Author Archives: Samuel Chetty

1 Corinthians 7:36-38

1 Corinthians 7:36-38 (NRSV)- “If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancée, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancée, he will do well. So then, he who marries his fiancée does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

Here we are again with the subjects of passion and self-control. I think it is important to realize that being a believer does not create some magical ability to control natural passions. Now, we can set our vision for life on how the Bible teaches that we should live, and over time the Holy Spirit definitely works through our experiences and passions so that we develop into the lifestyle that God has called us to. However, at a given phase of one’s life, self-control in a particular area may be fundamentally lacking despite one’s faith.

Paul seems to acknowledge this. For instance, in the passage above he says that “If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancée, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes.”

Earlier in the chapter, Paul stated “if they [single people] are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9).

Notice that Paul basically assumes that some believers may not be 100% successful at self- control. And interestingly, he doesn’t really say anything to shame them for it. Instead, he says they should get married.

Now, if for whatever reason, marriage really is not an option, God can work with people to develop self-control. Often times, struggles with self-control result from despair, anxiety, or a lack of inspiration about one’s purpose or future, although people may not realize that they are feeling this way. But it can be difficult to make yourself feel positive about circumstances to gain self-control when there is a burning, unmet need or a legitimate source of anxiousness that you are dealing with.

Sometimes, to deal with the underlying negativity that causes a lack of self-control, God has to shift one’s attitudes and perspective on life. This can come from His working through circumstances to cause a transformation in one’s thinking. It may seem as though an unmet need is a gap standing in between what you are and what you want to be. But regardless of whether you think your present experience is positive or negative, or whether you are optimistic or anxious about the future, you can believe for God to work through whatever is going on to bridge the gap by leading you to a clearer understanding of His purpose in your life at the present time. If you are having trouble seeing beyond the gap now, don’t let that be an extra source of worry. As you continue walking through life, there will come a time when you see something that transforms your perspective.

I’ll close this post, and my commentary on Chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians, with Romans 8:28 – “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (NRSV) – “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.”

Why does Paul assume that married people are anxious? And why would he want for people to be “anxious” about the Lord? After all, Paul writes in Philippians 4:6 (NRSV), “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” According to Strong’s Concordance, the word “worry” in this passage is the same Greek word underlying the word “anxious” in the passage from 1 Corinthians.

Well, in reality, people are anxious. On one hand, you can choose to trust God to deal with a situation instead of consciously entertaining worry about it. That does not necessarily mean, however, that there will not be some undercurrent of anxiousness running through your mind. Even while trusting in God, you are still trying to be responsible and diligent, and these efforts can cause a feeling of anxiousness even if you know that ultimately God has the situation worked out.

Believers want to please God, even though they may not be able to escape some degree of concern over whether they are doing everything they should. We see different sides of ourselves and can get anxious about how the different aspects of ourselves line up with God’s will. Likewise, married people, no matter how well they may generally get along, will always have some differences with their spouse, and to some degree, figuring out how to meet each other’s desires in spite of these differences can be a source of anxiousness.

Some Christians make a big point of saying that being a Christian is not easy. They seem to have a great fear of Christians becoming comfortable and complacent, so they take it upon themselves to knock responsibility and an urge for action into them.

But what I say is, why do you fear Christians becoming too comfortable? Believers have a new nature that wants to please God despite being in a body and mind with frustrating limitations. That makes life hard enough. Why do you feel you must make it harder?

So, basically, what Paul is saying to those considering marriage is, “You are already experiencing some inherent tension that comes with being a believer; are you sure you want to bring another person into the picture, and then have to maneuver through life amid both the tension as a believer and the tension as a spouse?”

Now as I have described in previous posts, there can be a deep sense of fulfillment that comes through marriage. Likewise, there is a very deep sense of fulfillment that comes from being a believer. For some, being married may result in a greater sense of peace in life, because of certain desires that can be met, and for you and your spouse to be able to support each other as you live for God. Paul is perfectly understanding of this, which is why he never tells people not to get married. He just seeks to give people something to think about before jumping into marriage too hastily.

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

1 Corinthians 7:25-31 – “Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

Regarding this passage, I want to address the “end is near” mentality that often pervades Christian teaching. Paul (writing almost two thousand years ago) stated that “in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are . . . the present form of this world is passing away.”

The overarching message of this passage has to do with not getting too attached to matters of the world. The reason is that, spiritually, God has transported us to the reality of a time far into the future.

First look at 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Now look at Revelation 21:1-5 – “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.‘”

The present world is passing away when seen from the perspective of this future world where our spiritual consciousness actually resides. When the present age is seen from that perspective, the two thousand years that have passed since Christ was on earth does not have to seem like such a long interval. A period of time, especially a difficult one, always seems longer when you are in the middle of it, or have just come out of it. But in our case, spiritually speaking, we are past it – way past it.

The death and resurrection of Christ was the climax of the eons, the turning point for humanity and all creation toward a redemptive destiny. Living beyond the climax of the eons, these are the “last days” for the world in its present form.

In the passage quoted at the top of this post, Paul’s message is that we should not make life “all about” matters of this world, whether it be marriage, moods, possessions, business, etc. Sometimes people think they have to get married because they think it’s just part of a normal life. Or people who are already married can get so carried away with certain issues within the marriage that they miss the bigger picture of life, which is essential to resolving whatever they’re going through. Or other people strive to maintain a certain mood in attempt to either master themselves or avoid being at odds with the prevailing sentiment.

However, when you see your life in this world from the perspective of the future reality that God has already placed in your spirit, you can feel liberated to pursue healthy desires in this world without having to worry about them consuming you. God has a purpose for us and works through these desires. The key is to know that we are just passing through this world; this is Phase 1 of our journey through the ages.

In the immediate context of this writing from Paul, the “impending crisis” he prophesies is probably the Jewish-Roman war of 66-73 A.D., with the destabilization of the Roman empire, natural disasters, epidemics, and persecution of Christians associated with the era surrounding that war. Jesus also prophesied about this era in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. But the perspective on life that Paul teaches is equally applicable to believers in the present day.

1 Corinthians 7:12-24

I do not have any commentary to make on 1 Cor. 7:12-20, but for the sake of context, the text is below. If there is anything regarding this passage that you would like for me to address, let me know. My comments resume with Verses 21-24 (see the section of the post after the line of asterisks):

1 Corinthians 7:12-20 – “To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife. However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.”

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1 Corinthians 7:21-24 – Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.”

I want to discuss the concept of being a “slave of Christ.” You might feel some discomfort with the idea of being a “slave.” But the intriguing, and ultimately liberating truth, is that if you are a believer, you are a slave of Christ whether or not you intend to be one or know that you are one.

There is a lot about yourself that is outside of your control. You were born with certain hardwired personality traits. You have a conscience that cannot be turned off. You have reactions to things that you see and hear, that often come on too quickly to be blocked.

The first key question is, where are all of these traits going to take you? As mentioned in the very first post in this series, God has ordained that certain things will be accomplished in our lives, and those things will be done. That leads to a second question, how are you going to get there?

Paul warns against becoming “slaves of human masters.” What is your ideal image for yourself and your lifestyle, and who is it coming from? If it is coming from peer pressures, religious leaders, cultural expectations, or whatever values are trendy at a particular moment, it is important to consider whether you have become a slave to them in your mind.

Now, there may be truth in what some of these people say. But as mentioned earlier, there is a lot in your personality and conscience that is outside of your control. Many people feel uncomfortable with themselves or have hidden guilt. Various influences in the world, and perhaps faulty ideas within one’s self, seize upon this discomfort or guilt by persuading people to adopt a certain view of themselves and the world around them. But these ideas often run counter to the mindset that Christ is working to impart to believers. And these problematic mindsets lead to actions that, while sometimes well-intentioned, cause behavioral patterns that counter Christ’s leading.

However, even with those problematic influences going on, what God has ordained for a believer’s life will still be accomplished, because believers’ consciences, in conjunction with their personalities, will still get them to do certain things eventually. But what will be lacking is a sense of peace with Christ’s leading.

On the other hand, to accept the fact that you are a slave of Christ, just believe that Christ is working with the aspects of yourself that you are uncomfortable with to bring you more in line with His will. Appreciate the things your conscience has gotten you to do in spite of internal opposition, and then you don’t have to worry about whether other people think you are good enough according to their worldviews.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 (NRSV) – “To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

My approach to the subject of divorce and remarriage is very much analogous to my commentary on suing in the previous chapter. It’s about putting the principle of grace into practice.

God does not “divorce” believers who don’t live the way He wants them to. And even if people alienate themselves from God in their own minds by failing to appreciate what He has done for them, His grand plan for the eons is still to bring them back. If He finds someone else who lives the way He wants, He does not use that person’s choice to obey as an excuse to prevent reconciliation with the one who disobeyed. Even though none of us do everything God would want us to do ideally, He works with our minds and attitudes so that we nevertheless move in the direction He has called us to.

As I said in the commentary on lawsuits, God does not deal with people in a punitive way and make them perform works or suffer to compensate for their disobedience. However, there is another principle I mentioned there that also applies here, which is that if someone is persistently interfering with God’s plans that He is working through believers, He still reserves the right to get the person out of the way somehow.

So, with regards to divorce, and remarriage, the most important thing is for people to carry an attitude of grace in their hearts and let this be a guiding principle for their lives and relationships. But at the same time, as with the matter of lawsuits, I respect your decision on what you have to do in order to experience the peace needed to pursue your calling, as opposed to being chained in a state of bondage or frustration.