Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 1 Corinthians 7:10
So far, Paul has been addressing the unmarried and those considering marriage. He now turns to those who are married and begins with, “Now to the married I command…” This is something that is expected to be adhered to at all costs and is not up to the audience’s wishes or desires. It is a set, fixed, and firm rule. And to further bolster this, he adds, “yet not I but the Lord.” In other words, this is a command based on the words of Christ Jesus. Paul is taking extreme care to show that his words are the Lord’s words. They are fixed and inviolable.
And the command from the Lord which is re-transmitted by Paul is that, “A wife is not to depart from her husband.” If a person is married, they are to remain married. It is a solemn agreement to one another that was conducted in the presence of God, regardless as to whether they were believers at the time. It is also regardless of whether one or both have since called on Christ.
The reason for this instruction probably came about because of a question from Christian spouses who may have been concerned as to whether it was unlawful for them to be married to one who is a pagan. It is also possible that Paul’s earlier words about it being good for individuals to remain unmarried may be misconstrued to mean that separating is acceptable and even the favorable position. But the Lord’s words on this issue must stand and they are those spoken by Him in the gospels, including Mark 10:11, 12 –
“So He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.'”
The issue of divorce wasn’t merely a dispensational issue (meaning under the time of the law or during the church age, etc.). Instead it is an issue which transcends dispensations and is an eternal decree. Marriages are not to be treated carelessly and married people are to remain married until death. Paul will explain why as he continues and he will also provide other pertinent information concerning marriage and divorce.
In the end, there is only one exception to the rule on divorce which is if a spouse commits adultery. In our society, we will look for any and every excuse to be disobedient to this command, but there is none other than adultery. Let us pay heed to these words and consider them carefully. The Lord has spoken and our obedience is expected. Life application: Is it a light thing to ignore Jesus’ words concerning marriage? If we are willing to violate His command on this issue, then what type of follower does that show us to be? Let us remain united to the one we chose as our spouse and never dare to ignore the commands of Christ.
Heavenly Father, there are things recorded in Your word which are difficult for me to obey, but who am I to be disobedient to what You have commanded? Grant me the resolute and determined state of mind that I will be obedient to You no matter what. I know that I am forgiven already because of Christ, but that cannot be an excuse to be disobedient to Your word. Instead, it should be the impetus for gratitude and an even closer adherence to it. Help me to remember this and to stand fast in my faith and practice. Amen.