Sermon: “Undivided Devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:32–40)

by Oct 27, 2019Sermons0 comments

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The 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.
36 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. 37 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. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.
39 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. 40 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 Corinthians 7:32-40, ESV

When I was younger, really in the college years when people were starting to pair off and start serious relationships many of which ended in dating, it was common to ask a question like this, “How do you know if he or she is the one?” Maybe this would be a topic at the college lunch today. How do you know if he or she is the one?

Now if you are married, I have a simple test for you. You just need to get a copy of your marriage license. Find the other name on the license and you know that is the one! But if you are not married this becomes a more complicated question. What do you do to find out who the one might be? Do you look for signs? Do you compare personality tests and computer engineer a match? Do you try to arrange some sort of meet cute, like on the movies? Do you cast lots? Do you open your Bible at random and hope that it will shed some light on the question?

Should you get married at all? Jesus didn’t marry, Paul didn’t marry. Do you need to get married at all? Who is the one? How do we make these kinds of decisions? How do we discern the will of God in these sorts of areas? This is something that can weigh on us. We want to get this right; we don’t want to be outside of the will of God. But in fact, as we study this passage in particular that has primarily to do with marriage, but much more with all of our lives. We find that if we are just seeking the will of God, sort of a narrow focus, we are asking the wrong question. God has revealed his word, he has told us what he wants from us.

What God wants from us first and foremost, whatever marital status we have, whatever job status we have, what God wants from us more than anything else is holiness. Whether you’re married, single, pursuing someone, or in one of those “it’s complicated” relationship. What God wants from you is holiness.

Our big idea today is that, “Regardless of whether we marry in the Lord, God calls us to holy devotion to the Lord.”

We are going to see three parts to this text.

1. Devotion to the Lord
2. Desires from the Lord
3. Discernment in the Lord

Devotion to the Lord

Let’s look at devotion to the Lord that Paul talks about in 7:32-35. Now in the previous paragraph I preached from a couple of weeks ago. Paul gave a reason to pursue singleness if possible. Pursuing singleness is good in order to avoid worldly trouble. But now here in verse thirty-two, Paul gives another reason, to be free from anxiety. He says I want you to be free from anxieties. He goes on to tell us what he means.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The 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.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35, ESV

So, Paul is talking about these anxieties; about being whether being anxious about the worldly things or holiness. It’s worth noting that when he’s talking about these anxieties, he’s not talking about a term we would use for a psychological disorder like anxiety or depression. He’s not talking about something that is purely negative, rather as Gordan Fee says, you could translate this more like, “to care for something”, this is more like cares in relation to something.

What Paul is saying here is that whether or not you are married or unmarried, you are called to care for the things of the Lord. But unmarried people have an advantage in that they may care for the Lord and the things of the Lord without complications, without any kind of divided mind. Because unmarried people, unlike married people, don’t have to also care for spouses and their families from the spouses. Paul isn’t saying that it’s bad for married people to care for their spouses, in fact he is saying the opposite. This whole chapter he’s insisting that it’s necessary to care for your spouse, this is a good care but he’s saying it’s a care, it’s an anxiety.

What he says in verse thirty-four is that this will cause your interest to be divided. Now he says in verse thirty-five, “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraints upon you.” The restraints are sort of like a trap that catches a wild animal. He’s saying I’m not trying to trap you and keep you in a life of singleness. But rather, he says he want to promote good order and secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Charles Hodge has this in a little bit more literal translation, “he wants you to be devoted to the Lord without distraction.”

Well, if that’s true what does Paul mean when he talks about holy in verse thirty-four? Did this mean that the unmarried, single, celibate life is more holy in a moral sense? Is this a higher way to live your life, to take vows of celibacy and to pursue those throughout your life?

That’s not at all what Paul is saying. He’s no saying that the married life is unholy, and the unmarried life is not. He’s saying that they are different circumstances, in which all of us are called to pursue holiness. Whether you’re single or whether you’re married, whatever situation you find yourself, you are called to pursue holiness.

He says, the one thing what does that word holy mean in verse thirty-four. Holy can being an ethical holiness. Jesus is holy. God is holy, holy, holy. But here the word holy means set apart to God. A heart entirely devoted to his purposes. When you’re single and you can pursue only the things of the Lord, it’s simpler and less complicated.

Paul isn’t saying that one way of living is better than another. He’s simply saying all of us are called to holiness. But for those who are married it’s going to be more complicated.

The illustration for the Bible that Paul might actually have in mind as he’s writing this, because he uses a couple of key words in the story, is the story of Mary and Martha in Luke chapter ten. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning at the feet of Jesus. What do we read about Martha? In Luke 10:40 says that Martha was distracted with much serving. And that’s the word that shows up in 1 Corinthians 7:35 when Paul says I want you to be devoted to the Lord without distraction.

Well Martha was distracted and Martha understandably got frustrated. Children if your told to clean your room with your siblings and your sibling isn’t doing his or her share, you get pretty frustrated with that. Well Mary and Martha have struggled with that kind of an issue. So, Martha went and tattle to Jesus saying Mary isn’t helping out here. Jesus said Martha, “Martha you are anxious”, it is that same word we see all over this paragraph in 1st Corinthians, “you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen to good portion it will not be taken away from her.”

Now does that mean that Martha’s care for her guests was a bad thing? No, it’s not bad thing to care for your guests. It’s certainly not a bad thing if Jesus shows up and wants to have dinner, that you make Jesus dinner. It’s not a bad thing, but what Jesus was acknowledging is that this is a hard thing to do. Martha had a divided mind because she was trying to sort of straddle these two things. I know Jesus is here and I want to do a good job for him, and I have these things anxieties and cares. I am divided and I can’t, like Mary, give my full attention to the Lord.

The point wasn’t that Martha was bad, it was that Martha has chosen the more complicated route. She was hosting her guests and that made her anxious and troubled and that meant she was distracted from Jesus in her presence.

Now it’s true that it is hard to be entirely devoted to the Lord when you are hosting guests, how much more is this true to the lifelong covenant of marriage? It’s very true, it’s hard. If all of us are called to holiness, to be wholly devoted to the Lord without distraction, this is harder for married people who have to care for our spouses. Where that’s part of what God tells us to, it’s a command of God. If we fail to do that then we are breaking God’s commandments, but that means this hard to do what God calls us to do. Which is to be wholly devoted to him.

There’s a divided life, there’s extra anxieties and Paul is saying you just got to know about this. John Calvin says that a lot of people going to marriage expecting unmixed honey. They’re just disappointed in that expectation. When they find this disappointment for this expectation, they’re very readily cast down by the slightest mishap. The point is we can’t expect that marriage is going to be this perfect life, rather when we go into it, we recognize that there are going to be difficulties and anxieties as we care for spouse. But in all of this we are called to pursue holiness. Whether single or married we are called to pursue holiness.

No Paul isn’t giving us a command and he doesn’t want to lay a restraint upon us. He’s not telling every single one of us whether or not we should be married or remain single. He is simply putting this information in front of us so that we know that this won’t be unmixed honey. You need to know that this won’t be a bed of roses all the days of your life. There will be difficulties that you need to grapple with before you take your marriage vows.

Well, if this is true, how do any of us make such a decision. How do we decide whether or not that is a good thing to do? This is where Paul brings us to his second point.

The Desires from the Lord

We are going to look at 7:36-38. The thing to keep in mind is that Paul is going to say that all of our desires come from the Lord, though sin affects that, and we are going to have to deal with what sin is doing with our desires. God gave us desires and God actually works through our desires to lead us in these matters.

This is one factor, it’s not the only factor, but it’s an important factor. And that’s what Paul tells us in this next passage. Let me read verses thirty-six through thirty-eight and then let me address why some of your Bibles don’t sound like what I’m about to read.

36 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. 37 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. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.1 Corinthians 7:32-40, ESV

Now there are at least two major interpretations of this passage, which is complicated because Paul doesn’t explicitly spell out the people he is talking to. He uses a lot of words but never identifies the person he is talking to directly. There’s two ways of understanding this.

If you are reading from the Amplified Bible, the American Standard Version, or the New American Standard Bible. What you will find there is one of the interpretations, which is the idea that Paul is addressing fathers who are considering whether to give their virgin daughters in marriage. “Let them marry, it is not sin”, he’s talking about fathers giving away their daughters to be married.

In others, including the English Standard Version which is what I’m reading from and preaching from this morning, we read that Paul is addressing betrothed or engaged men who are considering whether to finalize the marriage process with their fiancées. Now, I would take this second opinion, I think the ESV has it correct. There are a lot of arguments, some of them are sort of technical and grammatical. In the sermon notes I spend some time talking about that.

This morning I’m going to talk about one brief reason why I think that this is not fathers and daughter but talking to engaged people about whether to finalize the marriage. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul has said nothing about fathers and daughters. He has been talking about single people considering whether or not to get married. He’s actually already said this in verse twenty-eight when he was talking to people considering marriage.

28 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.1 Corinthians 7:28, ESV

It seems like he is reiterating that idea instead of suddenly shifting to fathers and daughters. By the way, neither the word father nor daughter appears here. The word that the ESV translates betrothed is simply the word virgin. Virgin doesn’t mean daughter. It is probably better to think about this as an engaged woman.

Let’s continue studying this by seeing what Paul has to say to engaged people. If you do take it as a father and daughter in view, you won’t get too much different an idea of what’s happening here, it just affects some of the details. In general Paul would be saying the same thing.

The first thing that we see in verse thirty-six is that Paul tells the people considering marriage to think. Paul is not giving us a direct command; he’s not giving them a word from the Lord. He’s saying this is something that is going to require your deliberation. You are going to have to consider what the word of God says and your situation and reflect on how those two works together.

What does God say? Here’s what he says, “If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed.” That’s how the ESV has this and it’s a pretty good translation. Literally this is, “If anyone thinks he is unseemly toward his betrothed.” This word for unseemly is translated in 1 Corinthians 13:5 as “rude”. The only problem with the idea of behaving properly is that it might suggest to the way that is comes to us in English is that Paul is talking about some premarital sexual immorality. That’s probably not what he is talking about for a couple of reasons.

First, he’s talking about this unseemliness toward his betrothed, literally toward his virgin. So, it probably doesn’t mean that there is sin going on there if she is called his virgin. But the second issue, which is stronger, is that Paul goes on immediately to tell us what he means.

“If his passions are strong” is a different way of restating what he is talking about. Paul is talking about sexual desires. He is saying that if these passions are strong. Paul is referring us back to what he was saying in verse nine;

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.1 Corinthians 7:8-9, ESV

Paul is saying again that if you have these desires and you’re burning with these desires, then it is better for you to marry. If there is a passion and necessity here, let him do as he wishes, let them marry, it is no sin. One of the most disastrous mistakes in church history has been when people who do not have the gift of continency, the gift of containing their desires. Not by superhuman strength or white knuckling our way to not acting on those desires, but a supernatural gift of God’s Spirit to give us self-control over the desires themselves. When people who don’t have that supernatural gift where God gives them the ability to contain those desires have taken vows of celibacy even when these desires are raging in them has been one of the most disastrous parts of church history.

The Bible doesn’t call us to celibacy. The Bible doesn’t say that by taking vows of celibacy that we will enter into a higher plane of holiness. The Bible never says that. The Bible calls all of us to holiness, but it is going to look different whether we are single or married. God is not calling you to a life of stoic singleness, even though these desires are raging in you, you just try to stoically ignore them. God is saying that if you do have these desires, you should seek to get married.

Paul gives us several criteria to think through. Are you unseemly? Are your sexual passions strong? Must it be, is there a necessity? Do you wish to get married? Is this what you want? Your desires are important here. If you have these passions and you want to get married, then Paul says by all means get married, don’t delay.

What the Westminster Larger Catechism, question 139 says, “the undue delay of marriage” the recognizing that you have these desires and you want to get married and for some reason you are specifically avoiding marriage, that’s sin. It’s sin to deliberately unduly avoid marriage. Why? Because sexual desire for someone other than your lawfully married spouse is truly and properly sin.

God created sexual desires and for them to be good, only in the context of marriage. Sometimes we talk about the behavior that way, and that is true. God created sexual activity only for the context of marriage, but it’s also true about the desires. God does not want you to look lustfully on anyone other than your spouse. This is a critical point.

These desires are good, but we have inherited this sin that hijacks these desires and twists them from what God created them to be. Understand, God doesn’t just leave us to languish in that. God has given us a good gift, which is a place to exercise the desires and the activity. It’s marriage.

So, if you reject the good gift of marriage, even though you are burning with these desires, you are in sin. If you are misusing the good gift of sexual desires outside of marriage, that is sin. Paul says that if you have these desires and you want to get married and you have providentially available, godly candidate for marriage, then by all means get married. Not everyone can get married and I’ll talk about that in a little bit.

First let’s look at what Paul says in verse thirty-seven. The other side of this is not just that we acknowledge that not everyone can get married, and we will talk about that in a little bit, but in verse thirty-seven he says that not everyone needs to get married.

Paul says that there are people who have the gift of continency. Not superhuman power to avoid acting on these desires, but supernatural grace to keep the desires themselves under control.

37 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.1 Corinthians 7:37, ESV

Here again you have to think. Are you firmly established in your own heart? Do you not feel compelled to this? Is your desire under control? Have you decided this, do you want this in your heart? If so then by all means remain single. God calls all of us to holiness, but it looks different for different people.

Then he says in verse thirty-eight.

38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.1 Corinthians 7:38, ESV

Earlier Paul used almost the same word for better in verse nine, “For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Now he says to a different set of people it’s better to refrain from marriage if you can. This isn’t a higher quality of life, but what Paul has been saying is that there are advantages. There are fewer worldly troubles if you can successfully, and in a godly way, refrain from marriage. You have more freedom from worldly anxieties and cares, verse thirty-two. You’re less divided in mind and heart, verse thirty-four. You’re more easily devoted to the Lord without distraction, verse thirty-five. If you have the gift of continency, then by all means remain single.

Now at this point Paul has given us a full account of how to discern wisely. Now let’s work this out in a final case he gives which is the question of whether widows may remarry. This is where we see the final steps of this coming together, in the third section.

Discernment in the Lord

39 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. 40 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 Corinthians 7:39-40, ESV

Paul states here what he also affirms in Romans 7:2 and 1 Timothy 5:14, that wives are bound to husbands as long as the husbands live and if a woman’s husband dies, she is no longer bound. That dissolves the bond of marriage, so she is free to remarry whom she wishes.

Understand, in the ancient world widows are extremely vulnerable. They still are today, but far more then. It was an extremely important thing for Paul to repeat, so he does in many places so that there would be no shame that would be cast on them for doing this.

Paul says you have to consider her desires. If her husband dies ,she is free to be married to whom she wishes. This woman’s desires are important. She needs to think and evaluate these questions that he has been talking about. He says that she is free to remarry if she wishes, but only in the Lord. This is the only requirement.

Only in the Lord. This means in part that the new husband must be a believer. Remember that marriage, if you’re already married to an unbeliever, Paul said in 7:12-16 that you still need to remain in that marriage if the other person consents. Here Paul is saying that if you are starting a new marriage, then you need to marry a fellow believer.

More than this, by saying that you need to only marry in the Lord, Paul is saying that everything we do must be in the light of looming eternity. This life is so short. This time is so small, the appointed time has grown short. It doesn’t mean that there is only a little bit of time left but that eternity is hanging over us. At any moment the season may change.

So, regardless of whether we marry in the Lord, God calls us to holy devotion to the Lord. In verse forty, Paul closes by giving his judgement. After thinking, now Paul in verse forty, Paul gives his judgement. Not a command. He says, “Yet in my judgement.” This is the same word that Paul used in verse twenty-five, “No concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgement as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.”

He’s not only thinking, but he is thinking according to the Spirit of God teaching in and through his word. Paul is demonstrating not the command of what exactly we are called to do, but he’s giving us an example of how to use this holy discernment as we apply what God’s word is teaching to the specific details of each of our lives. How do we exercise discernment in the light of the gospel and the light of eternity?

Application

Considering this, let’s look at three ways to apply this passage to our own lives.

1. In whatever assignment you find yourself in, devote yourself to the Lord. Devotion to the Lord doesn’t require one kind of life to another. Whether you are single or married, in school or working, an employer or an employee, working outside the home or raising children in the home, in full time vocational ministry or in the marketplace. Whatever assignment you find yourself in, the call of the gospel meets you there. And the call of the gospel, as one commentator puts it, transcends and transforms all of these various assignments that we have.

The point is that you can’t change relationship with God by changing your marital status. You can’t change your relationship with God by taking a new job. You can only change your relationship with God through a right relationship by faith with the Lord Jesus Christ. Your problem isn’t your marital status. Your problem is your sin. That’s what the call of the gospel is about.

It’s not about changing jobs or whether or not to get married. The call of the gospel is that you were born in sin and you have committed sins because you are a sinner. Because of this we who are corrupted by this sin have been condemned by a righteous, perfect, holy God. The good news of the gospel announces that God loves you so much that the Father sent his own beloved Son into this world and that Jesus Christ, the call upon him was to come into this life and live a righteous, holy life. The kind you and I failed to live, which didn’t involve marriage to a single woman because Christ was pursuing the bride of his church. In so doing, Jesus Christ died condemned under the infinite wrath of God for the sins for which you and I are guilty.

Because of what God has done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ, God promises that all those who look in sorrow for their sin and in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. The call of the gospel is the call to believe upon and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not about life circumstances, it’s about repenting from your sin and believing in Jesus.

For those who are called, part of the call is that as we look to Jesus in faith, he and his call should define every decision that we make. We make every decision in light of this call of eternity to be the sons and daughters of God. We are called to live lives that are devoted without distraction to the Lord. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things shall be added to you. In whatever assignment you find yourself in, devote yourself to the Lord.

2. Deliberately deal with your desires. A single celibate life isn’t a nobler, holier calling than married life. They are different. If you are trying to be holy in body and spirit, and yet your spirit is filled up with sexual desires for someone who is not your spouse, you haven’t become holy in either sense.

Understand that God calls us to deal soberly, wisely and deliberately with our desires. God created our desires and created them to be good. Sexual desires God gave to bond together husbands and wives, to bring forth image-bearers through ordinary human reproduction and to build God’s kingdom in this world. These desires are good things, but because sin has taken these desires and hijacked them away from their purpose, you have to think, are you unseemly toward someone that you may be in a relationship with or betrothed to.

If you are behaving unseemly, if you have these desires, it’s better to marry than to burn. To willfully remain in the midst of your sinful desires by the undue delay of marriage is sin. I want to affirm now that certainly there are due reasons to delay marriage.

But in our culture, there are far more bad reasons for delaying marriage that there are good reasons. Because our culture is saturated with rampant pornography and widespread sin, our culture as enabled us to engage desires longer and get those satisfied in some sense so that we can prolong marriage later in life than any time in human history. This is devastating to individuals and to a culture.

God says that he hasn’t left you to burn in that. God was the one who from the very beginning ordained marriage and he blessed it and sanctified it. It is a good thing to be married. Deliberately deal with your desires by pursuing godliness.

You may be here today, and you are longing for marriage. You are here not trying to delay it but wondering why God has not provided a spouse yet. This is not sin, this is a trial. What you need to do is to pray for God’s grace to endure. Pray for God to raise up a godly spouse. Understand, God promises to give us whatever we require. Even if we are at a time when things are not ideal, God promises to meet us and to give us all that we require in order to pursue him in godliness.

You may be here today, and God has given you the gift of continency, of control over these desires. If that be the case, praise the Lord. If you have self-control, not just over acting on the desires through white knuckled superhuman strength but even over the desires themselves, then by all means don’t get married. Use that gift in devotion to the Lord without distraction. Follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul and Jesus himself. Give yourself completely to be anxious about the Lord and the things of the Lord.

3. Exercise biblical discernment in marriage and in every area of your life. God doesn’t give us a specific command, to cover every circumstance that may arise in our lives. We are in danger of blasphemy if we try to treat God superstitiously. Like we can treat him like a magic eight ball that we can shake up and get an answer to our questions.

Understand, as you read the Bible and the Old Testament, there was a time when God spoke to our fathers like that. Think about Gideon laying out the fleece and saying if on the first day if there is dew on fleece alone and the ground is dry, then I will know it’s you. Then Gideon wanted another sign so he said, if the fleece is dry but the dew on the ground then God ,I will know that you have spoken to me.

God did talk to our fathers with those kinds of signs in the past. In Hebrews 1:1-2 we read this,

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
Hebrews 1:1-2, ESV

God has spoken. He has given us a word from the Lord. It’s the Bible. He doesn’t want to give us a new word. A new word would distract us from Christ. Instead he wants to lead us in applying, by the work of the Holy Spirit as we think and as we judge our lives in light of the scriptures. God instructs us to think and to exercise that wise and prudent judgement. Not to think apart from what God has spoken through Jesus Christ in the Bible. Not to think against what God has spoken through Jesus Christ in the Bible. But to think in light of all that God has given us in his word through Jesus Christ and to make a judgment on that basis. That’s biblical, wise, godly, Spirit lead application and discernment.

We need to evaluate what God teaches us about our duties and then as we compare God’s teaching about our actual lives and circumstance. Then we pray that we too would have the Spirit of God to lead us and give us illumination about how to proceed. We don’t scour our lives for signs or for things that may or may not align with God’s word. This is about going deeper into God’s word and letting God’s word inform and influence our lives.

Ask yourself;
1. Is it providentially available to me? Is God making an opportunity providentially available to you.

2. Is there anything about this that God has forbidden? Has God said no? Then it doesn’t matter if I felt a sense of peace about what God has forbidden. The enemy can lead us in that way as well. Is there anything that in God’s word he has forbidden? If so, the answer is no.

3. Would I sin in some way if I didn’t avail of myself this opportunity. The example of the one who is burning with passion. Would I sin if I remained burning and distracted by these desires when God has made marriage available?

4. Do I want this? It’s not the only question, but it is one of the questions. There are probably some follow up questions. How do I want this? What sort of manner do I want this? How does God teach me to think about and judge my desires in this case?

5. Finally, what godly counsel are others giving me? Paul is giving all sorts of godly counsel here, we need to certainly listen to this, but we also need to listen to those who are more mature in the faith. Those who can give us godly counsel to help us see things that we cannot and to judge things by the steps they have already taken in their lives following the Lord.

Through all of this we need to pray that God’s Holy Spirit would illuminate our lives. That he would give us eyes to understand what this old book is still speaking. Not only in general principles, but specifically to you and me as we take the light of God’s word and seek to see the rest of our lives by it. That’s a work of the Holy Spirit and we need to pray for it.

So, let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, we pray that as you give us your word you would teach us in Christ, that you would lead us in Christ. We pray that you would give us your Spirit to take what we have read here today and to walk in it. Not as though you were giving us straight, easy simple answers. You haven’t. You call us to think and to judge. We pray that we would not be doing this indecently, but that we would be doing this in light of the glorious upward call of the gospel in Jesus Christ. We pray that if there are any here today who don’t know the Lord Jesus, that they would hear the gospel even now and turn from their sin and sorrow and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. We pray that you would do this in Christ’s name. Amen.

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