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Summary: Instead of living life by all the "rules" why not live life by the Spirit?

February 3, 2002

17You must accept whatever situation the Lord has put you in, and continue on as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. 18For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now. 19For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.

20You should continue on as you were when God called you. 21Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. 22And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, the Lord has now set you free from the awful power of sin. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. 23God purchased you at a high price. Don’t be enslaved by the world. 24So, dear brothers and sisters, whatever situation you were in when you became a believer, stay there in your new relationship with God.

25Now, about the young women who are not yet married. I do not have a command from the Lord for them. But the Lord in his kindness has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you. 26Because of the present crisis, I think it is best to remain just as you are. 27If you have a wife, do not end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not get married. 28But if you do get married, it is not a sin. And if a young woman gets married, it is not a sin. However, I am trying to spare you the extra problems that come with marriage.

29Now let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short, so husbands should not let marriage be their major concern. 30Happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God’s work. 31Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away. 32In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33But a married man can’t do that so well. He has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be more devoted to the Lord in body and in spirit, while the married woman must be concerned about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.

35I 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. 36But if a man thinks he ought to marry his fiancée because he has trouble controlling his passions and time is passing, it is all right; it is not a sin. Let them marry. 37But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry. 38So the person who marries does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better.

39A wife is married to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry whomever she wishes, but this must be a marriage acceptable to the Lord. 40But in my opinion it will be better for her if she doesn’t marry again, and I think I am giving you counsel from God’s Spirit when I say this.

First Corinthians 7.17-40 -- The New Living Translation

The movie Les Misérables, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, opens with a vagabond curled up on a stone bench on a desolate French street corner. His bedraggled appearance makes him seem dangerous and causes the townspeople, from whom he sought food and shelter, to snub him. Finally he slumps over in dejection-until a passerby points to a place where he can find refuge.

He goes to the door and knocks. The homeowner, the town’s bishop, is startled by the late-night visitation but attentively listens to his story.

His name is Jean Valjean, and he reveals that he is a recently released convict and marked by the authorities as dangerous. Even so, the bishop welcomes him into his home and serves him dinner.

Later, in the middle of the night, despite the bishop’s kindness, Valjean double-crosses him.

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