word that refers to general
          sexual sin

        - therefore, while the general principle is that God
          wants believers to remain married for life, he does
          allow (not command) divorce in situations where a
          spouse is involved in on-going sexual sin for which
          he/she will not repent

- now, there are some things we need to say about that:

            a. does not apply in cases where the person

               - when someone repents - the other person must
                   - forgiveness involves reconciling that
                   - a person can't say - I forgive you - now
                      get out of the house cuz I'm going to divorce you

            b. divorce is not commanded in this case

                - these situations need to be evaluated on a
                  case by case basis
                - in many cases, even when the exception
                  clause makes divorce possible - it may not
                  be the best route to take

            c. divorce surely should not be the first step

                - INPUT - what should the person do first?

                     Matt. 7:1

            d. this is not a weak view of marriage - it's a
               strong one

               - some folks want to say that the position
                  I've just shared with you is a weak view of

               - that’s simply not true
               - it's the person who would tell a believer
                  that they have no recourse
                     - even when their spouse is in the house
                       one week, gone the next
                     - or committing gross sexual sin

                  - ...the person who says the spouse has to
                    stay in that situation and subject the
                    children to kind of lifestyle who has the
                    weak view of marriage

- there's one other thing we need to look at in these two
    verses, and that is:

- what happens if someone violates this command?

    C. Command to those who violate the first command

        Paul says that person has two options:
        INPUT - what are they?

        1. remain unmarried

        2. be reconciled


              - the other person is still an unbeliever

              - person married someone else, now wants to
                 marry you again (Deut. 24:4)

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video