Remember Paul wrote this chapter when the church at Corinth was facing an unspecified time of moral and social upheaval and instability.Due to the ascetic false teachings regarding sexuality on one hand and the pressures of caving in to the flesh pleasing and fallen mores of the culture on the other, the people in Corinth were making knee jerk decisions that were contrary to The Spirit filled teaching of Paul. These decisions were creating chaos and disorder is their vocational and marital states.
- “Christians” were leaving their unsaved spouses to find a Christian spouse.
- “Christians” who were divorced were thinking that they needed to divorce their present spouse and return to their original spouse to get right with God.
- Married couples had stopped having sexual relationships with one another.
- Jews were told that they needed to forsake their Jewishness and start living like a Gentile and Gentiles were being taught that they needed to be circumcised and live like a Jew in order to really be right with God.
- Slaves were being told to flee their masters and claim their independence from them.
The Corinthians had become a confused, restless, disoriented and discontented people.
Instead of following the clear and sound teaching of God’s Word, they were adopting either a cultic or cultural worldview of living as opposed to a biblical worldview. These same challenges confront us in the body of Christ today.
7.17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
The word but is a connecting word. It is a continuation of what we looked into last Sunday morning about marriage and divorce and remarriage.
Should I stay married to this unbeliever? Should I divorce my 2nd wife or husband and go back to my 1st wife or husband? Should I get married because I cannot hold back my sexual urges? Should I leave my master and seek freedom?
Verses 17,20 & 24 exhort the Corinthians to walk (serve The Lord) in whatever marital or vocational state they are.
By using the phrase, as God has distributed, Paul wanted them to recognize God’s sovereign and providential hand at in their lives.
These verses are a call for stability. A call for them to put an end to “stop the bleeding” caused by these unwise and unbiblical kinds of decisions. It was a call for them to repent of any sin in their past, but to move forward and walk in their present vocational and marital status.
We find the word called used 9 times and calling 1 time in this brief section of Scripture. What is the call of God? Is it some mysterious kind of a thing? Is it like being on a merry-go-round and hoping to catch the brass ring?
The calling and counsel of God in this section of Scripture is to remain in the vocation and marital state that they are in.
The issue is not about seeking to undo their sinful past. The issue is not about your present marital status. Whether you are a slave or freeman. Whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. But have you repented of your sinful past, and are you serving The Lord without distraction in whatever station in life you are in right now?
7.18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.
7.19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
7.20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
Circumcision was a procedure that was done on Jewish boys in obedience to the Old Testament commandment. It was a physical sign of belonging to the people of God. In these verses Paul makes clear that if a person was converted as a Jew, he should be free to maintain this Jewish identity. Some were telling them to forsake their Jewishness to get right with God.
However, the Gentile who came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ should not feel the need to embrace circumcision or any other Jewish customs in an effort to be a better Christian as some Orthodox Jews were telling them.
In the eyes of God, circumcision or uncircumcision is no longer the issue. What then is the issue?
Galatians 6.14 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
Paul’s point isn’t really about circumcision; that is just an example. Even as being circumcised or uncircumcised is irrelevant when it comes to serving God, so is your current marital state. He could just as easily say, and is saying by analogy, Married is nothing and being unmarried is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
Ritual or marital status never takes the place of obedience. The Lord Jesus said, if a man loves Me, he will what?
John 14.15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Obedience to Christ in your present vocational or marital state is the call of God upon every Christian man or woman, married or single, bond or free in this house of The Lord this morning. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments. Follow Christ. Serve Christ.
7.21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
7.22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.
It is estimated that about half of the Roman Empire’s population had the status of slaves. Slavery meant that you belonged to someone else. You were their property.
Slaves made up the majority of early Christians. Paul’s guidance shouldn’t be seen as an acceptance of the Roman system of slavery, but rather as a biblical approach and perspective in dealing with the difficulty of the situation.
If you may be free- Paul encourages the believers to accept their status of slave, but if and when possible, pursue freedom within the conditions of the Roman Empire.
There is nothing wrong with seeking to pursue a better job or income in order to better provide for your family; provided that you are doing so prayerfully, and are obsessed with or dependent upon this change of job to be your source of security and happiness in your life.
My precious brothers and sisters in Christ, our only source of security, hope and happiness in life comes from The Lord, not man, regardless of our circumstances.
When the Lord called a slave to faith in the Lord, they became His servant in that condition. And when God called free people to faith in The Lord, they become the servants of Christ in that condition. In other words, whatever their lot in life, they were called by God to be His servant and bring Him glory.
1 Timothy 6.1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the Name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed.
Ephesians 6.5-8 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men- pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
The Lord’s freeman- Paul shows here that the status of a person in the eyes of a fallen society has nothing to do with who we are in light of God’s Kingdom.
Colossians 3.23,24 And whatsoever ye do (doctor, professor, truck driver, toll booth collector, stock clerk, store manager), do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
If you are seeking your identity or value or contentment in life according to this fallen world’s system, you are playing right into the devils hand and are going to be a frustrated and discontented believer.
Beloved, seek your identity and worth in life by discovering who you are in Christ and seeking to make much of Him right where He plants you.
7.23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
Be not servants of men- The believer’s life—whether free or slave—is not to be determined the pressure of a misguided, sinful, rebellious world, but because he or she has ben redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
The highest calling that any human being can have in God’s universe is to be a servant of the Most High God and Savior Jesus Christ.
7.24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
Be faithful to The Lord in whatever marital or vocational state you are in and leave you future in His hands.
When Paul says that we are to remain in the state that God has called us into, it should be obvious to you that he doesn’t mean that we can continue in a sinful or compromising lifestyle or occupation once we are saved. Everything that is sinful must be forsaken.
If you are dealing drugs when God saves you, this does not mean that you are being called by God to remain dealing drugs. It doesn’t mean that you play praise music in your house or apartment and hand out salvation tracks with your next sale of cocaine or pound of pot!
This doesn’t mean that if when you got saved you were living with someone of the same sex or opposite sex that you stay in that state.
In both cases that I just mentioned, the right thing to do is to confess and repent of your sin and then align your life with the Word of God.
A believers vocational or marital status has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not they are abiding in Christ.
The popular notion that if we can change our circumstances it will enhance our spiritual development or growth in Christ is a myth and entirely unwarranted according to God. If you are not abiding in Christ where you are, any change of location or vocation or marital state will not change that.
Let us not forget the often overlooked statement made by Paul that underscores the reason for this admonition.
1 Corinthians 7:29-31 & 35.
But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. 35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
Jesus said that we are to watch and be ready for His return. The most important issue for every person is our self-watchfulness in our devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
If we are unmarried, we should give The Lord Jesus our undivided devotion. And if it be His will for me to marry, I will leave that desire in His hands.
If we are married, we should encourage each other to serve The Lord with gladness and give The Lord Jesus our undistracted devotion as a husband and wife.
Serve The Lord without distraction. In other words, if you really believe that Jesus is coming again, then you must believe that His return is nearer than when you walked into this building this morning. And if you really believe that Jesus is coming soon, it is going to effect the way you use your time, your priorities in life, how you spend His money as a steward. If you really believe that Jesus is coming soon, you are going to be more excited about serving Jesus and getting the gospel out than following your favorite football team, baseball team, dress, shoes, car, hobby etc!!
Jesus Christ is coming again! Our primary focus and affection should be on the Lord and His kingdom.
May God grant to each one of us that our purpose in life would be the pursuit of deeper intimacy with Jesus Christ that leads to an ever-increasing devotion to Him and His cause in these days that remain before His coming. The time is short….attend upon The Lord without distraction!
Some of you are at a crossroads in your life. The answer is not self improvement or a positive attitude. The answer is a new life.
Listen to these words of Jesus:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
“Born again” may also mean “born from above.” Both are true and John intends that we understand both meanings. The idea is that just as we were born physically, so we need to be born spiritually. Such a birth requires the power of God.
All the religion or good works in the world cannot resolve our basic problem of being alienated from God by sin. Thus, the only hope for any sinner to get right before God is by grace, through faith in the perfect, one time sacrifice for sin, forever, by The Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 7.24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The new birth is not something that I can do. Paul did not ask how could I deliver myself? Nor did he say what do I need to do to deliver myself. He shouted out, who shall deliver me from this body of death?
The only answer for the emptiness within and the problem of sin is faith in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
John 3.35,36 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Jesus mentions two groups of people here this morning, and two different eternal destinies. Here are your two options my friend. Believe in Jesus Christ and live, or continue to reject Him and perish forever.
Trust in The One Who died for our sin and rose again from the dead for forgiveness of your sin. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance.
Confess you sin and confess Jesus as Lord. Submit your life to Him as Lord and Savior.