Sunday, 3 August 2014
But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.1 Corinthians 7:28
In the preceding verse, it was noted that there is no reason to suppose that Paul’s words in that verse were a fixed and firm rule, but rather a temporary guide. Verse 28 verifies that. He had just said “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.” His words were spoken because of the difficult circumstances those in Corinth were facing at that time and he wanted them to not be further troubled through the added weight of marriage.
In substantiation of this, he now says, “But even if you do marry, you have not sinned.” Therefore, his previous words cannot be considered prescriptive, but rather as an exhortation based on circumstance. Those who do marry are not in violation of his inspired words. Continuing on, he notes that “if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.” The same is true with the virgin. No sin has been committed, but it may be that the new couple will face undue hardships because of their decision and in this, Paul says, “but I would spare you.” In other words, “I give you advice to spare you from those hardships.” He is acting as if a loving father giving advice to his still naive son.
If we consider the soldier who is in battle, of course he would not be thinking about marriage. He is under fire and there is death all around him. However, if he gets a pass to an area which is not under fire, he may meet a young lady and fall in love. His desire is to marry her and never let her go. But he also has the reality of returning to the battle when the pass has expired. This then may be likened to the situation to which Paul is writing.
There was some sort of hardship at the time of his letter and it would make for a difficult path for newlyweds. In his words, he is giving them advice to alleviate that difficult situation. A commander might write to his young private and say, “You will be coming back to the lines and you could die. Or, your wife’s village may come under fire and you might lose her.” His words would be an attempt to help him think the issue through. However, in the end, the private will make his choice and whichever way he chooses, unless specifically ordered to the contrary, he will not be considered insubordinate. Such is the case with Paul’s advice here.
Life application: The Bible gives explicit commands which require obedience. It also gives words of advice and counsel which, if acted upon, will lead to happiness. If not acted upon, the result isn’t sinful, but sadness, loss, or difficulty may be the result. As God made man, and as God gave us the Bible for our instruction, the best route is to always apply it’s precepts to our lives.
O God, I read Your word and I see in it so many valuable lessons. Some things I see are points I wish I had known long ago. I would have saved myself a lot of grief and troubles. And yet, I know that by paying attention to Your word now, I will have a much firmer foundation to walk on in the days ahead. You gave us Your word not to hamper our happiness, but to make it full and also that we might be pleasing to You. Thank You for Your superior word. Amen.