Tony Evans Speaks Out On Being Single and Satisfied

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Overview

There are more singles today in our nation than ever, and yet they are often overlooked or marginalized in our Christian culture and churches. But God's view of singlehood is not the same as how many may view it. He places a very high value on His singles, and we should too.

Taking truths from 1 Corinthians 7, Dr. Evans shares three vital principles for singles. These include how to wait on the Lord and His timing and direction. He also looks out how to work ...

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Overview

There are more singles today in our nation than ever, and yet they are often overlooked or marginalized in our Christian culture and churches. But God's view of singlehood is not the same as how many may view it. He places a very high value on His singles, and we should too.

Taking truths from 1 Corinthians 7, Dr. Evans shares three vital principles for singles. These include how to wait on the Lord and His timing and direction. He also looks out how to work for God and experience the satisfaction of fulfilling your personal calling in life. Lastly, he closes with a look at being wedded in the Lord - whether that is through an eventual marriage or through your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In this hope-filled and popular title, Dr. Tony Evans encourages us to embrace the often unheard biblically-based truth about singlehood: Being single is more desirable for a Christian than being married!

"Many single people today fear they are missing out on God's plan or God's best for their lives because they aren't married"--Back cover.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802443717
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Series: Tony Evans Speaks Out On... Series
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author


About The AlternativeThe Urban Alternative is the national ministry of Dr. Tony Evans and is dedicated to restoring hope and transforming lives through the proclamation and application of the Word of God.About Dr. Tony EvansDr. Tony Evans is founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas; founder and president of The Urban Alternative; former chaplain of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys; and present chaplain of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on hundreds of US radio outlets daily and in nearly 100 countries.
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Read an Excerpt

Speaks Out on Being Single & Satisfied


By Anthony T. Evans

Moody Press

Copyright © 2002 Anthony T. Evans
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8024-4371-7


CHAPTER 1

BEING SINGLE AND SATISFIED

* * *


A single woman was talking with her pastor one day, discussing the subject of marriage. The pastor said, "You know, God has designed the perfect plan for marriage, one man and one woman together for life. You can't improve on God's plan."

"Pastor, I don't want to improve on it," the woman replied. "I just want to get in on it."

That's the way many single people feel today. They fear they are missing out on God's plan or God's best for their lives because they aren't married. Many singles feel as if their lives are in a holding pattern, like an airplane that is supposed to be landing at its destination but has been ordered to circle the airport.

I've flown enough to know what it's like for the pilot to come on the intercom and announce that the plane has been denied permission to land for whatever reason. Holding patterns are very frustrating because you are helpless. You didn't choose the situation, and there is nothing you can do about it. All you know is that you want the pilot to get that metal bird on the ground so you can get off and get on with your life.

If you are a Christian single person who loves God and wants to honor and serve Him with your life, then I want to speak to you from God's Word, because the Bible contains some very important, challenging, and encouraging principles for Christian singles. (Let me also say that these principles have implications for married people, as we'll see.)

The Scripture deals with the subject of singleness head-on in 1 Corinthians 7:25–40, where the apostle Paul was in the process of answering his readers' questions concerning marriage and singleness. Paul was the right person to handle these issues, because the evidence suggests that he had been married at one time and then lived for many years as a single person. So he knew what it was like to have a mate and to be alone.

Paul must have been married because before his conversion he was a member of the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of Jewish leaders, which required its members to be married. Perhaps his wife had died, or she may even have left him when he came to Christ. The point is that Paul knew what it was like both to have a mate and to live as a single person.

There's another reason 1 Corinthians 7 is so important to the issue of marital status, which is that Paul was speaking by divine revelation. So what he wrote in this portion of Scripture is the Word of God and not just one man's opinion. And in 1 Corinthians 7 we find at least three vital principles for singles. We can summarize these as waiting on the Lord, working for the Lord, and being wed in the Lord.


WAITING ON THE LORD

A lot of singles would look at this subhead and say, "Oh, yeah, I know all about waiting. I've been waiting on the Lord to give me a mate for a long time."

Most singles would agree that they're waiting for an opportunity to marry, because they don't plan on being single the rest of their lives. God's concern for you as a waiting single is how you are doing while you're waiting. Let me show you what I mean.

Paul had been discussing marriage and divorce in 1 Corinthians 7:1–24 before turning to the specific issue of singleness in verse 25: "Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy."

When Paul said the Lord had not given a command about being single, he meant that when Jesus was on earth He didn't speak directly to this issue. Jesus certainly could have spoken on singleness, because He experienced the single life to the nth degree, including the temptations that singles face.

But God chose instead to entrust His message on singleness and its principles to Paul. My point is that when Paul said he was offering his view, he was saying, "I have the Lord's mind on this." This is important because some people try to discount Paul's teaching here as of lesser authority than Jesus' words. But the Bible knows no such distinction.


Wait in Moral Purity

Notice that when Paul began to discuss unmarried people, he used the term virgins in 1 Corinthians 7:25. For Paul, singleness was synonymous with virginity, and so the first principle in waiting is to maintain your moral purity.

In the divine context, if you are single and you love the Lord, you are also celibate. The two go hand in hand. Paul was referring primarily to physical virginity or sexual purity, although there is also a spiritual purity that people who have been sexually immoral can recapture. We'll talk about that too.

God not only anticipates and expects, but also demands, that single people be celibate. Now this is a difficult message in a day of license, liberty, and hedonism. We've gone from the Victorian Age to Victoria's Secret catalogs and television ads. Modesty has been thrown to the wind. Yet we are not called to adapt the Bible to our age, but to adapt our age to the Bible.

Sex today has been cheapened by a world that does not have a divine perspective. And things that are cheap can be given away easily. Things that are valuable, you protect.

My single friend, your sense of value will be measured in large part by your morality. Too many people treat sex like the all-night drive-through at the local fast-food restaurant—always available when the desire hits you. Purity is no longer a priority.

But the Bible says equally to men and to women that God's desire and design for singles is their moral purity. Sex in God's hand is holy; sex in the devil's hand is death. One of the major ways that Satan promotes his program in history is through illicit sex. For example, Satan used sexual relations between unholy men and the "daughters of men" to produce an ungodly race in an attempt to destroy God's plan for the world (see Genesis 6:1–2).

Since God commands purity for singles, how can a single person come to grips with this demand when our natural desires and our sexuality are so much a part of our makeup? To answer that, let me show you a crucial principle in Paul's thinking that comes out of this same letter to the Corinthians. The principle is that as Christians we are not to view sex as purely a biological matter, but as a spiritual one.

In 1 Corinthians 6:13 Paul wrote, "Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body."

Notice the contrast between the way we treat hunger, a legitimate physical appetite, and the way we should treat our bodies when it comes to sexual morality. Most people in Corinth, a very wicked city, equated food with sex. When they got hungry, they ate. When they wanted sex, they fed that appetite. Corinth even had a temple with a restaurant on one side and a brothel on the other. A person could have dinner at the restaurant and go to the brothel for dessert. No big deal.

No, Paul says, it's a very big deal. It's OK to eat when you're hungry because the stomach was made for food. But it's not OK to indulge in sex whenever you feel like it because your body was not made for sexual immorality. This is where Paul begins to make the switch from the purely physical to the spiritual view of sex—which he will expand on in verses 15–20.

But notice verse 14, which explains how singles can remain sexually pure when everything around them says to go ahead and indulge their appetites. "Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power."

This might seem out of place at first. What does Christ's resurrection and our future resurrection have to do with a Christian's sexual purity? Everything, because Paul is saying that we have the same power working within us that raised Jesus from the dead. If God can raise Jesus from the dead, He can give us the power to remain pure even in a decadent culture.

How spiritual is this matter of sex for a Christian? Paul answers that by beginning with a question: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!" (1 Corinthians 6:15).

Why was Paul so adamant about this? Because the truth of our spiritual union with Christ means that whatever we do, we bring Jesus into it with us. In other words, whenever you as a Christian are sexually intimate with another person, you are making Jesus participate with you.

God has given His blessing to sex within the marriage union, but if the sexual activity is outside of marriage it's the equivalent of spiritual rape. Paul was horrified at the thought, and we should be too.

Why is sex so devastating both physically and spiritually when it is misused? We find the answer to that in 1 Corinthians 6:16–18. "Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, 'The two shall become one flesh'" (v. 16). Paul says that a unique spiritual union is created by the sex act, even when it is done as an act of immorality between two people who have no intention of forming a lasting relationship.

We know this because Paul used God's own words from the first marriage (see Genesis 2:24) to describe a temporary sexual union. Even if a man would probably never consider walking down the aisle with a woman he used for a "one-night stand," there is a sense in which he did walk down the aisle with her.

To be sure, their union was a false one, but the fact is that their sexual union formed a one-flesh relationship that also included a fusion of their souls. It's as if these two people each stamped a part of his or her soul on the other person. Therefore, when they separate, each leaves behind a part of him or herself with the other person, creating tremendous spiritual damage.

That's why the idea of illicit or casual sex as a onetime encounter that's over and done the next morning is the furthest thing from the truth. Many people who have been sexually immoral can testify to painful memories that play themselves back because God designed sex as a spiritual and not merely a biological reality.

Instead of two people joining themselves together sexually outside of marriage, God has a higher standard: "But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1 Corinthians 6:17). There must be a spiritual oneness with the Lord that overrides the desire for illegitimate physical oneness with another person.

And so God's advice to singles or anyone tempted to engage in illicit activity is "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body" (v. 18). Immorality has a selfdestructive effect built into it.

Then Paul asked another important question. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body" (vv. 19–20).

We can see the spiritual nature of sex here because Paul referred to our bodies as temples with which we can glorify God. A temple is a church house, the place where God is worshiped. This means that when a husband and wife engage in sex, they are actually participating in an act of worship.

This is an awesome illustration of the spiritual nature of our sexuality. In the Old Testament, a person who wanted to get close to God went into the temple to worship. And in the deepest recess of the temple was a place called the Holy of Holies, the most sacred part of the temple hidden behind a veil. No one could enter there but the high priest, and then only once a year with blood to cover the people's sins.

God has created every woman with a bodily veil called a hymen. This creates a covering that literally says what the Old Testament said about the Holy of Holies—no trespassing until such time as it is appropriate to shed blood.

That's why it is common for a woman who is a virgin to shed blood on her wedding night. There is a breaking of the veil, the hymen, by the only person rightfully allowed to do that, the woman's husband-priest. Sexual intercourse between a husband and wife is a holy act.

What about single men and women who will not be able to know this wedding-night experience in the way God intended because they have already had sex outside of marriage? Let's be clear that illicit sex is sin, but the Bible also has a word of hope and restoration for singles who have failed morally.

Judging from Paul's message in 1 Corinthians, he was writing to a lot of people who had been immoral. No matter what they had done, Paul wrote, "But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 6:11).

God can and will forgive sexual sin and restore any believer to purity. Those who have lost their physical virginity can still regain their spiritual virginity and purity of life before God. Spiritual virginity is when God gives you back what the devil took away.

You see, when God saved you He made you a diamond. If I rub a diamond in the dirt, what I have is a dirty diamond that has lost none of its intrinsic value. It just needs to be cleansed and restored to its original luster.

We can't change the past, but we can clean up the present and look forward to a shiny future. If you have compromised your moral purity and have not dealt with it before God, go to Him in confession and repentance and experience His cleansing (read 1 John 1:9 and claim its promise). And if you are still a virgin and committed to sexual purity, ask God to help you stand strong. And remember, He has promised not to let you get in any situation without a way of escape (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).


Wait with the Right Mentality

While you're waiting on the Lord, make sure that your thinking is straight too. Paul addressed this issue in verses 26–28 of 1 Corinthians 7.

Too many singles have only one thought on their minds: I need to get married, no matter what. But the Bible has a different emphasis. "I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is" (v. 26). In other words, whether you're married or single, don't let your marital status dominate your thinking and focus.

Paul said this because he knew there were bigger things at stake in the Christian life than a person's marital status. This wouldn't be such a big deal for singles today except that we are guilty as a society and as a church of making single people feel like second-class citizens.

But God doesn't make any distinction between married and single people in terms of their value in His eyes. That's clear from what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:27: "Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife."

If singleness were not as perfectly acceptable to God as marriage, He would have commanded all Christians to get married, and Paul would probably have gotten married, or perhaps remarried, himself. The point is that singles are not worse off than married people.

In fact, marriage has its own set of challenges and problems. "If a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you," Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:28.

Now I know that many single Christians, especially older singles, become defensive when they hear this because they think, Oh yes, here it comes, the old "You're better off single" speech that's supposed to make me feel better about not having anyone.

That may be some people's reaction, but there's no denying the truth that from the standpoint of kingdom service, which was Paul's focus, singles are less encumbered than married people.

We also can't deny the truth that marriage is not an automatic fix for all the needs of single people. You may say, "But Tony, I'm lonely. I have to eat alone at night and go to bed alone. I have normal emotional longings and sexual needs that are not being fulfilled, and I'm frustrated."

Well, I've counseled many married people who are so emotionally lonely and/or sexually unsatisfied that they're thinking about bailing out on their marriages and going back to being single. The only thing more painful than being single and miserable is being married and miserable.

Let's get our thinking straight. Anyone who thinks marriage is the be-all and end-all of life, the answer to all of a single person's dreams and problems, is in for a big letdown. Marriage is wonderful, but someone likened it to flies on a window screen. Some are on the outside wanting in, and others are on the inside wanting out.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Speaks Out on Being Single & Satisfied by Anthony T. Evans. Copyright © 2002 Anthony T. Evans. Excerpted by permission of Moody Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Waiting on the LORD

2. Working for the LORD

3. Wedded in the LORD

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