‘Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.’ (1 Corinthians 7:25-31)
This section is about the advantages of remaining single, whilst teaching that it’s good to marry if you feel that this is God’s will for you. Too often relationships are set as our highest goal and priority. We can define ourselves by our relationships. Sex can be idolised. Paul reminds them to put all of their relationships with people and material things into the context of eternity - that ‘this world in its present form is passing away’. He writes,
‘What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short…this world in its present form is passing away.’ (1 Corinthians 7:29, 31)
On Sunday Nev shared a prophetic picture from which He illustrated his message. He saw in his minds eye, a great mountain the base of which was shrouded in a dark cloud that was rising, slowly, up the mountain. Many people were on this mountain. Some were walking toward the top which was the great goal. Some were alone and were thus able to stride unencumbered toward the top. Others were in small groups and were making slower progress as they had to wait for one another. Many had come to a stop at the sides of the path. Many, however, were streaming down the mountain and away from the summit. As Nev did in his message, I’ll weave this picture into the Bible studies this week.
In this ‘vision’ we see this dark cloud enveloping this mountain. This mountain being engulfed by this dark cloud represents this world that is passing away. We are to live in a way that respects this reality. Our use of things and our relationships must be shaped by the fact that time is short and we need to help others - those streaming down the mountain- to come to Jesus before it’s too late! Here are two texts that speak of the passing nature of this world and our response:
'Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4)
‘But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?’ (1 Peter 3:10-11)