Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically today’s passage is found in the seventh chapter of this New Testament book. “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one another, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that” (1 Corinthians 7:1-7).
“I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: IF any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:8-16).
“But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God” (1 Corinthians 7:17-24).
“Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: But I spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not; let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better” (1 Corinthians 7:25-38).
“The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 7:39-40).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul shifting the language contained therein to that of marriage and being joined one to another in the Lord. It is impossible to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter the tremendous truth that is centered at the heart and center of it—namely, the apostle Paul’s view on marriage. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for there is not a doubt in my mind that it comes directly on the heels of what we find in the fifth and sixth chapters. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in these two chapters you will find them beginning with the apostle Paul addressing the fornication which was reported among them. Upon coming to the fifth chapter of this epistle you will find the second report which was brought to the attention of the apostle Paul—namely that there was fornication which was present among them. In all reality I would dare say that we cannot truly understand the words and language that is found in the seventh chapter without and apart from first recognizing what is present in the fifth and sixth chapter. At the very center of the fifth and sixth chapters of this first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints is the report the apostle Paul received from one or more among them concerning fornication which was present in their midst. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear how this report came unto the apostle Paul—perhaps by epistle and letter or perhaps by someone who actually made the journey unto where the apostle Paul was to bring tidings of the state of the church.
THE STATE OF THE CHURCH! THE CONDITION OF THE CHURCH! THE STATE & CONDITION OF THE CHURCH! The more I sit here and think about the words and language that is found in this particular epistle the more I am brought face to face with the fact that this particular epistle was in fact written to address the present state of the Corinthian congregation. There is and there must be absolutely no mistake about the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture for within the apostle Paul is addressing the state of the church based on reports which had been brought to his attention. In the first chapter of this epistle we find the house of Chloe bringing report unto the apostle Paul concerning the division which was present among them in their midst while in the fifth chapter of this same epistle we find another report being brought to the attention of the apostle Paul concerning fornication which was present among them in their midst. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words which are found in the seventh chapter of this epistle that in order to truly understand that which the apostle Paul was trying to convey to the Corinthians we must needs understand the tremendous danger of fornication which was present among them. The fifth chapter of this epistle directly addresses the fornication which was present among the Corinthian congregations as it was reported unto the apostle Paul that there was one among them who committed such fornication which was not even reported among the Gentiles. It is in the fifth chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Paul writing unto the Corinthian saints concerning a man who was present among them who had his father’s wife.
I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the words which are written and recorded in this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth and I find myself coming face to face with the fact that this epistle was written to address the present state and condition of the church. It is virtually impossible to read the words found in this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that the apostle Paul had judged in the spirit according to the Spirit of God which was present in him the condition and state of the church. With this being said I find myself asking you who might be reading these words what the state and condition of the church which you are presently associated with truly is. I read the words found in the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints and I am brought face to face with the reality that while it was indeed true they were enriched in all knowledge and utterance and came behind in no spiritual gift they were not spiritual but carnal. Although the Corinthian saints might very well have believed themselves to have been spiritual—and not only spiritual but also mature—in the sight and presence of the living God the apostle Paul wrote unto them presenting an entirely different picture. What’s more is that this epistle seems to suggest there were those from their own number who witnessed and observed the state of the church and who realized there was something drastically wrong with the congregation. There seems to be an underlying theme and current within this epistle—specifically in the first and fifth chapters—that there were those which were present in the midst of this church who saw something seriously and drastically wrong among them.
Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we possess the discernment—and not only the discernment but also the very Spirit of God Himself. As a direct result of possessing this discernment and the very Spirit of God are we in fact able to perceive, discern and recognize the dangers, the struggles, the conflicts, and those things which are hindering, crippling and paralyzing the church. In the Old Testament the living and eternal God raised up prophets in both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah who looked upon the spiritual and moral condition and climate of the nation and they would proclaim the word of the Lord unto those within the nation that which the Lord would speak unto them. Within each of the prophetic books found within the Old Testament we find the prophets which were raised up from the Lord to not only assess the spiritual condition and climate of the church but also speak directly to and confront it. You cannot read the words and writings of the Old Testament prophets without coming face to face with men who were able to look upon and discern the spiritual climate and condition of the nation and seek to call men and women unto repentance. Time and time again the ancient Hebrew prophets of the Lord were raised up according to the word of the Lord to directly confront and speak to the condition and climate of nation and kingdom. From the priests to the prophets, from the kings to the governors, from the princes to the rulers, from the people to the servants the prophets of the living God were raised up to directly confront and speak to the moral and spiritual climate and condition of the nation itself. These prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Amos, Hosea and others were ordained and appointed by the living God—not only to address the climate and condition of the nation but also to proclaim the word of the Lord unto them.
Upon reading the words which are found in this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth I am brought face to face with the fact that there were men and women present among them who looked upon the condition and climate of the church and who sought to do something about it. What’s more is it might very well be said concerning certain of those in the church that they were unwilling to sit idly by and watch as the condition and climate of the church was rapidly deteriorating. The first chapter of this particular epistle provides a strong and powerful picture of the house of Chloe which recognized the division which was present among them and was unwilling to sit back and allow the division to continue. What most impresses and amazes me about what is recorded in the first and fifth chapters of this epistle is that there were those who watched and observed the climate and condition of the church and when they discerned and noticed something awry and amiss among them they were unwilling to sit back and say and do nothing. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider the words and language found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel concerning the house of Eli which were priests of the Lord who ministered at the house of God in Shiloh. As you read the words which are found in the opening three chapters of this book you will find the sons of Eli—Hophni and Phineas—were regarded as sons of Belial and who committed great atrocities in the house of the Lord. In fact you cannot read the first three chapters of this Old Testament book of First Samuel and not be directly confronted with the great iniquity and transgression being committed in the house of God by those who were ordained and appointed to teach and uphold the Law. What’s more is that one who should have recognized the iniquity and confronted and addressed it chose to sit idly by and do absolutely nothing. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the opening three chapters of this Old Testament book:
“Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord. And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; and he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’ servant came, and said to the man that sacrifice, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them. Not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now; and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12-17).
“Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? For I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’s people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them” (1 Samuel 2:22-26).
“And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? And did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phineas; in one day they shall die both of them. And II will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread” (1 Samuel 2:27-36).
“And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. IN that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision. Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. And he said, What is the thing that the Lord hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee. And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth good” (1 Samuel 3:11-18).
It is absolutely necessary to pay attention to the words which are found in this particular portion of Scripture for what we find here is a powerful picture of wickedness that was found in the house of the LORD and how there was none who would speak to, address and confront that wickedness. Scripture makes it very clear that the sons of Eli were sons of Belial and that they not only profaned the altar and offerings of the LORD but they also committed fornication in the house of the LORD. What’s more is that it might very well be said that the sons of Eli oppressed the men of Israel concerning sacrifice and offering and defiled the women of Israel through fornication and adultery. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the sons of Eli and how they were such who not only profaned the altar and offerings of the Lord but they also defiled the women through their lust, fornication and adultery. The words and language contained in this passage of Scripture must needs be carefully considered for they bring us face to face with wickedness and lewdness that was found in the house of the LORD committed by the priests of the LORD and yet there was none who was willing to address and confront it. Although there was a man of God who came unto Eli and proclaimed the word of the LORD unto him concerning the evil of his sons and although the word of the Lord would be spoken unto Samuel concerning the wickedness of the sons of Eli and his own house there was none in that day who was willing to confront the wickedness that was being committed. Scripture speaks of those whom Hophni and Phineas would oppress at the Tabernacle of the LORD who would in a way resist and oppose what they were doing, however, the servants of the priest would speak of taking the portion of the priest by force.
The more I read the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints the more I am brought face to face with the awesome truth of those in the midst of the congregation who recognized the wickedness, the iniquity, the transgression and the sin that was present in the midst of the body and were willing to do something about it. I can’t help but read the words found in this passage of Scripture and see a powerful picture of those who were willing to rise up and speak something that would hopefully address and deal with the sin which was present among them in their midst. We cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the powerful truth concerning the house of Chloe and perhaps others who were within themselves grieved and anguished over the condition and climate of the church. I have to admit that I am absolutely astonished and amazed at the words found in this first epistle for they present us with a powerful picture of the moral and spiritual climate of the church in Corinth. From division to fornication, from envying to strife and the like the climate and condition of the church was such that was endangering and hindering it. Despite the fact they were enriched in all utterance and knowledge and lacked nothing in terms of spiritual gifts they were still a church that was carnal and immature in the sight and presence of the living God.
With all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to consider the words which are found in the second and third chapters of the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus. If you turn and direct your attention to these two chapters you will find the Lord Jesus Himself instructing the apostle John from the isle of Patmos to write letters unto the angels of specific churches in Asia and what is now modern day Turkey. There were seven churches which the apostle John was instructed of the Lord Jesus to write letters unto and what you will find about these letters is the sometimes apparent contrast which existed between how the individuals churches viewed themselves and how the Lord Jesus viewed them. In fact you cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not be confronted with the awesome dichotomy and contrast that existed between how Jesus viewed and saw the churches and how they viewed themselves. The letters which were written by the hand of the apostle John yet were dictated by the Lord Jesus served as a powerful contrast between how they viewed themselves and how the Lord Jesus viewed them. We cannot miss the tremendous reality that is found in these chapters for they bring us face to face with the incredible and tremendous truth surrounding how the Lord Jesus viewed these churches as juxtaposed and compared to how they viewed themselves. More often than the churches viewed themselves as being spiritual, as being mature, as pleasing the Lord, as being righteous and obedient in His sight and yet the Lord Jesus would reveal that one thing or those things He had against them. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words found in each of these epistles and to see how the Lord Jesus would speak unto them and reveal an area He had found them to be wanting. Within these letters we find the Lord Jesus speaking unto the churches and directly confronting those areas among them which was displeasing in the sight of the Lord.
The more I read the words found in the second and third chapters of the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus the more I am brought face to face with the awesome contrast which existed between how some of these churches viewed themselves and how they were viewed in the eyes which burned like fire. As you read the words which are found in these chapters you will quickly be brought to the place where you will encounter the Lord Jesus addressing and speaking to the moral and spiritual climate of these churches. Not only this but you will find powerful examples of how the Lord Jesus’s view of these churches was more often than not vastly different from that of the churches themselves. Undoubtedly some—if not all—of these churches viewed themselves as being pleasing in the sight of the Lord Jesus and yet much to their dismay and shock they discovered the Lord Jesus had something against them. From Ephesus to Laodicea there were those views and opinions which were held by the individual churches and congregations themselves while there was the view of the Lord Jesus. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which provide us with the actual words of Jesus for and toward each of these congregations:
“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seventh stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:1-7).
“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogues of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:8-11).
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Revelation 2:12-17).
“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which th searchest the reigns and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak: I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:18-29).
“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:1-6).
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a littlel strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have love thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:7-13).
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:14-22).
I am absolutely convinced it is necessary to consider the words which are found in these two chapters in the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus for within them we are brought face to face with certain churches which believed one thing concerning themselves and yet the Lord Jesus whose eyes burn like a blazing fire saw something entirely different. It is truly astonishing to think about and consider the fact that it is possible for us to have a certain view of ourselves—of our spirituality, of our maturity, and the like—and yet that be very much different from what the Lord Jesus sees when looking upon us. It’s interesting to note that the church of Laodicea believed themselves to be rich, increased with goods and having need of nothing and yet they did not know they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. What’s more is concerning the church in Sardis Jesus declared of them that they had a name that they lived and yet were dead. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found in each of the letters written and sent unto these churches and find one that had a name it was alive and was dead and another which believed themselves to be rich, increased with good, having need of nothing and yet they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. There is not a doubt in my mind the Corinthian congregation believed themselves to be spiritual and even spiritually mature and yet what we find when reading this first epistle is that this church was carnal and spiritually immature. On more than one occasion within this epistle we find the apostle Paul addressing those things which were present within the church which they themselves might not have even been aware of—or if they were aware of they completely and entirely ignored them.
The more I read the words which are found in this particular epistle the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth that the Corinthian congregation was enriched in all knowledge and utterance and lacked nothing in terms of spiritual gifts and yet they were entirely and altogether carnal and spiritually immature. There is a great need among us within ourselves to pay close attention to the words which are written and recorded in this passage and to recognize the absolutely reality that it was reported and brought to the attention of Paul that this was a church that was at war with itself. What’s more is that the words and language we find in the seventh chapter is an even greater teaching and lesson based on the fornication that was present among them in their midst. It is in the fifth chapter of this first epistle we find the apostle Paul speaking of one among them who was engaged in fornication which was not even named among the Gentiles. One from among their own number was engaged in fornication by having an adulteress relationship with his father’s wife. What we must needs recognize and realize is that ultimately the same thing we find in this passage of Scripture is that which Herodias took offense of with John the Baptist. It is in the four New Testament gospel narratives we find the narrative of John the Baptist and his denouncing the relationship between Herod and his brother Philip’s wife—Herodias. In fact Scripture makes it perfectly clear that in addition to everything else Herod did he added to it all imprisoning John the Baptist. Scripture reveals the reason Herod imprisoned John the Baptist was because he dared speak against the relationship he had with Herodias who had previously been his brother Philip’s wife. John the Baptist denounced and rebuked Herod and Herodias for their relationship and it was a direct result of the offense within Herodias’ heart that she enticed Herod to imprison John the Baptist. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives concerning John the Baptist and his not only being imprisoned but also beheaded because of the offense of Herodias:
“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with them at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:1-12).
What makes the words found in this particular portion of Scripture so incredibly powerful is when you consider the fact that John the Baptist decried and rebuked Herod and Herodias for the fornication they committed with each other. John the Baptist had preached repentance for the kingdom of heaven was near throughout Judaea and Galilee and called men and women to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance and perhaps the single greatest rebuke he issued was against Herod and Herodias for their fornication. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when considering this reality it’s that Eli the high priest knew of the fornication his two sons were committing at the house of the Lord and he refused to address and confront it. John the Baptist indicted both Herod and Herodias for their fornication for it was not lawful that Herod should have his brother’s wife. The words and language we find in the epistle written unto the Corinthian saints is centered upon reports which the apostle Paul received concerning the moral and spiritual climate of the church. Despite the fact this church was enriched in all knowledge and utterance and came behind no one in terms of spiritual gifts they were still very much a carnal and spiritually immature church. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it forces us to recognize and understand the sole purpose for the epistle—and not only the epistle but the words and language we find in the seventh chapter. What we have great need of realizing when reading the words written and recorded in the seventh chapter of this New Testament epistle is the apostle Paul deliberately and intentionally—like a loving and compassionate father—sought to bring correction to this congregation and the wickedness they were allowing among them in their midst.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that what we find concerning marriage, virginity, adultery, fornication and the like in the seventh chapter is in direct response to the fornication which was present in the midst of the church. What’s more is the apostle Paul deliberately and intentionally wrote unto the Corinthian saints in this portion of chapter concerning those things which they had written unto him about. While it is true we don’t know exactly what the Corinthian congregation wrote unto the apostle Paul we know that this entire chapter centers upon marriage, abstinence, virginity, adultery, fornication, divorce and seemingly all aspects centering upon the union between a man and a woman. What we must needs recognize when reading the words found in the seventh chapter of this epistle is that the apostle Paul never addressed marriage in terms of a man with a man nor a woman with a woman. The words and language found in this particular passage must be recognized and understood in terms of marriage being a covenant between a man and a woman. In all reality this was precisely what the Lord Jesus spoke unto those rulers of the Law who came to Him asking about whether or not it was lawful for a man to put away a woman in divorce. Perhaps two of the greatest truths we must needs recognize and understand are that God hates and abhors divorced and God hates and abhors homosexuality. Now I fully realize there would be those in this generation and culture who would balk at what I just wrote and perceive it as being hate speech and counter culture and yet the truth of the matter is that Scripture is plain and clear concerning these matters.
The more we read and consider the words which are found in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of this first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints the more we must needs recognize understand is that marriage has always been and will always be a sacred union and covenant between a man and a woman. Not only this but we must also recognize that marriage has always been ordained and is still ordained to be between one man and one woman. While there are instances of divorce that have existed throughout the generations and continue to exist in our culture and society we must needs recognize and acknowledge that divorce was never intended nor created by the living God. In fact the Lord Jesus declared concerning divorce that Moses permitted it—not because the living God approved or condoned it but because of the hardness of the hearts of the children of Israel. Oh there is a great and present need within our hearts and minds to recognize and understand that marriage was designed and still exists as a union and covenant between man and a woman. When we read the words found in these chapters within the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we must needs acknowledge that marriage has always been a sacred vow and covenant between a man and a woman. It was for this reason that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife that the two might become one flesh. At the very heart and center of this epistle written by the apostle Paul we must needs recognize and acknowledge the truth that the living and eternal God deliberately and intentionally designed the creation of man and woman and that woman would be a helpmate and companion to the man and vice versa.
In order to truly understand the words and language found within the seventh chapter of this New Testament epistle we must needs understand how God abhors and hates divorce and fornication. There is a great and present need within our hearts and minds to recognize that when it comes to marriage the living and eternal God utterly abhors and despises fornication and adultery as well as divorce. The living and eternal God never intended a man to put away his wife or a woman to put away her husband nor did He ever intend for fornication and adultery to be committed between a man and a woman. In all reality what we find in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of this epistle is so counter culture from what we have been taught growing up and what we behold in the media and entertainment. Not only this but what we find in these chapters directly confronts and flies in the face of what we read and see on the various social media platforms in existence today. Fornication, adultery, divorce, homosexuality and the like are considered as the norm in the hearts and minds of many men and women in this generation and in some cases are even praised in the media, entertainment, news, social media and the like. You cannot turn on the television, log in to social media or view what is present in the media and news outlets and not encounter at least one form of these realities which the living and eternal God abhors. We have a great need to recognize and understand that the living God utterly abhors, despises and detests fornication, adultery, and divorce and such manifestations in our culture and society grieve and anguish the heart of the Father.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is important for us to recognize that the sole purpose for the words and language found in the seventh chapter is in direct response to that which the apostle Paul began writing in the fifth chapter. It was brought to the attention of the apostle Paul that there was fornication present in the midst of this congregation—and not only was there fornication present in the midst of this congregation but there was no shame, no remorse, no mourning, nor any anguish or sorrow over the iniquity and transgression found among them in their midst. What’s more is the apostle Paul writes and seems to suggest that there were those in the Corinthian congregation who were puffed up in response to this fornication present among them. Oh dear reader a great travesty and danger has occurred when men and women would rather be puffed up over iniquity and transgression rather than mourn and grieve over it. The Corinthian congregation—although they were enriched in all knowledge and utterance—was such that was not moved with sorrow, grief and anguish over the iniquity and fornication present among them in their midst. What’s more is I would dare say that this didn’t just pertain to the fornication that was present among them but also the envying, the strife, the division and the contention present among them. I have said it before and I will say it again that the Corinthian church was a church that was not only divided within itself but was also a church that was at war with itself. Add on to this fornication present among them and the lack of grief, anguish and sorrow within their hearts and you will find this church was one that struggled tremendously in matters of righteousness and holiness.
The seventh chapter begins with the apostle Paul writing concerning those things which were written unto him and he responded by declaring that it was good for a man not to touch a woman. Despite these words, however, the apostle Paul would go on to declare unto them that in order to avoid fornication it was plausible and advisable for every man to have his own wife and every woman to have her own husband. Not only this but marriage was designed to be a mutually beneficial relationship where the husband meets the needs of and provides for his wife and vice versa. Perhaps one of the greatest questions that must be asked of marriage—particularly and especially in this generation—is whether or not many of the marriages we see before us are such that please and bring glory and honor to the living God. If you are married and are a believer in the living God does your marriage bring glory and honor to the living God? If you are single does your singleness bring glory and honor to the living God? What we must recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is that whether you are married or you are single your life must needs bring glory and honor to the living God. If you are single your singleness must needs bring glory, honor and pleasure to the living God and if you are married your marriage must needs bring glory, honor and pleasure to the living God. Oh dear reader if you are married does your marriage bring delight, joy and pleasure to the living God? If you are single does your singleness bring delight, joy and pleasure to the living God?
Within this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul speaks of the dangers of divorce, the dangers of adultery, the dangers of fornication and the like. The apostle Paul was well aware of the fornication that was present among them and he sought to bring them into the place where they recognized and understood that they were called to honor, glorify and please the living God. What’s more is the apostle Paul sought to bring the Corinthian congregation into the place where they recognized and understood they were the temple of the living God. The apostle Paul would write in both epistles which were sent unto this congregation that they were the temple of the living God and the temple of the Holy Spirit and as such needed to bring glory, honor, delight and pleasure to the living God. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that we have been called in this life to bring glory, honor and pleasure to the living God. Our lives must needs truly be such that are centered upon the kingdom and will of the living God and such which seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. It is my prayer that when we read the words found in this particular passage of Scripture that we recognize and come to terms with the fact that we have been called into the place where we commit our lives to bringing pleasure and delight to the heart of the living God and seek to glorify Him in everything we say and everything we do. We must needs be such men and women who commit every area and facet of our lives into the hands of the living God and truly seek to please Him in everything we say and everything we do.