The Corinthian church had a lot of problems, which is beneficial for us, because we can learn as Jesus dealt with those issues through Paul’s letters. Perhaps the top two issues that Corinth became known for are the same two major issues we face in our culture: sexual immorality and extreme materialism. The primary god of Corinth was Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation which accounted for the sexual sin. And Corinth’s location on the four-mile-wide isthmus separating the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea allowed it to have two harbors – one leading straight to Asia, and the other to Italy and Europe. Wealth streamed there from all over the world and you could get nearly anything you might want in Corinth. Money and materialism were rampant.
The Lord deals with both of those issues in 1 Corinthians 7, strongly affirming that God intended the sexual act both for pleasure and for procreation, but only between a husband and wife. He also speaks about becoming enamored with possessions and gives us two extremely important principles as it relates to living as believers in this world: “You should use the things of the world without letting them become important to you” (1 Cor 7:31 EZ2Rd). Notice he didn’t say “too important,” just important. We should be grateful to God for His provision and enjoy what He has given us (1 Tim 6:17) – but not let it become important. We have to keep “the things of this world” in perspective. Too often we elevate them to an importance and prominence far beyond their value.
And notice what God says in verse 35: “I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible” (NLT). As believers we can’t be reminded often enough of the true priorities and values that are ours in Christ. God wants to free us not fetter us, to emancipate us to enjoy life, not to limit us. And He knows best – and wants the best for us. My nieces 2-year-old was here last year and I watched him trying to open the front door. I told him that he couldn’t go out because there were cars in the streets – it was dangerous out there. He wasn’t happy. He probably thought I was trying to restrict him, but as we all know, I wasn’t. I was trying to help him remain free from potential injury so he could learn, grow, and become what he couldn’t be if he ran out in front of a car. So God warns us of the dangers of things in this world – use them, enjoy them, but don’t let them become important. Keep HIM and His will as the most important thing in your life.