On the heels of Paul's discussion on sexual behavior outside of God's intention, Paul shifts to what's inside God's purpose for marriage. The Bible contains other places with instructions for husbands and wives, most notably, Ephesians 5. However, 1 Corinthians 7 offers God's intention for who should be married and who should not, what happens when only one person in a marriage gets saved, the value of singleness for those who have enough sexual discipline for singleness, and when someone should or should not get remarried.
If Chapter 6 didn't hit you where it hurts, there's a real chance Chapter 7 will. If not, you're Jesus, or you are not listening.
What tends to happen with a text like 1 Corinthians 7 is the person who has been divorced ends up feeling guilty and fails to see the hope and salvation of Jesus. The person who has not been divorced gets severe about thumping against those who have been divorced. They too fail to see the hope and salvation of Jesus. And in all of it, two important things are missed in the text.
The first missed thing is the positive instruction from God for marriage and singleness. The married person gives his or her body to his or her spouse. (v.s 2-5) The two should not deprive one another. Why? Because they are serving each other and walking in the Christian life together. The single person is encouraged to remain single (if he or she can) because of the gospel opportunities and to avoid the worldly worries. (See v.s 6-9, 17-28, and 32-38.) In fact, most of the chapter is speaking to single people but we miss it when we see the chapter more about divorce than God's good plan for our relationships.
The second thing (or person, actually) we miss when we focus too strictly on divorce is Jesus. We miss the grace of Jesus for those who have stumbled by engaging in a relationship (or issues from Chapter 6) outside of God's will. We miss that Jesus knows this world can be challenging, and this text gives us a plan for the relief of our burning temptations. We see that the context is a present world that's passing away, which should remind us to place our hope not in this world but the next.
I'll be preaching a sermon from 1 Corinthians 7 with the intention of point us to see Christ in this chapter. It's the next sermon in our series, "Messy Church: A Journey Through 1 Corinthians." If we leave the building without seeing our need, salvation, and sanctification in Jesus, I'll have failed. I hope and pray you will join us. We meet at 11am.
See you tomorrow!
Pastor Bryan Catherman