The main reason people indulge, avoid, and pervert intimacy is because man’s nature approaches life through a hedonistic lens. What is hedonism? Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence; the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life. God sent Jesus to become the Christian’s hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. This feeds man’s hedonistic nature with sacrifice, grace, peace, truth, and love.
In 1 Corinthians the church has a difficult time replacing its selfish indulgences with spiritual ones. This is the same dilemma we face today. Paul addresses some of the common problems that we face when our hedonistic nature focuses on self-indulgence rather than indulging in Christ. He also gives us clear guidelines to make Christ our all.
Here’s a Review:
Over the past few weeks we’ve created some exercises based on Paul’s teachings (1) Ask yourself what dominates you? (2) Seek to have your heart beat for Christ. This happens by Handing over your right; Extend grace and love to everyone, in every way, and for every reason; Align your thoughts with the word of God; Resist the urge to take control; and trust the Word of God and the Spirit of God. (3) It also requires that when we, “think SEX” we share Selfless Emotional eXpressions with our spouse.
Today we’ll discuss the 4th exercise: Get caught up in hedonism by finding pleasure in Christ alone. How do we do that? The same way we find pleasure in anything. We find pleasure in the things that validate our beliefs, opinions, and ultimately our worldview. To find pleasure in Christ he needs to become the lens by which we validate everything. Here is how we become a Christian hedonist.
- Read – become preoccupied with God’s Word
- Recite – spend ample time in prayer and meditation alone with Jesus.
- React – apply what you read and what you learn.
Here are the remaining scenarios in 1 Corinthians 7. Paul assures them that finding contentment in Christ will fulfill their hedonistic desires.
Marriage Problems Among Believers and Couples with Mixed Beliefs
1 Corinthians 7: 10-16
10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Paul helps the church to realize that when they allow circumstances to dictate behavior the outcome is always conflicted. In a world were relationships are developed through hedonism they will be plagued with friction, distrust, pain, and doubt. It is impossible for an individual’s needs to be fulfilled through someone else. Paul encourages couples to reconcile, find contentment, and overlook being wronged. This is only possible when needs are met through Christ alone.
Live as a Believer in all Circumstances
1 Corinthians 7: 17-24
17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
When our hedonistic nature is deprived, our lives spiral out of control. When we seek to find pleasure in people, sex, wealth, success, or anything other than Christ we will be disappointed. If Christ is enough then our circumstances will have little to no bearing on our peace of mind. Paul urges the Church to live as believers in all circumstances. This requires deep fulfillment and satisfaction found through Christ alone.
Enjoy Intimacy When Christ Dominates You
1 Corinthians 7: 25-39
25 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. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 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. 28 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.
29 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; 30 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; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
For the Christian it is simple. Believers remain single to serve, marry to serve, live in persecution to serve, live in freedom to serve, live in theological conviction to serve! Believers are saved to serve! It is our service that feeds our hedonism. When we find our pleasure in Christ we are obedient. Obedience to Christ frees Jesus to transform our thoughts, feelings, actions, and behaviors. As he changes us we begin to see life as an opportunity to share joy with the world.
How does a Christian live with hedonism? A life dominated by Christ, a heart that beats for Christ, a life that seeks to share selfless emotional expressions, and caught up in hedonism by finding pleasure in Christ alone.
- Do not allow circumstances to determine the fate of your marriage, let Christ.
- Circumstances do not determine our joy, our focus on Christ does.
(Faithful Obedience to Christ’s Ultimate Sacrifice)
- When Christ dominates our life, our heart beats for him, our lives are selfless expressions of emotions, and we find our pleasure in Christ – we are free to make choices about the way we live and the relationships we develop.
Small Group Discussion
- What thoughts and feelings come to mind when you hear/see the word pleasure?
- What are some personal practices that help you find pleasure in Christ?
- Is it hard for you to believe hedonism can be good for the soul? Why or why not?
- When learning to find pleasure in Christ we must read, recite, and react.
What is hard about these for you? Why?
- What are the four exercises that can help us becomes a better influencer for Christ?
- What could the outcome(s) be when these exercises are fully utilized in the life of an individual and/or the Church?
- What is the personal application for you, your marriage, and/or your family?