Paul Instructs the Corinthian Believers to Honor their Marriage Vows
1 Corinthians 7:10-16 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? NKJV
Paul after he has affirmed marriage to be the “will of God” even though he wished that all had the grace gift of celibacy (as he did) knowing that this would greatly reduce the temptation to the sin of fornication by the believers, now immediately gives this command from our Lord Jesus Christ to those who were already married and the ones who were betrothed to be married, “But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). Our Lord Jesus Christ ordained marriage in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve and after He brought them together He made this statement, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). The English phrase “and shall cleave” is translated by the Hebrew word dabaq which means to cling to or to stick to or to be joined together or to weld together. The design of marriage by our Lord Jesus Christ from the very beginning of humanity was for it to be a permanent union of two separate souls uniting together in such love for God and for each other that they would supernaturally and spiritually become one. The design, desire, and determination of God was to manifest a reflection of the God-Head in the marriage union by God the Father and the Christian man and Christian woman living according to the “will of God” every moment in their marriage union.
Our Lord Jesus is certainly not demanding that a wife stay with a husband who physically beats his wife or verbally abuses her, but she is to leave him until her husband repents of his sin and is cleansed by our Lord Jesus Christ and the evidence of his renewal is clearly witnessed by his wife and others also before they are to resume living together under the same roof. Paul now declares that the believing wife or husband of a non-believer is not to divorce that non-believing spouse, but instead they are to stay with them witnessing the grace of God daily to them by virtue of their lives being the new creations in Christ that the believing spouse is might be the avenue the Holy Spirit uses to bring the non-believing spouse under conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). For in the site of God the Father it is by virtue of the believing spouse that He declares the marriage union to be holy before Him, because every marriage union of two unregenerate people is an unholy union before our Holy God. It is the nature of the believing spouse (being they are partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4)) that sanctifies and sets apart the children before God the Father born into this marriage union. Paul was writing this from the perspective of a Jew who considered all of the pagan nations (including their children) as “unclean” and this was also the way God viewed those pagans nations and their corrupting practices of sin and idolatry and we only have to recall the record of Joshua’s conquest at Jericho to remind us, “So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword” (Joshua 6:20-21).
Paul now reflecting back to the words he wrote to the believers in Rome when he said, “Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man” (Romans 7:1-3) wants to make it very clear to these believers in Corinth that the believing spouse is not to force the un-believing spouse to stay with them or will the believing spouse be considered adulterers or adulteresses if the un-regenerate, un-redeemed, un-righteous, and un-saved spouse decides he or she cannot take being married to a “follower of Christ”, then the believing spouse is to let that person go (as hard and difficult as it might be) and not be grieved over being bound by the “law of marriage” in such a case as that because God will never bind, obligate, or tie down His son or daughter to one of the devil’s kids. Paul declares to them that in such a case as that they can rest in Christ’s peace given freely to them and never consider themselves to be bound in that union the non-believer does not want. The willful abandonment or defection from the marriage union by the un-saved spouse automatically grants the believing spouse grounds for divorce that are acceptable to God the Father.
This frees up the believing spouse to re-marry a believer as Paul puts it with these words in his second letter to them, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. ‘Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. ‘And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ Says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Paul knew that many of these Corinthian believers were already married and un-believing themselves when the light of the glorious gospel shown upon their hearts and they were regenerated and born again, so Paul reminds them of their former condition in sin and exhorts them to persevere in their marriage to their un-believing spouse because our Lord Jesus might just use them as His instrument as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in their hearts.
“In addressing the married, 1 Corinthians 7:10, etc., Paul is not dealing with the formation of marriage ties; they are settled by 2 Corinthians 6:14. He is deciding what course shall be followed, when either a husband or a wife has become a Christian, the other remaining unchanged. He decides that the Christian should not separate, so long as the unbelieving partner is willing to continue their life together.” F. B. Meyer
“It is the Holy Spirit of God that moves upon the sinful hearts of men and women (John 3:8), but He works with human instruments that declare the gospel of grace by the Word of God and also by their changed and transformed lives in the presence of un-believers.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…