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To Change or Not

To Change or Not

Words of Faith 6-5-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Study in the Land of the Bible with Dr. and Mrs. Hoy. Two trips available –

December 26, 2017 to January 5, 2018

January 4-13, 2018

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1 Corinthians 7

   [17] Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. [18] Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. [19] Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. [20] Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. [21] Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you--although if you can gain your freedom, do so. [22] For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave. [23] You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. [24] Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.


       The context of this passage is marital status but it opens a number of other doors. The key questions in this chapter had to do with marriage. Should a single person get married or not get married? Should a person get divorced or not get divorced? The general principle which Paul affirmed in dealing with decisions affecting a Christian's marital status was, in brief, to "stay put." He says this in several different places and ways (vv. 17, 20, 24, 26).

       Paul realized that the call of God's grace radically alters an individual's spiritual relationship. Everything changes when we become a New Creation in Christ. The old has passed away and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). Our salvation in Christ turns us right-side-up in an upside-down world. But that does not mean that we need to change all of the physical relationships and circumstances of life. Unless the people in Corinth were involved in an immoral relationship or activity, they were not to change things just for the sake of change.

       Paul gave several examples. Those who were circumcised before coming to Christ should not change that. Huh? Yes, it is actually recorded in the Apocrypha that there were some who had made efforts during the time of the Maccabees to surgically reverse the "mark of circumcision" (1 Maccabees 1:11-15). Sounds like sophisticated surgery. More obvious was the problem that Gentiles who came to Christ were sometimes coerced into circumcision. For Paul, all this was of little importance compared to being controlled by the Spirit (Rom. 2:25-29). One should remain as he or she is and strive to be controlled by the Spirit.

       Even the vocational call in a person's life is not as important as his walk with God. If the status of a Christian can be changed, well and good; but if not, it was not a matter for worry. What mattered was that every Christian should realize he is Christ's slave and needs to render obedience to Him. Every vocation then becomes an opportunity for Christian service performed for the Master.

       When we hear Paul talk about slavery, we must understand that about two thirds of the population in the Roman world was slaves. It was not a benevolent system, though many house slaves were like part of the family and were treated well. Paul was not an advocate of slavery but it was part of the world he lived in and he saw every situation as an opportunity for witness (Ephes. 6:5-8).

       The point here was that when we come to Christ we are in a marital and a vocational status and we should not automatically change either. God has called each one to a vocation and sought from each one faithful service in that calling. Some vocations were immoral such as slave trading and prostitution, and were a point of repentance. But most vocations can be elevated and sanctified as place of witness through the grace of God. A Christian could then "live in peace" in his calling, and carry it out as a responsibility to God.

         For us, regarding marriage, the exhortation of Paul is the same as it was for the Corinthians. If we come to Christ and we are married to an unbeliever, we should remain as we are. I have heard people say that God told them to divorce so they could go into missions, but this is clearly in disobedience to God's Word and could not be from God. Some who come to Christ need to quit their job because it is an immoral job, but most need to see how God is going to give them a new job in the very same place and use them for His glory.


       Father, help me to seek carefully your call in my life. Give me the patience and fruit of the Spirit that I need so that I may be a witness in the place you have called me-- whether married or single-- in whatever vocation You have placed me in. In Jesus' Name.