Paul warns the Corinthians not to judge one another or boast in themselves as they have all received a gift that no one earned — the Holy Spirit and salvation by grace through faith. Paul describes his life and the lives of those truly following Christ, which is quite the opposite of the fake, showy religious crowds who love praise and public platforms – “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.”
Therefore, Paul implores the Corinthians not to be haughty but to imitate him. And since Paul can’t be there with them, he has sent Timothy, “Who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”
Paul rebukes the Corinthians for allowing a man who was sleeping with his stepmom to remain in the church. Paul tells them to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” So the purpose of church discipline is ultimately for the spiritual good of the one being disciplined as well as the welfare of the ones inside the church. Allowing unrepentant sin to continue could negatively influence others as “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
Paul goes on to tell them to “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Paul explains that sex is to be within the boundaries of marriage between a man and a woman. And the husband and wife do not need to deprive one another of sex “so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
In addition, Paul tells them not to divorce, even if they are married to an unbeliever – “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy… 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?” God is the one who saves. However, Paul is saying that the believer’s life has a positive impact on the children and can lead the spouse to faith. Therefore, your marriage and your spouse’s salvation are something to entrust to the Lord.
Paul says there are advantages to remaining single, as the unmarried have fewer distractions and can therefore be more focused on worship and missions. But Paul encourages everyone to be content with where they are when called by the Lord, regardless of the situation, married or not.
Tomorrow, more from Paul to the Corinthians. Keep reading. (1 Corinthians 4:1-7:40)