Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Sanctified Spouse (1 Corinthians 7:14-16)

"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife …" (1 Cor. 7:14).

The word “sanctify” in these verses means to cleanse, to render morally pure, to consecrate, to regard as sacred, and to hold in reverence. Any person or object consecrated to God, or employed for His service, is considered to be sanctified or holy. Thus, the temple in the Old Testament, its utensils, the sacrifices, the priests, the altar, are called holy. Those things that are not consecrated to God are called profane, common, or unclean. To transfer anything from one class, from the profane, to that which is set apart for the purposes of God, is to sanctify it. “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). The Hebrew people were sanctified by being separated from other nations and employed in the service of God, and all who joined them within the fold of the theocracy were called holy. Their children were holy, and so were their wives. “If the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches” (Rom. 11:16).

It must remain clear, however, that this does not mean that parents and children who are consecrated to the Lord and subject to the benefits and blessings of Christ in an outward sense are necessarily born again. “In none of these cases does the word express any subjective or inward change,” Hodge wrote. “Children born within the theocracy, and therefore holy, were none the less conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity. They were by nature the children of wrath, even as others, Eph. 2:3. When, therefore, it is said that the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife by the believing husband, the meaning is, not that they were rendered inwardly holy, nor that they are brought under a sanctifying influence, but that they were sanctified by their intimate union with a believer, just as the temple sanctified the gold connected with it; or the altar the gift laid upon it, Matt. 23:17, 19.… The pagan husband, in virtue of his union with a Christian wife, although he remained a pagan, was sanctified; he assumed a new relation; he was set apart to the service of God, as the guardian of one of His chosen ones, and as the parent of children who, in virtue of their believing mother, were children of the covenant.”

What are some practical ways that an unbelieving husband or wife is sanctified by his or her believing spouse? How are children blessed by their believing parent? What is the hope given in these verses to the believing spouse? Pray for the salvation of the covenant children in your church and for those unbelieving wives and husbands.