Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 3 months ago

Principles for Marriage

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1 Corinthians 7:7-39

Our heavenly father. We thank youthat we can abide in you and that we can dwell in your house forever. We thank you that you shepherd us through the trials and difficulties of thisworld, the many that they are, and we asked that you would continueto do so even now, as we come to the reading and preaching ofyour word. We asked that by it, you would direct our paths, thatyou would help us to know and to better understand your will and yourway, that we might follow after you, and not only in our specific actions, but in our hearts and in our minds. We asked that youwould help us to do this by the strength that we have in Christ,who died for us and for has forgiven our sins. We pray this inhis name. On men, please be seated. Let's turn in our biblesto First Corinthians Chapter Seven. First Corinthians Chapter Seven. So in this passagePaul deals with a number of questions concerning marriage. I'm going to read.I'm going to read from verse six, six through the end of the chapter. We considered the first first five verses in an earlier sermon and encourage youto ask me questions about that or listen to that online if you're able,and I did want to mention that there is a lot that is covered herein this chapter. I thought it would be helpful to kind of get allat one time, because it does hold together. But because there's so much, I will be doing q and a after the service. So if anyonewould like to stay after some snacks around one hundred and fifteen, will meetback in here and if there's any follow up questions that you'd like to ask, we can do that. I'm looking forward to that with you. Fornow, let's give our attention to God's word. First, Corinthians seven,beginning at verse six. Now as a concession, not a command, Isay this I wish that all were as I myself am, but each hashis own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.To the unmarried in the widows, I say that it is good for themto remain single, as I am, but if they cannot exercise self control, they should marry, for it is better to marry them to burn withpassion. To the married, I give this charge not I but the Lord. The wife should not separate from her husband, but if she does,she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband, and the husbandshould not divorce his wife. To the rest, I say, I notthe Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever andshe contents, consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. Ifany woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he consents to livewith her, she should not divorce him, for the unbelieving husband is made whollybecause of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made wholly because ofher husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is theyare wholly. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so.In such cases, the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has calledyou to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you willhave saved your husband? How do you know, husband, whether you willsave your wife? Only let each person lead the life that the Lord hasa sign to him and to which God has called him. This is myrule. In all the churches, was...

...any one, at the time ofhis call, already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks ofcircumcision. Was Any one, at the time of his call uncircumcised. Lethim not seek circumcision, for neither circumcision counts for anything, nor UNCIRCUMCISION.But, keeping the commandments of God, each one should remain in the conditionin which he was called. Were you a bond servant when called to?Not Be concerned about it. But if you gain your freedom, avail yourself, or if you can gain your feedom, avail yourself of the opportunity, forhe who was called in the Lord as a bond servant is a freedmanand of the Lord. Likewise, he who is free when he was called, when he when called, is a Bond Servant of Christ. You werebought with a price. Do not become bond servants of men. So,brothers, in whatever condition each was called there, let him remain with God. 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. I think that, in view of the present distress, it isgood for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to awife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife?Do not seek a wife, but if you do marry, you havenot 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.This is what I mean. Brothers, the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though theyhad none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, andthose who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy asthose as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the worldas though they had no dealings with it, for the present form of this wereworld is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties.The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to pleasethe Lord, but the married man is anxious about worldly things, how toplease his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothedwoman is is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holyin body and spirit, but the married woman is anxious about worldly things,how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, notto lay any restraint on you, but to promote good order and to secureyour undivided devotion to the Lord. If anyone thinks that he is not behavingproperly toward his beloved or betrothed. If his passions are strong, and ithas to be, let him do as he wishes. Let them marry.It is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, beingundernown necessity but having his desire under control, he has determined this in his heartto keep her as as betrothed, he will do well. So then, he who marries his betrothed does well and he who refrains from marriage willdo even better. A wife is bound to her husband as long as helives, but if her husband dies, she is free to be married towhom she wishes, only in the Lord. Yet in my judgment, she ishappier if she remains as he is, as she is, and I thinkthat I too have the spirit of God. Hey, God bless hisword to us. So here in our passage, as I mentioned in thisis totally obvious from what I read. Paul talks about marriage right, hetalks about it a lot. He talks about being married and being unmarried andhow we think about each situation. And what he does is he walks usthrough various scenarios various life situations in which you might find yourself in, andhe helps us think each one in the various categories about who should get marriedand who shouldn't. So if you're looking for advice on this topic right now, it would do you well to pay...

...attention. But even if you're not, this passage has great value for you. For One, knowing God's will inthese matters can give you the tools that you need to prepare for thefuture or perhaps fix something in the present, or perhaps help someone else in theirsituation. It's never a bad thing to know what God's will is onjust about anything. Another reason it might be a benefit to you is this. Paul's discussion on marriage here is a great example of how Christians ought tothink through any of life's important choices. Now, of course, some ofwhat he says here is specifically tied to marriage and some of what he saysis even more specifically tied to the church, as it is in Corinth. Butnevertheless, the way he thinks, the way he argues and reasons morallyabout these life choices is a provides an example for us about how we canthink through other things, even not related to marriage. There's lots that wecan learn from his example and his guidance here. And the third thing I'llmentioned is that Paul takes marriage as much as it is here and he placesit in a bigger context. He puts it in a bigger perspective. Thathelps us to know God better. So let's consider now the core of whathe's saying about marriage, and it begins with the question that I didn't read, but it is found in verse one and I'll read that now. Thequestion comes as kind of a thesis statement. Right, if you remember in school, your teachers make you write, you know, your thesis statement andthen you have to defend it. Paul is given a thesis and these askedwhat he thinks about it. And here's the thesis in Verse One. Itis good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. Sothat's the thesis. It is good for a man not to have sexual relationswith a woman. True or false? Right is it would be the question. And Paul doesn't answer that way. His answer is it depends, asmost good moral reasoning does answer. So what Paul says is simply this.While in most cases this is true in the context of marriage. It's notnot true. It's not good to refrain from marital intimacy in marriage, andin verses two through five. To review from what we covered previously, it'snot only good, but it's it's necessary that a husband and wife give themselvesto each other and not deprive one another. You know that in life there arethings that belong only in one place. Though you might be able to usethem outside of that place, outside of their intended context, you wouldperhaps ruin them or do damage to other things. Imagine you had a veryexpensive set of dishes that was only used for a very specific purpose at avery specific time, and you tell your kid to set the table and youfind them pulling all the expensive stuff and throwing it out on the table.No, that's grandma special dishes. We don't use that here. Right.Sure, you could use them for that purpose. They're capable of holding food, but that's not what they're for and that's why they're capt in a specialcabinet in a special place. Another example might be a judge's gavel. Right, it's not a hammer. It's perhaps capable of hammering things, but it'snot a hammer, it's a gavel. It even has a special name,it has a special form, it's put kept in a special place. Maritalintimacy is like that. Sure, the physical act of touching in these wayscan be done outside of marriage, but when it does happen that way,it debases the thing and it causes all kinds of problems because, like thegavel, or like the set of China...

...or or, marital intimacy has aspecial place and a special purpose, and when it's used for that, goodthings happen. We considered before how it creates a bond between a husband andwife, it renews and creates this covenant of one flesh and which each isfor the other, and it creates children which are, in a way,the one flesh to becoming one. And for these reasons marital innacy is wonderfuland good. But then we get to the end of verse five and wefind out that Paul has more to say about the answer to this question.Is this thesis true? He affirms its goodness in a certain place, butthen he has more to say, and he says this in verse six.He says now, as a concession, not as a command, I saythis, and this is what he says. I wish that all were as myselfam, and he clarifies what he means by that in verse eight whenhe says it is good for them to remain single, as I am.In other words, Paul wants a to know that though those sex within marriageis a good thing, that doesn't mean that everybody should get married. Infact, he says singleness is preferable, it's the better option and he wishesit for everyone, but he's very careful in the way that he says it. Notice the distinctions that he makes. He is careful, though he prefersit, and from an apostle that carries a lot of weight, and he'llgive reasons for that. Though he prefers it, he doesn't command it foreveryone. Why? Well, he has several reasons. One is that itwould undermine what he just said about marriage if he were to now command everyoneto be single. But the reason that he gives that comes in verse sixrather in verse seven, is this each has his own gift from God,one of one kind and one of another. So Paul can say, well,I wish that everyone were single. I think there would be really greatthings about that. He says in another way, I don't wish it,because everybody has their own gift from God and it is right that each actsaccording to that gift. So then that leads us into this long section about. Well, now what Paul? Who should marry and who shouldn't be married, who should stay single and and who should seek marriage age? And helists a whole bunch of different categories. Let me, let me list someof those for you now. Paul addresses single people who have never been married. He address a single people struggling to control sexual desire. He talks tomarried people. He talks to married People's whose spouses want to leave them becausenow they've become Christians. He talks to married people whose spouses have died.He talks about to people who are about to get married and also to peoplewho are about to get married but are not being chased in the period oftheir engagement. So, depending on how you divide these things up, theresomewhere between six to seven, eight maybe different categories of people that he's mentions. So what's the right thing to do? Well, it depends. Right alot of things in life are like this. Our life choices, theydepend on the situations we find ourselves in. Now, some of us are in, I'd say all of us are in one or another of these situations. Some of us have been through a few of them. Paul has somethingto say for everyone here, and let's go through these different categories and thinkjust how does he answer the question?...

So what I'll do is I'll addresseach category and pull together the various verses that we find throughout the chapter inwhat his answer to that question is. All Right, here we go.So the first one. Are you unmarried and able to remain unmarried? Areyou able to control your desires? That that's a question. The answer isthen you should. If you are unmarried and able to remain unmarried, thenyou should stay single. That's not because marriage is bad, Paul says inverse Thirty Six. It is no sin, but because being free from the obligationof marriage allows you to give yourself more freely to God and perhaps othersas well. We also see in verse seven that Paul, as we've readPaul, prefers singleness. In verse eight he says to the unmarried and theWidows, I say that is good for them to remain single, as Iam. In Verse Thirty Eight he sums up and he says, he whomarries his betrothed does well and he who refrains from marriage will do even better. In Verse Twenty Six, Twenty Six, he says. I think that,in view of the present distress, it is good for a person toremain as he is now. This, of course, applies to married people, but it applies to single people to let me pause just here and talkabout what this present distress is. There was a famine. There were multiplefamines and food shortages during this time, and so there was a lot ofstress in the world. You can read, you can imagine what famine would doand you can read in both in the New Testament and outside of theNew Testament. What happened is, when there is food shortages, we experiencesomething not too long ago where we didn't have a shortage but it was difficultto get right. We went into the grocery stores that there was no milk, there were aisles with empty things. And how did that had? Howdid that go, where people calm and relaxed, the people just take whatthey needed and shared a lot, or did it create a lot of stressand anxiety and frustration and confusion? Food shortages can cause riots. Food shortagescause anarchy, great disruptions, all kinds of things happen and during this timein Corinth and particular, there were food shortages and it was not good.We have records of one wealthy person basically bailing everybody out, I believe.I for I think it was he. I forget whether he provided the grainor he sold it at a low cost, but he had done this multiple timesand we know this because their inscriptions to this man, I'm all over, that we find in the city of Corinth during this time, multiple timesand in a way that wasn't received by anyone else, for him being thisbenefactor and basically saving, saving the city. It was a stressful, stressful time, and so people, in the middle of this big, stressful time, are asking what about marriage, I mean, is this a good timeto get married? And Paul says better to stay we're you are better toremain as you are, in a broader way, not tied to the particularpresent distress. In Verse Twenty eight he says those who marry have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that by worldly troubles he doesn't mean sinful things, he means things of this present age things that are passing away. Andthen finally, in verse forty, to the widow who decides not to remainmayor or or not to remarry. He says, in my judgment, sheis happier if she remains as she is. I think Paul adds in my judgmentthere is a way to qualify a statement just a little bit. Hedoesn't know every single widow that ever has been or ever will be and theirparticular situations. He speaking in a broad way, of to a broad category, and says it is my judgment that...

...this is typically how things are.She would be better to remain as she is. Well, this is thelongest of these sections and it reminds us how much, and perhaps a waythat might surprise you, how much emphasis Paul puts on the preference for singleness. If you have ever doubt that this is the case, I'm just takea look at these verses and see what he says. singleness is not asecond class category for Paul. It's not a problem or a thing to beavoided at all costs. Paul says it's great, you'll be happier, you'llbe freer from will they troubles? Go for it, if you can doit, this is a good thing and a gift from God. So forthis category of people, if you are unmarried and able to remain unmarried,go for it, do it. It's a good thing. That's what theScripture says. The next category deals with unmarried people who are struggling, however, to control their sexual desires and to then Paul says you should get married. So in verse nine he says if they cannot exercise self control, theyshould marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.In Verse Thirty Seven, he says those who remain unmarried are those who cankeep their desire under control. In Verse Thirty six, Paul, as willget to in a minute, speaks to those who have who are engaged tobe married, but are not being chased in it, and he says getmarried. It's not a sin. Not Their fornication. That's a sin,but getting married is not a sin and they should do it. And thenagain, in Verse Twenty Eightc he says if you do marry, you havenot sinned. So you notice the balance here. Just as Paul emphasizes hispreference for this state of singleness, he doesn't make unmarried people feel like they'vedone something sinful. In fact, he says two times explicitly, you havenot sinned. He tells us that it is a good thing and not somethingto feel bad about her guilty about. Marriage is God's ordinance and we dowell, he says, to get married. All right. Next up, areyou married? What do you do then? Stay married. That's whatPaul says. A Verse Twenty Six. I think that, in view ofthe present distress, remain as you are, as we mentioned. In verse ten, he says to married. I give this charge, not I,but the Lord. The wife should not separate from her husband, and thehusband should not divorce his wife. The in Verse Twenty Nine, he saysa wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives, and thatapplies to husband's as well. And when we are to be married, weshould not take a part of what God has put together. Next, whatif someone leaves you or dies? He says, then you are free toremarry. The first part about being left specific. He applies to a specificquestion that they have, and that's this question of conversion. Right. Soimagine that you are married, you're living with your spouse and neither of youtrust or follow Christ. And then one of you becomes a Christian. Doesyour identity and Christ is your now being owned by him, belonging to him, change your relationship with your spouse in such a way that you should divorcethat person? Paul Says No, remain married, and he gives various reasonsfor that, which we won't go into now, but he says remain married. This is in versus twelve through sixteen. Remain married. But if your spousesays I'm out, I don't want anything to do with this, I'mnot willing to remain, then you are free to remarry. Similarly, hesays that in verse thirty nine and following...

...that, if a spouse dies,person is free to remarry. Now, what if you are engaged to bemarried and you become a Christian or you're under this present distress? Should youcall it off right and Paul Says No, remain as you are. Go aheadand get married. You have not sinned. So he says this inVerse Twenty Seven. If you're bound to a wife and he doesn't meet here, that you are already married but bound to marry this person. That's whathe means if you're bound to a wife, do not seek to be free.Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. Butif you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed womanmarries, she has not sinned. But then he says, whoever in VerseThirty Seven, whoever has a step who's firmly established in his own heart,being under no necessity the but having again his desire under control, he hasdetermined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he willdo well. Now, when Paul says keep her as his betrothed, hedoesn't mean keep her in a perpetual state of engagement. Right. That's nota good thing. Right, don't marry her just if you he's not sayingif you have decided that you don't need to get married, just keep herconstantly engaged. That's not what he's saying. That would be cruel. The wordhere for betrothed, or or it couldn't means means something like of marriableage, someone who is unmarried. Sometimes, it is translated, is engaged,sometimes virgins, sometime as young woman. But basically he's saying let her remainin that state, keep her not as your own, but do notmarry her. Essentially, if you've decided that, you can be single andwould do well, you can remain as you are or or stay unmarried.Now, what if you are engaging in unchaste ways, if you are havingsex while you are engaged, and Paul says get married? Sex outside ofmarriage is sin, but getting married is not. And again that goes backto this principle of dealing with our desires in proper ways. All right,there we made it through. We went through the different categories that Paul mentionsand we talked about the the advice that he gives under each now, that'sa lot, right, and if this is the first time you've heard it, that can be a lot to take in. It can feel kind ofoverwhelming, kind of hard to hold in your head all at the same time. That's okay, it's there. You can go back to it, youcan read it again, but take this away and I'll give you a summaryas well. First of all, remember that various situations require very different responses. We ought to be sensitive to that. It's an important part of wisdom,and so take that away with you. Take away the sense of I it'simportant for me to be sensitive to my situation and then to think aboutthat according to the principles of God's word. And if we were to summarize allthe advice together, we might say something like this. If sexual immoralityis getting you into trouble, then you should get married and put sex inits proper place. It's no sin to get married. Indeed it's a goodthing and you do well, but if it's not necessary, you do wellto remain single, and in fact it's even better. So then he whomarries his betrothed does well and he who refrains from marriage does even better.So this are the rules that Paul gives.

This is the guidance that he gives. Now, all that we've had so far gives us a lot ofhelp. But in addition to giving these specific guidances or rules, Paul getsunderneath them and gives them, gives us the reasons why. He helps usunderstand the reasons behind them, and we do well to get them into oursystem. What is guiding these decisions? ARE THEY RANDOM? Are they justPaul's you know, I think this and I think that, and the seemslike a good idea, and that doesn't or is there some kind of deepermoral logic that is leading him to each conclusion in each of these situations?Well, it's the latter. Paul has a way of viewing the world,a way that a Christian way of viewing the world that he wants us toadopt. There's a lot of different situations here, right, but you knowwhat, there's even more and more specific things. You might say. Well, yeah, I see myself in this category, but what about this andthis and this? How do I decide about those things? Paul doesn't giveme explicit instructions. The scripture is certainly complete in everything that it tells us, but it's not exhaustive. If the Bible told us the exact rule forevery situation, can you imagine how big that book would be, how impossibleit would be to read and to memorize and know that? So God doesn'ttell us every single thing that we ought to do in every single situation,infinite number of things. So instead what he does is he gives us aframework for how to think about life, so that then adopting that framework andadopting on these principles that accord with our situation, that accord with realiti isit is that accord with what God who God is, and what he's doing, we can then go and we can make wise decisions, even in situationsthat he doesn't explicitly addressed address. So what add what are those things?And will conclude with this. One of the big ones. The the theriver which all of these streams and washes like are flowing down this watershed to, is expressed in the latter part of this chapter. He says in VerseThirty Five, I say this for your own benefit, not to lay anyastraint on you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotionto the Lord. To promote good order and secure undivided devotion to the Lord. This corresponds to what he says before about each one of US living wiselyaccording to the own gift that we have. When this happens, this or thishappens when a single person is not burdened by marriage and when the marriedperson is not burdened by burning desire. In this both married people and singlepeople find freedom and greater devotion to God. This is the big thing that he'safter, that we together, as a Church of people under the nameof Jesus Christ, are single minded, undivided in our devotion to God andsecure and promote among ourselves and in our lives good order. Paul says incoloring a Corinthians, Colossians to fifteen, that he rejoices at seeing this amongthem, Colossians two five, he says, for though I am absent in thebody, I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your goodorder and your firmness of your faith. So we think about how we makethis decision or that decision, ask yourself,...

...am I rejoicing at these things?Am I aiming at these things? Am I looking to live my lifeaccording to good order and undivided devotion to the Lord? How important are thosetwo things to you? Is there one or the other that you tend toignore? Some of us, I think some of us, are devoted togood order, but in a way that misses the point of the order,like always keeping your house clean but never really enjoying it. Others say theyare devoted to God but don't really show that in a consistent way because theydon't devote or order their time in their space in ways that they need toin order to show that devotion to God. We're not really devoted to order,or where, I should say, we're not really devoted to God ifwe are live lives in good order, if we don't put him first,are we devoted to good order? You see the way that these things gotogether. It's not one against the other, but like a good marriage, theygo together. So this is Paul's goal here. Is applies to intimaterelationships in the church and as we keep that in mind, not our culture, not our feelings in the moment, not anything else, but God firstand what he wants, and live our lives in an orderly and devoted wayto him. That's what Paul's after. How do we do that, though? How do we achieve that big goal? And Paul gives us, if Icould put it this way and summarize some of the things he says,he gives us four steps. The first is that we believe what God hasgiven, each our own gift and in their own way. We take accountfor things as they really are in our lives. If you struggle controlling yourpassions and your desires, be honest about that. Don't act like that's notthe case. Just be honest about it and if you don't, just behonest about it. Just be wise to how things really are. Be Wiseto your present circumstances, be wise to the situations that you find yourself in. If you're in the middle of a present distress, notice it, payattention to it and then live your lives accordingly. The second thing that wedo is we remain open to change. Notice how Paul says this in relationshipto bond servants. He says if you're a Christian and you're a servant,a slave or a bond servant, don't seek to you don't have to immediatelychange that because of your Christianity, but if you have the opportunity to getfree, go ahead and do that, because that's a good thing. Freedomis a good thing, right. So notice how Paul says. Respect thesituation that you're in, but be open to the fact of change, especiallywhen change leads to better things. Our lives are not static. Our livesare full of change. Things are constantly moving and shifting, relationships are changing. We need to be prepared for that. We need to be open to thatand ready to move toward God in orderly ways, as he calls usto. And the final thing that we would remember relates to both of thingsthat have come before, is that these present states, partly because they're changingso much, don't really count for too much, at least in the ultimatescheme of things, and because of that we ought to live our lives accordingly. Paul says some pretty controversial, is perhaps one way to put it,things when he says in Verse Twenty Nine, this is what I mean, brothers, the appointed time has grown very...

...short. From now on, he'stalking about the time between now and when Jesus returns. From now on,let those who have lives live as though they had none. What is Paulsaying? Right? He just told us that it's good to get married andstay married and devote yourself to them, and you owe these obligations to them, and now he's saying live as though you weren't married. It helps toread on, he says, and those who mourn is though they weren't mourning, and those who rejoices though they weren't rejoicing, and those who buys thosethey had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though theyhad no dealings with it. So, as Paul saying out of two sidesof his mouth, be aware of your reality and respect it, and thenignore your reality and disregard it. No, he's sang two different things, notopposing things. He's saying pay attention to the situation that you were in, but remember the keep it in the larger perspective. And we know thatbecause of the way he concludes, the reason that he gives at the endof verse Thirty One, for the present form of this world is passing away. It's much like we find throughout the rest of the scriptures. It's notwrong to earn money, it's good to earn money, but don't store itup and store houses thinking that's going to save you from everything or or thetrials and tribulations that we often want to be saved from. Don't think thatthose are going to last forever. Don't think that the thing that you're sufferingunder, are, the state that you're in, is is going to bethe way it always is. Life change is, life moves. The presentform of this world is passing away and God is going to bring something solidand stable and complete at the end, and so hold things lightly. Getmarried, be married, be a great spouse, do well, but don'ttreat your spouse as a god don't treat your spouse as though that marriage andthat relationship is going to save you from everything, because, you know what, it won't. Or don't think that. Okay, that's good, I'm notstruggling with sexual desires, I can remain single, and in my singlenessI will, repeat, really reach some sort of perfect a holy state inwhich I will be singlemindedly devoted to the Lord and all will be well,with no problems in my life. No, it's passing away. It's passing away. We need to respect the gifts that God has given us, enjoythe stations that we are in, but not cling to them as though theywere God himself, as though there wasn't something greater coming. And with thatframework, with that thing in mind, we can approach all kinds of lifesituations, whether it's should I marry or should I not? Should I getthis job or should I not? On what's the next move in this situation? If we think about the end in mind, if we think about whogod is and what he's after, if we think about the things that arecoming in relation to the things that are, if we think about the things thatare as they really are, we begin to get wisdom about the world. Wisdom is about operating from from principle, according to truth, according to realityas it really is, both physical reality, providential moral reality and moralreality. I'll give you a good example and then I'll close. A woodworkerwho tries to make a wood bench out of plastic is not operating according toreality. He is not a wise,...

...skillful wood worker. He's not evenworking with wood. Right, you don't get to make a wood bench outof plastic. He's not wise, he's a fool. This is this iswhat we are talking about when we're talking about living life wisely according to reality. But there's also a moral reality that he has to respect. If hetakes his woodworking skills and he creates a really excellent idol, he has notdone well. He is not acted wisely. Sure he is made a beautiful object, but one that is abhorrent to God, and so he a goodword would worker, one that is faithful to the Lord, takes account ofboth of these things. The world as it really is, the moral orderas it really is. Our problem is that we're all fools. Our problemis that we're stuck in our sins. Our problem is that we're controlled byour desires and this present world holds us, it enslaves us, and the devil'salways wishing us in our ear, saying this is all there is,this is all there is. Grasp cling, hold fast, don't let go.And so we need a savior to point US outside of the things inlife under this sun, outside of just the law and a moral order,to a hope that's a beyond those things. If we are to truly live forGod, we have to put all of this wisdom in the perspective ofthe Gospel, because otherwise we just get clobbered by it. We hear thelaw that we ought to do this and this and this and do it wisely, and we say I'm undone because I'm already a mess, I've already putmyself in all kinds of bad situations. I see no clear way out.The forget. The guilt of my sins is piling up and we feel crushed. What God does for us in Christ is he removes that guilt from us, he takes it away and he puts it on his own son, whodies, though he was not guilty, on a cross to forgive us oursins, to release us to service. He creates a relationship through his sacrificeon the cross that allows us not to be battling and at war with Godall the time, constantly going against the grain, but have new hearts thatlove him from inside. How does that happen? How does that happen?It happens when the spirit of God comes into our lives and changes our heartsthrough the message that Jesus has come to forgive us our sins and lead usinto a life that is beyond the things that are passing away. The scripturestell us that when we put our faith in Jesus, we put our faithin something that is beyond the Sun. We put our faith in the onewho made the sun. We put our faith in the one who is fromeverlasting to everlasting, the one who's steadfast love endures forever. The Gospel removesour enmity with God so that we can respect his gifts instead of fighting againstthem, ignoring them, despising them or worshiping them, but just respecting them. When Jesus removes our fighting against God and he creates stability and peace withhim, we can take food and marriage and singleness and and dancing and musicand whole kinds of things and just enjoy them for what they are, notas God's but is from God. The...

Gospel allows us to be open tochange. When we clamor after the things of this world, when we makethem our only hope, when we fear of them above all things, we'renot trusting the Gospel. But the good news is of Jesus that easy comesto save us from all that and establish US permanently in him. And whenwe're established permanently in him we can relax. We can say so there's a presentdistress, so there's a famine, so there are foods, sort ofjust so, there's whatever. And sometimes that's really hard, really really hardand really scary. And that's when we have to remind ourselves over and overand over of what God has done. We have to remind ourselves and wehave to be reminded by him, that things are going to be okay,that the sufferings of this present time is Paaul says, are not even worthcomparing to the eternal weight of glory that is to be revealed when our Lordreturns. It's not even worth compared. It like to stop. In otherwords, right if you try to take your present sufferings and compare them towhat's coming in heaven and in Christ. Well, just stop. It's noteven worth spending the time because the difference is so vastly great. What anencouraging thought that is, and that comes to us because of what Jesus hasdone for us. Jesus, in being our husband and we the bride ashis church, in loving us the way that he did, in becoming oneflesh with us as he has and joining us into his one body, heallows us to live in this world, this temporary world, in a temporaryway and know that we are going to have permanent things, happy things,pleasurable things, in the love of God, in Christ forever. So my encouragement, of my charge to your beloved is look at this world and bewise to it, but also look to the things to come. Look toGod, who has entered in this into this world to rescue you from thepassing things and know that when you put your trust in him, you willbe saved from the things that are passing and you will know how to actwisely in them as well. May God give us the grace to do allthis in our marriages, in our singleness and in other places. Let's pray, our heavenly father, we thank you for your wisdom to us and weask, a Lord, that you would renew our hearts and renew our mindsaccording to your word, that we might move forward according to wisdom, wisdomnot only of this world, but the wisdom that is but from above,wisdom that takes into account not only the law but the Gospel to and letus trust you, Lord, for the forgiveness of our sins. Let usnot be broken down and in slaved to the things of the past, butinstead, let us repent of them and turn into new life in Jesus Christ, turning away from the things that once aid US alive and enslaved us,to enslaved us to death, in turn to Jesus and the living way thatwas is provided in him. We ask, a spirit, that you would renewour hearts, that we might love you as we ought, that wemight honor and glorify you as the one true God, not chasing after thethings of this world, not fearing the things of this world more than weought, but instead, oh Lord, seeing you in all things, seekingto devote ourselves to you in every way...

...and living in good order, asyou grant Lord, there are many trials and struggles that we deal with.Many of us came in here this morning with great heartaches and Sadnesses, regretsand troubles in our minds. We asked, Lord, that you would speak toeach and everyone here in their own particular situation, that they might befreed, through the Gospel, to the joys that have, that are foundin in Christ, that we might that we might all live in this worldas you have called us to do and look forward to that which is tocome. We pray this in Jesus name on men,.

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