1 Corinthians 5-7 Carnal Relationships

Psalm 135:1-21 Praising Our Great God
135:1 “Praise Yah! Praise the name of Yahweh! Praise Him, you servants of Yahweh, 2 you who stand in the house of Yahweh, in the courts of our God’s house. 3 Praise Yah, for Yahweh is good. Sing praises to His name, for that is pleasant. 4 For Yah has chosen Jacob for Himself; Israel for His own possession. 5 For I know that Yahweh is great, that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever Yahweh pleased, that He has done, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps; 7 who causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth; who makes lightnings with the rain; who brings forth the wind out of His treasuries; 8 Who struck the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and animal; 9 Who sent signs and wonders into the midst of you, Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his servants; 10 who struck many nations, and killed mighty kings, 11 Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan, 12 and gave their land for a heritage, a heritage to Israel, His people."

13 "Your name, Yahweh, endures forever; Your renown, Yahweh, throughout all generations. 14 For Yahweh will judge His people, and have compassion on His servants.
15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 16 They have mouths, but they can’t speak. They have eyes, but they can’t see. 17 They have ears, but they can’t hear; neither is there any breath in their mouths. 18 Those who make them will be like them; yes, everyone who trusts in them. 19 House of Israel, praise Yahweh! House of Aaron, praise Yahweh! 20 House of Levi, praise Yahweh! You who fear Yahweh, praise Yahweh! 21 Blessed be Yahweh from Zion, Who dwells at Jerusalem. Praise Yah!"

Observations: 135:1-21 This psalm is linked to the next one by having a very similar structure. The psalmist exhorts his readers to praise God for His superiority over idols, shown by His saving acts towards His people, Israel. He is great, rules over nature and kingdoms, and shows favor to Israel. Note that God does multiple things for His people. Therefore people should fear, trust, and bless (speak well of) Him, for those who trust in dumb idols become like them.

Application: Fear, trust, and bless God, praising Him for the specific things He has done.

Prayer: God, You are most worthy of praise, for You are great and good to Your people. May I fear and trust You, and declare the things You have done for me, so You are glorified. Amen.

TMS 2 Timothy 3:16 How To Have A Quiet Time
3:16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable
  • for doctrine/teaching (the Path)
  • for reproof (shows where off the Path)
  • for correction (shows how to get back on the Path)
  • for instruction/training in righteousness (shows how to stay on the Path)
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.“

Observations: 3:16 This is the second of the 7PASSAGES (see sidebar), explaining your relationship with the Word of God. The only way we, as finite beings, can know infinite Truth, is if an Infinite Being reveals it to us (see the first of the 7QUESTIONS in sidebar). Problems arise when we base our understanding of and relationship with God on anything other than His Revelation (although all truth is God's truth, if we neglect revelation for speculation, we wind up believing lies). All Scripture is “God-breathed,” the basis of inspiration (breathe into). What was written was what God spoke, or wanted written, so we'd be able to trust it, and obey it. See “Is There A Supernatural Being and Can He Walk and Talk” under the 7QUESTIONS for the reliability of Scripture.
As a result of being “God-breathed,” Scripture is profitable in four areas, for a purpose:
Doctrine or teaching which marks out the path or way in which we should walk; it would make sense that if God wanted us to do something, He would tell us; and He has. When we read, we should first seek to understand what God has said, which is what the Observation part of DailyTruthbase is all about. This is step number one of a Biblical Quiet Time, read the Bible.
Reproof means to bring to light, and as we read God's word we see that what we are doing is or isn't in accord with His will for us; doing what is right in His sight is essential for righteousness so when we read we should be looking for not only what we should or shouldn't do, but be transforming ourselves by the renewing of our minds (Rm 12:1-2 post) so we think, value and feel as God wants us to. This is step number two of a Biblical Quiet Time, meditate on the Bible: think through the implications of what you've read for applications (see comments on Joshua 1:8).
Correction means to bring to a straight or upright position, in line with the Truth. Doctrine shows the “what” you should do, Reproof shows “where” you're off, and Correction shows you “how” to get back on the path. There are 613 commands in the OT, and 613 commands in the NT (see “What God Wants” on Truthbase.net). Many of those commands tell us how to obey, repent, draw near, submit, pray, rejoice, trust, give, receive, etc. The commands are not random restrictions on our happiness, but what God wants us to do so we can be in a position where He can bless us, and we can glorify Him for doing so. This is step number three of a Biblical Quiet Time,
Training in Righteousness is a better translation than teaching, which is implied under doctrine. This is the motivation or “why” you should apply the correction and stay on the path. In any long journey or race, people get tired and want to wander or quit. Scripture provides the motivation to keep at it, by showing the consequences, positive or negative (blessing or cursings) that God has sovereignly determined will follow your choices. In the physical realm we catch on relatively quickly that stoves are hot and the laws of gravity make jumping off a cliff a bad idea. We're a little slower to learn the laws of the spiritual life. However, when we're tempted to quit, we're usually not thinking rationally, which is why God has given us lots of repetition and object lessons, and fellow believers to remind us (see 3:17). This is step number four of a Biblical Quiet Time, look for the motivation that God gives for following His way.
DailyTruthbase is arranged around the above paradigm, and adds the element of response which Paul gives to Timothy in the next chapter. The essence of worship is a response to Revelation (see comments on Genesis 22), so the prayer is an example of how to respond initially to God's word, and the application is what should eventually find its way into your life (actually, you need to put it there).
3:17 God didn't give us His word so we could just learn about it, but so we can use it to bless others. In Ephesians 2:8-10, the first of the 7PASSAGES, we're told that works don't get our sins forgiven, but that we are saved to do good works. So how do you know what good works you should do? This verse answers that question. The word of God equips us to do good works, which in Timothy's case was to teach it to others (in chapter 4).

Application: You can't give to others what you don't own, so commit to mastering the word: Learn it; Live it; then Love others with it, and don't stop.

See: "Getting a Grip on God's Word"  10minuteBible on YouTube

Prayer: God, thanks for giving Your word to guide my life to fulfill Your purposes for me; may I be a diligent student and applier of Your truth, as I follow Your path for me. Amen.

1 Corinthians 5-7 Carnal immature Christians have carnal relationships, because they seek to fulfill their desires in them rather than God's desires. His plan is that He meets our needs, so that we're free to meet the needs of others. But for those who don't know and obey Him, that process gets short-circuited. Those who seek to gratify their desires for power (significance/security), pleasure, and possessions on this earth, will miss out on those blessings in the Messiah's future kingdom. Those who use others to meet their needs for worth or pleasure/companionship, forfeit the privilege of having God meet those needs, and suffer the inevitable pain of disappointment in this life, and the next. Instead of behaving badly, believers should live in light of the identity and promises God has given them. This section deals with lawsuits, church discipline, immorality, sexuality, discriminatory relationships, singleness, marriage, divorce and remarriage,

1 Corinthians 5 Discipline and Separation
5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that one has his father’s wife. 2 You are puffed up, and didn’t rather mourn, that he who had done this deed might be removed from among you. 3 For I most certainly, as being absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as though I were present, judged him who has done this thing. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole lump?
7 Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with the sexually immoral; 10 yet not at all meaning with the sexual sinners of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world. 11 But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don’t even eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with also judging those who are outside? Don’t you judge those who are within? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. "Put away the wicked man from among yourselves."

Observations: 5:1-6 Two hallmarks of a Biblical church are submission and separation. There needs to be a commitment to be submitted to: the Lord Jesus, the word of God, each other, and Biblically-qualified leadership. It's that common commitment which provides the basis for God-glorifying unity. The second hallmark is implicit in the first, and that is a commitment to live Biblically, and thus separate from sin, which means church discipline, or removing from the Body those diseased cancerous parts that endanger the Body. Sin is like a yeast that is pervasive and destructive. It's lethal in leadership, and a blemish among believers. A church that is committed to holiness and purity deals with sin it its midst, sanctifying the saints or separating from them when the saved sinner chooses not to be submitted to their Lord and His Body.
In Corinth, the capital of carnality, there were some sins that even the unregenerate shunned, one of which was incest. The broad-minded (empty headed – see Proverb 1 na├»ve) Corinthian “saints” were so insensitive to God's Spirit, that they were proud of their tolerance and acceptance, rather than grieving over the sin that would result in judgment for the individual. In chapters 2 and 4 Paul warned the carnal baby Christians against judging others because they didn't have the Biblical understanding to do so (the logs were still stuck in their eyes; see comments on Mt 7:5), but here he delineates the responsibility of the more mature to do so (5:12-13). A hallmark of a carnal baby Christian is that they cry “don't judge” whenever the subject of judging sin comes up. However the spiritual believers have the mandate and requirement from God to do so, especially elders who are tasked with shepherding the flock.
Paul gives directions which should be used in conjunction with Matthew 18 and Galatians 5:1-4 (see comments in both places, especially Mt 18). This is really the final stage of Matthew 18:15-18, where the church is told, confronted the sinning believer, and the person chooses sin over sanctification and glory (clearly a Satanically motivated choice). Since the believer has turned from God, God demonstrates that separation by having the Body reveal the real nature of things: the believer is in Satan's camp.
Following Paul's command, in accordance with his judgment and authority/power as an apostle, the church is to gather (after they've heard about the sin and sought to secure the repentance of the sinner, as in Mt 18), and as the Body of Christ, express Christ's will toward the person, but consigning the unrepentant believer to the destruction of Satan. Believers connected with a Body enjoy some protection from Satan under the “umbrella” of the Holy Spirit operating in the Body. Just like a child is protected from evil influences and acts by his/her family, so a spiritual babe is protected by a Biblical church. They follow what the church says until they should be on the right track. Eventually they should be able to discern and embrace the truth directly, but until they learn the truth, there's safety in following those who are following Christ. Within a couple of years of becoming a believer, a person should have progressed to knowing, living, and loving others with the truth. It took Jesus three years to train His disciples [but then they didn't have the Holy Spirit, nor a NT, nor DailyTruthbase :) ].
The purpose of turning a person over to Satan (see outline on Church Discipline on Truthbase.net for specifics), is not merely punitive, but restorative (hopefully). When a person loses the protection and fellowship of the Body, they might come to their senses and repent. As Satan afflicts them by taking away everything he promised (he is a liar), they might realize that the grass isn't greener on the dark side. The flesh (desire for the temporal -see Rm 6 comments) gets destroyed (either directly or through the law of diminishing returns) so that the person will repent, and his spirit (that part of him which relates to God) might be saved in the judgment (1Cor 3:15) Day of the Lord. This is referring to the glorification aspect of their salvation, not their justification/forgiveness, which is the bedrock foundation. See more on loss of inheritance/reward in the last half of the next chapter, 1Corinthians 6. Letting a person continue merrily in their sin and not taking steps to confront and purge it, is not the loving thing to do. It's like letting a person wander off the edge of a cliff and not saying anything to warn them about their body getting dashed to pieces on the jagged rocks below. See the Watchman Principle in comments on Jeremiah 3 and 33.
5:7-8 God isn't just concerned with the holiness of the individual, but also that of the Body. In the OT the entire community had the responsibility of eliminating sin from their midst (Dt 13:14; 17:4), so God's blessing could come upon them. God gives blessing only to those who obey Him (Dt 28:2). If the corporate culture is pursuit of holiness by the saints, then young believers will join in seeking God. If the corporate culture is toleration of sin by putrefied pew sitters, then the new believers will sit, soak, and sour. Paul uses the Passover-Unleavened Bread analogy to encourage them to get rid of the destructive influence of sin. Among other things, unleavened bread symbolized a break with the sins of the past.
5:9-13 Paul had written a previous letter to the Corinthians which the Holy Spirit did not see fit to preserve. In it he had counseled them to not fellowship with fornicators; now he clarifies his instruction, based upon information he probably received form Chloe's household (1:11). Separating from a sinning believer does not mean we have nothing to do with sinning unbelievers. Some well-intentioned but misguided folks think the unbelievers are the enemy, but in reality they are the prisoners who need to be freed. Having nothing to do with them makes it difficult to save them. Jesus partied with the pagans and sinners to bring them to faith. To avoid unbelieving sinners we'd have to leave the world, since they're all over the place. It's a different story with sinning believers. Being loyal to God requires that the believer exercise discernment and judgment. Usually whenever I hear someone railing against judging another, it's because they don't want their own sin exposed. Most believers can only recognize two sins: adultery and changing the time or order of the service. However, God says to discern/judge and avoid believers who do the following (avoid as in not eat or fellowship with them as if nothing is wrong, don't invite them into your house nor accept their invitations, until they repent). It's been my displeasure to know born-again believers (many of them unfortunately “Christian leaders”) engaging in all these sins/vices (although usually not all at the same time). All of them show up in the next chapter in Paul's list of believers who will lose their inheritance/reward in the Messiah's kingdom. There are sermon outlines on Truthbase.net on all these topics for insight into how to overcome these sins in your own life, and help others do the same.

The immoral – the word is fornication, which can imply a wide range of sexual sin, as reflected by most translations. These are the people who live for their passions and pleasures, harming others by their illegitimate self-gratification. Their needs aren't met by God, so they attempt to use others to meet their needs for intimacy, not recognizing that physical sex is subject to the law of diminishing returns (otherwise all would be monogamous). The same could be said for illicit emotional "needs".
The covetous – there's actually a commandment about this, the last one, which addresses the longings of our hearts. This is the close cousin of immorality, in which a person seeks to meet their needs for worth and value through possessions rather than physical pleasure. They've never learned the secret of contentment, trusting that God will give what's best when it's best to those who are blessable.
The idolater – this is not the person who burns incense and bows down to a piece of wood or stone (although you might encounter a rare believer who does this) but those who burn the midnight oil and sacrifice family, fellowship and DailyTruthbase (I mean their relationship with God) to be able to achieve significance and security though their job or success, rather than God (you probably know a lot of these folks). For help in pointing out their sin, see TOYL Purpose and Objectives on Truthbase.net.
The slanderer – the one who murders with their words, putting down others to make themselves feel superior, or to balance out the guilt they feel from their sin by blaming others. They think that saying something to damage the reputation of those speaking the truth invalidates the truth of their words. The opponents of Jesus and Paul did this all the time, and the agents of Satan are alive and well on planet earth doing the same today. Paul warned Timothy against those believers who were taken captive by Satan to do his will, rather than God's will (2Tim 2:26).
The drunkard – these are the folks to be pitied, because they are experiencing the painful consequences of failing to abide in Christ, and seek to dull it with escapism. Getting drunk is just one pain-killer, drugs, TV, music, gaming, pornography, etc, are just a few of the ways they dull their senses to their purposeless and meaningless existence. They are spiritual sluggards, and that stupor carries over into other areas of their life as well. There is a solution, but one has to be sober enough to choose to embrace it.
The extortioner – the word means to take away what others have, usually by force. Modern usage of an extortioner is someone who takes away the peace, security, or possessions of another by threat of force. Governments, officials, and corporations can be guilty of this. Just because something is legal doesn't make it moral. Think how you would explain your values and actions to Christ (because we will all have to - 2Cor 5:9-10). You usually don't find too many direct thieves in the Body of believers, but you do find folks obsessed with amassing wealth by any means. Capitalism fueled by greed and not contained by righteousness, a concern for justice, and the final judgment could fit this category. If the only governing objective is shareholder value, without regard for the welfare of employees, suppliers, and customers, then one is in danger of slipping into this sin and drowning. Max Weber demonstrated that the combination of Christianity and Capitalism were largely responsible for the advancement of Western Civilization (see Let's Play Civilization in the sidebar for a taste). Without the confines of Christianity, capitalism can become rapacious, and its perpetrators will be judged. Fair warning.
Paul concludes with a reiteration of the responsibility to judge one another, and an echo of Deuteronomy 17:7 “The hand of the witnesses shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from the midst of you.”

Application: All of our associations must be governed by God's principles; it is better to suffer temporal loss to get eternal gain.

Prayer: God, may I view my stuff and relationships through Your eyes, and accomplish Your purposes in my interactions with others, rather than seeking to meet my needs through them. Amen.

1 Corinthians 6 Glorifying God with “His” Body
6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Don’t you know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Don’t you know that we will judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then, you have to judge things pertaining to this life, do you set them to judge who are of no account in the assembly? 5 I say this to move you to shame. Isn’t there even one wise man among you who would be able to decide between his brothers? 6 But brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 Therefore it is already altogether a defect in you, that you have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 No, but you yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that against your brothers.
9 Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you, but you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God.
12 "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are profitable. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be brought under the power of anything. 13 "Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods," but God will bring to nothing both it and them. But the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 14 Now God raised up the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Don’t you know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or don’t you know that he who is joined to a prostitute is one body? For, "The two," says he, "will become one flesh." 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee sexual immorality! "Every sin that a man does is outside the body," but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Observations: 6:1-8 Paul offers the flip side of not judging unbelievers, with the admonition of not having them judge believers. The Corinthians were going to secular judges to settle their disputes with each other. Paul offers two solutions: first bring the case before other believers to judge, since they should be competent to make wise decisions. If believers will judge/rule over the world and angels, they should be able to decide disputes relating to this life. In the Ancient Near East, it was from the king or ruler that one got justice. The fact that believers can't settle their own disputes amicably, and have to air their dirty laundry in public before pagans, is a defect in their love and eternal focus. They would rather harm a brother believer for getting their “rights” in this life. The second solution is to let oneself be wronged or defrauded. God will judge the offender and make it up to the “wronged” one on Judgment Day. This does not mean that Christians should be doormats, but they should be agents of righteousness and justice. Sometimes it is in the best interest of the sinner and society to have an evildoer punished (which is how the Jews viewed the situation with Jesus). Justice among believers is a far cry from ecclesiastical courts and Inquisition evil medieval times. In the process of seeking their “rights” believers were doing it the wrong way. They should have sought the intervention of the Body of believers, and if necessary suffered loss rather than do wrong.
6:9-10 The motivation for obedience and allowing oneself to be wronged rather than do wrong is one's reward or inheritance in the Messiah's kingdom (Col 3:24 equates the two). Paul warns believers against being deceived or in error on this issue. It's not about forgiveness or justification, but about loss of reward. See 1Corinthians 10 and Some Rewarding Verses for Contemplation on Truthbase.net (or the Survey of Rewards if you want an education) for the evidence that bad believers get disciplined for disobedience just like Israel did. Base your belief on the clear truth of Scriptures, not some bogus oral tradition, otherwise you'll be deceived and wind up being disciplined rather than delighted by God. Paul's solution (verse 11) is not to trust Christ for forgiveness, in fact he explicitly states they had already done that.
Paul expands upon the list of bad believers from the last chapter who were living just for this life rather than the next. The new additions are:
The adulterers – these join the immoral (literally fornicators) as those who will lose out in the future. “Doing whatever you want as long as you don't hurt anybody” is a nice slogan, but someone always gets hurt, the spouses, the kids (who are less healthy, less wealthy, and less wise than their counterparts in stable two parent families). Among the wounded are those engaging in sin, for they are using another person to meet needs that only God can meet, leading to guilt, depression, and despair.
The “male prostitutes” - the Greek word underlying this translation is “soft” (as in fine luxurious clothes Mt 11:8) which leads to the poor translation as “effeminate” in some versions. However, the term occurs here in a list of sexual sins, mere indulgent living isn't the only thing in view. Classical authors used the term in a number of ways, one of which was to refer to Catamites, boys kept for sexual pleasure, but that would be redundant to the next term of homosexuals (and would mean that female prostitutes or “butch” lesbians are OK). So the most likely meaning is those who engage in an indulgent sexual lifestyle gratifying one's passions to excess.
The homosexuals – the word in Greek is a compound, meaning “men in bed” and the word for bed is the marriage bed. Paul addressed homosexuality (and lesbianism) in Romans 1. Moses (and God) did in Genesis 18-19. Note that homosexuality is just one in a list of sins, it is not the unpardonable sin. God loves all sinners, and wants them to repent and be free, as some of the Corinthians had (verse 11).
The thieves – these are the sneaky extortioners, who take your stuff by stealthy rather than outright force. Jesus compared false teachers/shepherds to them in John 10.
The rest of the list are profiled in chapter 5. All these believers who behave badly will lose their inheritance in the kingdom. See comments in the gospels (Mt 25:34 and references). Remember, the kingdom which comes from God, as promised in the OT is not heaven. It is the Messiah's Millennial Kingdom.
6:11 Paul seeks to motivate the badly behaving believers to righteous behavior by showing them the inconsistency between their position in Christ and their worldly values. They used to be like the folks he just described, but Paul uses three aorist “snapshots” of their position:
they were washed/cleansed by Jesus – the only other use of this term in the NT is in Acts 22:12 of Paul's conversion and washing away his sins;
they were sanctified - the world means set apart or made holy. Jesus used this term in His prayer to the Father in John 17:17 of believers being sanctified by obedience to the Truth. He also used it in His commissioning of Paul in Acts 26:18 “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith towards me.” to qualify the inheritance rights of those who received the forgiveness of sins (they needed to have continued faith in Jesus). Paul used the term in Acts 20:32 when commending the Ephesian elders to the word of God, which was able to give them an inheritance among the sanctified.
Paul carried out that commission writing to Romans who already had faith, so “that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Rm 15:16). Paul used the term in 1Corinthians 1:2 to describe His audience, as those that “are sanctified in union with Christ Jesus, called to be saints/holy ones.” This sanctification is a process that begins with trusting Christ, but needs to be continued as 1Thess 5:23; 2Tim 2:21. The Corinthians had a holiness as a result of trusting Christ (that would be necessary for blessing, just like God would only bless Israel if they were holy (1Pt 1:16; Lev 20:7 where many of the sins Paul just condemned are mentioned).
they were justified – this most likely refers not to their state of being forgiven, but the declaration that they were declared righteous in the name of Christ (given a clean slate) and thus should not go back to get enslaved and polluted again.
6:12-20 Paul continues to make his case for their ongoing sanctification and victory over sin by quoting “slogans” (like the one above in reference to adulterers), and then refuting them. All things might be lawful (since he's freed from the law), but not all things will result in profit or reward, nor will he be brought under the power or enslavement of anything (see Romans 6). Food was designed for the belly, and the belly for foods, but God will destroy both, therefore don't make indulging physical passions and appetites your focus, because there is a judgment coming, and higher principles are in play. He segues from the belly to the proper use of the body, indicating that it is not ours to do with as we please, but to use for the Lord's purposes (which does include legitimate sex – next chapter). Sex can be especially destructive and enslaving because it immerses our mind, will/spirit, worth/values and emotions, as well as our body in a process that marks us indelibly. The more of our being that is invested in something the more difficult it is to undo an entanglement. (Fortunately God's grace gives all the power we need to do His will -Heb 13:21.) Our bodies are sanctuaries containing the Holy Spirit, and therefore should not be defiled by illegitimate sex. We don't even own our bodies. They were created by God, and purchased by God, so they are totally His, and should only be used for His purposes. That not only applies to our sexuality, but all aspects of our body (maintenance, work, and play) and our spirit (ambitions and purposes and aspirations). In all, everything we have is to be placed solely at God's disposal, and used to bring Him glory by our lives, for that's why we were created. See TOYL How to Glorify God if you can't immediately articulate your purpose for living, and how your daily activities and pastimes contribute to that.

Application: If we use all we have to glorify God, He will glorify us; otherwise we lose out on the inheritance He has reserved for us.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I be a holy sanctuary in which Your Spirit can dwell, empowered to glorify You and live the life You can bless. Amen.

1 Corinthians 7 Sex in the City of Corinth
1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But, because of sexual immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection owed her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife. 5 Don’t deprive one another, unless it is by consent for a season, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and may be together again, that Satan doesn’t tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment. 7 Yet I wish that all men were like me. However each man has his own gracething from God, one of this kind, and another of that kind. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they remain even as I am. 9 But if they don’t have self-control, let them marry. For it’s better to marry than to burn.
10 But to the married I command—not I, but the Lord—that the wife not leave her husband 11 (but if she departs, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband not leave his wife. 12 But to the rest I—not the Lord—say, if any brother has an unbelieving wife, and she is content to live with him, let him not leave her. 13 The woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he is content to live with her, let her not leave her husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in/by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in/by the husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbeliever departs, let there be separation. The brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
17 Only, as the Lord has distributed to each man, as God has called each, so let him walk. So I command in all the assemblies. 18 Was anyone called having been circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God (is what counts -NIV). 20 Let each man stay in that calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called being a bondservant? Don’t let that bother you, but if you get an opportunity to become free, use it. 22 For he who was called in the Lord being a bondservant is the Lord’s free man. Likewise he who was called being free is Christ’s bondservant. 23 You were bought with a price. Don’t become bondservants of men. 24 Brothers, let each man, in whatever condition he was called, stay in that condition with God.
25 Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who has obtained mercy from the Lord to be trustworthy. 26 I think that it is good therefore, because of the distress that is on us, that it is good for a man to be as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Don’t seek to be freed. Are you free from a wife? Don’t seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you have not sinned. If a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have oppression in the flesh, and I want to spare you. 29 But I say this, brothers: the time is short, that from now on, both those who have wives may be as though they had none; 30 and those who weep, as though they didn’t weep; and those who rejoice, as though they didn’t rejoice; and those who buy, as though they didn’t possess; 31 and those who use the world, as not using it to the fullest. For the mode of this world passes away. 32 But I desire to have you to be free from cares. He who is unmarried is concerned for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but he who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife. 34 There is also a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 This I say for your own profit; not that I may ensnare you, but for that which is appropriate, and that you may attend to the Lord without distraction.
36 But if any man thinks that he is behaving inappropriately toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of her age, and if need so requires, let him do what he desires. He doesn’t sin. Let them marry. 37 But he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own heart, to keep his own virgin, does well. 38 So then both he who gives his own virgin in marriage does well, and he who doesn’t give her in marriage does better.
39 A wife is bound by law for as long as her husband lives; but if the husband is dead, she is free to be married to whomever she desires, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she stays as she is, in my judgment, and I think that I also have God’s Spirit.

Observations: 7:1-9 Paul now turns from the information he had received via Chloe's household of difficulties in the church, to questions they had written him about sex and marriage. He will reply in general principles as well as address first century-Corinthian-specific issues (present distress -7:26). He will also give both direct commands of the Lord and then his perspective/judgment on the best course of action in light of the current (that day) conditions. The first question about a man not “touching” a woman (probably a euphemism) which might be restatement of the question (a “slogan” that he will refute), or a general principle, that he qualifies. The moral climate at Corinth, and the low spirituality of the carnal Corinthian Christians was such that Paul advised them to get married to avoid fornication (which would disqualify them from their inheritance -6:9). Those who were married were under obligation to render/deliver their “due benevolence” to each other. The words are those of paying a debt. Sex was to be a mutual pleasing of the other, since neither had ownership of their own body, but their spouse did. Later Paul will talk in more general terms of marriage as two people focused on pleasing each other. Remember, love is sacrificing yourself to do what is in another's best interest, it's giving of one's self, not self-gratification. “Deprivation” was only to be by mutual consent, for prayer and fasting, for a limited time, so that Satan didn't tempt them due to their lack of self-control. In Galatians Paul will write of self-control as a fruit of the Spirit (5:23), which the carnal Corinthians obviously lacked (no transforming going on in Corinth, but lots of talking in tongues -14:23). Paul wishes that all had a gift (literally grace-thing) by which power/grace they could keep themselves pure, but it also takes grace/power to be married. If single people don't have self-control, it's better to marry than burn (in passion or judgment). How's this for a Corinthian christian marriage proposal: “I think you're hot; I have no self-control; I am a carnal slave to my burning passions; so, will you trust my other centered love and spiritual leadership and commit to following me the rest of your days, in marriage, to please me?” If that's the basis for a marriage, it's no surprise that Paul next addresses the topic of divorce. Marriage, like friendship succeeds best when the participants can succeed without it, because they've learned to have their needs met by God, not another person.
7:10-17 Paul cites Jesus' teaching on marriage (see comments on Mt 19) as the basis of prohibiting divorce. But in some cases, separation is preferable to destructive battling, yet remarriage is prohibited, with a view toward reconciliation. That instruction is apparently to believers (folks that God views as married – see comments on Malachi), because these next verses deal with unequally yoked couples, a believer and an unbeliever. If a Corinthian became a believer and their spouse didn't, it was not necessary to divorce them. The children would be considered “holy,” that is undefiled, which is the opposite of what would be the case in OT times. If the pagan was content to live with the believer, the believer shouldn't leave them. Who knows, maybe the Christian, by their godly living, would win over the unbelieving spouse. However if the unbeliever wants out, let them go. The believer is not under bondage. If they're not bound to the unbeliever, they are free to remarry (although Paul doesn't explicitly state this). Otherwise, why would Paul be stating that they're “free.” Jesus said that what God had joined together, man shouldn't separate. As in the case of God commanding the post-exilic community to divorce their foreign wives (see comments on Ezra 10), God didn't join the unbelievers together. There are a number of views on this subject, this best explains all the facts as I understand them. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin, nor is it Plan A. Plan B is understanding and changing what caused the problems in the first place, and then reconciliation and remarriage. Plan C is remaining single. Plan D (as in doomsday) is repeating the same mistakes, making yourself and somebody new (or used) miserable.
7:17-24 Paul addresses the issue of slavery and circumcision, with the advice to stay as you are, what matters in keeping God's commands. If you are a slave, and have the opportunity to be free, go for it. If you don't have that opportunity, it's OK, you're free in the Lord, and can experience Plan A right where you are.
7:25-37 Paul returns to the topic of marriage, to address a question they asked specifically regarding single women (parthenoi), a subset of the “non-married” in verse 8. Because of the “present distress,” persecution from the Jews or Rome, it would be better to remain single. But if you were engaged/bound, don't break it. If you are single, don't seek it. But if you do get married, you haven't sinned. The times were such that Paul again advocates remaining single to avoid distress (see Lord of the Ringless and other resources on Truthbase.net). He wants to spare them grief; if their spouse was murdered in the persecution, they would be better off single, with the possibility of marriage when things settle down. He doesn't want them to be burdened with the issues of marriage. An unmarried person has great freedom in serving the Lord, while a married person has to divide up their time between their responsibilities to God, spouse, children, family, etc. Single people are not free to indulge their desires (Gal 5:13); nor do married people. A spouse has to be concerned with pleasing their spouse, since that is what they committed to, and what God requires of them (see TOYL outlines on Marriage). Since spouses tend to be imperfect people, it can get messy at times. And then kids get added to the mix, and the mess multiplies. As above, if people ignore Paul's advice they don't sin if they get married. If Paul was talking to a more mature audience than carnal babes in Christ, he probably would have said in verses 36 and 39 “let him/her do as the Lord desires” not as “he/she desires.” If a person doesn't have the maturity to discern God's subjective will for their life (by first learning to obey His objective will) they have no business inflicting their immaturity and carnality on another.
7:38 Paul concludes with two points: marriage is permanent, so proceed cautiously. It is better to be married years less to the right person than one extra day to the wrong person. It's also impossible to miss God's will if you're seeking it wholeheartedly according to His word. You'll know, at the appropriate time what He wants for you, as will all the godly people around you. If God hasn't revealed His plan for you, you have His present will in front of you. Paul, wants what's best for his readers; he isn't anti-marriage (1Tim 4:3; Eph 5), but in light of the present circumstances in Corinth, and in any times of persecution, being single is the better choice.

Application: If you're married, please your spouse; if you're single please the Lord.

Prayer: God, thanks for providing all I need to do Your will, from information to power and grace; thanks that I can trust You to guide me into what's best. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God requires holy behavior in the individual and corporate body of believers. He judges those who defile either, depriving them of reward.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus indwells believers by His Spirit, and desires holiness in His people, whom He purchased with His life.

Us in a nutshell: Believers have the responsibility to judge sin in their midst, and separate from the sinner until there is repentance. Believers should also be willing to suffer and be wronged in the short term to glorify God, and gain in the long term.

Where to Go for More:

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