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Monthly Archives: March 2019

Divorce – God’s View

I’m continuing to look at Paul’s teaching on marriage relationships in First Corinthians, chapter 7.  Here’s where some of the controversies start.  He’s going to talk about divorce.

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.  But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.  And a husband must not divorce his wife.
1 Corinthians 7:10-11

This verse is specifically talking about marriages between two Christians.  Paul is being clear and concise in his description of the Lord’s command.  He states that divorce is never a part of God’s plan.

I know that this teaching doesn’t sit well with many in our generation.  We live in a society where divorce is an acceptable part of our culture.

This is why marriage is not to be entered into on a whim.  The world sees it as simply an agreement to live together.  Scripturally it’s a lot more than that.

Divorce was acceptable in the Jewish culture as well during the time Jesus was ministering.  The Pharisees asked Him His opinion.

Here’s what Jesus told them…

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Matthew 19:4-6

The Pharisees weren’t satisfied with this answer.  They didn’t see anything wrong with divorce.  They rested their case on the fact that the Law of Moses allowed for it – so they had a Scriptural basis.

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning.  I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Matthew 19:8-9

His answer was simple.  Divorce is not God’s will, but He knew that mankind was going to do it anyway.  So the Lord set up some ground rules to make it more amicable.

Of course, this opens up another can of worms.  It’s obvious from the above passage that God understands what we, as human beings, are like.  He knows that once we set our hearts on doing something, even against God’s will, we’ll probably go there.

So God made an allowance for the hardness of our hearts.  That tells me that divorce isn’t the unpardonable sin.  I know there are some denominations that totally write you off once you go through a divorce.  That’s not God’s view.

We must always remember that even though God hates divorce, He loves people.  He’s willing to work in and through us no matter what we’ve gone through.  It’s not my place to tell anyone that they’re somehow disqualified for ministry because of a divorce.

It’s really up to the move of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life.  I’ve seen divorced ministers who’ve walked under a powerful anointing from God.  Why would God confirm their ministry if they had disqualified themselves?

I find it best to leave the judgment seat to Christ.

Question: Based on this teaching, what’s the best way to prepare Christian couples for marriage?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 29, 2019 in Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Gifts – Married or Single

I’m now talking about First Corinthians, chapter 7.  That’s the section that talks about romantic relationships.  Paul now begins to speak to single people who were formerly married.

I wish that all men were as I am.  But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.  Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.  But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1 Corinthians 7:7-9

I like the fact that Paul knows when he’s putting his own views into the teaching.  The word, wish, means a personal preference.  He was unmarried and preferred to stay that way.

You may be asking, why did I say that he’s talking about formerly married people?  The word he uses for unmarried usually means that they were married at one time, but now are single.  That’s in contrast to later in the chapter when he uses the word, virgin – someone who was never married.

Also, we know from Scripture that Paul was a Pharisee who came from a family of Pharisees.  His observance of tradition had been a source of pride before coming to Christ.  Jewish tradition was that a man needed to be married in his early twenties at the latest.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Paul was married at one time.  Traditionally, Pharisees needed to be married and it was a requirement for those who wanted to be a part of the Sanhedrin – the Jewish ruling body.

But what happened to Paul’s wife?  The Scripture doesn’t clearly tell us, so there’s some speculation.  In the above verse, he puts the two words together – unmarried males and female widows.  Also, there was no widely used Greek word for male widowers.

Because of this, the most likely possibility was that he was a widower.  The other is that his wife left him when he became a Christian.  In any case, at this point, he’s unmarried with no desire to become married.

In talking about people who’ve been in a marriage relationship, but are now single, he gives some important truth.  This is the foundation for a fulfilled life.  He talks about our giftings from God.

He makes it clear that the call to be single is a gift from God.  In the same way, the call to be married is also a gift from God.  The important thing is that we desire to walk in the center of the Lord’s will for us.

The big question is, how do I know whether I’m called to be married or to remain single?  To answer that, you need to check your heart.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

I believe that God gives us an internal compass that points to His will – peace.  If it’s your desire to serve God wholeheartedly, then the peace of God will direct you.

If you feel perfectly satisfied to remain single, and have no desire to be married again, then run with that.  Don’t let anyone pressure you to “test the field.”  In all likelihood, you’re called to the gift of a single life.

If, on the other hand, you don’t feel complete without a mate, and you desire to once again be in a marriage relationship, then go in that direction.  Seek God for His wisdom in finding the right one for you.  Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for desiring a mate.

The fact is that God loves us and wants the best for us if we simply pursue His will for our lives.

Question: How has the Lord confirmed His calling upon your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Husbands and Wives

As we continue to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we’re about to enter the most controversial section of the entire letter.  Chapter 7 deals with romantic relationships.  I will deal with this section very cautiously!

I have to warn you; Scripture is Scripture.  I can’t change it to agree with social norms.  I can only tell you what the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle Paul.  With that in mind, try to proceed with an open heart.

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.  But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
1 Corinthians 7:1-2

The people of Corinth had an interesting question that was sent to Paul.  Is it best not to have a romantic relationship?  First Corinthians, chapter 7, is Paul’s response to that inquiry.

The first thing Paul does is to lay down the foundation for everything he’s about to say.  The key phrase is because there is so much immorality…

Everything that follows in this chapter hinges upon that issue.  Their society was very immoral.  That means that this chapter is very applicable to us.  I don’t know if you noticed, but our generation is extremely immoral.

As a matter of fact, that’s what makes this section of Scripture so controversial.  The teaching of the Bible is in total opposition to what the world views as acceptable.  Because of this, our human nature would try to justify living like the society around us.

So, I’ve decided to simply tell you what Paul teaches in a very simple, uncomplicated way.  I’m not going to put my spin on it.  If you disagree with the teaching, then don’t get mad at me; I’m only passing on what was written.

Paul starts with his opening statement.  It’s the foundation for the marriage relationship.  His definition of marriage is – one man and one woman for life.  As a Pharisee, he understood that it was this way from the beginning of creation.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

Our society may disagree with this line of thinking, but it’s a consistent theme throughout Scripture.  This foundation is what Paul was building on.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.  The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.  In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.  Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.  Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  I say this as a concession, not as a command.
1 Corinthians 7:3-6

Paul is simply saying that if you’re going to marry, then you must maintain a sexual relationship as a married couple.  Any temporary pausing of this must be mutually agreed upon.

Sex is neither a weapon nor is it a way to motivate someone.  It’s a gift to be shared by a married couple.  The word, concession, literally means general knowledge.  In other words, Paul says that this is not a command, it’s just common sense.

We should make every effort to conform all of our relationships, especially our marriage, to what God has planned for us.

Question: Why would God’s advice on relationships be the best for us?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2019 in Prayer, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Whose Temple Is It?

In my last post, I talked about Paul’s warning to serve God whole-heartedly.  A failure to do so runs the risk of losing some kingdom blessings.  He continues this thought as he uses the illustration of a temple.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I’m a temple to the Holy Spirit.  Think about it like the ancient Greek temples.  My temple says “Holy Spirit” over the front entrance.

What would you expect if you came to that temple?  What if you entered it and saw a Star Trek Convention going on inside?  You may question the priest about it.

“That convention is for this week only.”

What if for the next few weeks you visited this temple and saw a beauty pageant, a chili cook-off, and a real estate seminar?  You’d ask is this a temple to the Holy Spirit or is it something else?

With that thought in mind, consider what happened when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple.

To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”  His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:16-17

Notice the righteous anger that Christ displayed.  What was it that aroused such an attitude?  The disciples realized that Jesus was consumed by a zeal for the house of God.

When Christ told His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He said that He was sending “another counselor just like Me.”  (John 14:26 – My paraphrase!)  The difference is that the Holy Spirit lives in us.  He lives permanently in His temple; our body.

In some of my other posts, I’ve talked about the fact that the Holy Spirit is intensely jealous (James 4:5).  Do we really get the point?  We’re living in the Last Days.  The Holy Spirit is starting to cleanse His temple.  We need to submit to His program or face the loss.

Remember – the Holy Spirit will not hurt His temple.  But He will start to ruin that which would try and steal our affection.  In my experience, I’d rather willingly give up something, than have the Lord remove it from my life.

What do we do?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8

If you really want what the Holy Spirit’s desire, then sow to please the Spirit.  He doesn’t say to summon up all your will power and live right.  No!  Simply submit to His plan and sow the Word and prayer.  Spend time with the Spirit.

Question: What do you need to do to sow to please the Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Spiritual Immorality?

“God wants us to enjoy ourselves.  Why should I deny myself if it makes me happy?”  As a pastor, I’ve heard this question many times.  It’s the same question that worldly believers have been asking since the start of the church.

Paul had to deal with it in the church at Corinth.  This is how they worded it…

“Food for the stomach and the stomach for food” – but God will destroy them both.  The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
1 Corinthians 6:13

“The stomach was made for food, so give it all it wants.”

“Our sexual organs were intended for pleasure, so don’t deny yourself.”

The problem with this type of thinking is that our bodies were not made to take part in sinful activities.  Even though you may get a momentary “high”, God didn’t create our bodies for drunkenness, immorality, or gluttony.

We live in a society that constantly preaches that if it feels good, then do it.  As long as you’re not hurting anybody, go for everything you want from life.

The problem is that there are many things that are not evil, and they make you feel good.  Yet, if they’re not a part of God’s plan for your life, they’re sinful.  We have to be careful not to chase after things that will rob our spiritual vitality.

Paul uses sexual immorality for his example but it can be applied to anything that we use to replace God’s will.

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?  Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute?  Never!  Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?  For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”  But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  Flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
1 Corinthians 6:14-18

Your response to this might be, “But I’m not involved in immorality.  This doesn’t apply to me.”

I beg to differ.  If you’re pursuing anything the world is offering you, at the expense of your spiritual walk, then you’re in this position.

Listen to how James describes it.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

James makes it clear that chasing after the world is adultery in God’s eyes.  The church is pledged in marriage to Christ.  Running after the world is like having an affair – spiritually speaking.

Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, we’ve become one with Him.  When we chase other love interests, we grieve Him.

Are we pursuing our callings in Christ to the extent that the Lord wants us to?  If not, we need to take a long hard look at our lifestyles.  Then, by the power of the Spirit, we must make the changes that will bring us back on course.

Question: How does your lifestyle show that your life is united with Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2019 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Don’t Return to Slavery

As we continue to follow Paul’s practical teaching through 1 Corinthians, he’s been talking about carnal Christians.  These are believers who love the Lord but are ruled by their feelings rather than the Word of God.  They’re saved people who act like the world.

In my last post, we saw that these carnal believers have no kingdom inheritance.  They’re missing out on many of the blessings that are ours in Christ.

As a matter of fact, there may have been some self-righteous Christians who got offended by my last post.  They would disagree with me when I say that carnal believers are saved.  My understanding of the grace of God will not allow me to so easily destine these people to hell.

I know that it’s very easy for worldly Christians to use the grace of God like a doormat.  They live like the world and “wipe their feet off” every so often to ease their conscience.  But the Bible does teach that this is a possible response to God’s grace.

However, living this way gets very little of the kingdom blessings.  There will also be no eternal rewards waiting for them.

Paul records their mindsets as we continue in his letter.

“Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial.  “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12

They say that they’re free to do whatever they want.  That much is true.  But as Paul comments on it, he makes it clear that certain behaviors come with a price.  This worldly lifestyle will bring no kingdom benefits.  And it will also come to the point where these sins are controlling you.

In telling His disciples about the last days, Jesus warned them of falling into this trap.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”
Luke 21:34

Here Jesus tells us of three weights that can hinder us from fulfilling our destiny.  They are called dissipation, drunkenness, and anxieties.  We will never reach our true potential in Christ if we try to live with these hindrances.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

We’re warned to throw off the things that hinder.  Probably the worst is dissipation.  We allow the best parts of our life to be dissipated.

The world has so many distractions these days.  Classes we could take, recreational opportunities, athletic events, and entertainment.  All of these things, in and of themselves, add to our enjoyment of life.  They’re good things.

Yes, they’re all permissible things, but they can become the masters of our lives. They dictate our schedules. They tell us what we can and can’t do for God.

We fill up our time with all these good things. Then, more often than not, God gets the leftovers.  Our leftover time, strength, and resources.

If left unchecked, the church can become a prisoner to our permissible things.  If we find ourselves in this condition, then we need to be set free by the power of God.

Question: What will it take to break free from a worldly lifestyle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2019

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2019 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Don’t Lose Your Inheritance

I’ve been posting about Paul’s view of lawsuits between believers in his first letter to the Corinthians.  He sees it as a sign that they’re living in defeat.  They’re bringing public shame upon the church.

As he continues, Paul shows them that this is part of a much larger issue.  It’s something that we should all be mindful of in our generation.

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

This is a section of Scripture that self-righteous people use to prove that other church members are going to hell.  But what’s Paul really saying here?

First, let’s look at the context.  He’s talking about bringing lawsuits against fellow believers.  There are two sins in this list that directly apply to this issue.  The word, greedy, means to desire more than the share that should be coming to you.  The word, swindler, means to plunder or carry off by force, which is the goal of a lawsuit.

For these reasons Paul is telling them that they’re living in defeat.  Their flesh is clearly in control of the situation.  But have they lost their salvation over this?

I don’t believe that’s the case.  One reason is that Paul clearly states that they were greedy swindlers.  Now, because they were washed, sanctified, and justified, they’re no longer who they were.  They are simply acting in a way that’s inconsistent with their new nature in Christ.

Another reason that I don’t believe they lost their salvation is that Paul is talking about their inheritance.  He warns them that if they continue to act outside of God’s will, they could lose the kingdom blessings God has set aside for them.

Peter says the same thing in his letters.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9

Peter uses some of the same words as Paul.  The word insult is the same word translated as slanderer in 1 Corinthians.  The difference is that Peter makes it clear that the inheritance is a blessing, not your salvation.

We have to understand these kingdom truths.  The fact that I lose my inheritance does not mean that I’ve lost my place in the family.  It only means that I haven’t been living a life that’s consistent with the character of my family.

In Christ, we’ve been set free from our past.  We are made new in Him.  If I fall to sin, I can’t say, “That’s just who I am.  I’m a greedy person.”

I’m not a greedy person anymore.  Now I need to clothe myself in Christ – my new nature.  Yes, I can still follow the desires of my flesh, but that should be the exception – not the rule.  I must submit to the Holy Spirit’s life-changing work in me.

This should be a warning to us.  Kingdom blessings are for those who submit to the spiritual processes of the kingdom.

Question: Why are some people so eager to accuse others of losing their salvation?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2019 in Legalism, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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