I Corinthians 7:10-16 #2

Dr. Steve Viars November 19, 1991 1 Corinthians 7:10-16

- tonight we're going to be in I Cor 7 looking at the second
  half of what Paul said about marriage, divorce, and

- you may remember that last week that we said that these
  verses need to be divided up according to what specific
  group they're written to
- sometimes the commands given to one group are completely
  different than those given to another group - and its
  critical in understanding these verses to sort through
  who's being addressed
- v. 10-11 - written to believers married to believers
- vs. 12-14 - believers married to unbelievers who want to
              stay in the marriage
- vs. 15-16 - believers married to unbelievers who don't want
              to stay in the marriage

- last week we saw that God's word to believers married to
    believers is - No divorce!
      - while the Scripture does recognize an exception which
        we discussed last week, the overall principle is -
        Don't divorce!
          - we said that God has been very gracious to us in
            putting this roadblock up on the divorce trail
              1) it gives hope (God would never command us to
                 do something that is impossible, or that He
                 wouldn't/couldn't enable us to carry out
              2) leads to greater commitment - (knowing
                 you're going to have something for a long
                 period of time dramatically affects your
                 commitment to it

- tonight we're going to continue our outline (that’s why
   we're beginning with Roman II) by looking at:

II. God's Word to Believers Married to Unbelievers Who Want
    To Stay In The Marriage

    - let me just say a word about the practicality of these
    - I realize that the majority of the folks here tonight
      are not in either of the two categories we're going to
      discuss tonight

         - so the natural question might be - How can these
           verses help me?  (several answers)

           1) To be better equipped to help a person who is
              in this situation that God brings across your
           2) There are important general principles in these
              verses that apply to all.
           3) We can rejoice when a person in a specific
              situation receives direct teaching from the
              Word of God about his/her situation.

                - part of being in a church body is being
                  mature enough to recognize that there are
                  going to be illustrations or passages that
                  do not specifically address your situation.
- but we ought to rejoice when another brother or sister is
  receiving direct teaching about his/her specific situation
  and we ought to recognize that the Holy Spirit of God says
  that all Scripture is profitable and that He can work in
  all of our hearts through the general principles of His
  Word if we'll be submissive to that work

- READ I Cor. 7:10-16

- as I mentioned last week, I think we better spend a minute
  talking about that phrase in verse 12 - "but to the rest
   speak I, not the Lord"

    A. Why "speak I, not the Lord?"

INPUT - why might that be a concern to some folks?  (seems to
        indicate that these words aren't as important because
        they're only from Paul's mouth.

- in other words - some folks might view these verses as
    weakening our position on inspiration because Paul is
    coming right out and saying that these aren't the Lord's

- actually, the opposite is true
- verse 12 is a very strong SUPPORT for our view of

- Paul is not saying that these are not God's words - he's
   simply saying that Jesus never addressed this specific
   topic in His earthly ministry, so now he is going to do it
- but the point isn't - "Corinthians, you don't have to
   listen to this because these are only my words...in fact,
   just the opposite is true.
     - he is putting these words in the same category as
       God's words because that is exactly what they were
     - Jesus didn't specifically address this subject in his
       earthly ministry, but what Paul is writing is inspired
       by God
     - All scripture is given by inspiration of God

- Paul could speak with great authority because of that
- you see that in verse 17 (read)

- point is - this verse is not an embarrassment to the
   doctrine of inspiration - it's a strong support of the
   doctrine of inspiration

- let's take one minute and push this one step further
- I Peter

     - read 1:20-21

     - read 3:15-17

- now that that’s settled, let's look at what God says to
   believers married to unbelievers who want to stay in the
- INPUT - in verses 12-13, what is the command given to
          believers married to believers who want to stay in
          the marriage?

    B. The command

        - don't put them away - don't separate, divorce, send
            them away

        - we're not talking about whether a believer should
          marry an unbeliever
            - INPUT - what does the Bible say about that and
                      where does it say it?
                     - II Cor. 6:14 - Be not unequally
                          yoked together with unbelievers
                     - I Cor. 7:39 - (speaking of a situation
                          where a Christian's spouse dies) -
                          she may marry - only in the Lord

        - so we're not talking about whether a Christian
          should marry an unbeliever or not
        - we're talking about cases where a person, as an
          unbeliever, marries an unbeliever, and then is saved

        - or a person who's a believer, who violated the
           Bible and married an unbeliever

- now let's think about this together for a minute
  What are some reasons a believer married to an unbeliever
  might give for wanting to divorce his/her unbelieving
        (put on board) (divide legitimate from illegitimate)

      - wants to have a Christian marriage
      - wants to be able to pray with spouse
      - share on a spiritual level
      - more spiritual environment for kids
      - doesn't like some of spouses' sinful habits

- I'm not saying that some of these desires are illegitimate
  in and of themselves (in fact, we'll talk more about the
  "desires part of this in a minute), but the bottom line is
  that God says a believer married to a believer who wants to
  stay in the marriage cannot divorce his/her spouse

- Paul gives several reasons for that:

    C. Reasons for the command

        1. it’s an opportunity for evangelism

            a. for your spouse

                - INPUT - what does the passage say happens
                    to an unbelieving spouse who is living
                    with a believer who is responding
                    biblically to that situation?

- INPUT - we've been studying sanctification in SS - what are
    the four aspects of sanctification? (flash transparency)

- INPUT - what kind of sanctification is being spoken of

- point is - God wants that believing spouse to remain in
     that marriage (if the unbeliever wants to remain
     married) because that places that unbeliever in the best
     possible position to be saved.

- INPUT - why is that true?  (develop)

- INPUT - what other Bible writer made this same point? (and
          where did he make it?)
        - turn (and read) I Peter 3:1-6

- this raises a very important issue, and the issue is - In
    your list of priorities, how important is your spouses
    salvation to you?
      - ***In your list of priorities, how important is it to
            you to obey God's Word, remain married, and live
            a life that is a good testimony of what it means
            to have Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?

- (Back to the board) there's nothing intrinsically wrong
    with a person saying things like:
      - I'd like to be able to pray with my spouse
      - I'd like to be able to share spiritually with him/her
      - I wish he/she were concerned about growing

- but the question is - Is Jesus Christ so important to you,
    and is the potential salvation of your spouse so
    important to you,
       - that you're willing to strive to be God's kind of
       - seek to live a godly example before that person
- ***Even if you never get these things that you want

- that’s critical, because often these things (on the board)
   become idols
      - do you know how you can tell that
      - watch what the person does when they don't get them

      - some believing spouses in the situation we're talking
        about right now are irritable, grumpy, poor company,
        proud, condescending
          - living with them is anything but living with
             Jesus Christ

- Why - because they don't love lost people the way Jesus did

- that’s why the great commission begins with a participle
   - Go ye therefore, and make disciples
   - "Go" is a participle
   - it could be translated - as you're going

- point is - whatever situation you find yourself in - look
    for opportunities to share Christ
- ***some of us are so busy wanting to get out of
     relationships and involvement with unbelievers that we
     miss great opportunities for evangelism

- this point applies much further than just believers married
    to unbelievers
- we all need to hear this one
- some of us get the idea that life would be great if it
    wasn't for all these unbelievers around
- living for God and ministering for Him would be great if we
   didn't have to bother with all these folks who weren't

- when I was studying in Philadelphia I also worked in a
   Christian school
     - a very unique situation
     - inner city ministry
     - lot of hurting kids

- we had a great staff at that school, with people that were
   very conscientious
- the teachers wanted to have their papers graded on time
   - they wanted their bulletin boards to look good, and
      their classrooms to be clean and neat

- our maintenance man was the same way
   - he wanted that building to be neat and clean and in
      good repair

- but what I saw happening with our staff was the frustration
  at times because,
     you know what it was that prevented them from always
     having their papers graded, rooms clean, building
     looking spotless, and all the rest?

- it was the kids - and their sinfulness, and their problems
- and sometimes I saw this attitude start to develop on the
  part of the staff -
    - working at this school would be great, if it wasn't for
      the lousy kids!

- we could really keep this place clean, neat - get our
    papers graded, and all the rest -- if we didn't have to
    be bothered with their sinfulness and their needs

- do you see the folly of that kind of thinking? - we'd have
    to go back and think about our purpose and what God
    wanted us to accomplish in that place

    - sure their sinfulness, needs, habits made our job
      harder - but that was our job

- I don't want to sound insensitive to the believer married
    to the unbeliever, or the believer who works with
    unbelievers (like most here do), or the believer with
    unsaved family members or neighbors
    - some of those situations are tough
       - use bad language
       - tell foul jokes
       - have wrong values
       - dishonest, backbiting, and all the rest

- But, God says that for the believer married to the
   unbeliever, the believer who has unsaved co-workers,
   neighbors, family members, friends...

- Don't be all anxious about getting out of those
    relationships as soon as possible
      - Jesus said it - "Ye have not chosen me, but I have
         chosen you, and ordained you...

- so Paul says - stay married because its an opportunity for
   evangelism for your spouse
     - it's also an opportunity for evangelism:

            b. for your kids

- now that’s just the opposite of what some believing parents
   married to unbelieving spouses think
- they want to focus on their spouses bad habits - and
   usually there are plenty of them to focus on
     - the thought, concern - sometimes it's very sincere is
        - my kids are going to get dirty being around this

- the truth is – that’s exactly the opposite of what the
   passage says
     - it says - the children  in this kind of situation are
         holy - set apart just like the unbelieving spouse is
         set apart

- a very important principle in these verses is - it only
  takes one
    - it only takes one person living for God in an entire
      family that set that family apart as being in the best
      possible position to accept Christ

- see, it really comes down to this question - what do
    children in a home, where one parents is saved and the
    other is not, need the most?

    - answer is not - they need a germ free environment
    - (not) the believing spouse needs to leave as quickly as
        possible so the kids aren't defiled

    - this passage teaches that the opposite is true
    - those children can be greatly benefited by living in a
        household where that believing spouse models day after
        day after day
          - here's what it means to live for Jesus Christ
            even in the hard times
          - here's what it means to want to be like Jesus
            Christ even when those around don't love God
          - here's what it means for God's strength to be
            made perfect in weakness
          - here's what it means to be submissive to
            imperfect authority
- all of those are lessons that every child desperately needs
  to learn
  - those lessons can be taught powerfully in a home where
    the believing spouse sees that situation - that crucible-
    as an opportunity for effective ministry for God

- now I hope no one would leave the service thinking -
  here's another example of the Lord being cruel, putting
  heavy expectations on people

- nothing could be further from the truth
- Jesus said - if you know these things - happy are ye if you
   do them
- the person who obeys these principles will have great joy
   in Christ

- please don't say - well, you don't know what you're talking
- the Lord has made it possible for me not only to know this
  from the Scripture, but also to know it experientially

- most of you know - my mom is a believer, my dad is not ( a
   very moral man, hard-working, generous, always provided
   for us well, etc) but not a believer
- someone might be tempted to say - "your poor mother"

- if my mom were here she'd say - "wait a minute"

   1) that was a choice I made. No one forced my mom to marry
      who she did. That was a choice she made.  She'd be the
      first to say that though she was a believer at that
      time, she didn't make that decision using biblical
      principles...but it was her decision and decisions have

    2) marriage is a covenant.  Proverbs 2:17 tells us that
       God views the marriage of two unbelievers as a
       covenant before Him. Surely that’s true of two
       believers, and its also true of a believer married to
       an unbeliever.
        - in the situation we're talking about tonight, God
          views those marriage vows as a promise made before
          Him - and my mom would say - I want to keep the
          promise I made to my husband and to God.

    3) She would also say this - there's great joy in
       seeking to serve Jesus Christ in this situation.
        - As she grew in her biblical understanding of this
          situation, she had a choice to make:
           that was - was she going to pout, and be bitter,
            and proud, condescending, and all the rest

        - or was she going to seek to serve Jesus Christ
          and obey him where she was

        - she chose the later, and my parents have a
          wonderful marriage in a lot of ways
            - and those who know my mom know that she's
              anything but depressed and bitter.
            - she's joyful and exuberant - she loves the Lord

- and I'm thankful today that I had the privilege to grow up
   in that kind of home because:
     1) I know that if my dad's going to be saved - he's in
        the best situation possible to make that decision
     2) I learned some lessons there and have some
        convictions as a result I'm not sure I would have
        learned anywhere else
- we said last week that this passage presents a very high
   view on marriage (we'll see that again in a minute)
- I think we also need to say from what we've been studying
  tonight - this passage places a very high view on

- God says a believer ought to stay in that marriage if the
   unbeliever wants it because its a great opportunity for

- and I think all of us need to ask the question - do I view
   the situations that I'm in with the same vision, and the
   same intensity, and the same evangelistic fervor that Paul
   is advocating here?
- or do I think - this world would be great,... community,
    job, neighborhood, family, marriage would be great - if
     it wasn't for all these unbelievers

- there's another principle we need to draw out of these
   verses and it's this: Paul commanded believers married to
   unbelievers who wanted to stay married to remain in that
   relationship because

        2. It's an opportunity to fulfill one of the
            purposes of marriage

           - a couple of weeks ago we listed several biblical
             purposes of marriage
           - we did that because we studied in the beginning
             of this chapter that one of the purposes (not
             the only, maybe not the even the first) of
             marriage is to help our spouses maintain moral

- now there's another purpose in these verses - that is - to
   have a sanctifying effect on our mates

- we've talked about that from a salvation perspective, but
   let's broaden that principle out and talk about it for
   those of us who are believers married to unbelievers

- principle is this (triangle on board) we ought to have a
    sanctifying effect on our mates

    - in other words - it ought to be easier, more natural
         for our spouses to love God, serve Him, obey His
         word, do His will, achieve His purposes..
           - it ought to be easier and more natural for our
             spouses to live for God because they're married
             to us

- these verses give this principle in the context of one mate
    being an unbeliever - therefore its talking about
    prospective sanctification
- but its also true of believers married to believers -
    talking about progressive sanctification

- a good question for all of us to ask would be - what impact
      do I have on my mate spiritually?
        - Are they apt to be more godly or less godly because
          they're married to me?

- sad thing is - some spouses who claim to be believers are
   dead weight to their spouses' spiritual growth
        - now that other spouse is responsible to grow
        - but, we are responsible for the kind of impact we
           have on the spiritual lives of others - and that
           starts with our spouses

         - Iron sharpens iron, and so a man the countenance
           of his friend - Prov. 27:17

- see, what kind of impact do you have on your spouse
- if your spouses spiritual life was like a flower, is your
    impact like a greenhouse, or like a desert?
    - Is it like a cool spring rain, or a hot summer drought?

- a good question to ask your spouse tonight might be -
    honey, what could I do to make it easier and more natural
    for you to grow and please God?

III. God's Word To Believers Married To Unbelievers Who Want
     To Leave

    A. Meaning of "pleased to dwell"

      - not a "pleasure to live with"

      - talking about desertion

      - talking about the spouse who's in and out the house
            for weeks at a time
      - talking about the spouse who's no longer interested
           in a monogamous family relationship

      - the person who has deserted the family and his/her
          marital vows

    B. Command

        - let that person depart

        - don't have to fight, manipulate, cajole

        - want to communicate that you want the marriage,
          that you're willing to make any biblical changes in
          order to preserve the marriage, but - if he
          departs, let him depart

    C. Provision

        - not under bondage (not under obligation to somehow
             keep that marriage going)

        - is now free to marry in the Lord

        - because God has called us to peace

        - Rom. 12:177ff

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