Sexuality

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.10.17

Marriage & the Gift of Singleness

 

by Paul Long

1 Corinthians 7:1-9, 36-40

 

Paul has addressed some serious issues in the Corinthian church.  In chapter 5 he had to correct the issue of immorality.  In chapter 6 he had to address members of the church participating in temple feasts involving prostitutes. 

The culture of Corinth was far away from God’s original design and intent for sex and marriage.

As we look at chapter 7 we will see how some in the church were responding to these cultural issues of sexuality and immorality.

Paul is responding to a letter that he had received from the Corinthian church  vs 1

“It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” Here Paul is quoting something that they had written in their letter.  This not something Paul is saying, rather it is a position that some in the church had arrived at. 

Considering the immorality of the culture they lived in and the struggles some of the other church members had faced, the conclusion they came to was that abstinence in all contexts was good. 

This was a pendulum swing too far in the wrong direction.

Paul will address this by expounding on the gift of marriage and sexual relations within marriage, he will remind husbands and wives of the rights and responsibilities in marriage, and caution them of the dangers of abstinence in marriage.

If married couples were expected to abstain from sex there would be a danger for them to struggle with self-control and fall into temptation and sexual immorality  vs 2 & 5

Because of these dangers – “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”   Paul echoes back to God’s original intent in marriage. Genesis 2:18-24

Marriage is the only appropriate sexual outlet in God’s design and especially for the Christian seeking to please Him.

Within the context of marriage two have become one flesh and each has surrendered his/her own rights to the other  vs 3

The husband has an obligation to meet his wife’s needs, and the wife has an obligation to meet her husband’s needs. 

Love in marriage is giving oneself away for the good of the other.

Seeking to love and serve our spouse even when we don’t feel like it is hard work. 

Marriage exposes our pride and selfishness.

Our marriages must be filled with grace and forgiveness. 

Where there is not love, grace and forgiveness – marriages get into trouble.

In vs 5 Paul gives a strong command, “Do not deprive one another…” 

To deprive is to defraud another of a right that is owed to them.

One spouse may not selfishly disregard the other’s needs. Husbands and wives are not free to hold back love and intimacy from their spouse  vs 4

We need to work in our marriage to cultivate and maintain our emotional oneness.

1. Forgive and forget (Eph 4:26).

2. Foster good communication.

3. Nurture your relationship; pursue love and romance.

The one exception, where a husband and wife could withhold from marital intimacy would be for a limited time of intentional prayer  vs 5

This is always mutually agreed upon, for a limited time, and for the purpose of being devoted to prayer.

After clarifying the Corinthians’ poor conclusions on intimacy in marriage, Paul moves on in verse 6-9 to talk about the gift of singleness. 

Paul does not command singleness, but he does “wish” all were like him.

Paul didn’t have a low view of marriage, rather he knew singles could serve the church with a single-minded devotion.

How do you discern the gift of singleness?

vs 9 “…For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

If you have a strong desire to marry you probably don’t have the gift to be single.

Singleness isn’t a problem to solve nor a situation that needs attention; rather it is a gift of God’s grace.

God gives good gifts with the intention that we will use them for the good of others, to build up one another in the church.

If God has gifted you to be single, He intends for you to use that gift for the common good and to build up the church. 

Wherever God has you, he has specifically gifted you to serve and please him. 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.03.17

Is our thinking shaped by Christ?

 

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

 

Paul corrects their misuse of freedoms

1. Paul is probably quoting their words of defense in vs 12-13 

They were using their freedom from OT dietary law as cover for temple feasts involving prostitutes

v13 implies they were also pointing out that since the body dies, how it is used is unimportant

2. Paul corrects the starting place of their defense

Yes, we have freedoms in Christ, but our rights are never our starting place

God, and how we honor him is always our starting place (v12 what is “helpful”)

When we begin with our freedoms, they will “dominate” us (this includes activities we use for escape)

Whatever doesn’t place God in his rightful place, is trying to take that place

 3. Paul then corrects their view of our physical body

It’s true this body is corrupt and will pass away; but that is only half the story

v14 God raised Jesus’ body and He will raise ours!  God values this body He created

Great Commandment living calls for God to be first in all that we are – all the time

 

Paul brings in the implications of our union with Christ (vs15-20)

He gives 3 you-should-know statements flowing out of our union with Christ

God is always our starting place in life, and Jesus is our starting place with God

 1. You should know that you have been joined to Christ (v15)

This is why the gospel is so powerful and our confidence in it is so great

If you’re a member (part) of Christ, think how obscene it is to take part of Christ into sin

When God is not our starting place, we minimize the great truths we have in the gospel

2. You should know that sex has a covenant purpose (vs16-17)

The world doesn’t start with God, so sex and its implications are only viewed physically. God gave sex to build a unique oneness in marriage. Its effects are more than physical

Just as we become one flesh in marriage, we are now one spirit with the Lord. This makes sexual immorality especially corrupting to us. It abuses what has a spiritual purpose

3. You should know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (vs19-20)

When you engage in sin, you take the Holy Spirit with you

When God is not our starting place, we think that our sin is a personal issue. God says no! 

v19 “you are not your own” – you are responsible for you, but you are not in charge of you

v20 you were bought with a price” – God became flesh, died, and took the wrath we deserved, our debt is great

 

What can we learn from the attitudes in this passage that seem culturally foreign to us?

1. Cultures change, but their foundational motivations don’t

Every culture exalts itself, rather than God; only the church is cross-centered

Keep in mind chapters 1-2, the world’s view of wisdom is upside down

All thinking, attitudes and opinions, no matter how culturally common, must be sifted by Scripture

2. Any defense of sin requires foolish self-deception

We can easily look with distain on the Corinthian’s behavior and defenses

Yet, every sin in your life is just as indefensible (this includes sins of omission)

Every argument you use to minimize your sin is contorted and foolish

3. Paul gives us two unchanging actions of godliness

#1  v19“Flee sexual immorality” (and any other form of sin)

Recognize that sin is dangerous . . we must go in the opposite direction . . with urgency!

#2  v20 “Glorify God in your body”

We don’t “flee” aimlessly!   We have a direction and it’s toward the person of Christ!

To glorify not a vague idea, it’s specific actions of making God far above all

This includes glorifying him “in our body”. So let’s “do” what shows God that he is far above all!

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

Morality

Have you ever found yourself disturbed over the casual way in which sexual behavior outside of marriage has been presented in our culture?

No one enjoys being disturbed, but it’s worse if we are undisturbed by a degraded culture.

Not too long ago the world at least understood the Church’s concern about sex outside of marriage. Now the world will not even agree on the definition of what is a marriage!

Those who love God have good reason for voicing their concern. A constant stream of immorality deadens the senses to God’s standards. What the Bible calls immorality is so common that even the biblically literate can fall into a mindset that thinks “biblical standards should not be that inflexible”.

But the situation has become even worse than desensitized understanding toward sexuality and godly purity. Today, there are many in the church who RESENT reminders of Biblical standards.

We need to ask ourselves some pointed questions:

Are we willingly to believe that God’s Word is no longer smart enough for our generation – and that the culture we see around us is wiser than God?

Are we willing to say that we no longer need the grace of God’s Word being spoken into our lives by fellow believers – especially when we have veered off of the Bible’s good and protective path?

Barton Gingrich has written an article for the Gospel Coalition that addresses the problem of minimizing biblical standards by many of this generation’s self-proclaimed biblical Christians. He writes,

“Young evangelicals must choose their master. Right now, too many follow their appetites and desires.”

Who have you chosen to be Master of your life? Whose word do you trust? And almost as important, of whose word will you be skeptical?

Reading Barton’s full article may be a help to you in considering these questions about today’s perspective of sexual morality.

R