I Corinthians 7:25-40

Steve Viars December 17, 1991 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

- tonight we're going to be finishing up our study on I Cor.
  7 and the subject of Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
- you remember that in chapter 7 Paul is addressing several
  different groups of folks
- so far we've studied three groups and what Paul has said to
  them

- INPUT - who can tell me one of the groups Paul addressed
   and what he said to them?

     1) believers married to believers - (Don't divorce) -
           unless you fall in one of the exceptions we spoke
           about earlier)
     2) believers married to unbelievers who want to stay -
           (don't put them away) - because of the great
            opportunity for evangelism both for your spouse
            and your children
     3) believers married to unbelievers who want to leave -
           (let them depart) - you ought to communicate that
            you want to be married/that you are willing to
            make whatever biblical changes you ought to make
            - but if the person wants to leave - let them
              leave - don't manipulate, cajole, give in to
              that person's sinful demands, develop sinful
              habits yourself in order to preserve the
              marriage
                 - let them depart

- the plan tonight is this
   - Paul's still going to address two more groups of folks
     in this chapter (singles and widows)
   - we're going to study what he said to them, and then
     finish up by going back to the verses right in the
     middle of this passage on contentment, and talk about
     some ways those verses should cause us to change

- read 25-35

I. Principles For Singles To Help Them Rejoice In That
   Condition

   - there are several things we need to say in an
     introductory way about these verses

    A. Introductory comments
        1. there are "different kinds" of singles

            1) those who have the gift of celibacy
               - INPUT - we've already read about that in
                  this passage - do you remember where? (7)

               - now remember, we saw from verse one that
                 that condition is no more spiritual than the
                 person who's married
               - this idea that the real "holy people" are
                 the ones who take some kind of oath of
                 celibacy and the ones who choose to be
                 married are less spiritual is not a biblical
                 idea at all
               - if that was true, God would have told Adam
                 and Eve, the only two people in the world
                 other than Christ who lived in a sin-free
                 existence and as a result had direct contact
                 with God Himself...
                    - God would have told them to remain
                      unmarried
                    - but He did just the opposite
                    - He married them...He performed the
                       ceremony

    - that being said, there are folks who have been given
      the "gift of celibacy" by God
    - these verses will help folks who have that gift rejoice
      in their single condition

            2) those who desire to be married but aren't
               married yet

               - Paul's giving some advantages of singleness
                 that can be a source of rejoicing for all
                 singles, even if they don't intend to remain
                 single the rest of their days

            3) those who have been divorced

               - some in this condition have been through
                 "biblical divorces" and may be remarried
                  some day
               - these verses can be an aide to them, even if
                 they don't plan to remain single forever

- We also need to mention that these verses have some great
  principles for those of us who are married - because as
  Paul lists some of the advantages of being single...
    - in so doing he is giving us some things we must caution
      against in our marriages and families

        2. these verses "go against" the way singleness is
           often viewed in America

           - INPUT - what are some of the "typical American
               views" about singleness?
                - the worst thing that can happen to a person
                - must help them cope with this dreaded
                  "disease"

                - especially hard at the holidays - (develop)
- point is - it's good for all of us to think about whether
   we've allowed the Scripture to control the way we think
   about singleness, because these verses present a
   perspective that is contrary to the way our society thinks

        3. must be understood in light of "the present
           distress"

           - there are some very strong statements in these
             verses
           - I think we'd make a mistake if we don't factor
             into the discussion that Paul is talking a
             special condition that the Corinthians were
             facing

      - we're talking about what Paul says in verse 26 (read)
- the question is - what does Paul mean by "present distress"

- the answer is - we don't know for sure, specifically
- but we can say this
    - it is connected with the end times in some way
    - INPUT - how do we know that?
        - (V. 29 - the time is short)

- then the question becomes - Is Paul saying that the time
     is short because he saw the oncoming persecution of the
     church that would begin just 10 years after this was
     written - or was he talking about the impending return
     of Jesus Christ?
- I think we need to say - you can't fully separate those two

- the Bible clearly teaches that believers will face
  persecution
- it also clearly teaches that Jesus could return at any
   minute

- so what do we do with verses like these where Paul makes
  some strong statements about the values of singleness?

- I think we need to avoid two ditches

    1) to say that our situation is exactly parallel to the
       Corinthians in terms of the persecution we face.
        - Foxes book of Martyrs reports that one of the early
          martyrs came from Corinth
        - its probable that Paul was already seeing some
           events leading up to that
        - (things could turn around here tomorrow) - but we
           have to interpret Scripture in its context - and
           our contexts are not exactly parallel

    2) the other ditch - and the one that we ought to be
       concerned about the most - is the person who would say
       - well, these verses don't apply to us at all

      - Paul's talking about the end times, and the Bible
        makes it clear that a believer's view of the end
        times ought to include at least these three ideas:
        1) No one knows when Jesus will return
        2) It may be today
        3) Therefore, I must live in a way that seeks to be
           ready for the Lord's return
- that’s why Paul told Titus in Titus 2:12-13 - "Teaching us,
  that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live
  soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present age.
  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing
  of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ."

- that’s why John said - "every man that hath this hope
   purifieth himself, even as He is pure."

- now with those thoughts in mind - let's look at the
   Principles Paul gives to help singles rejoice in that
   condition

    B. Principles

        - one of the key phrases in this passage is verse 32
        - NASB - "I want you to be free from concern"
        - I've chosen to use that wording in this part of the
           outline

        - Paul says - one of the benefits of being single is:

        1. you're free from the concern that living in the
           end times presents to your family members

            - Verse 28 says - if a single person decides to
              get married, they havn't sinned, but they will
              have trouble in this life

            - now again, we need to take that in light of
              it's context
            - the degree of trouble may differ from time
              period to time period

            - but the point is definitely always true -
              raising a family in this day and age presents
              some concerns
            - INPUT - what kind of concerns?

               - now we need to say this - we're not giving
                 this information to downgrade marriage, or
                 discourage marriage
             - but a person who is married needs to recognize
               that biblically speaking, they have taken on
               some unique responsibilities by seeking to
               raise a family in the end times

- that's not saying - don't get married - it's saying--don't
   take marital and family responsibilities lightly
- that, in and of itself, is a major problem -- couples who
    don't think seriously about the major responsibilities
    they are taking on in their marriage vows
- that's one of the reasons the divorce rate is so high
- some folks view changing spouses about like they change
   cars
- 4 years and junk it - that person hasn't taken those
    responsibilities seriously

- its true also of believing spouses who stay married but who
   don't seek to understand the times
- as a result - they are easy prey for false teaching and
    error
- point is - raising a family in this day and age is serious
   business
- again – that’s not said to discourage marriage -- its said
    to help all of us view that responsibility biblically and
    seriously

- of course, the implications to singles is clear - here's a
    reason to rejoice in your singleness
- that’s a concern that God in His sovereignty, has not put on
    your shoulders

- instead of being bitter about that, or stewing about that,
  having a pity party about that
    - Paul says - think biblically about that
    - here's a reason for rejoicing!

- now you might say - Wait PV - you left a group out
- what about single parents? We've got the pressure of
   raising children in the last days without a spouse to
   help.  Doesn't that mean we have the "worst of both
   worlds?"
- listen - absolutely not!
- it is not true that adding a spouse, any spouse, will
    automatically make the situation better.

- putting another sinner in the equation complicates matters
    further
       - and the believer who's in such a rush to be married
         that they marry the first person that comes along is
         heading down a very painful path

    - Paul also says:

        2. you're free from the concern of meeting the needs
           of another person/family

- now, I don't want to repeat the same points under each of
  these reasons, but--
   - Paul's not downgrading marriage or discouraging marriage
   - we're simply saying - those of us who are married need
      to face some thing and those of us who are single need
       to face some things

    - we're talking this point from verses 33-34 (READ)

    - when Paul talks about the cares of the world - he's not
      using it in a negative way
    - its not the same as when John says - "love not the
       world - neither the things of the world"

    - the cares of the world here are just the everyday needs
      of life
    - bottom line is - a person who is married, or a person
        who has children, has more of the concerns of the
        world they have to think about

- now, you can't tell a couple that who's wanting to be
  married
- they want to say "well, two can live as cheap as one"
- Yea, for half as long!


- but there's just more concerns
- remember when you were single - when you wanted to go
    somewhere - you went
- you could start thinking about getting ready 20 minutes
   before you had to go
- grab a piece a cold pizza (which was probably under a pile
    of clothes) on the way out the door
- you could pack your schedule with things to do

- that changes when you're married
    - you've got to think about the other's person's schedule
    - you've got to adjust to the rate at which the other
       person gets ready to go somewhere
    - you've got to be more concerned about nutrition, health

- then add a couple of kids to that equation

    - children are a great gift
    - I wouldn't trade that privilege for anything

    - but there's some added cares
      - forget about ever walking out to the car without
        something in your hands

   - stroller, car seat, diaper bag, extra clothes, toys,
     snacks, bottles
       - after you have kids - you're like a pack mule - you
         may as well strap saddle bags to your back and learn
         how to neigh!

- of course none of us would complain about that - but we
   have to look at that realistically
- there's a lot more concerns that come with spouses and
   families
- I mentioned some of the trivial ones - but there's ones
    that are a lot more serious

- Paul wants married couples to be sure they're fulfilling
   those responsibilities and singles to rejoice in the fact
   that God has chosen to free them from that at this period
   of their lives

        3. free from the added temptation of neglecting more
           important spiritual duties

           - now we have to be very careful here
           - the family is important spiritual ministry
           - that’s a person's first mission field
           - failure to minister to family disqualifies a
              person from Christian service to others

- however - we have to deal with the points Paul is making

- there is an added temptation when you're married and have a
   family
  - vs. 32 - "he that is unmarried cares for the things that
       belong to the Lord"
  - vs. 34 - The unmarried woman cares for the things of the
        Lord"
  - vs. 35 (read)


  - see, we're talking about the temptation to be distracted
     from the things of the Lord
  - that’s a temptation that folks who are married and single
     face alike

  - but clearly Paul is saying that being married and having
    a family makes that temptation greater

  - now, I fully believe that I can minister more effectively
     as a married man for a whole number of reasons
  - I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the pastor who
    married Kris and I said - "that’s the best thing that ever
    happened to you, Viars"
  - humanly speaking - I wholeheartedly agree

     - I think as you look around our church - you see many
       couples that minister effectively because they
       complement one another and accentuate each other's
       gifts and abilities

- but we need to say this strongly - that is not automatic
- some couples get married and their effectiveness for the
    Lord goes down

- now, let's put that in balance
- the nature of their ministry for the Lord is going to
   change-and there's nothing wrong with that
- married couples minister differently than singles do

- but, if the net effect of their impact on the kingdom of
   God is diminished because they are married - something is
   wrong

- that does happen
    - where couples are married - and you don't see them
      again
    - all of a sudden there's little time for church
    - little time for people
    - little time for evangelism
    - little time for service

- that's wrong
- marriage itself isn't wrong - but falling into the
    temptation of BEING DISTRACTED from the service of God is

- that’s why Paul gives the illustrations in this chapter that
   he does

    - INPUT - what four things does Paul liken marriage to in
         verses 30-31?  (weeping, rejoicing, having things,
         living in the world)

        - we need to see the point of his illustrations
        - there's nothing inherently wrong with weeping,
           rejoicing, having things, living in the world
        - BUT - they all have potential dangers
            - they all can be taken to excess
- weeping can turn into depression, rejoicing can turn into
    frivolity, having things can turn into covetousness, and
    living in the world can turn into worldliness
- good things can become bad if we're not aware of the
   excesses
- that’s even true of such a beautiful, and wonderful, and
   potentially God-honoring thing as marriage
- some have gotten married and then become distracted

- Kris and I have been reminded of that at Christmas time

- cf. Christmas cards - friends who married and then dropped
    out of service for the Lord
- (if time - hit the issue of "double dipping" - serving as a
     family)

- so Paul's point is - those who are married - beware of the
   added temptation you've opened yourself up to
     - not downgrading marriage or discouraging marriage,
       just beware of the temptation

- Paul said in Col. 3:2 - "Set your affection on things
    above - not on things of the earth"

- singles - here's another reason to rejoice--we all have to
   face the temptation of neglecting spiritual duties -- but
   the Lord has placed you in a position where that
   temptation is not intensified because of family
   responsibilities

- now, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions here

- first - for those who are single

    1) what is your view toward your single condition?
        - not asking you if you desire to be single forever
        - but do you have a biblical view of singleness?
        - if you're not satisfied being single today - you
           won't be satisfied being married either

        - the Lord has provided some great reasons in these
             verses to rejoice in singleness

- for those who are married
    1) have you taken the responsibilities that come with
         marriage seriously?
          - are you seeking to protect your family from/ and
            teach your family about the dangers of living in
            this end age?
          - are you seeking to become a man or woman who
            understands the times?
          - are you serious about meeting the material needs
            of your family, both now and in the future.
          - have you taken whatever steps are necessary to
            insure that family concerns don't distract you
            from your relationship with the Lord and your
            service to Him?

    2) What is our attitude toward singles?
       - are we helping singles have a biblical view of that
         condition or are we adding to the problem?

- to finish these verses off, let me just mention that Paul
   also has some instructions for widows at the end of the
   chapter


II. Principles For Widows

    - read 39-40

    A. Spouses are bound for life

        - that’s consistent with what we've studied earlier in
          the chapter

    B. Death severs the marriage bond

    C. Widows are free to remarry

    D. Must marry a believer

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

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