Vol. 4, No. 4
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If I hear one more person say, "I know it was wrong, but I couldn't help myself," I think I'll be sick. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to be slaves to our passions. We can practice self-control, restraint and self-discipline.
God's Word offers the following promise. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). It is not necessary to surrender. The devil doesn't have the upper hand unless we give in to him.
Peter admonished, "ůmake every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" (2 Peter 1:5-7). He went on to promise,
"... if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins" (2 Peter 1:8-9).
They are not optional matters. Special attention should be given to the fact that self-control is included in the list. Without it, we become slaves to our own wants and desires. When that happens, the devil takes control. Our lives are ruined. Society suffers.
What this nation needs is a good old-fashioned dose of self-control. Abstinence is not a dirty word. Restraint and self-control are essential. The man in the pulpit, the person in the pew, the politician, the policeman and even the protester needs to learn the fine art of self-control. None of us are exempt.
When we speak of self-control, what we are advocating is a life governed by the Word of God. It means that we put God in charge. It requires that his will come before our own. There are only two choices (Matthew 6:24). Will it be Christ or Satan? A life of self-indulgence is a choice for Satan. A life of self-control is a choice for Christ. Which have you chosen?
There is an interesting expression in 1 Corinthians 7:14 which may need clarification. It says, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother: else were your children unclean; but now they are holy." The most basic thing we need to know is the meaning of "sanctified." It simply means, "set apart." It does not mean sinless or saved. The vessels of the tabernacle that were set apart for God's use were holy or sanctified. The saints (Christians) at Corinth had been called and set apart for God's use, but committed many sins.
What is meant by the statement that the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife? It is not "by the wife" as if she were the agent by whom the sanctification took place, but "in the wife" because it is the marriage relationship of which he speaks. It is noteworthy that the word "sanctified" is a perfect tense in both cases. That denotes the present state that results from a past action. Apparently, the past action to which he refers was the sanctification that took place when the couple married and still is in effect. He is simply saying that the wife who has an unbelieving husband does not need to put him away as she would if the relationship itself were wrong or unholy. Although he is an unbeliever, the marriage bond was and is still sacred, so the unbeliever is set apart in a sanctified relationship. In this context, it has nothing whatever to do with salvation from sin.
Paul goes on to say that if that were not true and they were simply living together in an unholy relationship, any children they might have would be considered unclean. Stated another way, if they were not really husband and wife, their children would be illegitimate. When he uses the word "unclean," he does not mean that the child is a sinner. In the Old Testament, a person who touched the carcass of a hog or camel would be unclean until the evening (Leviticus 11:24). Even a woman who bore a child would be unclean for seven days (Leviticus 12:2). This does not mean they were guilty of sin by so doing, but were legally or ceremonially unclean.
So, a child born of an unholy union does not reflect on the child's relationship to God at all, nor should it cause us to castigate or make unkind remarks about the child. Paul simply means that God recognizes and approves of the marriage relationship, even if one of the persons is an unbeliever, for if he did not, he would not approve of a child being born in that relationship. But since the relationship is sacred or sanctified, the child born in such a relationship is legitimate.
There are many lessons we can gain from this verse, including the fact that marriage is sacred, even for an unbeliever. This is given as the reason for the previous verse, which indicates its permanency. It shows that unmarried persons should not bear children, but does not suggest that children born in an unholy relationship are at fault.