2005, Volume X, Issue 15
The Danger of Singleness (1)
Though singleness is good (as we saw in the last two issues
of the News), there are also dangers associated with it (I Cor. 7:2, 9).
First, it can be abused in a selfish way. It is true that single people avoid
the cares of marriage (26, 28, 32), but they may then sinfully choose to live
unto themselves. Instead of using their greater freedom as singles to serve the
Lord, they may simply use it to please themselves. The single person is thus
tempted to satisfy their every desire and become self-centred in the use of
their money, time, leisure, holidays, etc. This sinful abuse of singleness
disobeys God’s Word. Love "seeketh not her own" (I Cor. 13:5). "Look not every
man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Phil. 2:4).
"Let everyone of us please his neighbour for his good to edification" (Rom.
15:2). Though there is ordinarily a greater occasion for selfishness in single
life, it is, of course, common to all the fallen sons and daughters of Adam.
Second, the single person’s physical condition of aloneness
may lead to feeling lonely. The single child of God misses having someone with
whom to talk and share. Then one is prone to brood and to think that no one
really cares, perhaps not even the Father in heaven. Loneliness is often linked
with boredom. "It is no fun being here by myself. I wish I had someone to live
with and live for." For some single people, this danger is mitigated by
continuing to live with their parents. But living with your parents when you are
older may generate friction, especially because there is a natural desire for
greater independence. However, not only single people but even some married
people feel lonely, such as some parents after their children have grown up and
left home or spouses in a poor marriage or Christians who are married to
Third, single people may struggle with a sense of failure.
"Other people (including most of my friends) are married and have families of
their own by now, but what have I done?" The single man may complain, "No one
whom I ask out ever accepts, or if they do it never works out." The single woman
may feel undesirable and unattractive to men.
All of these things and others can lead to bitterness, and
bitterness at one’s lot in life, is, at bottom, bitterness at Almighty God, the
governor of the world.
However, the single biggest danger for single people is
fornication. The dangers previously mentioned may also add to the temptation. A
selfish desire for sheer physical gratification may lead to fornication. The
desire of a lonely single person to be with a man or woman may also lead to
unlawful intercourse. The single person may think that sleeping with another
person will prove his or her masculinity or femininity. With others bitterness
or discontentment with God’s way can lead to sex outside marriage.
I Corinthians 6 has a lot to say about fornication.
Fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God (9-10). Christians fornicating
with prostitutes are making members of Christ the members of an harlot (15-16).
All other sins are outside the body, "but he that commiteth fornication sinneth
against his own body" (18). Thus the child of God must "flee fornication" (18).
This includes avoiding temptations to it such as lascivious books, magazines,
pictures, television programmes, songs, music videos, etc. Fornication is a
mortal danger! Flee it!
I Corinthians 7:2 speaks literally of "fornications"
(plural): "Nevertheless, to avoid fornications, let every man have his own wife,
and let every woman have her own husband." This forbids all forms of illicit
sexual activity including sodomy, prostitution, pornography and sexual
fantasies. Christian marriage is the God ordained way of avoiding fornication.
But why does the apostle identify fornication as the number 1
danger for single persons and marriage as the solution or "remedy" (as Calvin
calls it)? First, he presupposes that men and women are naturally attracted to
the opposite sex. This is part of the human make-up, for God created us "male
and female" (Gen. 1:27). Second, he presupposes that the fall of man has
disordered our sexual attractions. Thus man’s sexuality plus his total depravity
issues in sexual lust. Sinful men and women with sexual appetites are best
preserved from fornication not by monkish vows of continual chastity or by
retiring to a monastery in the desert but by lawful Christian marriage. In
marriage, God makes two "one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). In marriage, sex is lawful and
even required—a good gift from God! In marriage, satisfied with the love and
lovemaking of his or her spouse, the Christian is guarded from the temptation to
fornicate (Prov. 5:15-20).
Some might protest that this is a low view of marriage: Get
married or you may fornicate. But consider apostolic teaching in I Corinthians.
Christian marriage is a "one flesh" union (6:16), which brings forth "holy"
children (7:14), in which the man "is the image and glory of God: but the woman
is the glory of the man" (11:3). In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul describes Christian
marriage as a picture of the union between Christ and His church—the most
glorious presentation anywhere of marriage—and commands husbands: "love your
wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (25). Rev.
For additional resources on this subject, see
Marry, a 105-page book on I Corinthians 6 & 7, by Prof. David
Engelsma (£8.80, inc. P&P) and a series of 11 sermons on I Corinthians 7
entitled "Christian Singleness and Marriage" by Rev. Stewart.
Calling on the Name of the Lord
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father
which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name
done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew
you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matt. 7:21-23).
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the
name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21).
One of our readers writes, "Please explain fully the
apparent inconsistency between [these two passages]." The apparent
contradiction is resolved by considering the context in which the words were
spoken and by recognizing that the meaning of the phrase "call on the name of
the Lord" is different in both cases.
I will point out a few things concerning the context first
of all. The words of our Saviour in Matthew 7:21-23 are part of the well-known
Sermon on the Mount, also referred to as "The Constitution of the Kingdom of
Heaven." As a constitution, it contains a description of the citizens of the
kingdom; a discussion of certain principles of the kingdom (notably how the
King of the kingdom, our Lord Jesus Christ, has not established His kingdom to
destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them); and the laws of this
spiritual kingdom which govern the lives of those who are its citizens (cf.
The description of the citizens of the kingdom is of
particular interest to us. They are the poor in spirit, the meek, the
merciful, the pure in heart, the persecuted; those who mourn and those who
hunger and thirst for righteousness; those who enter the low and narrow gate
to travel a difficult and treacherous path and abandon the wide gate and the
easily-travelled broad way, etc.
The Lord warns that there will be some in this world who
claim to be citizens of the kingdom, but, in fact, are not. We must be careful
that we know who they are, for to follow their example would be disastrous.
These false disciples say that they "call upon the name of
the Lord." That is, they say that they belong to the kingdom of Christ and
that they acknowledge Him as King. They even go so far as to claim to belong
to that kingdom by pointing out many good works which they do in the name of
Christ. They have the temerity to call attention to these good works in the
judgment day when they stand before Christ’s judgment seat. Their reckless and
bold claims sound uncomfortably like the claims of the charismatics: "Lord,
Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out
devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" (Matt. 7:22).
They are like people described in Matthew 25 who say,
"Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or
sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?" (Matt. 25:44).
The true citizens of the kingdom never say such things.
They are the meek, the thirsty, the hungry, the persecuted. In the judgment
they say, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and
gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and
clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?"
In other words, some people, trying to convince themselves
and others that they are true citizens of the kingdom, boast, even before the
judgment seat of Christ, of their good works. The true citizens of the kingdom
never do this, for they are too overwhelmed by their sins, and they know that
their own works are always despicable and displeasing to God. The people who
claim to be citizens, but are not, call upon the Lord only to boast of their
These people lack the one important characteristic that,
more than any other, defines them as citizens of the kingdom: They fail to do
the will of the Father in heaven. They claim to cast out devils, but violate
and desecrate the Sabbath. They claim to prophesy in Christ’s name, but they
teach false doctrine. They claim to do many wonderful works for Christ, but
they divorce their wives or husbands and marry others for whom they lust.
You will find them among professional sports figures who
pray before football games and play on the Lord’s Day. You will find them
among ministers who preach on Sunday morning, but then go to the golf course
to play golf. You will find them "witnessing" on a street corner, and then
going to movies. They are the ones who publicly protest against pornography,
but use their computers to visit pornographic sites. They will use ugly
tactics to protest outside abortion clinics, but will destroy their own
children by neglect and failure to teach them the ways of the Lord. They tithe
regularly, but buy mansions, boats, expensive cars to satisfy their craving
for pleasure. Their number is legion. They are found on TV as preachers of the
gospel, and in huge auditoriums where they do their miracles "in the name of
the Lord." They are always "pious," always with the name of the Lord on their
lips, but also having a wonderful time in this world in the pursuit of sin.
The Lord will tell them that He never knew them. Prof. H. Hanko
would like to receive the Covenant Reformed News free by e-mail
each month (and/or by post, if you are in the UK), please contact
Rev. Stewart and we will gladly send it to you.