Paul married once?
And, of course, at this time Paul was single. He may have been married, since marriage appears to be a necessity for a member of the Sanhedrin, which he once was. It is, however., likely that his wife died before he was converted and his time of ministry for Christ was always as a single individual, as best we can tell.
Single and serving God
Now, realize that there are pressures in being single, especially of all the current emphasis on marriage and the family and you kind of feel like a fifth wheel, and I was reading in the Times where they say that at the holiday season, it’s worse than ever. Single people, particularly single parents, feel really left out. There’s no need to feel that way. If God has given you the gift of celibacy, if God has allowed you to be single for the time, accept that as His plan. There’s nothing wrong with being single. Paul advocates it.
Jesus talking about singleness as a gift
You know, Jesus had a conversation with the disciples; I ought to show it to you, Matthew 19, in which they concluded that it would probably be better to be single. In Matthew 19, Jesus is talking about marriage and He’s giving all the things about marriage and how that you’re not to put your wife away except for fornication and so forth.
And after He got done with all this speech, and the Lord really laid down some string guidelines for marriage, verse 10, Matthew 19, “His disciples say unto Him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” In other words, man, with all of that going on, it would be better never to get married to begin with. “Yes, Jesus said. But all men can’t receive this saying except they to whom it is given.” And here the Lord indicated that it would be fine if everybody stayed single, but everybody can’t handle that. And He gives us the introduction into the concept of the charisma of verse 7 of I Corinthians 7, that you have to have a special gift to be single, and not be preoccupied with sex.
What if can’t get married?
“If you’re unmarried or widowed, it’s a good thing and you can stay that way.” That’s fine, you don’t have to get married, but…verse 9….”If they can’t have self-control, let them marry for it’s better to marry than to burn.” If you can’t handle being single, get married. Now, we’re talking about Christians.
Some of you may say Well, I don’t have that gift, but I can’t seem to get married. And the truth of the matter may be that you have sinned in the past, you have violated the principles of God, so you’re not in a position now where God is going to bless you with marriage or maybe you’ve disqualified yourself by former marriages in sin and so forth and so on.
But just taking it from point blank zero, let’s say you’re just a new Christian, or you’re starting out, here is God’s standard, it is good, if God’s given you the gift but if not then marry. And I believe that assumes that God will provide a partner. How could God command you to marry and not provide a partner?
But, listen to me, people, if you’re not the right person, you’ll never meet the right partner. That’s the whole key. If you’re not the right person, you’ll never meet the right partner. So instead of looking for the right girl, start being the right man. And, girls, instead of looking for the right man, start being the right woman…and then the right man will recognize the right woman.
Burning? Then marry
And so, let them marry. Now that’s an aorist imperative command Get married! It’s better to marry than to burn. If you’re going around just flaming on the inside with desire then get married! It’s … there’s no point in saying – Well, I’m remaining single for the cause of Christ … vroom, room, you see. That is…you know…that’s ridiculous. There’s no value in that at all. If you’re burning with sexual desire, present tense continues, you continue to burn then please get married. Marriage, for one thing, will bring about the fulfillment of that physical desire.
How do I control my desire in the meantime?
You say – Well you know, I don’t have the gift but I’m just waiting for the right partner, what do I do?
…How can I as a single person who is waiting for the fulfillment of my physical desire, waiting for the right mate, how can I control myself? Well, here are some thoughts that you can expand on.
Number one would be channel your energy through physical work and spiritual service. Redirect yourself to good physical work and spiritual service. This gives your energy an outlet.
Secondly, don’t seek to be married, seek to love and let marriage come as a response. People who are always wanting to get married will marry the wrong person more often than not. But people who are seeking to find the fulfillment of love will marry the person they’ve fallen in love with. Don’t seek to get married. You know, that’s when you go out and you go home and immediately you take out your notes … let see, A on this, and B on this one, and C on this… you check them off, see. Well, he’s close enough, I’ll take him if he asks, see. Well, what you’re doing, you see, is you’re letting marriage be the issue rather than the right person becoming the issue. Seek to be loved and to love, not to be married. Don’t worry; marriage will take care of itself.
Thirdly, let go of a sex-mad adulterous world. And what I mean by that is watch what you absorb of the system.
Fourthly, program your mind with divine realities … program your mind. It’s amazing, but your behavior is a direct result of the programming of your mind with divine truth.
Fifth, recognize that for now God has chosen for you to live without sex and recognize this, there’s no temptation that has taken you but such is as common to man, God is faithful, will not allow you to be tempted…what? … above that you’re able but will with the temptation make … what?…a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.
Sixth, avoid potentially dangerous situations. That’s like Joseph, he just ran.
Seventh, thank and praise God for the state you’re in and be content. You have to approach it from these standpoints.
Grounds for divorce
Matthew 19:9, same thing. “And I say, Whosoever shall put away his wife except for fornication and marry another, commits adultery.” The only ground that Jesus ever gave for the dissolution of a marriage was sexual immorality. And when that occurs, there is the right to divorce
Mixed marriages and spill over effects of sanctification
Number one, mixed marriages are forbidden when they … when they can be prevented, right? Verse 39, at the end, says – If you’re going to marry, marry only in the Lord. So, the idea of a Christian marrying a non-Christian is totally in disobedience to Scripture.
But wait a minute, won’t I get defiled? Won’t this union defile me? Well, let’s find out.
Look at verse 14, very interesting. “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.” Now wait a minute here. Do you know something folks? Not only is the believer not contaminated, but what happens? The very opposite. You say – Well, will I be defiled by the unbeliever? No, he’ll be sanctified by you. Fantastic. Instead of a Christian being defiled or made unholy, the unbeliever is actually made holy.
Sometimes I ask a person, I say – Do you come from a Christian home? No…I’m the only Christian there. Do you know how many Christians it takes to make a Christian home? One Christian. You say – What do you mean? Everybody else in the house is sanctified by your presence. Did you know that? You say – John, what do you mean by sanctified, that’s a very strong word? I know it’s a strong word. Sanctified means set apart, holy…
You see, that kind of grace extended to the home through that one individual blessed of God will radiate to those who touch that life. Do you remember a conversation Abraham had with God in Genesis 18? Abraham said – God, if I could find fifty righteous people in Sodom; would You spare the whole city? God said – Yeah. Abraham came back and said – If I could find 45, would You spare the city? Yeah Ah… twenty? Yeah. Ah, God, if I could find ten, would You spare the city? Yeah. Couldn’t find ten, could he? But you know something? Ten righteous people could have been the means of the blessing of a whole city of people. Why? Because just being around God’s people means you are the recipient of some of His sanctifying blessing.
I don’t know what God wants for you. But I know this that His will is purposeful and will be fruitful as we abide in it.