Regeneration and Freedom - RR274F11a
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission.|
Let us pray. Oh Lord our God we come into Thy presence again mindful that we need thee every hour, every moment. Grant that all the days of our life remain know our need of Thee and might serve Thee with gratitude and with thanksgiving. That we might ever know that Thou art God and that all things shall stand before Thee. That every idle word shall be judged by Thee. Every hidden thought shall be judged by Thee. Oh Lord our God make us ever mindful of the greatness of Thy grace and Thy mercy to us. That we may serve Thee faithfully. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
Our scripture is First Corinthians 7:8-24. Our subject: Regeneration and Freedom.
“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? 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. Is any called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. 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.”
These verses have been extensively used by churches to ratify their views of marriage and divorce. And I believe in all branches of the church these verses have been misused. Since unbelievers pay no attention to what scripture has to say this text has been used to punish the believers by placing a burden of guilt on them. Paul in Second Corinthians 6:14 following restates the Old Testament ban on mixed marriages. That is, between believers and unbelievers. This was not the problem in the early church, rather the problem that was very often one spouse in a marriage was then converted and the other remained unconverted. Should such a marriage then be annulled? [00:06:10]
Before answering that question Paul turns again to...
Before answering that question Paul turns again to the problem of marriage. Was marriage advisable given the coming trouble, the persecution that would overwhelm the church? Paul tells both widows and single persons that is better to remain as he is, single. Paul is better able to function with the freedom his single condition gives him. However if this is not possible for them they should marry rather than burn. The problem with married couples differs. Because the pagans were syncretistic and readily tolerant of the mixture of religions and often in many cases were worshipping at two or three different temples it was easier for a husband or wife who was a pagan to accept a spouse’s Christianity, up to a point, at least. Most people were already involved in so many pagan cults that another religion made no difference, so what if my husband or wife has become a Christian was their attitude. In time however the exclusiveness of Christianity would become apparent to them and also the grim consequences of being a Christian, the penalties. In such cases the spouse would at times depart hoping that such a step would force the Christian in the marriage to at least a compromise. Now Paul had said there’s a coming trouble. You’re going to be persecuted. The unbelieving spouses in the church were also aware that the church was going to face persecution. They would immediately think about leaving. I don’t want them to think I’m a Christian too because my husband or my wife is. So a point was coming where the unbelieving partners were issuing ultimatums. When such a separation took place the believer should not yet proceed with the divorce but rather wait to see if a reconciliation is possible, Paul tells us in verses nine and ten. [00:09:29]
If departure is somehow necessary or ordered by the...
If departure is somehow necessary or ordered by the husband the wife should remain unmarried or await a possible reconciliation for the time being. As a general rule for mixed marriages resulting in marriages contracted prior to conversion the believing partner is to remain in the marriage. This presumes that all overt acts such as adultery or homosexuality have occurred. The conversion of one spouse after marriage does not nullify the union. Such marriages are not the same contracted willfully against God’s law by a believer with unbelievers. In Nehemiah 13:23 following we see that men who had willfully married ungodly women are compelled to separate from them if they were to remain in the covenant. They could not remain married to a pagan and continue within the faith. They had to choose between faiths. Theirs was a willful act where in the early church such unions indicated that only one spouse had yet been converted. This question had come up because some Corinthians had raised it. They were in such mixed marriages not by choice but because only one spouse had become converted. The situation Nehemiah had confronted was contempt for the covenantal nature of marriage. The Corinthian situation involved a covenantal concern. Because the covenant is operative the unbelieving spouse in the marriage, Paul says, and the children, are sanctified before God. Now if we see the word sanctified as referring here to the personal holiness of the unbelieving husband or wife we misread the text. The sanctification refers to means that the spouse and children are set aside by God for his providential and holy care. [00:12:17]
That is a major meaning of the word sanctified...
That is a major meaning of the word sanctified. This means that the holiness is not necessarily in the spouse or the children but in God’s dealings with them. If however the unbelieving partner depart, that is leave the marriage, then one should allow it for God hath called us to peace. In other words, don’t try to save the marriage when the unbeliever says I will not believe and I’m leaving. There is then no bondage for the brother or sister in Christ. Because God hath called us to peace! The Christian allows the unbeliever to leave. No bondage clearly means no marital tie, the marriage is over. In such cases divorce and remarriage are valid. The anti-divorce people do violence to the text by trying to insist on a continuing bondage in taking a non-aggressive position. The believer can supposedly affect possibly the salvation of the unbelieving spouse. What the church has done with this passage is monstrous. The unbeliever departs, the marriage is over, they go off, they remarry and the believer is to be punished by not being permitted to remarry? So who suffers? The innocent party! And yet there are pastors who insist that this is the valid interpretation. It is heartlessly applied. I ran across one instance some years ago where the pastor ordered the separation of the man from his second wife and children even though the first wife had gone. Had remarried, had made clear her contempt of the faith. And so he continued to support them, he could only visit them standing outside the window to give his wife money and to kiss his children and that was called Christian. [00:15:42]
Paul now generalizes on what he had said, the Christina...
Paul now generalizes on what he had said, the Christina position is conversion, not coercion, regeneration, not revolution. This means that for the Christina the basic change is within. This means whether circumcised or uncircumcised, that is whether Jew or gentile, the believer must not attempt to alter the outward circumstances but to grow in the inward man. The word called in verse eighteen refers to their calling into Christ. Their conversion. It is not status that is important but the keeping of the commandments of God. Here again Paul stresses the law of God, theonomy, against autonomy. An important conclusion follows; let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. The practical meaning was that slaves were not to seek freedom in a revolutionary manner although freedom as a goal was a godly one. They are free men in Christ and are Christ’s servants. Their freedom in Christ was gained by his atoning blood. Ye are bought with a price, be ye not the servants of men. Thus freedom in Christ must be a Christian goal. We are to abide in the situation wherein we are called but this does not mean that we seek either an ungodly marriage or slavery as an inescapable condition. Freedom and service in Christ must be our goal. To view divorce as untenable means thus to view also freedom from slavery as wrong and this is nonsense. A law of God permits divorce, to say that the New Testament abrogates the Old Testament law is existentially untenable. And it is a view whereby the church has punished many godly people. Disrespect for the law of God leads to Phariseesism. Paul uses the marital issue raised by the Corinthians to make clear how the Christians obedience to God’s law is the liberating force among men. [00:18:44]
Let us pray. Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for Thy word. Thy word is our liberation. Thy word is our strength and we praise Thee for Thy word. We pray that day by day we may grow in Thy grace. In the understanding of Thy word. Grant us this in Christ’s name, Amen.
Now are there any questions about our lesson? Yes?
[Man speaking] Rush, verse sixteen seems to contain a couple of rhetorical questions by Paul, what is the little puzzling, what is the direction of the question, is he saying that you don’t know if your spouse is going to be converted thus stay with them or since you don’t know, you might as well leave?
[Rushdoony] The presupposition there is not that the unbelieving partner has left but they are in a situation with an unbelieving partner. Only one was converted! So here they are, and they’ve asked Paul the question, the Old Testament says that mixed marriages are morally wrong. And Paul is making clear that there is a difference between a mixed marriage contracted by a believer which is a contempt for God and one where two unbelievers married and later one or the other was converted. So the question that was asked of Paul ‘should we leave’. And his position is no, if they decide to leave, then you can leave. But not until they do. You are not to break up the marriage but if they do then you are free.
[Man speaks again] So you’re saying in verse sixteen ‘you remain as long as you can because who knows if they’ll be converted’.
[Rushdoony] Yes. They are content to live with you even though you’re a Christian. They aren’t prejudice [laughs] so don’t raise the point. They are tolerating your faith. Whether the motive is a sound one is beside the point. You are to live peaceably with them. Don’t break up the marriage, if they break it up then you are free. Are there any other questions? [00:22:13]
You see we have to approach the epistles with the question...
You see we have to approach the epistles with the question, why was it written? What questions are Paul answering? Because Paul usually is writing to answer a question and he begins the first verse ‘now concerning the things you wrote unto me’. So, the whole of Corinthians is an answer to questions. He takes them up one by one, than he often goes back to a question that he had answered in part earlier and adds and develops his answers. Yes?
[Man speaking] I want to make something clear, Rushdoony; you say it was contempt of God for a believer to marry an unbeliever? Is that in all circumstances?
[Rushdoony] Yes, marriage is a covenantal act. And a believer should not marry an unbeliever.
[Man speaks again] So do they know that in that particular situation?
[Rushdoony] They didn’t marry unbelievers. They were unbelievers when they got married and later one was converted, one in the marriage. You see we have to go back always to what was the question asked of Paul. His letters are answers to questions. Well if there are no further questions let us conclude with prayer. [00:24:16]
Our Father we thank Thee for this Thy word...
Our Father we thank Thee for this Thy word. We thank Thee for its plain speaking. We pray that Thy people will hear, believe and obey. Guide us day by day by Thy spirit and by Thy word and make us instruments of Thy peace. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.