1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 48
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|We need to understand the marriage contract between two individuals, though made in the state of unbelief, does not become void when one gets saved. You see, you can’t get saved and say, “Oh, therefore any man in Christ is a brand new creature so, therefore, I can divorce my husband or divorce my wife, find me another believer and we can go right on.” No, it does not work that way.|
1 Corinthians 7:10-14
Should I Stay Married? – Part 1
In verse 10 Paul changes gears. He moves from the single question, of whether they should marry, to people who are married. The title is, “Should I Stay Married?” The answer covers verses 10-18. Before entering into Paul’s answer, we must again remember the culture of these people. I think sometimes we forget this. We don’t realize what the pagan culture was like in Corinth.
Remember, if you were in some other place in Greece and you were acting perversely and immorally, they said that you were acting like a Corinthian. That’s how bad it was there. It was one of the most wicked and immoral cities in the world at that time. You can go there now and there’s a room with artifacts in a museum which they will not let you into because they’re so embarrassing to the public. They won’t even let you see what’s there, all the venereal disease, etc., that went on in Corinth that time.
But these people have been saved out of that kind of culture. They live amongst these other people every single day. As we said earlier, there were four types of marriages that were permitted, according to historians, during that day. One was that of slaves. When a slave wanted to marry another slave, it was a matter of love to them but it wasn’t a matter of that to their owner. The owner could do whatever he wanted to do. It was a very inhuman, very subhuman type of thing. He could end the relationship, switch partners, do anything he wanted to do because he owned them. Some of them had come out of that kind of background, for sure, because it was going on during that day.
Two, there was a form of common law marriage that if you live together for a year, the law recognized you as husband and wife. Three, was a special kind of arranged marriage when a father would sell his daughter to a perspective husband. Four was for the nobility, much more elevated. As a matter of fact, this was adopted right into the Roman Catholic church, went over to Protestantism, and it’s the kind of ceremony you go to every time you have a friend who gets married. Almost step by step—the maid of honor, the best man, the whole thing, the ring on the third finger—all of that took place right here. It was a part of the custom for that day. That was the nobility of Corinth in that time.
Well, the early church had members who had been saved who had come out of all four kinds of those marriages, for sure. Divorce was common. Any time that you would stand in the pulpit in the church at Corinth, there would be many, many people who had multiple marriages and multiple divorces. So there were a lot of questions. You’ve got to realize this. These were honest questions, questions of people who say, “We want to do it right, but what is right? What does God have to say to us?” They didn’t have all the Scriptures put together as we have. They did have the apostles, and the apostles were penning that Scripture even as they spoke. But they wanted to know, what is the answer to the dilemma that we now find ourselves in?
Now, there are two things in out text that we’ve got to nail down. One is, he is dealing with married people, not people living in any kind of illicit relationship, common law, or whatever. They are by law seen as married. It says there in verse 10, “But to the married I give instructions,” so this is who it is written to, people who have been married or are married.
Secondly, we need to understand the marriage contract between two individuals, though made in the state of unbelief, does not become void when one gets saved. You see, you can’t get saved and say, “Oh, therefore any man in Christ is a brand new creature so, therefore, I can divorce my husband or divorce my wife, find me another believer and we can go right on.” No, it does not work that way. Well, we shall see what we’ll learn.
Do you see what happens? When you get saved, it doesn’t change your circumstances. It changes you internally and eternally, and as a result of that, gives you a new perspective towards your circumstances, whatever relationships you have. They then become affected by your new life in Christ. It doesn’t necessarily change the external circumstances around you. So, these two things need to be kept in mind as we approach what Paul is about to say.
First of all, we want to look at the authority of the apostle. Do you know what you call a man who can step out in front of thirty Mack trucks on a three-lane superhighway, hold his hand up and every one of them stop? What do you call that man? You call him a policeman. All he has to do is hold up a badge. Now, that badge is a signal of his authority that has been given to him by somebody else, not only his authority, the orders that come with it. He’s doing what he’s told to do and he has the authority to back him up. So he has a badge. That’s what you call that man. He is relaying to you what somebody else has commanded him to do. And because of the badge, he has that authority.
With that thought in mind, look at verse 10. Paul says, “But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord.” Now, in verse 1 of chapter 1, we saw that Paul was an apostle by the will of God. What is an apostle? The word apo, away from stolos, means to send, to send away from with a message, like an ambassador. But in the sense of the apostle Paul and the apostle James and the apostle John, through which we get the penned New Testament, what we have here is much more of an office, much more of an official sense of authority. They had the badge of authority that Christ Himself had given to them.
The only way we have apostles today is in a more generic sense. I’ve been misunderstood, I think, by some of the things I have said. When I say there are no more apostles, there are no more prophets, what I mean is not in the sense of the apostle Paul, not in the sense of the apostle John, not in the sense of the apostle James, no sir. Because we have the Word of God. And it’s through these men that have been given the badge of authority by Christ Himself through which we get the Word of God. But in a more generic sense certainly there are apostles, those sent forth, certainly there are prophets in that sense of the word but not in the official sense, not with the badge, not like these guys. They represented the One who had commanded them and were simply relaying what He had ordered them to relay. So that’s where I stand on that. What I’m talking about is, in the official sense that they had, we don’t have apostles like that.
Nobody can say put something in God’s Word, although there are those who are doing it, because it is sealed. It is there. It is written. God has spoken it. We have the Word of God. There are no people carrying a badge who can add to it in these days. But the apostle Paul was in the office of an apostle. He had the badge of authority given to him by Christ Himself.
Well, in verse 10 it says, “But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord.” Now, the word “instructions” is important. It’s the word paraggello. It means to pass on an announcement, to give the word to somebody nearby, to advance an order. An order that has been given, you take and advance. To give a charge or a command. The word is used in the military of a chain of command, how a commander gives the order and takes it to his staff sergeant. He takes it and relays it to the troops. But the order came from back here.
So what Paul is saying here is, “I’m saying this to you not me. It’s not my opinion. This comes from God. I’m simply an apostle. I’m relaying it to you.” I know I’m camping out here for a minute, but I want you to see the picture. Don’t look at the apostle Paul and pat him on the back. Look at the One who commanded him and Whose orders he’s relaying to the people.
I went to a military school after I finished high school. Hargrave Military Academy. It sounded good to me. We’d get to wear these uniforms, cute little things with a stripe down the side. I thought that was going to be fun. Fun? Are you kidding? Man, you had an imaginary line drawn at the edge of your bed. You had to put your shoes a certain way and had to set them a certain way. Your clothes had to be hung one inch apart from the other. They measured them in inspection. They took a quarter and flipped it on your bed and made it bounce. If it didn’t bounce, they gave you what they called these work chores. They called them gigs. The first time they ever gave them out I got forty instead of one. Each one of them was an hour of work or running. I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life when I was in military school. The cadets knew me, not because they had been introduced to me in any way, but they had seen me running the circle. They’re marching and I’m running with my rifle over my head. I spent all the time in the world doing that.
On Saturday morning at about 10:00 they had an official inspection. You had to be in full uniform, standing by your bed at attention at 10:00. They’d come in, call you to attention, and go through and check everything that you had and make sure it was done according to the manual.
One Saturday I had gotten into a water fight with the two lieutenants who were over our barracks. I was in a special barracks. They had hand-picked people to be in that barracks. How I got in, I don’t know. I think they read somebody else’s resume and thought it was mine or whatever, but I was in there. I mean, you can’t take this stuff too seriously. You take it too seriously, you’d go nuts. So I had to come up with something light-humored all the time. I got into a water fight with the two lieutenants. They didn’t have to stand inspection. I did. I forgot what time it was. We started about 8:00. We were just throwing water and brooms. I had a pair of gym shorts on and that’s it. I was bare-footed. That’s all they had but they didn’t have to stand inspection. We were supposed to be in full uniform at 10:00. I forgot what time it was. I got the fire extinguisher off the wall and was spraying them. I used all the pressure in that thing. I had foam all over me and all over them.
I was outside just having the best time and all of a sudden I heard somebody inside the house say, “Room, attention!” I’m thinking, “Oh, no! I’m supposed to be at my bed at attention.” I walked in the room.
When I walked in the door with that fire extinguisher with foam all over me and a pair of shorts on and everybody’s standing there at attention, I could hear one of my dear friends, Gene Ould, laughing but he was trying to hide it. But with a low voice he couldn’t hide it. I walked over and pulled myself up right where I was supposed to be. I sat the fire extinguisher down and snapped to attention. That particular day the guy who was doing the inspection was the commander, the big top guy. I mean, the one who orders it all. I played football with him and on the football field we were equal, but not when it came to this. Flip was his nickname. Flip was standing there looking at me trying his best to stay serious and he could not do it. His lip was quivering. He would turn to the staff sergeant, relay to him what to tell me. The staff sergeant would then speak it to me. But he couldn’t say anything to the staff sergeant. He just started laughing. Well, everybody in the room started laughing. The whole staff which was with him started laughing. He finally turned around and said, “Aw, forget it!” and walked out the door. Everybody was much appreciative of my humor on that particular day.
But, you see, somebody starts the order. It’s relayed through somebody else and then relayed to others. That’s the idea of an apostle. It’s God’s command. It’s not Paul’s command. It’s God’s command. He, as an apostle, holds his badge up and says, “You’ve got a question? I’ve got an answer, but it didn’t come from me. I represent the One who it comes from.” Paul is simply relaying what our Lord Jesus had already taught in Matthew 19. Folks, this is where you’ve got to understand something. When you come to the Word of God, it has authority in your life. And until you’re willing to bow up under it, you’re not going to realize the benefits of what faith will bring you.
Matthew 19:6 is a very significant passage. “Consequently [speaking of a married couple], they are no longer two, but one flesh. [Just like Genesis said.] What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” I want to tell you something. The law of the state of Tennessee did not legally make your marriage lawful. It did not do it. Yes, it did. But what you’ve got to think about is, it’s not the state of Tennessee; it’s God Who makes marriages lawful. You’re not a Christian? So be it. God is the One Who makes it lawful. That’s the thing that you’ve got to remember. When you shift gears and you want to get out of that marriage or whatever, you’ve got to come back and reckon with what God has to say. Once He seals it as law, it’s sealed and that’s what you’ve got to see. Paul is saying, “Hey, I’ve got an answer to that, but it comes straight from God. I hold my badge up and here it is. She should not leave her husband.”
Then next verse reads, “He should not send his wife away.” That’s it. That’s God speaking. Now, I know that the culture doesn’t like that. But that’s what God said, you see. They have become one. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder. “But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband.” Verse 11 says that the husband should not send his wife away. This came from the highest authority. This came from the highest command, you see. It came from God Himself, passed on and relayed by the apostle Paul. So if you see the authority of these apostles. Buddy, when they spoke, they spoke under the influence of the Spirit of God.
The absolute will of the Lord
Secondly, I want you to see the absolute will of the Lord that comes out in this verse. He says in verse 10, “But to the married I give instructions; not I, but the Lord [here it is], that the wife should not leave her husband.” There are two words for “not.” In English we have one word and that’s our problem. I’m not trying to change anything. I’m just trying to show you that when you take another language and put it into our language, it’s going to change. It’s not going to always be clear. The word ou is the word that means absolutely not, in any way, shape, or form, forget the circumstances. You may find a place or two but that’s the understanding of the word. Basically it’s an absolute word for not. Then there’s the little word men. It’s a relative “not.” In other words, it’s not as absolute as the other one is.
The word that is used here is the word men, not the word ou. The relative use of the word is found here in this text, that the wife should not leave her husband. Now, that very fact leaves it sort of iffy in a sense. There’s a contextual understanding here. It’s interesting that the very fact a wife might leave her husband comes up in the next verse.
Verse 11, “but if she does leave.” Do you see the relativeness of what he’s saying here? Now, we all know, or I hope you do, that our Lord gave an exception clause when it comes to marriage. It was never a command. It was a permission that our Lord Jesus gave. Look over in Matthew 19:9. Let’s just read it right out of what He said. I want to make sure you understand. I did not write this. This came from the commander. He did give an exception to the fact that the two shall always be one. There shall never be a departing of either the two. Matthew 19:9 says, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife [context clear], except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Nothing could be any clearer to me. I don’t know. There are some people I know who take that verse and do everything you can think of to make it say what they want it to say. The Scripture is like a prisoner of war. You persecute it long enough and it will say whatever you want it to say. So you hang around long enough and you can make it into a cookbook if you want to.
What did He say? “Except for immorality.” The word “except” in the Greek means except. It’s not written in by a translator. It’s actually there. Except, except. Now, listen. To ignore that is to make a serious mistake in your understanding of what God is teaching in His Word. It’s permitted, but it’s not commanded. That was the whole issue. As a matter of fact, in Matthew 19, the Pharisees came to Him and said that Moses commanded them to get a writ of divorcement. Jesus said, “I beg your pardon. He permits you out of the hardness of your heart.” You see, when adultery or immorality occurred, the penalty of the Old Testament Levitical law was to be stoned to death. It’s only by God’s grace that there’s a permission here. By the way, if that wife was divorced and had not committed adultery, she had to be given a writ of divorcement to prove to people that she had not been unfaithful to her husband. Otherwise she had nothing to defend herself. So it’s a very tricky thing that we’re dealing with here. There is an exception.
Paul does not mention this at all. Perhaps he felt they already understood that. I don’t know. But he doesn’t mention it at all. He says in verse 10, “But to the married I give instructions.” Now, the term “married” there seems to refer to true believers. You say, “How do you know that?” Look in verse 12 and you’ll see. Verse 12 says, “But to the rest I say.” Everything he says in verse 12 has to do with a believer and an unbeliever living together. So, evidently, when they’re in a category by themselves, what he’s talking about in verse 10 here has to do with two believers who are married.
The word used for “leave” is the word chorizo, which means to sever something. She’s taking the action on herself in verse 10. It’s in a passive voice, but it’s in the middle understanding. Middle voice means she of herself is severing her relationship with her husband. “Divorce, if you please.” She’s leaving him, divorcing him. Paul says, “I’m telling you this from the Commander. Don’t leave your husband. You should not leave your husband.”
To this situation, Paul says in verse 10 that a wife should not leave her husband. Crystal clear. In verse 10, Paul indicates it is the woman and not the man who is the initiator of the divorce. She is leaving him. But in the last of verse 11 the man is the initiator. It says in verse 11, “and that the husband should not send his wife away.”
There are two verbs that are used here. Chorizo means to sever a relationship, but the word used in verse 11, aphiemi, is a different word. It means to send somebody away. It’s a word that is used in other contexts even of forgiveness of sins, when you put the guilt upon that scapegoat and send it away never to return.
So in verse 11, we have the situation of a man sending his wife away. That’s interesting. The wife leaves either way. In verse 10 she walks away. In verse 11 she’s sent away. That’s just like a man, isn’t it? He’s too lazy to leave, so the wife either leaves or he sends her away. But in both cases she leaves. Neither reason, the woman’s severing her ties with her husband or the husband sending her away, is biblical, because adultery is never mentioned.
So, in other words, here are two believers. One decides one day, “I’m sick of you. You burned the toast and I’m tired of it. You’re never on time and besides that, I’ve been living with you for a while and I found one that looks better than you. Therefore, you get out of here.” He sends her away. Or in the other situation the woman says, “You don’t make enough money. You’re not popular enough. I’m leaving you.” No biblical grounds whatsoever. So, therefore, we have a sinful situation here and Paul is trying to correct it and set the people back right. There’s only one biblical way in which divorce is even allowed and that is immorality, which includes adultery, homosexuality, and incest. It is a sexual relationship you have with somebody other than your wife or your husband outside of marriage. Now, it’s not commanded. It’s permitted. Reconciliation is always the bottom line of what God says. But in this situation Jesus did say, “Except for immorality.”
I’ll tell you what happens. We try to jump in and play the role of the Holy Spirit of God because we don’t want to see anybody divorced. Neither does God. That’s His standard. We try to help Him out. Folks, just let God do His own work and let’s just say what Jesus said. Jesus said, “Except for immorality.”
Now, the problem in Corinth, like it is today, was many wives had wrongly left their husband. What do you do? You know, it’s interesting to me. Divorce doesn’t become the real issue. Do you know what the real issue is? Remarriage, not divorce. People can come here and say, “What do you think?” We can tell them, and they can walk out and slam the door and spit in our face. They’ll find another church, and they’ll tell them exactly what they want to hear. Then they’ll go right on and do what they’re going to do. But the Word of God is what we’ve got to keep coming back to, spoken by the Commander, related through His apostle. What does God have to say?
The problem was many of the wives just wouldn’t listen, for whatever reason, and had wrongly left their husbands. To these he says in verse 11, “(but if she does leave, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not send his wife away.” It is clear, as far as we can see in this passage, that neither party is free to marry someone else if they divorce because of anything other than adultery. Remarriage is the issue and that’s the thing you’ve got to face.
You say, “Well, what if I’ve gone on and remarried somebody? What do I do now?” Listen. Don’t even get into that in this passage. That’s not what he’s addressing. He’s simply trying to answer the questions that have been asked of him. There are other Scriptures where God can turn a light on for you concerning that question. There’s grace and there’s mercy. There are other things to factor in. So don’t bail out on what he’s saying here, because it doesn’t exactly fit your situation. Just listen to what he’s saying.
Paul answers the question, “(but if she does leave, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband).” It’s pretty clear. The word “reconciled” is an important word. I can hear somebody say, “Yeah, right. You don’t know my husband.” Well, if you’re saying that, you don’t know the definition of reconciliation. It would help you to hear the whole thing out before you throw a grenade at me. Listen to what the word “reconciliation” is. The word is katallasso. Kata is an intensive; allasso means to change. The idea is if that man begins to change and there’s reason now that you feel like there can be a reconciliation, go for it. But if he won’t, then stay unmarried. That’s what Paul says. No if’s; no and’s; no but’s. Paul just simply says, “You asked me, so I told you.”
Have you ever asked somebody a question and you didn’t like what you heard? I called a dear friend of mine one day. I told him I was down. I was broken. I was offended. I was beaten up in my mind. I called him up to tell him my whole dilemma. I told him as fast as I can tell him. I could tell he was in a hurry. He was probably catching a plane or something. He said back to me on the telephone, “Well, I love you, brother, but I guess all I can tell you is just live what you preach.” Click. “Bill, come back here. I didn’t like what you just said.”
Again, Paul’s not answering every question you have. He’s answering specific questions they’re asking him. So don’t go throw your faith away because you didn’t get ministered to because your circumstance wasn’t brought into this. It wasn’t meant to, evidently, because Paul is dealing with questions that are already asked of him and he’s just answering them.
The anxiety of those living in a split family
So, we see the authority of the apostle, the absolute will of God, and then we see the anxiety of the believer in the split family. What about the anxiety of people who live in split families? By that I mean one’s a believer and one’s an unbeliever. In verse 12 he picks that up. “But to the rest I say.” He addresses the anxiety of those living in that split family. He addresses the anxiety of their own purity, anxiety over their children. When Paul says, “not the Lord,” he’s simply saying that Jesus never addressed the situation when He was here on earth. Now, I’m relaying with my badge what His Spirit is leading me to tell you. It’s not as if he’s expressing his opinion, as if this is some letter and only parts of it is inspired. This is the inspired word of God. The way I see that, Paul is saying, “He didn’t deal with it, but now He’s given me the authority to deal with it, and I’m going to deal with it.” Paul is under the inspiration of God; therefore, this is God’s word. You can trust what it says. You say, “This is his opinion.” Well, it’s a sanctified opinion then, because the Holy Spirit of God is the One breathing this book through him.
There are two interesting scenarios here. You’ve got a split family; okay, put the believer over here. But on the unbeliever’s side you’ve got two situations. One, they want to leave. “I didn’t marry a Christian. You sorry rat. I didn’t marry a Christian and I’m leaving. Do you hear me?” Blam! And he walks out. But on the other hand, you’ve got an unbeliever who says, “You know, I know you’re saved. I don’t know if I want to be saved or not, but I sure do love you and I want to live with you.” So how do you live with those two situations? Paul deals with them in verse 12. “But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever [that’s interesting. Usually it’s the other way around. But it’s not here. ], and she consents to live with him, let him not send her away.” What are believers to do with unbelieving spouses? Well, if they’ll live with you, live with them. Don’t send them away. Were they free to divorce them because they’re unequally yoked? No. Paul says, “Live with them.” Why? What is the situation here? These are honest questions.
Paul had taught them in 6:15-20 that their bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit of God. They were attached to Christ. They were concerned that they were members of Christ’s body, but they were married to unbelievers. How could this affect the union that they had with God? Some of them even believed, probably, that it made it a union to Satan. Some of them even thought it would defile, not only them, but their children. And many of them just simply desired a Christian partner. Jesus had never directly taught on this, and so Paul, unleashed of the Holy Spirit, is giving them now this direction. Christians were not to worry that they themselves nor their children, nor their marriage would be defiled in any way being married to an unbeliever.
This is the part that just pumps me up. It’s on the contrary. It doesn’t defile you, and it doesn’t defile your children. In fact, it’s not them that is the issue; it’s you that is the issue. By your being in that marriage, you affect them, they don’t affect you. Both the children and the unbelieving spouse were sanctified through the believing wife or husband.
Look at verse 14. We’ll get there in a second, but I want you to read it first. “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy,” or set apart. Now, Paul says, “If she consents to live with you.” It was not uncommon that they would walk right out on them. Paul is saying that if they’ll stay, don’t divorce them. Stay married to them, because you’re going to have an effect on them you’ve never dreamed of.
In verse 13 he reverses the situation. “And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, let her not send her husband away.” Let’s go back to verse 14. What does it mean? Sanctified. The husband’s sanctified by the believing wife. The wife is sanctified by the believing husband. It doesn’t mean they’re saved. It doesn’t mean that because the wife is saved, automatically the husband is saved. No, every person must respond by faith to the Gospel message as the seed comes to their heart and the Holy Spirit of God is in charge of that process. That’s not what he’s saying. But the root understanding of sanctify is to be set apart and put in a class all by itself. The family becomes immeasurably superior when you have a believer in its midst. When the wife is saved or the husband is saved, the unbelievers are blessed because of the presence of God who lives in that believer who now is in that family. One Christian spouse in the home graces the whole family. Because God dwells in that one believer, all the blessings that come to them will spill out on the people around them.
In addition, even though the believer’s faith cannot save the others around them, it often becomes the means of other family members getting saved. You have probably heard testimonies of a believing grandmother who stood by the Word when she had a husband who was pagan and cursed like a sailor. She may have had children the same way, but those grandchildren began to receive that seed and for generation after generation after generation there were Christians in that family. Why? Because one believer stayed and didn’t bail out and became a powerful influence for the kingdom for all of eternity. It’s amazing to me the power of the life of the believer. Folks, we don’t think about that.
Every time I get on a plane I’m thinking, “Well, Lord, if you’re through with me, I guess you’re through with them, too.” Or the other way around, if that plane lands then, “Lord, you’re not through with me, and I’ll bet they’re glad they are on this plane.” It’s amazing. People say, “Why has God not destroyed America?” And I’ll tell them straight to their face: Because God’s people live in America. People don’t understand the powerful influence of a believer unless they were living like the Corinthians.
Now, that’s a different story. You attach yourself to Jesus Christ and every blessing God puts in your life touches somebody around you. But the mentality of the world, the reasoning of the human mind, says, “I want something better for me.” God says, “Are you thinking about your present or are you thinking about the eternal future? Stay, stay.”
Some of you have left and say, “Oh, no. Now what do I do?” Don’t even let that question enter your mind. You can’t unscramble eggs. Let’s look and see just what Paul is saying here. Let’s do some preventive medicine here. God was going to destroy Sodom. Abraham pleaded with Him to spare the city if he could find fifty believers. Genesis 18:26 says, “So the Lord said, ‘If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.’“ Isn’t that incredible? All those pagans. Homosexuality? They wrote the manual for it! He said, “I’ll spare the whole city if we can find fifty.” That was moved to forty-five. That was moved to forty, to thirty-five, thirty, to twenty-five, to twenty, to fifteen, to ten. The indictment of that whole passage was they couldn’t find ten. But God would have spared a whole city full of nothing but outright pagans for ten. That’s the powerful influence of a believer among unbelievers. What an impact we have and we don’t even know it.
Well, in our context it shows that God sees the family as a unit. Even if only one believer is in it, God blesses the entire family because of that one believer. If the unbelieving spouse is willing to stay, the believer is not to seek any kind of divorce whatsoever. Now, that unbelieving spouse may not be willing to stay. That’s another message. This protects the children. Verse 14 reads, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.” They’re not saved, they are holy, set apart in a class all by themselves. So the blessing, the spiritual blessings can flow right over on them. They reap that and over time God can use that to even bring them to knowing Him personally.
Children can see clearly the contrast between the life of an unbelieving parent and a believing one. They are able to see the difference of the mama who’s saved and the father who’s unsaved. They watch the two of them as they live. It doesn’t take them long to realize, “Oh, that’s what a Christian is. Oh, that’s what a pagan is. I think I’d rather be a Christian.” God uses that as a means of witness in their lives.
You know, we need to stick to the word of God. If we ever have any debate, it’s on what it says, never a will we do it. Remember I’m not the authority; the Word of God is the authority.
I’ve got an illustration for you that I’ll think will help you. It helps me. This past week I was in a tree stand hunting deer. They had these big ladder stands. They’re heavy. Most ladder stands have sort of a v in the back of them so when you put them up against a tree it fits up against that tree with that v. Then they hook them and chain them around that tree so that you’re pretty secure to that tree. This one didn’t. It was a straight back and just leaned up against the tree. Obviously, it was wobbly if the tree was too small. They would use a chain to wrap around the tree to kind of hold it to the tree which, I want to testify, does not work. I was in this type of stand.
Now these tree stands, ladder stands is what they’re called, are sixteen feet high. You say, “That’s not very high.” Now wait a minute. That’s two feet above the backboard, for anybody who’s ever played basketball. You know how far up that is. That’s how far you’re up. It’s a chair you’re sitting in. It’s very comfortable. They tell us something that I need to start listening to. They tell you to put a safety belt on. I do every time I’m in a climber stand. If you don’t know what that is, it’s alright. But in a climber stand I always use it. But in a ladder stand, no, man, it’s comfortable. I can move around. I don’t need that thing. This thing is secure. Wrong. I didn’t have my safety belt on.
I was sitting there just enjoying myself. It’s just amazing the peace of mind that you have. The wind picked up and it kind of felt good because it was a little warm and that wind was just cold in my face. Oh, man, I was just sitting there thinking about how beautiful it is and how much fun I’m having when in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye—God continues to teach me what that means. It was so fast I couldn’t even think—the tree moved with the wind. It’s a small tree, and that stand just spun around. I can’t even begin to explain it to you. I was sitting in a chair and it rolled on me. When it stopped rolling, I should have been on the ground, I promise you, but somehow the Lord gave me the thought, “Grab a limb.” I grabbed a limb and nearly pulled my arm out of its socket. I’m hanging there. The stand’s trying to roll around and I said out loud, “Lord, we have a problem here.” I said it out loud. “Lord, we do have a problem.” I had my gun in this hand and I’m thinking do I drop it? What do I do with it? I’m not going to drop it. It cost too much. So I put it on my shoulder. I’m going to figure this out myself. Don’t take me to task with that. That’s probably not the wisest thing to do.
I’m hanging around there and finally I ease with it and I let the stand go all the way around. By this time I’m hanging on to the tree but I’m looking straight down. I’m thinking, “What am I going to do?” I’ve got my rifle in one hand. It was awful.
Finally, I think I can climb around this thing. I finally got my balance enough. I’m sixteen feet up. The thing’s upside down. I’m standing around back of it. I put my leg around on the back of it and somehow got around and somehow, by the grace of God, was able to climb down the back of it without breaking my neck. I got down to the bottom and had a prayer time. I picked up the stand and was going to try to put it back like it was supposed to be. When I did, I moved it just a little bit and the chain broke. It was just by the grace of God that I didn’t hit the ground face first from sixteen feet up.
I tell you that to tell you this. Our safety belt in the Christian walk is our obedience to the tree of God’s Word. I know you don’t like some of the things we’re saying. I also know it doesn’t relate to some of your circumstances, and I can’t say I’m sorry, because this is 1 Corinthians 7. You have to go someplace else to find your answer. But I want to tell you something, folks. If you’ll make a commitment and I mean by that commitment, determine I’m going to obey what God says, I’m going to promise you when the tree stand of your life bails out on you so quickly you didn’t even expect it coming, it’ll hold you up even in a catastrophe that could otherwise have been devastating. Listen to what the apostle has to say. He’s simply relaying to us and to them what the Commander in Chief has ordered.