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1 Corinthians 7:17-40

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Last Sunday night Pastor Josh taught us on the doctrine of marriage from 1 Corinthians 7:1-17. He pointed out the
Purpose of marriage.
Importance of Faithfulness in Marraige.
What Scripture teaches about marriage and divorce.
Now, in verse 17 Paul continues his teaching on marriage but he does it through a couple of illustrations by comparing them to being committed, faithful and content in marriage. Remember the context, folks are getting saved in Corinth and all of the sudden you have a believing husband or wife who is yoked to an unbeliever. Now all of the sudden they are thinking we need to get divorced. We need to separate that we might live and serve God faithfully.
John MacArthur Explains, “Several areas of discontentment were prevalent in the Corinthian church. Some believers wanted to change their marital status—from single to married, from married to single, or from an unbelieving partner to a believing one. Some were slaves and wanted to be free. They had misinterpreted, and often abused, the truth of Christian freedom to do as they pleased, instead of freedom to do as God pleased.”
What impact would this have on the unity of the church at Corinth?
However, Paul’s point throughout this chapter is,
No, don’t jump to change your outward situation, instead live faithfully in the midst of the place God has called you.
In other words, Remain as you are!
This brings us to our first point, Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to,

I. Remain as you are Called (17-24).

Notice what Paul writes in verse 17,
1 Corinthians 7:17 ESV
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.
As we continue our study in 1 Corinthians chapter Paul continues to unpack his doctrine of marriage and singleness. He continues to explain to the Corinthians the way in which they are not only to conduct themselves in their lives as married or single, but now he begins to unpack this contentment they are to find in their current calling. Or in the the life God has assigned them too.
If you noticed when we read verses 17-24 Paul repeatedly uses a word that drives home his point about Christian contentment in the midst of their circumstances.
What is that word? The word call or called is used eight times in this paragraph.
First let’s look as this word
1. Call defined
John MacArthur writes, “As always in the epistles this term refers to God’s effectual call that saves.”
A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. κλῆσις

invitation to experience of special privilege and responsibility, call, calling, invitation. In our lit. almost exclusively of divine initiative (cp. κλῆσις, ἣν κέκληκεν [ὁ θεός] Epict. 1, 29, 49; s. also Maximus Tyr. 11, 11a) of the divine call, of the invitation to enter the kgdm.

What Paul is saying in this paragraph is that God has called you into a relationship with himself, this relationship comes with not only privileges, but also responsibilities. In the midst of this calling God has placed you in real space, real time and real relationships. Therefore, you are to remain, stay, and be content in the midst of the state and relationships in which you are called unless you are biblically called to another station in life.
Now that we see call defined, secondly, we see this
2. Call Applied
First, Paul applies this contentment in call by exhorting the Corinthians to,

A. Remain in the condition in which you were called.

Paul writes,
1 Corinthians 7:18–20 ESV
Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.
He begins his application by pointing to the difference between the Jews and the Gentiles. What he says is look don’t get caught up by trying to correct your circumcision or receive circumcision in order to achieve faithfulness through the ceremonial law. Circumcision or lack of counts for nothing. Don’t think that you have to remove or receive this OT sign of the covenant in order to be a New Covenant believer.
If God has called you, with his divine invitation to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus for your salvation he has fulfilled the law perfectly for you, therefore remain as you are.
In verse 19 what does Paul say is more important than the outward sign of circumcision?
Keeping the commandments of God. Now Paul is not trying to say that the Christian is not saved by the obedience to the law, instead the believer is sanctified by obedience to the law.
They are not to keep the commandments in order to gain their salvation, they had already been called to salvation, and the call will not be revoked.
But they are to obey the commands of God as a result of their salvation!
Paul moves from exhorting the Corinthians to remain in the condition in which they were called to urging them,

B. Remain in the position in which you were called.

1 Corinthians 7:21–24 ESV
Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
What is the next question Paul asks in these next few verses?
Verse 21 Were you a bondservant when you were called?
How does he answer his question?
Do not be concerned about it. Paul is like, look don’t worry about the position you are in. If you are a servant or slave be the most faithful Christian you can be in the midst of your bondage.
Avail yourself of the opportunity.
This word avail in the Greek means, to make use of instruments—to use, to employ, with.
Paul wants the church to know instead of seeking to bail on the current situation you are in avail yourself to the situation. God has called you to salvation in the midst of whatever situation or circumstance you are in so make use of it, employ all the means you have to glorify God, don’t think that you have to jump and run, unless you are living in sin. But remain where you are and redeem the relationships God has sovereignly ordained.
In other words, you show your earthly master and your fellow slaves how God has change your life. You let them know that he has invited you into this relationship with him, saved you from his wrath, given you a new heart, and freed you from the bondage of sin. You love your neighbor whether he be your master, your fellow servant, or anyone else that sees your contentment and joy in Christ!
Notice how Paul next reminds the church of who we truly belong to in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 7:[22] For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. [23] You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. (ESV)
He says look here,
If the Lord called you as a slave, you are free in the Lord.
If the Lord called you as a freedman, you are a slave of Christ.
Why would this truth bring comfort and encouragement to the believer?
Who would you rather be owned and ruled by? An unjust master on this earth, or the perfectly just master of the universe?
This brings us to the question,
How then shall we live in light of this truth?
English Standard Version Chapter 7

24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

In light of all that Paul has just written, he writes,
So, brothers, whether you are married, circumcised, uncircumcised, bond or free, remain as God has called you!
Now, does this mean we are never to change from the current situation in which we live?
Paul is about to continue this idea of remaining as you are in verses 25-40, but I believe his emphasis is that the Christian,

II. Remain Free from Anxieties. (25-40)

Skip down to verse 32, let’s read from 32-35.
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. fThe unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
Paul uses two forms of the word anxiety or anxious one is an adjective,
Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains 25.226 ἀμέριμνος, ον

pertaining to not being concerned or anxious—‘without worry, unworried, free from concern.’

He wants us to be free from this type of living in anxieties, concern and worry.
Always thinking on being consumed by I have to find a wife, I have to find a husband, I need to be married.....Or on the contrary, I need to be single, I need to be separated from my spouse so I can.....
Second as a verb, man is or woman is anxious which speaks of having an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune—to be worried about....
What does Paul say he wants?
How many times does Paul repeat the word anxious?
Do you think we can say Paul is trying to make a point here?
What does Paul say people are anxious or worried about?
The unmarried man is anxious about pleasing the Lord.
The married man is anxious about pleasing his wife.
What does this do?
It divides his interest....What about the unmarried.
The unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy.
The married woman is anxious about how to please her husband.
Why does Paul say this?
Not to lay any restraint upon you,
but to promote good order
and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
MacArthur notes, “Paul was not putting a legalistic noose around the necks of Christians. They are not under compulsion either to marry or to remain single.”
He primarily wanted them to benefit from understanding the effect married and singleness had on their devotion to the Lord and their freedom to serve so that they might be able to avail themselves to the opportunity to their fullest potential as they remained as they were!
Now that we understand what he wants us to understand from this text, let’s unpack how the church at Corinth and the church at Pray’s Mill can accomplish Paul’s desire for us to remain free from anxieties.
First, remain free from anxiety as you,

A. Remain in your state of singleness or marriage. (25-28)

Second remain free from anxiety as you,
1 Corinthians 7:25 ESV
Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.
Paul makes it clear, that he has no command form the Lord here, but what he is about to explain and teach is as an apostle, one who is trusted by the Lord’s mercy to give godly judgment and counsel.
And here is his point,
1 Corinthians 7:26 ESV
I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is.
Then he explains the because of the present distress or the whatever was going on at that time that was causing conflict or calamity. It could have been the spiritual conflict of coming to faith and facing persecution or the physical conflict of pressures of the world.
However, in light of this present distress Paul says it is best to remain married or single if that is the state you are in.
1 Corinthians 7:27 ESV
Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
Paul reinforces the idea of remaining as you are.
He then says,
1 Corinthians 7:28 ESV
But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.
Here is what Paul make crystal clear in this verse,
It is not a sin to marry! Marriage is still a good thing. Marriage is still the God ordained institution between a man and a woman. Where we read from the beginning it is not good for a man to be alone.
So if you have the desire to marry and are free to marry, by all means find a spouse who is a believer and marry.
But Paul wants the church to understand,
those who marry will have worldly troubles,
Let me ask you what does Paul mean by worldly troubles?
Paul gets very practical here. He wants the church to understand marriage is a good thing, but it is not perfect. It does not protect the husband and wife from every problem or issue.
Why, because even as believers we are still sinners, yes we are being sanctified, but you are putting to people together in very close proximity who will begin to see one another’s flaws, faults, and failures.
For example, Vickie, realized pretty quickly,
I snore a-lot,
I grind my teeth,
I eat really fast,
I get up early make a lot of racket then fall asleep about the time she is ready to talk.
And the list goes on....
MacArthur explains, This word trouble literally means “pressed together, or under pressure.”
Single folks don’t have to deal with these kind of things. Unmarried folks can also just go whenever there is a need within the church, whenever a mission opportunity comes up, or whenever God has opened a door of gospel opportunity.
Married people must consider their spouse, how this will impact them, how will I be able to care for them, are they in a position I can leave them to go.
Again not sin to marry, but as a single person these are the opportunities you are to avail yourself too.
So Paul provides this practical advice to remain as you are if you are with our without a spouse.
In verse 29-31 Paul reminds the church to,

B. Remain ready for the eschaton. (29-31)

Look with me at verse 29,
This is what I mean brothers: the appointed time has grown very short.
Paul shifts the practical nature of marriage and singleness to the eternal nature. He reminds the church marriage is a temporary institution. It is an institution instituted by God for man, but it will only last for an appointed time.
Remember the words of Jesus,
Matthew 22:30 ESV
For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
There is a day coming when this world will come to an end, when Christ will return, when he will create the new heavens and new earth, and we will all be in a glorified state of singleness. There will be no sin, nor reason for marriage because the bride of Christ the church will be eternal wed to Christ the bridegroom!
The elect then ought to live with this eternal view of marriage, always looking and longing for this sinless, never ending, unbreakable union between Christ and his bride.
This readiness for the return of Christ will change the way we not only view our marriages but the way we live them out. Paul goes on to say,
From now on, let
those who have wives live as those who have none,
Now, Paul does not mean forget about that woman you are married to, don’t care for her physically and spiritually. He is not saying, don’t protect her, don’t provide for her, and don’t fulfill your role as priest and prophet of your home.
Instead don’t let your marriage take top priority over your union with Christ. You and your wife seek him first and seek to please, honor, and glorify Christ first and remember he is returning. If we live out these types of marriages we will have joy filled marriages even in the midst of worldly troubles.
Paul continues,
those who mourn as though they were not mourning,
1 Thessalonians 4:13 ESV
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
When you mourn and think of the believer who may be passed or the season of suffering you are experiencing, remember we don’t grieve as those who have not hope.
those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing,
Even when we rejoice there ought to be a since of weeping for those who don’t know Christ, for this world that is passing away and being overtaken by sin.
those who buy food as though they had no goods,
The believer must remember that all that we have are gifts from God, we are just stewards of it. Even as we buy and sell we must do it remembering that all things are God’s and that the things we may hold precious are passing away.
The point here is don’t be more concerned about our stocks and bonds than your spiritual state.
those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it.
Or as the apostle John would say do not love the world or the things of the world. Anyone who loves the things of the world does not love the Father. The Corinthian church and the church today has an unhealthy affection for the pleasures of this world.
Not that we are not to enjoy God’s creation, but we must worship the Creator not the creation.
Why is it so important to have the proper perspective of these things Paul mentions?
For the present form of this world is passing away.
So Paul has reminded the Corinthians,
To remain in the condition they are called.
To remain in the position they are called.
To remain free from anxiety.
To remain single or married.
To remain ready for the eschaton.
Finally he calls the church to remain free from anxiety as you,

C. Remain free from sin. (36-40)

1 Corinthians 7:36–40 ESV
If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
1. Remain free form sexual sin.
As Pastor Josh mentioned last week, if you are betrothed or engaged and marriage is imminent but you are struggling to control your passions, go ahead and get married. It is better to speed up your wedding date than to fall into sexual sin.
2. Remain free from a sinful marriage.
Stay single if God grants you that gift.
Stay committed to your spouse in a faithful God honoring marriage.
Stay away from marriages that result in adultery, i.e. marrying to those who have not been freed by death, adultery, or abandonment.
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