17 Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. 18 For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now. 19 For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.—1 Cor. 7:17-19 NLT
When we are called by the Holy Spirit and we accept Jesus as our Savior, there most likely won’t be any great or significant changes in our appearance or our vocations. There probably won’t be any changes in the personality that God gave us when we were born. God is not too concerned with our outward appearance. Our outward appearance and situation have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation. What God does expect is a change of the heart. If we have truly accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord, our desires will change. We will want to follow God’s commandments simply because we love Him too much not to do so. He takes out the old stony heart and replaces it with a heart that desires His presence.
26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.—Ezekiel 36:26,27 NLT
12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?—1 Cor. 7:12-16 NIV
If a Christian should decide to marry a non-Christian, the Christian is bound to those vows and must remain faithful to the non-believer. The unbeliever may choose to leave, in which case, the believer should allow them to go. Certainly it would have been better if the Christian had followed the advice to “not be unequally yoked” .
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?– 2 Cor. 6:14 NIV
The believer can grant the divorce to the unbeliever and is no longer bound to that person. We should let them go in peace. Are we then free to marry someone else? That is a question that you need to address to the Holy Spirit and follow His leadership.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.–Phil. 2:12,13 NKJV
8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry,for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife..—1 Cor. 7:8-11 NIV
Paul feels that his not being married gives him more freedom and more time to serve the Lord. He says that it would be good if you would stay unmarried unless this would cause you to commit the sin of sex outside of marriage. If you desire intimate companionship and children, then you should marry a Godly person. But once you make that commitment, you must remain faithful to that one spouse. God would prefer that we not divorce at all, but He gave us free wills and He knew that we would do that. Paul is writing a short paraphrase of what Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 19.
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”—Matt 19:7-9 NIV
Notice that when Jesus answers, He replaces the word “commanded” with the word “permitted”. Because of our free wills, God will not force anyone to stay married, but He would prefer that we allow Him to show us how to forgive and forget.
1 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that—1 Cor. 7:1-7 NIV
Since we don’t know the exact questions that the Corinthians had asked Paul, it makes it harder to understand his answer. There are two things we can know from the history of the church at that date. One thing is that some of the Corinthians had taken Paul’s teaching on sexual immorality to the extremes. Husbands and wives were using the teachings to completely deny each other. Some were even using it as an excuse to divorce unbelieving mates. The second thing is that about this time in history, Stoics were teaching complete celibacy for everyone. But, either way, Paul says that because this was causing a great deal of sexual immorality, it was better for a couple to stay married and fulfill their conjugal duties to each other rather than commit sin by having sex outside of marriage. Inside the marriage, each spouse should always consider the needs and desires of the other spouse to be more important than their own desires. Everything concerning the sexual relations of a married couple should be by common consent with no pressures or demands made by either. It’s not about the husband nor the wife, it’s about the couple being obedient to God.
14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.Therefore honor God with your bodies.—1 Cor. 6:14-20 NIV
By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was physically raised from the grave. Because of that, we can know that one day, He will raise all those who have trusted in Him. We are members of the body of Christ and have been instructed to keep the Temple holy. Nothing sinful will be allowed to pollute the body of Christ. God the Holy Spirit abides in us now and one day we will be completely one in Spirit with Jesus Christ. We have been purchased and washed by the blood of Jesus Christ. If we want to honor Jesus, we must keep ourselves from the very appearance of sin. Our love for Him should cause us to want to keep our bodies pure,without spot or blemish.
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.—Eph. 5:26,27 NIV
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. —1 Cor. 6:12,13 NIV
When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we were set free from the bondage of sin. We no longer were bound to satan and the flesh. Just as our physical freedom has limits, so does our Spiritual freedom have limits. The physical limits are set by the laws of the land. Our Spiritual limits are set because of our love for our Lord and Savior. Free to do anything? Yes, but would doing just anything the flesh wanted glorify our Lord? No, of course not. The flesh is weak and if we give into fleshly desires, they will become our master. We are free to choose who we serve. We can serve Jesus and live or we can serve the flesh and die. We are free to give into temptations, but that doesn’t mean that we should. There are dire consequences to choosing a sinful lifestyle.
14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.–James 1:15 NASB
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.—1 Cor. 6:7-11 NIV
God is waiting to show you the Way.
If we are unable to forgive our brothers and sisters for these things, we are no further along than we were when we were living a sinful lifestyle. What, then, shall we say to those who have not yet accepted Christ? If we continue in our old lifestyle, we might want to question whether we actually repented of our sins or just had an emotional experience at the altar? True repentance does not leave the heart and mind empty, it fills us with the Holy Spirit so that satan cannot come back and take up residence in our lives. Oh, he will send one of his demons by to checkup on us, but it is up to us to make sure he doesn’t get a room and stay. That is what we used to be and do. But now, we are forgiven and washed in the blood. We have been cleansed “just as if” we had never sinned and we are being sanctified daily.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.–1 Thess. 5:23,24 NIV