Today’s readings.. (Exodus 37), (Psalms 96,97,98,99), (1 Corinthians 7)
Today’s chapter in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians gives his views about specific situations occurring there. However, it contains principles which apply to believers of all ages. He is responding to “matters about which you wrote” [1 Cor.7 v.1] and his words are like hearing one side of a conversation. Corinth was a very immoral city and its idolatry and fleshly living created many problems and has many parallels with today. The believers had been actively part of all this until they committed themselves to follow the way of Christ.
They are commended to be faithful in their marriages, to avoid divorce and to be content with their situation in life, even if they were still slaves. (v.20,21) “I want you to be free from anxieties,” he writes, “to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” [v.35].
Maintaining marriage relationships are most important says Paul, he makes the point, “because of temptations to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband … do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self control” [v.2,5]
This reference to a Satan is to human tempters, just as, at one stage, Peter was a Satan to Jesus, as we read earlier this month in Mark 8 v.33. At that stage Peter’s attitude was all wrong, similarly, many of the converts in Corinth would have contact with individuals whose values were all wrong and could prompt ungodly thoughts in them. So it is with us today – indeed – more and more. We have to say, at least in thought, “Get behind me Satan.”
Today some criticise Paul, suggesting he is against marriage, even a woman hater! This is most unfair; he writes, “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind, one of another … it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.” [v.7,9] There were problems because some who had accepted Christ were married to unbelieving partners. The believer should not seek a divorce. The believer should seek to influence the unbeliever to accept Christ, “but if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so.” [v.15] writes Paul.
Paul sensed that Corinth was facing an imminent crisis, just as we sense that this world is heading downhill with increasing rapidity – for that reason there are many points in this chapter which have special relevance to today and the need for us all “to secure” our “undivided devotion to the Lord.”