Living In A World That’s Passing Away—1 Corinthians 7:25-40

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

It might be rather jarring for you, like jumping in a cold lake, but let’s just jump right into the text—

 

1 Corinthians 7:25 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. 

1 Corinthians 7:26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

1 Corinthians 7:27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. 

1 Corinthians 7:28 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. 

 

Something was going on in Corinth that caused Paul to advise people not to marry. He called it “the present distress.” We really have no idea what this distress was. There are three main guesses (see Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 18:238–239). 

 

1) The distress is a sickness within the Corinthian church itself. We know that some had gotten sick and died because partaking of the Lord’s Supper wrongly (1 Corinthians 11:30). But why would Paul recommend everyone postpone getting married because of a sickness among some of the families?

 

2) The “present distress” has to do with the end of the world. Evidence supporting this is that in verse 29 he says that “the time is short” and and in verse 31 he says that “the fashion of this world passeth away.” However, if he has the end of the world in mind, why call it a “present distress”?

 

3) The third view is that the “present distress” refers to a local famine (or perhaps something similar, like a persecution of Christians). To call a temporary halt to marriages during a famine (which could last a few years) makes sense because it would be difficult to support a family and unwise to bring more mouths to feed into the world.

 

From time to time, we may experience a similar crisis in our lives, perhaps losing our job because of the collapse of economy or a drop in oil prices. What he says in this section would directly relate to us then. 

 

But beyond that, the principles that Paul gives in this section can be drawn out and used to guide our lives both in good and bad times, and especially in these times when it seems that the end is nearer than it’s ever been before.

 

The first principle that we see is… Continue reading

The Importance And Development Of Holiness

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Levi Durfey

 

WHAT IS HOLINESS?

 

15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15–16)

 

From Peter’s words here, we learn that God is holy. In fact, holiness is the most significant attribute of God given in scripture. We like to think that love is the most common character trait of God given in scripture—but his holiness beats it by a long shot.

 

Philadelphia pastor James Montgomery Boice once spoke to a discipleship group on the attributes of God. He began by asking them to list God’s qualities in order of importance. They put love first, followed by wisdom, power, mercy, omniscience, and truth. At the end of the list they put holiness.

 

“That did surprise me,” Boice later wrote, “because the Bible refers to God’s holiness more than any other attribute.”

 

The Bible doesn’t generally refer to God as Loving, Loving, Loving! Or Wise, Wise, Wise! Or Omniscient, Omniscient, Omniscient! But over and over we read the cry of the angels, Holy, Holy, Holy! (Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, electronic ed., [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000], 373)

 

What is holiness? At it’s most basic level, to be holy means to be separated from sin. God, of course, is completely separated from sin. We, according to the text in Peter, are to be like God in his holiness. Holiness is not just separating from sin, it’s also separating to (or dedicating to) God and righteousness. Continue reading

Who Is Your Father?—John 8:37-50

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Levi Durfey

  

INTRODUCTION

 

I have been a father for almost fifteen years now. One of the thoughts that crosses my mind frequently is: in what ways will my children emulate me? You can tell that they already have my good looks. 

 

Actually, my concerns run deeper than my looks. When I sin, and they see it, will they imitate that sin? On the other hand, will they imitate the good that I do, the love that I show, the trust that I have in Christ? 

 

Human fathers have that struggle because weʼre not perfect. We sin, and we do good. Our children will, more than likely, copy some of both from us.

 

In this passage, there are two fathers mentioned (well, three, if you count Abraham, but two fathers of importance). One father, the Devil, is completely evil, a liar, a murderer. The other Father, God himself, is holy, loving, and good.

 

Which father do you most often copy? Which father does the saying, “Like Father, Like Son [or Daughter],” most apply for you? Continue reading

Stay Put, Praise God—1 Corinthians 7:17-24

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Most, if not all, people experience a time in their lives when they can’t wait for time to move on. It might be the teenager who can’t wait to be eighteen and to leave home. Or the worker, who is bored with his job, who wants to move on. 

 

The college student in their third year of studying longs for the day to finally put her studying into practice. It could even be the older person, longing to die because they feel they have outlived their usefulness.

 

We humans have always had a hard time with being content in the circumstances that life has thrown at us. Over time, we’ve invented proverbs to remind ourselves to be content with our lives:

 

  • Accept the things you cannot change; change what you can.
  • If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
  • Bloom where you are planted.
  • A Yiddish proverb says, “If grandma had wheels, she’d be a trolleybus;” meaning, stop worrying about the “what-if’s” and focus on what you got.

 

In this chapter, we’ve seen Paul argue that single people should remain single, if they can do so in purity. We’ve also seen that he argues that married Christians should avoid divorce, and even to seek reconciliation with former spouses if they get a divorce. 

 

Some of the new Corinthian believers had spouses who didn’t believe, they wondered if they should divorce their unbelieving spouses. Paul says, “No.” Basically, his guiding principle is: “stay where you are.”

 

In verses 17-24, he stops to explain that principle and why it’s important. Notice that he repeats the principle, “Stay where you are,” three times—verses 17, 20, and 25. It’s like the slices of bread in a Big Mac! The meat in the passage is found in verses 18-19 and also verses 21-23. Continue reading

Keeping Marriages Together—1 Corinthians 7:10-16

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Divorce has always been a tough topic for me as a pastor. There are several different ways to interpret what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage, ranging from no divorce and remarriage allowed to it being allowed in certain situations to it being allowed in any situation. 

 

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve struggled greatly over the years of what is right and wrong. I want to to biblical, but at the same time sensitive to people who have come through hard marriages. 

 

What we’re looking at in this passage is what Paul says about divorce. You’ll notice that he addresses two different situations. In the first, he addresses Christians married to other Christians, whom he is more tough on. 

 

Then, in verse 12, he says, “to the rest,” meaning the rest of the believers in the church who are married. These are believers who are married to unbelievers. To them he has something different to say. In the end, however, his goal is keeping marriages together. Let’s read the text—

 

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. 

 

12 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. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 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. 

 

15 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. 16 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 7:10–16) Continue reading