Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle of the apostle Paul which he wrote unto the Corinthian congregation, and more specifically, is found in the first fourteen verses of the seventh chapter. When you come to the seventh chapter of the epistle which Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation you will find the apostle Paul seemingly shifting gears from that which he wrote in the previous chapters. When, however, you take a more careful and thorough look at the sixth chapter of the epistle you will notice that what the apostle Paul writes in this chapter actually builds off the final words he wrote within that chapter. IF you begin reading with and from the twelfth verse of the sixth chapter you will find the following words written by the apostle Paul concerning fornication within the house of God: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an hardly is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).
In all reality, the words which we find written in this seventh chapter build on more than just what was written in the second half of the sixth chapter, but also what is written in the fifth chapter. If you turn and direct your attention to the fifth chapter of this same epistle, you will find the apostle Paul writing unto this congregation and addressing an actual instance and case of fornication which was taking place in the midst of the congregation.. If you begin reading with the first verse of this chapter you will find the following words written concerning this account of fornication: “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:1-8).
Those words were written by the apostle Paul concerning the fornication that was taking place within this congregation—namely, that a man would have his father’s wife. GIFTED, BUT DIVISIVE! GIFTED, BUT FORNICATING! GIFTED, BUT OFFENDED! If you read the first six chapters of the first epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth, you will discover that while it was true this congregation was indeed gifted and did in fact and excel and come behind in no gift, there were specific areas among them which needed to be corrected and rebuked. The more I read this first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation the more I am confronted with and confronted by the reality that it is possible that an individual can be gifted, and perhaps gifted in many different areas and with many different gifts, and yet that person can be divisive and contentious within and among the body. The more I read this epistle the more I am convinced that it is possible that an individual can be incredibly gifted in all manner of spiritual gifts, and yet that individual can and may very well be engaged in fornication before the Lord whose eyes are upon men and examine the reigns and hearts of men. Furthermore, I am convinced that it is possible for men and women to be gifted with many spiritual gifts, and yet those same men and women can be offended, hold grudges, harbor unforgiveness, and perhaps even hold malice and hatred in their hearts towards those who may have wronged and defrauded them. We dare not be so naïve to think and believe that just because we may have a specific gift in our lives, or even that we might be used in that gift, there aren’t areas within our hearts and lives that are improper before and in the sight of the Lord. It’s worth noting and mentioning that this letter was not written unto heathen but unto those who were the called of Christ, and those who were sanctified by Christ according to His blood and by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Corinthian congregation excelled and came behind in no gift among themselves, and yet there was division among them, there was fornication among them, and there was even offenses, grudges and lawsuits among them. We would be incredibly wise to read this first epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth, and I am convinced this epistle should be studied at least once—perhaps once a year, or once every two years—so as to bring the body of Christ and an individual member of the body into a place of careful self-examination.
IF you continue reading in the fifth chapter of this epistle, you will find the apostle goes on to write concerning this account of fornication which was present among this congregation. Within verses nine through thirteen of this chapter you will find the apostle continuing to build the case for the redemption of this man who was engaged in fornication in order that his spirit might be saved. The apostle Paul has already written concerning the fact that the Corinthian congregation neither mourned over this fornication which was committed among them, nor did they put away this deed from them in order that it might be taken away and removed. In the fifth verse of this same chapter we find the apostle Paul speaking of delivering this man unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, in order that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. The words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning the destruction of the flesh in order that the spirit might be saved have a strong connection to the words which he wrote in the sixth chapter of the epistle unto the Roman congregation. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the chapter you will find the following words written by the apostle:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are live from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:1-14).
Within this sixth chapter you will notice a particular phrase that is very similar to the words which the apostle wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth in the fifth chapter. In the fifth chapter of the first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation—when writing concerning that man who was committing fornication with his father’s wife—the apostle Paul spoke of turning over and delivering such a one unto Satan in order that his flesh might be destroyed, yet also that his spirit might be saved in the day of the coming of the Lord. In the sixth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Roman congregation we find the apostle Paul speaking of our old man being crucified with Christ, in order that the body of sin might be destroyed. I am convinced that before we can delve into the seventh chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian congregation we must first understand the tremendous need for the body of sin to be destroyed within and among ourselves. If we are to truly understand the words which were written in the seventh chapter of this first epistle to the Corinthians, we must understand the need for the destruction of the flesh in order that the spirit itself might be preserved and saved in the coming of the day of the Lord. There is within the sixth chapter of the epistle written unto the Corinthian congregation a tremendous and powerful call—not only for the flesh of this man to be destroyed that his spirit might be preserved in the coming of the day of the Lord, but also for the flesh of each and every member of that congregation to be destroyed. It is true that what we read within the sixth chapter was an individual account of fornication and iniquity within and among this congregation, however, we must recognize that within this entire epistle there was a great need to address the corporate and communal transgressions and iniquity that was found to be present among them. If there is one thing the first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation reveals it’s that there is a great need for the body of sin to be destroyed, and for us to put away from ourselves anything that would be displeasing in the sight of the Lord.
Before you make any attempt to dive into the seventh chapter of this particular epistle—a chapter that deals with the comparison and contrast of marriage versus celibacy—it is necessary and imperative that we first direct our attention to two distinct passages within the Old Testament book of Proverbs. If you begin reading from the first verse of the fifth chapter of the book of the Proverbs you will find Solomon writing unto his son giving him specific advice and counsel concerning that which he should guard himself against and avoid at all costs. Consider if you will the words and language which are found within this particular chapter in this Old Testament book of wisdom: “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: that thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not night the door of her house: lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labour be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly. Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (Proverbs 5:1-23).
If you transition to the seventh chapter of the same Old Testament book you will find an additional reference concerning the tremendous need to avoid “the strange woman” and to avoid all manner of fornication and immorality within our lives. Once again we find Solomon writing unto his son and instructing him concerning the direction and path of his life and that which he should avoid. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Solomon found himself guilty of being drawn near to the house of the strange woman, for within the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings we find the account of Solomon’s own struggle with women. If you begin reading with the first verse of the eleventh chapter of First Kings and continue reading through to the eighth verse you will find the following words written concerning Solomon—“But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when SOlom on was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods” (1 Kings 11:1-8). It is quite obvious from the words we find within this chapter that Solomon not only had a problem with women, but also that he allowed a number of those women to turn his heart away from the living God, and unto idols and foreign gods.
It is no wonder why when we come to the fifth and seventh chapters of the book of Proverbs we find Solomon writing concerning “the strange woman.” What’s more, is that you have to admit to the irony and coincidence that is found in this passage and in the words which Solomon himself used, for within this passage we find the author writing of Solomon that he loved “many strange women.” IN this passage we find written of Solomon that he loved many strange women, while in the fifth and seventh chapters of Proverbs we find Solomon writing concerning “the strange woman.” It is actually quite intriguing that the man who loved “many strange women” would go on to write unto his sons to avoid the path, the door and the house of the strange woman. Solomon was well aware and well acquainted with the path, the door and the house of the strange women, as I am sure he continually and repeatedly found himself walk along that very path, going unto that very door, and entering into that very house. I can’t help but wonder how many times Solomon was guilty of doing the very same thing he wrote and instructed his son to avoid when it came to the strange woman. This man who loved many strange women would eventually write unto his son to avoid the path, the speech, the door and the house of the strange woman, for he knew and understood all too well the dire consequences of allowing oneself to be drawn away and enticed by the strange woman. Solomon knew that by allowing oneself to be drawn away and enticed by a strange woman could not end merely with fornication, adultery and immorality, but could very well lead to idolatry. WHEN ADULTERY LEADS TO IDOLATRY! WHEN IMMORALITY LEADS TO IDOLATRY! I am becoming increasingly convinced that there is a strong connection between adultery and fornication with idolatry, and that if we aren’t careful, both fornication and adultery can and may very well lead us into a place of idolatry. If you read the eleventh chapter of the book of First Kings you will find that what began with merely loving many strange women would ultimately lead to worshipping and serving many strange gods. WHEN STRANGE WOMEN LEAD TO STRANGE GODS! WHEN LOVING STRANGE WOMEN LEAD TO SERVING STRANGE GODS! THE STRANGE GODS BEHIND STRANGE WOMEN!
It’s worth noting that the path of the strange women ultimately and inevitably leads to hell, for the path of the strange woman has always and will always lead to hell. With this being said, we must also recognize and understand that the path of a strange woman might also very well lead to the path of a strange god. I am convinced that if we aren’t careful we might find ourselves engaged in more than simply fornicating and committing adultery with a strange woman, but might also find ourselves committing idolatry with a strange god. WITH MANY STRANGE WOMEN COME MANY STRANGE GODS! CAPTIVATED BY STRANGE WOMEN, ENSNARED BY STRANGE GODS! The words we find in this eleventh chapter are directly connected to the words we find written in the seventh chapter of the book of Proverbs and must be directly understood in connection with the words which Solomon wrote unto his son. Consider if you will the words which Solomon wrote unto his son concerning the strange woman and where her path begins and where her path ends:
“My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: that they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: and, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the good man is not at home, he is gone a long journey: he hath taken a bath of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his live; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knowth not that it is for his life. Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:1-27).
When you read the words which the apostle Paul writes in the seventh chapter of this first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation you will find that he writes—not only concerning marriage, but also concerning singleness as well. For the apostle Paul, he saw the benefit of being married, but he also saw the benefit of being single. In fact, if you continue reading in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle going on to write concerning those who are unmarried and how their focus seems to be on the kingdom of God and their purpose and place within the kingdom of God. In all reality, the words we find in this particular passage of Scripture are admonition to both husbands and wives as the apostle Paul instructs them to be satisfied with each other. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for there is a tremendous danger in any marriage when one or both parties are no longer satisfied with the other. There is a tremendous danger in any marriage when one or both parties grow bored, for it is in that moment when the unity and union begins to erode. What’s more, is that if you should ask the impact and force of the wind and the waves of any storms that might arise within that marriage, you will find a continual erosion of the marriage wall, the marriage bed, and the marriage covenant. There is a reason why Solomon wrote concerning our being satisfied with the wife of our youth, for if we should ever reach the place where we are not longer satisfied with her, or if she can no longer satisfy us, we might very well find ourselves looking outside ourselves, outside our marriage, and elsewhere to find that satisfaction. I am wholeheartedly convinced that there is a tremendous danger with growing and becoming bored within a relationship, or within a marriage, for boredom is the breeding ground for curiosity and the beginning of looking elsewhere. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for there are countless marriages which have failed, or which are in the process of failing because one or both parties either grew bored, were no longer satisfied with the other, or both. I believe that one of the underlying problems within countless marriages which have failed, or which are in the process of failing is that husbands and wives failed to recognize the dissatisfaction and boredom that was present within their own hearts and souls, and as a result, they allowed themselves to be consumed with those things outside of the marriage and covenant.
I find within this passage a powerful word—not only concerning the natural marriage and covenant between a man and a woman, but also concerning the spiritual marriage and covenant between the bride of Christ and Christ. There is a tremendous and great danger when we as the bride of Christ find ourselves in a place where we are bored in and with our relationships with Christ. There is a great danger when we find ourselves in the place where Christ can no longer satisfy us and/or meet and fulfill our needs, our wants and our desires. One of the greatest dangers facing the church today is members of the body and bride of Christ growing bored, growing discontent, growing dissatisfied with the Head and the Bridegroom, for to be in such a place is to openly invite outside and external forces to entice and draw us away after them. Solomon opened himself to the love of many strange women, and as a result of loving many strange women, he eventually found his heart turning away from the true and living God, and ultimately serving strange gods. When we read the words of the apostle Paul in this particular passage of Scripture it is imperative that we understand the tremendous importance of commitment and covenant and the twin dangers of boredom and dissatisfaction. Oh that we would read the words of the apostle Paul written unto the Corinthian congregation and that we would understand that which could very well draw us away and entice us to abandon that place of commitment and covenant within our lives. It is absolutely necessary that we understand the life and account of Solomon, for Solomon’s life is a perfect example of loving and going after many strange women, and how in the process of doing so, he allowed his heart to first turn away from the Lord, and ultimately worshipping and serving many strange gods. Let us read the words which Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture and let us find ourselves carefully examining our own hearts and lives, as well as the marriage we find ourselves in, the engagement we find ourselves in, the relationship we find ourselves in, and ultimately the place of covenant and commitment before the Lord.