1 Corinthians 7:14


Sunday, 20 July 2014

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 1 Corinthians 7:14

Paul now states a truth about marriage that affects the children of the marriage. It is a tenet which is so remarkable that this verse should be remembered by every believer. There is a premise in the Bible which is inescapable and which goes all the way back to the fall of man. God created our first father, Adam. At this time, there was a spiritual connection between the man and his God.

However, Adam was given a warning –

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'” Genesis 2:16, 17

The narrative goes on to show that Adam disobeyed God. However, he continued to live until the age of 930 years. This shows us one of two possibilities:

1) Either what God said wasn’t true, or
2) The man did die, spiritually.

The second is correct and it is the premise of the Bible from that point on. Adam became a physical being with a soul, but no “spiritual” connection to God; he died spiritually. What is implied throughout the rest of Scripture is that all men are born into Adam. We are physical beings, with a soul, but no “spiritual” connection to God. We are conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5) and are spiritually dead and thus all are “condemned already” (John 3:18 & Ephesians 2:1, etc).

This is actually confirmed implicitly in the account of Cain and Abel. They brought an offering to the Lord without the Bible noting any offense committed by them before the offering was made. In essence, the implication is that they understood this spiritual disconnect existed in them. And the fact that sin reigned is evident by the actions of Cain who killed his brother. Thus Paul’s words, “all have sinned” confirms that we are born in sin; it is inherited and we are born separate from God; spiritually dead.

Time and again, the Bible uses this concept of being “in” someone to remind us that we are all descendants of Adam by blood and thus we are “in” Adam. This is why there are such meticulous genealogies recorded in both Testaments of the Bible.  It is to show that connection all the way back to Adam who was created by God. When Adam sinned, we therefore sinned “in” Adam. Paul explains this in Romans 5:12 –

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

Jesus came to repair this spiritual disconnect. Without Him, there is no hope for restoration to God. Only through Him can the breech be repaired. Understanding the rite of circumcision will help us comprehend this. Circumcision was given as a sign to the covenant people. It pictures “cutting away” the inherited sin, because that sin transfers through the father. Thus, by cutting the male organ, the sin is pictured to be “cut away.” As it was only a picture, the covenant people waited for the Messiah who would actually fulfill that picture.

When Jesus came, He was born of a woman (thus He is fully human), but without a human father. He inherited no sin from Adam. His Father being God (thus He is fully God) meant that He was born without sin. Therefore, He was qualified to replace Adam. The four gospels are then given to provide a record of His life. He was born without sin, just as Adam was created without sin. But He still needed to live without sin. The gospels show this to be the case. He lived without sin, prevailed over the law, and He died under the law without sin. Therefore, He prevailed over sin. In Him, sin (and thus spiritual death) is defeated. The Lamb had overcome. So what does this have to do with 1 Corinthians 7:14? Paul says, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.” This does not mean that they are “saved” through the unbelieving spouse. But it sanctifies them for a very important reason. And this reason is that, “otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.”

The inherited sin of Adam exists in all people from the moment of conception. We are conceived, born, and live separate from God until the time we call on Christ and are spiritually regenerated (John 3:16, Romans 8, etc). If we never call on Christ, we will die “in Adam” and thus separate from God. But in His great mercy, God has allowed these children of a believer to be regarded as “holy” until the time that they are old enough to choose or reject Christ. Nothing “unclean” can ever enter into God’s presence and, therefore, no child is saved – at any age – without Christ’s covering.

In the case of a Christian family though, these children are set apart. However, if the marriage is dissolved by the believer, this is lost. Therefore, the sanctification of the parents is necessary to provide this set-apart state for the children. Without it, they are no longer set-apart. This may sound like a cruel and uncaring God, but it is exactly the opposite. He allows us free-will. From Adam to us we have made our choices and we must live by them. But He has also offered us His Son and the protections which come through Him. Therefore, what we perceive as uncaring is actually a demonstration of the greatest grace and mercy imaginable!

Life application: Our earthly choices can have spiritual consequences that we don’t even realize unless we study and then adhere to the Bible’s precepts. Let us also never impute “wrongdoing” or a state of “uncaring” to God. Rather, let us exalt Him for His unmerited grace and mercy.

Lord God, Your word shows the most wonderful, caring, and glorious love for Your people. Despite our choices which have separated us from You, You have come and intervened in the affairs of man to make all things right once again. You have sent Jesus to quicken our spirits and to restore us to fellowship with You. Thank You for this great and marvelous Gift of life! Thank You for our Lord Jesus! Amen.

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