Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ADVICE TO A SINGLE MAN ABOUT MARRIAGE” Proposition #8

“Recognize the potential danger of anyone
marrying soon after conversion.”

First Corinthians 7.17-24

Allow me to restate the propositions that I have presented to you single men so far in this series of messages:

Proposition #1: “Tending to eternity is more important than

                         tending to matters of marriage.”

Proposition #2: “Consider marriage only if you need to consider

                         marriage.”

Proposition #3: “Recognize the wisdom of planning for

                         marriage.”

Proposition #4: “Recognize the potential for danger when dealing

                         with women.”

Proposition #5: “Commit to finding a woman to marry, rather

                         than being found by a woman to marry.”

Proposition #6: “Expect no woman who will not follow you prior to marriage to follow you after marriage.”

Proposition #7: “Consider no woman for marriage who does not love your God, embrace your Savior, and like your pastor.”

 These are very straightforward propositions for anyone who has any semblance of Bible-based wisdom or a somewhat Christian worldview. Therefore, I would expect no opposition to these propositions from anyone claiming to be a Christian. However, there is one consideration that I would like you to ponder before I set before you the final two propositions I think a single man should weigh when considering the profoundly important matter of marriage. Please turn to First Corinthians chapter 7.

The entire 7th chapter of First Corinthians is given over to a consideration of physical desires and appetites that are to be dealt with in marriage, as well as some closely related topics. If you have ever read the 7th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, you may have wondered what verses 17-24 have to do with the rest of the chapter. Everything in First Corinthians chapter seven that comes before our text has to do with marriage issues related to those readers in Corinth who are sexually experienced, either because they are Christians who are married, or they are Christians who committed sexual sins before they became Christians. Everything in First Corinthians chapter seven that comes after our text has to do with marriage being considered by those who are virgins, and the associated complications of marriage and trying to serve God as a married person as opposed to trying to serve God as a single person.

Interestingly, Paul addresses his comments about young men who are virgins to young men, while he addresses his comments about young women who are virgins to their fathers. What implications this has for young women considering marriage, as well as the whole issue of the functional hierarchy in the home and a dad’s proper role in the life of his daughter.

The eight verses that comprise this evening’s text do not seem on the surface to have anything to do with what comes either before or after. At first glance, verses 17-24 do not seem to have anything to do with the desires and marriage issues those who are experienced in such matters must wrestle with. Neither does our text seem applicable to what Paul deals with in the rest of chapter 7, the relationship of virgins to marriage, until you take a step back to see the big picture view of what he is seeking to accomplish in the lives of his readers. Please stand and read verses 17-24 of Paul’s first Corinthian letter with me:

 17    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.

18    Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

19    Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

20    Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

21    Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

22    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.

23    Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

24    Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

 The general thrust of these eight verses can be summed up in one phrase: Do not change your status. Those who are circumcised are not to become uncircumcised. That would be a trick, wouldn’t it? What Paul means is that Jewish converts are not to seek to become Gentile Christians, and visa versa. “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called,” verse 20. Are you a slave? Do not make a big deal about becoming a freeman, but take your freedom if it is offered to you. “Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God,” verse 24. In other words, Paul is telling the Corinthians to stay put, at least for now.

This is easier to understand when you recognize that people who come to Christ have just had their lives turned upside down. Everything changes when you come to Christ, your relationship with your boss, your relationship with your family, your relationship with your friends, and most of all your relationship with your Creator. When your relationship with everything and with everyone is suddenly overturned by a conversion to Jesus Christ, is it really wise to introduce yet another uncertainty into your already confusing life?

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The all things that are become new would include every relationship you have with other people, every event and accomplishment that you have ever before experienced, as well as your goals and aspirations for the future.

Whereas you used to be very proud that you won the beer drinking contest at your fraternity in college, as a Christian that so-called accomplishment is now a source of embarrassment. As well, there are the season tickets to your favorite professional football team’s home games that you worked ten years to acquire, that you no longer want to make use of as a Christian committed to serving God, setting an example to your children and in your neighborhood, and being faithful in your church. Therefore, you can easily see why new Christians should be very slow to change things not directly connected to ridding their lives of sinful practices. Before coming to Christ you were an integral part of this sin-dominated world, and happily so. However, you now take seriously the Apostle John’s admonition in First John 2.15-16:

 15     Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16     For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

 It now makes sense why Paul encourages his readers, if you are a Jewish person who becomes a Christian; do not try to become a Gentile believer at all. If you are a Gentile who becomes a believer, don’t try to become a Jewish Christian at all. If you are a slave, don’t make a big deal about getting freedom from your master, but take the freedom when it is offered. In short, stay put for now and move slowly if you do move. What do these eight verses have to do with what follows? What follows has to do with virgins getting married. In our text, Paul is laying the foundation for virgins who are new Christians, for new Christians who are virgins, as well as those who are sexually experienced and who are now Christians wondering what to do about getting married, to approach this whole topic of marriage in a markedly different manner than lost people typically approach marriage.

Paul urges a very deliberate pace in your approach to life as a new believer, especially with regard to getting married. To be sure, what Paul urges in our text needs to be counterbalanced against his comment in First Corinthians 7.2: “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” First Corinthians 7.9 should also be considered: “for it is better to marry than to burn.” Thus, there is a bit of a balancing act that requires the believer to exercise wisdom and caution. On one hand, you must marry to avoid being so thoroughly tempted to commit sexual sin that you become a fornicator. On the other hand, you should exercise caution so that the choices you make concerning who you marry and when you marry are the right choices.

May I bring now before you three considerations related to how quickly you rush into marriage as a new believer, or how quickly you rush into a marriage to a new believer?

 First, CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY OF FALSE HOPES

 A false is what a person clings to as a means of convincing himself that he is a Christian, that his sins have been forgiven, and that he is a new creature in Christ. The problem with a false hope, of course, is that it is a hope that is false. Judas Iscariot had a false hope, that was exposed as a false hope when he betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ to the Jewish high priest for thirty pieces of silver. Simon the sorcerer had a false hope, that was exposed as a false hope when he sought to purchase the Holy Spirit in exchange for money. Acts 8.18-19: “And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” Notice how the Apostle Peter responds, beginning with Acts 8.20:

20     But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

21     Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

22     Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

23     For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

          I am wondering how many are here this evening who would admit that when you married you sincerely thought you were a Christian, only to find out later that you were not?

Are you willing to take the chance that the person you marry might be a Christian? Is it enough for you that the woman you wish to wed could be a Christian? Do you have any idea what it is like to be married to a person who is not genuinely converted, while at the same time trying to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Ever thought about being married to a woman who resists every effort, seeks to thwart every move you make to bring your beloved children to Christ?

On the other hand, what if you are the one with the false hope? Keep in mind the ability of every one of us to engage in serious self deception, Jeremiah 17.9 and James 1.22. So, what happens if you marry a Christian, and it turns out that you are not a Christian? Does that not create real and profound conflict in a marriage? There are a number of people here tonight who could give testimony about that.

The point that I seek to make is that you should give serious consideration to whether or not you are making some assumptions about this matter of marriage. Are you assuming marriage just works out? Are you assuming the person you want to marry is a Christian? Are you assuming that you are a Christian? The reason you should give this some time is so you can give serious attention to whether or not you, or the person you are interested in, is entertaining false hopes instead of being truly born again.

Next, CONSIDER THE IMPLICATIONS OF VARYING GRACE

I am of the opinion that God enables any Christian man to sincerely love any Christian woman. After all, the fruit of the Spirit includes love. As well, Jesus told His disciples, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,” John 13.35. However, while the ability to love your spouse is necessary in marriage, in my opinion, it is not sufficient to make a marriage successful. There must also be a spiritual compatibility. That is, the two people who are considering marriage need to have a compatible set of spiritual equipment.

Looked at in another way, be mindful of what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4.7. After urging unity upon the Ephesian congregation in Ephesians 4.1-6, Paul cautions them in verse 7: “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” The point Paul seeks to bring out is that unity is possible despite some real differences in the spiritual equipment given to each Christian. That said, what is possible in a church congregation with varying differences in spiritual equipment and potential for serving God, is not always possible in a marriage. After all, church members do not sleep with each other unless they are married to each other. Therefore, church members with radically differing gifts and graces can enjoy unity and harmony that is not guaranteed for couples.

Allow me to use an extreme example: I know women who were very strongly convinced God had called them to the mission field who married men who said they were called into the gospel ministry, but who never entered the ministry after graduating from Bible college. Do you think that could be the cause of significant trouble in the home, a woman married to a man she thinks is depriving her from any opportunity to serve God to her maximum potential? I have seen that. What about a guy who wants to serve God as a Christian man, a godly husband, and a faithful servant in church, but it turns out that his wife undermines him? Do you think that would cause problems in marriage?

I am not suggesting that being deliberate about entering marriage guarantees that these kinds of problems will not occur, just that when a new Christian is given just a little bit of time to grow and mature, both that Christian and others have a much better idea of the kind of person that believer will turn out to be as a result of his or her conversion to Jesus Christ. That does not harm the prospects for a successful marriage, but can be a great help to marrying the right person, at the right time.

Finally, CONSIDER THE DANGERS OF DECISIONS MADE TOO QUICKLY

 The Bible speaks about the propriety of making haste to obey God, and the benefit of making haste to worship God, but does not have good things to say about making decisions in haste. In fact, the prudent man who foresees the evil is necessarily the man who contemplates the decisions related to safety and the right course of action for a long time.

Have you ever purchased a home? When you are involved in the financing of a home, have you ever wondered why several days are allowed to pass? My guess is that people who handle large sums of money have learned over time that nothing that is really important should be done very quickly. Time must be allowed to pass so that relevant facts can come to light, so that important considerations can be reflected on, and so that frauds and deceptions can be exposed by the light of day. Therefore, is the passage of time any less important for marriage? The difference between a mortgage and a marriage is that even though most mortgages are written up for thirty years, it is a very rare mortgage that actually survives thirty years. Most mortgages are renegotiated after just a few years. You certainly do not want that to be the case with marriage, so for marriage you need to take longer.

Of course, if you have been a believer for a while and have given thought to marriage for some time, you will be able to act more quickly than someone who is a new believer. However, the concerns related to how long the other person has been a Christian is still an important consideration.

 

To conclude, and to summarize the Apostle Paul’s concern in the form of a proposition, I would say, “Recognize the potential danger of anyone marrying soon after conversion.” If you are a single man who is recently converted, there is a danger of you marrying soon after your conversion. You do not know you who really are yet. You have given no thought to your own spiritual equipment, what spiritual gifts you have, and what complimentary spiritual equipment a good wife to you should have.

Even if you are a single man who has been saved for some years, there is a danger of you marrying a woman too soon after her conversion. You do not really know who she is yet, since she does not know herself as a Christian woman very well yet. What if your desire is to serve faithfully in this church and she feels a strong calling to go to the mission field? What if you are called to the mission field, but she has no desire at all to live on the cutting edge of ministry? These are just a few of the questions that time will help you to resolve after one or both of the potential partners in marriage have come to Christ.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org