17 Apr 2022
Having spoken to the singles and the marrieds, Paul now speaks to the betrothed. After coming to know Christ, should they go ahead in marriage or should they remain single? Well, some in the Corinthian church had taught that they should remain single. But Paul's reply is a lot more nuanced and balanced. He didn't speak of his preference as a command, to become a "noose" to trap or strangle lives. But he gave an overarching principle in his response- undivided devotion to God. What does this mean? And how can we apply it to life?
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Today is a great day! Today is Easter Sunday, the day we remember the resurrection of God's Son, Jesus Christ from the dead.
He was a failure ... He looked like a failure on the cross, the day before Sunday. He was beaten and bruised and battered and bloody. He was a miserable figure hanging on the cross. People were mocking Him, accusing Him, laughing at Him. And you can imagine that disciples of Jesus Christ absolutely filled with doom and gloom.
But on Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead, and thereby marking the greatest day in human history, as God declared victory over sin, death and hell. And the Bible records for us that the disciples, the followers of Jesus Christ became a people of absolute devotion and commitment to Him and the Gospel.
Well, this morning, it is our prayer that on Easter Sunday, we might endeavor to be a people of undivided devotion to God. And that's what we're going to look at, although in a very interesting text in 1st Corinthians, chapter 7. We read some 16 verses, and if I may summarize it, I think this is a passage, though applied to the realm of marriage and singleness, speaks of undivided devotion to God. That's the fundamental principle!
For those who are new with us, I know this sounds bizarre when you read it. What are we talking about? So let me just give a very quick recap, 1st Corinthians 7, is Paul, the author, the apostle of Jesus Christ responding to a teaching, a belief a doctrine that some people in the church at ancient Corinth were proposing.
They were saying, "It is better to be unmarried." They are suggesting that there is an ideal state of Christianity. There's a superior way of living and that is, that you will not be married." So, those who are single are encouraged not to be married. And in fact, I think there are those who are married, who are encouraged to even divorce their wives.
You can imagine the kind of upheaval and turmoil and break-up and pain, that can be happening in the churches or in the church and families in those days. So Paul, in chapter 7, sets out to correct this erroneous teaching. He says in verses 1 to 6 about the gift of celibacy.
He says, "Not everyone is given the gift of celibacy. Some people are given this gift and if they choose to exercise this ... this gift and not be married, so that they may serve God, that's great! But if you are not given this gift, and you've sexual passions, then it's better for you to be married than to live in sexual immorality."
So he says, "This hypothesis or belief or teaching by some of you in the Corinthian church cannot be accepted." He goes on to say in verses 7 to 16 that, "There are actually various options for the singles and for the marrieds. You don't all have to divorce, you don't all have to remain celibate."
And then we learned last week, that it is important that when we recognize God's call in our lives, we don't have to change where we are, or our situation thinking that the mere change of it is more spiritual or better." So he says, "Remain right where you are. If you're married, remain right where you are. If you're single, you don't have to think that you need to get married in order to serve God. If you're circumcised, don't get uncircumcised. If you're not circumcised, don't go get circumcised," and so on and so forth. You can remain right where you are.
Now, Paul has therefore addressed the needs of the singles and the marrieds, but there's a third category of people that we need to talk about this morning. You said, "Where got 3rd category, you're either single or you're married?" What is the 3rd category? Well, the 3rd category is that of, "The betrothed." [1 Cor 7:25]
Now, this is interesting because too many of us we don't consider this very important. In modern day, you don't call it betrothal, you call it engagement. Correct? So many of us don't really think a lot about betrothal or engagement. But in those days, someone who is betrothed is a special category, because betrothals are very serious commitments in those days.
I know that because ... for example, in Matthew, chapter 1, we read about Joseph and Mary, the earthly parents of Jesus. They were betrothed or Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, but Joseph realized that Mary is not pregnant. He assumed that she must have been unfaithful, and so in order for this not to spread too far, or to become a scandal. He says, "You go to the guy who you are pregnant with lah! Let's ... let's call it quits."
Now, of course, he didn't know that Mary was pregnant because of the immaculate conception or the supernatural conception, that the Child within her is of the Holy Spirit, and He is Jesus. "So her husband Joseph, being a just man and [willing] ... unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly." [Matt 1:19]
So, betrothals are serious things, and therefore, it was necessary that Paul would address this 3rd group of people, those who are betrothed. What is he going to say to them? What's the overarching principle? What's the main idea that the betrothed will need to be aware of?
Well, the principle is found in verse 35. I think if you read this for the first time, you may not come to this conclusion. But if you read this over and over and over again, you will be familiar, that Paul from verse 25 all the way to verse 35 is really marching towards this principle that, "For the betrothed, it is important that they have undivided devotion to the Lord," as a significant factor to consider.
So that's what we're going to do, very simply this morning, we're going to march, we're going to just journey from verse 25. I hope in a relatively succinct, but clear way for you to grasp the intent and the teaching of Paul.
He says, "Concerning you guys who are betrothed, I have no commandment or command from the Lord ..." [1 Cor 7:25] That is to say, there is no specific command from Jesus, from God Himself. "... but let me share with you my judgment, my assessment, my thinking, as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy."
He's ... he is saying, "By the grace of God, I am who I am, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I want to share with you my judgment, even though there is no specific, explicit teaching from Jesus in this area." I think he says, "I think this is my judgment, that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is." [1 Cor 7:26]
So he repeats that same principle we read earlier — remain where you are. He adds a reason why you should remain as where you are called. He says, "It's because of the present distress." [1 Cor 7:26]
Now, we are not told, nobody really knows, some commentators say that it must have been a famine in Corinth in those days, but it's really hard to verify. So he says because of some present distress, it could be a local circumstantial difficulty, but there are also those who believe that this may refer to a general description of the last days, we are living in. The last days of sin and difficulty between the first coming of Jesus Christ and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This era that we are living, living in, this last days we are living in because of this present difficult world we are living in.
Either of this is probably what is in mind, but Paul says, "Because of the present distress, it is good for a person to remain as he is." [1 Cor 7:26] Meaning, "If you're married, if you're bound to a wife, don't get free, don't divorce." "Huh, the Corinthians, some of them within, you are saying it's not good for you to marry, so divorce." Paul says, "No, if you're already married, stay where you are!"
"Are you free from a wife? If you're not married, then you don't have to seek a wife, do not seek a wife. But even if you do, seek a wife, even if you do marry, even in your current situation where you are engaged or betrothed and you will have and you choose to be married, you have not sinned. And if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned ..." [1 Cor 7:28]
It's not like what the Corinthians are teaching, that it is not right for you to marry. But this is the problem, this is the issue, this is the principle of the factor you need to consider, "... those who marry will have worldly troubles and I would spare you that." [1 Cor 7:28] I think worldly troubles is best explained later on, when Paul says you have different anxieties, cares and concerns.
"So remain where you are, if you're married, stay married. If you're single, good for you not to marry. But if you do marry, not a problem, it's not sin. Except you got to be prepared, that if you do marry, you will have worldly troubles — anxieties, and cares of your spouse and family and things like that. And I wish you would not have to have those anxieties," Paul is saying.
So, "This is what I mean brothers ..." [1 Cor 7:29] He ... he goes on to elaborate, he goes on to clarify. "... the appointed time has grown very short." [1 Cor 7:29]
What do you mean by the appointed time? I think in the context, it's probably referring to the age we are living in, that will be ended when Jesus returns and brings judgment to this world.
I know that because in verse 31, he goes on to say, "For the present form of this world is passing away."
So he's referring to a time where Jesus will come, judge this world and this whole world will then melt away with fervent heat, and God will create a new heaven and new earth. That's what Paul is saying! It's a looking forward to future events, it's an eschatological, it's a ... it's a look into the End Times, future things.
So he says, "In view of the impending return of Jesus, the life we have here is very short." And so, if you know that this world is passing away, the things that we have and see and do will not be forever, "Then let those who have wives, live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, as and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they have no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it ... For the present form of this world is passing away." [1 Cool 7:29-31]
So Paul says, "Time is short. Things are going to change. What you have and what you do now are not going to last forever." "Therefore, let those who have wives live as though they had none." [1 Cor 7:29]
Now, I'm sure this is a verse that you don't hear during weddings. I think as a Pastor, you'll be thrown out. What kind of a statement are you making? But, you see this is not saying that you should abandon or neglect your wife. "Huh, I'm married to you but Bible tells me I should live as if I had none!" No, you got to read it in the context!
The context here is - The world is passing away, things of this world are not going to last forever, so don't treat these things as the ultimate things to life. Don't be obsessed with them! Don't be defined by these things! Learn to hold these things loosely, and not so tightly. Why? Because they are not the ultimate things.
What is ultimate? Well, as I've said, we are marching towards verse 35, which is undivided devotion to the Lord. That is what really matters! So in the context of that, "Let those who have wives, live as though they had none. And those who mourn as they, as though they will not mourning." [1 Cor 7:29-30]
So even if you go through the grieves, and the pains and the sufferings of this life, it is painful, there's no question! But they do not define you, they are not your ultimate state. You don't have to despair, you don't have to live as if you have no hope because the real hope is Jesus is coming again.
"And let those who rejoice as though they will not rejoicing." [1 Cor 7:30] Don't put your delights excessively, obsessively on the things of this world. "And those who buy as though they had no goods." [1 Cor 7:30] Don't ... don't be obsessed again over the material things you have, "And even in your dealings in this world." [1 Cor 7:31]
So Paul lists out five things that people normally do in life and say, "These are not ultimate, these are not the most important. Don't let your life be driven by these that drive the world today."
"I want you to be free from anxieties," [1 Cor 7:32] you see. "I want you to be free from such cares and concerns." "The unmarried man you see, the man who is single he's anxious, he is concerned about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord." [1 Cor 7:32] He's single minded here, he can be.
"But if you're married, it is inevitable that you will be concerned about worldly things ..." [1 Cor 7:33] What do you mean worldly things? "... you have to please your wife and your interests are divided." "No matter how capable you are, no matter how great your capacity is as a person, your interests are divided. Not that it's wrong, but that's what it is."
He does not just talk about the man, he is very balanced. Paul does not kind of a, he's not a male chauvinist, he ... he talks about the ladies and he says, "The unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit ..." [1 Cor 7:34] She's concerned about how to be pure and holy as a whole person to God. That's her concern! "... but when you are married, you will inevitably also be concerned about worldly things and how to please your husband."
So you could see, Paul now as we journey ... by the way, we've finished 11 verses, aren't you glad? We come now to this ... yes, there's four more verses with us, actually, no ... five more.
"I say this for your benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord." [1 Cor 7:35]
So you see, that's what Paul has been talking about. He's not saying that a betrothed man or woman must not marry, because he understands the gift of celibacy is not given to everyone.
"So if you should marry, you ... you get married. But if you do not want to marry because you know that the time is short, and because you are given this gift of celibacy and you want to express or to exercise this gift in order to give God your life in undevoted (sic undivided) devotion, that's great! And even if you are betrothed today, it is quite okay for you not to proceed with your marriage if you're so led."
Get the whole picture? That's the point! So Paul says, "I say this for your own benefit ..." [1 Cor 7:35] "This is for your good, I'm not saying this because I want to get anything out of it." "... and I do not want to lay any restraint upon you."
The word, 'restraint' is a noose, that thing you use to tie a person's neck. Maybe he's subtly, sarcastically talking about the Corinthian's false teaching. To say that you cannot marry or to say that you should divorce is a trap, it's a noose, it kills you. He says, "I'm not giving you advice or judgment or principles that are meant to trap you or to kill you or to harm you. It's for your good, that if you want to live a life of undivided devotion to God, you can."
So, he lays down this principle, he then goes on to practical advice. Verses 36 to 38, he says, "If anyone thinks that he's not behaving properly towards his betrothed, he ... his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes, let them marry — it is no sin." [1 Cor 7:36]
Alright, so if you're not given to celibacy, you have sexual desires, and you are tempted to immorality, nothing wrong if you should get married. Same as what he would advise the singles.
"But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control and has determined in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed ..." [1 Cor 7:37] in other words, not to proceed further, "... he will do well." But Paul is very emphatic here, to say this must be something you yourself want to do.
He says it in four different ways, "You've got to decide yourself." In other words, this should not be something that is compelled. This should not be something that is imposed on the outside or from the outside. "If you want to not marry because you want to have undivided devotion to Jesus, you do well."
"So then, he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better." [1 Cor 7:38] Not that it is more spiritual, not that it is a superior state, but that this allows you to have undivided devotion.
So, we almost can wrap up, so two more verses, okay? Verse 39, Paul now talks about the widower or the widow, "A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives ..." you should not divorce. "... but if a husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord." [1 Cor 7:39]
So this is something we've already looked at, you are free to remarry. But if you understand that your life is to serve God, then it only makes sense that you should marry someone who is in the Lord, someone who believes in Jesus, follows Christ and lives to serve Christ. That makes sense!
But Paul goes on to say, "Yet in my judgment she's happier if she remains as she is ..." [1 Cor 7:40] In other words, it's good if she can, not to marry again, I think contextually, because you can have undivided devotion to the Lord. "... and I think that I to have the Spirit of God."
He, again, I think is kind of like a maybe ... remark, to re ... reply, the Corinthians who say, "You should not marry, you should divorce because the Spirit of God tells us so." So Paul says, "You know, from what I've been telling you, I don't think I'm speaking of my own mind, but I too am led by the Lord, by the Spirit of the Lord, and this I think is the biblical point of view."
So, that wraps up chapter 7. In sum, the Corinthians promote a false teaching, that it is better to be unmarried. So if you're single, you should not marry as if it is a law, it is a rule. And if you should be married, you should consider divorce.
But Paul says, "No, not everyone can do this! Not everyone is given the gift of celibacy. And there are actually different options for different people. It's important for you to recognize that God has saved you right where you are, so remain in God's assignment for your life. And for those of you who are neither single nor married, but you're the betrothed, you're engaged in betrothal, I say to you, "This is the principle for you to consider, not that this is a command, but it's a very important principle to consider — undivided devotion to the Lord."'
I think as we wrap up chapter 7, I am so thankful for Paul's wisdom and discernment. If not jialat! [sap one's energy in Hokkien] Maybe from Paul's time to our time, the church will be filled with single people and no one can marry. Wow! Because if this false teaching is propagated, you can imagine the destruction it brings to human lives and families and the sexual immorality and sins that may arise within the church. Because that's not how God designed us, and it will be disastrous if we do not respect the way God has made us.
The teaching that the Corinthians propagate is a false teaching. I mean, Paul elsewhere said, "That the forbidding of marriage is a teaching from deceitful spirits and a teaching of demons." [1 Tim 4:1-3]
You must have ... I have said this before, but you must have observed that there are many major religions in the world today, where their spiritual leaders are expected and indeed mandated to remain single. And there are so many scandals and probably a lot more that we do not hear of in those religious orders.
Because if you're not given the gift of celibacy, you are allowing yourself to burn and soon enough, you would burn through some barriers and commit grievous sins, whether it's ... whether it's pedophiles or whatever. I think it's a natural consequence of not following scriptural teachings.
But we are really thankful to Paul for his wisdom and discernment in giving us principles as such. The problem with false teachings is that they can come from within the church. It's not from people outside.
The false teaching here is from the Corinthians, the church themselves. They're saying, "It's better to be unmarried," and so we must never assume that if we are to huddle together, there will never be false teaching. There will come false teachings and we got to be vigilant, and we've got to be men and women who know the Scriptures and depend on the Scriptures and not resort to human traditions.
What the Corinthians say seems so right! They seem almost correct. "Yah, it's more spiritual that you should remain single for God!" But it's not quite right if you heap this universally on everyone.
So I want to say with Spurgeon, "Discernment is not a matter of telling the difference between right and wrong but it is telling the difference between right and almost right." I think that is true, in this case.
I pray for a church with discernment, because we are living, now I ... I don't think this false teaching in those days is very prevalent in Singapore or in Gospel Light. I don't think there's anyone here who is saying, "You must be single, or you must be divorced." I think anyone who says that today will be kicked out.
But still, there are many false teachings swirling around us. Most popular probably would be the prosperity gospel — the health and wealth gospel. And you know, the health and wealth gospel can sound almost right, because the health and wealth gospel operates on this basis - God is good, God is love, God is faithful, God is powerful and therefore this is the problem ... and therefore God will not allow you to go through any pains or sufferings, but that He will always heal you and He will always financially bless you.
Sounds right, right? I mean, it starts from a great fundamental premise that God is love and faithful and powerful. But when you presume upon that, and you ignore the fact that God is not so much after our comfort, but after Christ's likeness, after our character, it is easy for us to abuse this and treat God as our servant, and make Christianity an idol or become a means to satisfy ourselves and we become the gods.
At the heart of it all, the prosperity gospel is a teaching towards idolatry. Because you're not making God, God, you're making yourself God, that God will do your bidding. Now, God is good, God is gracious, God is kind, God is powerful, God is faithful, that's true. But all that is not after the worldly physical things that will pass away, but about your spiritual likeness to Jesus and the eternal glory that is to come.
So even if God should call us to pain and suffering, we still believe God is good, God is powerful, God is able to save but His ways are not like our ways, His agenda is not our agenda, and we submit to His greater wisdom. And one day in eternity, when we look back, we will understand the pains and sufferings, the cancers and the sicknesses, the breakups and the pains in my family, I can understand that.
But today, please don't ever make God your servant, as if you are "God". The prosperity gospel leads us to idolatry and that's why it is so hideous and to be rejected.
Another false teaching I think that swirls around that requires discernment is hyper grace. Some of you live or grew up in churches where you are beaten down by legalism. What is legalism? Wah, it's such a big term? Well, legalism, is that thinking that I need to obey the laws of God, in order to secure His love for me.
Many of you come from churches like that, where the teaching is - Do this, do that, do this, do that, if not God will not love you. So you spend your whole life trying to earn God's love.
As I often joke, when I'm growing up, my parents will say, "You don't do this, I don't love you anymore." Now, I didn't really understand what that meant, but that's what they would say, because I don't think they meant it, but that's what they say in order to provoke me to live better lives. That's what they do!
Now, that's what churches do, "If you don't obey God, God does not love you. And if you obey God, then He loves you." So, people who grew up under such teachings are always fearful and anxious and insecure. Does God really love me because I was a naughty boy yesterday?
So when they come from such a background, it is very easy to swing to the other extreme where they are also preachers who tell you, "God loves you regardless of who you are, what you have done, you can go on sinning but He doesn't mind, He loves you. So you don't have to be sorry for your sin, you don't have to repent of your sin, you don't have to confess your sin."
Now, sounds almost right, right? Because it is true that God loves His people unconditionally, not because of who we are or what we have done, but purely because of His grace. But hyper grace takes it to such an extreme that says, ignore sin in your life.
It is like giving someone opium or heroin or morphine ... morphine. You know what it is, when you have a rotting leg, a decaying leg, a painful leg, the doctor says to you, "Don't worry lah, I give you morphine." Jab, jab, jab, jab, jab. "Don't think about it!" Jab, jab, jab. You don't feel anything because you're having morphine or heroin. But even though you feel good about it, your leg is dying and decaying, and the sickness and the disease is spreading. It is fatal! But people tell you, "Don't worry about it!"
That's what hyper grace is. There is no call to repentance, there is no call to live a life of holiness, but the church feels great. It sounds almost right, but it is far from right. The Gospel is a call for God's people to become a holy people. And that's where hyper grace falls so far off.
I can go on and on, I can talk about signs and wonders. You know, there's the obsession today in the churches around the world with signs and wonders. Real obsession, almost to the degree that if you do not hear someone say that they have a vision or a dream or a prophecy, you almost feel that they are not Christians.
Now, I'm not denying that God can give miracles today. I'm not denying that there can be people who may have special visions from God. I ... I don't think the Bible rules it out categorically. But I think the real danger is when people resort to such supernatural; exoteric experiences that they absolutely bypass the need to study the Bible for themselves, and to have a renewed mind to discern the will of God.
Sounds so good! "God will speak to you, He will talk to you in your dream, even after you, you have a full meal," and so on. You had a dream and you think that, that's from God. "Yeah, God will speak to you don't worry about it. Don't need to study the Bible so hard, you guys are such Bible nerds. All I need to do is sit under the coconut tree and God will tell me. I'm so spiritual, I got a special antenna with God. 98.8 FM, you don't have. I'm the spiritual one, you are not!"
Is that really what the Bible teaches? No! But yet there are many people who believe it. Well, I think you get the point. Discernment, so crucial in the days of the church at Corinth, and so crucial in our day.
Discernment comes as God enables His people to understand, dissect, process the principles of Scripture and lay out what God desires, as He has explicitly said. But let me move on to this major theme then of undivided devotion, and I'll end soon.
Paul, you've got to admire him, I do. I mean, there's no one in my mind who ... who lived a better Christian life apart from Jesus, of course, than the Apostle Paul. And in this simple letter, even in this one simple chapter, you can't but walk away be struck with how singular he is in his life. How focused he is to have undivided devotion to God. This is his whole premise!
And the remarkable thing is that it's not just him. He writes it in such a way that we can tell he believes that amongst the people in Corinth, there are people who think like him. That they will be willing to lay aside a social norm, that one must be married in order to be singularly devoted to Jesus.
I pray that in our church, there will be people who have that undivided devotion. And by the way, I'm not saying please remain single ah. I'm not saying that when you come to me and say, "Pastor, can you help us solemnize a marriage?" I say, "Have you read 1st Corinthians 7? Ha ha ha, how come you all cannot be undivided and devoted to God? Ha, ha?"
I ... I ... I of course won't do that. But the point is that there are people in those days, Paul knows who will do that, and there may be some in our church who wants to do that. And again, I say as a church, we must be sensitive, that we do not go around and say, "Eh, when you get married? Why you cannot find girl friend ah?" Because if you really ask them, they may really want to do it for Jesus, and that will be so beautiful.
But I pray that we will be a church who has this clear focus on the things that are to come. Resurrection Sunday reminds us Jesus is alive and He will be coming back one day. We should live with the end in mind. We should live in such a way that knowing what is ultimate, serving God, being His doulos, His bond slave, we will not hold the things of this life too tightly.
We have not traveled as a family for some years now, but I remember a trip we had five years ago. It was to (Matthias, Pastor's son in congregation shouted "Maldives"). This guy is a spoiler, alright, so he ... he lets the cat out of it. Okay. Alright, five years ago, we went to Maldives.
It is like Singapore, except that you're surrounded by a lot of waters, but it's super duper hot. So after breakfast, we really have a hard time trying to figure out what to do, because if you get under the sun, you'll be chow tah [sunburn in Hokkien] in no time.
So we kind of ... my kids found a very nice comfortable spot under the jetty walkway, you could see here. And they will hide there, they will stay there, they will look for creatures. And you see beautiful little creatures, crabs. I don't know what this is, you all remember? I know shellfish, but what lah? Is it a ... okay, I can't remember, lice, right, a ... a ... sea louse or something like that, something along that line.
And then you have hermit crabs and hiding in a shell, so they are beautiful creatures and my kids have such a nice time creating a habitat, a home for them under the jetty walkway. So that's what they do they ... they dig, they like to create these barriers and so on. But you know, this is the sea and soon enough there will be a boat that sails by and the waves will absolutely wipe out all that they do.
You can see how beisong [unhappy in Hokkien] Matthias looks. By the way, I love these pictures, where they were still so small and cute. Er, things have changed. (Laughter...) Five years is a long time. So once it got destroyed they decided to get back together again and, and build the barriers and restore the habitat, but again another boat would come and again beisong.
But you see, that's life! Things on the beach are fleeting, they don't last! By all means enjoy this world, be thankful for the things in this world, be thankful for marriage, be thankful for family, be thankful for food, be thankful for the nice things God has given you in life. It's not wrong, to be thankful and to enjoy these things, but they are not the ultimate things.
It will be so tragic, if your life is focused on these things. It will be so tragic if my kids are devastated and they kill themselves because their ... their barriers are destroyed by the sea. Oh, during that time enjoy it, but then you know, life is not just living in Maldives, there's work to do. And the real joy and eternal bliss will come when Jesus returns.
I pray today you will be a people like that. Moses lived like that — he ... he held the things of this world loosely. The Bible tells us, "He chose rather to be mistreated with the people of God." [Heb 11:25] He ... he wanted to be with the slaves, with the Jews, than to become the prince of Egypt and, "... to enjoy the pleasures of sin, because he knows it's fleeting." It's temporary!
"Oh, 40 years is long," you say. "50 years is long," you say. But put it beside eternity and it is really like a vapor. "He considered the reproach of Christ, greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt for he was looking to the reward." [Heb 11:26] This is wisdom!
People say, "Christians, siow [mad in Hokkien] one! Give up so much!" Actually, you think about it, the world ... I hope none of our viewers today feel that I'm offending anyone because I ... I used to be from the world. But I think if you like the world, and if you believe what the Bible says, then living for the world is really the siow one. Why would you sacrifice eternal bliss and joy, for 40 and 50 years of luxury here? It's not worth it! And I think wisdom is choosing rightly.
So today, if you're single, engaged, oh, oh ... this is the principle, it's not compelled upon you, do it if you're decided. Time is short, serving Jesus is the ultimate thing in life, and God has given me the gift of celibacy, by all means. But if you're married, no problem, serve God together with your family. Don't have to divorce, but don't treat your marriage as the ultimate thing, Jesus is the ultimate thing.
You know why? Because Jesus Himself was undevoted aah, undivided, in His devotion to God and to fulfill His will. He came to the cross, died on Good Friday and rose again, so that we might become the children of God. As we see His undivided devotion to God and to His people, may we follow Him. May you today turn from sin and belief upon Him.
Let's bow for word of prayer together.
Thank you for bearing with me in a rather long sermon, it's not an easy text actually. But I pray that this singular thought would remain in your heart for this Easter weekend. Jesus is undivided in His devotion to us and to God, most of all.
And because of that, great, great good and blessing is poured out upon this world, great glory is given to God. And I believe that as God's people follow Jesus, in having undivided devotion to God, we will be like that seed of corn that falls into the ground and dies. And that life, sacrificed for the sake of the Gospel will also bring forth much fruit.
It is also our prayer this morning, that you if you're seeking, if you're not yet a Christian, would see that the message of the Bible is God's amazing love to give His Son to die and to save us from our sins.
So Father this morning, we thank You for this time on Easter Weekend to remember even from a text like this about Your love, and about our loyalty and love to You. Help Your Church this morning to respond in a worthy manner. Whether it's our marriage life, or our singleness, or the way we look at finances or our careers, may we be willing to hold them loosely, that we may hold on to Jesus tightly. Not that we abandon these things, but that we will not be obsessed over these things, and that we refuse to be defined by these things.
There may be some going through hardships and pains today, we thank You that those who mourn can live as though they had not mourned, because Jesus is coming back. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, bless Your church there, bless Your people. We thank You in Jesus' Name, Amen.
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