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When is it OK to Divorce and Remarry? Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 13, 2022 9:00 am

When is it OK to Divorce and Remarry? Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 13, 2022 9:00 am

God designed marriage to be for life. So how can we restore a sinking relationship? And what is God’s plan for those who have already gone through a divorce?

Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Summit Life
J.D. Greear

Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. What saved my marriage is when it finally dawned to me, somebody explain this to me, that you are first and foremost not somebody who needs to forgive, you're first and foremost somebody who has been forgiven.

You are first the sinner and only secondly sinned against. So you've got to soak yourselves in the grace of God because it'll soften your heart and it'll change everything. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. I think it's safe to say that when most people enter marriage, they understand that it won't always be smooth sailing. But even with this realistic perspective, we are often surprised when the going actually gets rough. And without a biblical mindset, it's tempting to just give up and want to jump ship. So how can we restore a sinking marriage? And what about those who have already gone through a divorce?

What's God's plan for them? Pastor J.D. answers these questions today as he continues our series about relationships titled From the Beginning. If you have missed any of the messages in this study, be sure to catch up right away at J.D.

Greer dot com. But right now, let's join Pastor J.D. for the second part of this message that he titled When Is It Okay to Divorce and Remarry? Conflict is inevitable in a marriage and it destroys a lot of marriages. God intended it, however, to not destroy your marriage.

It actually, He intended it to make you more like Him and He intended it to be something that would ultimately strengthen your marriage. And so learning how to think through this is a crucial dimension of any family and certainly any marriage. Marriage is a relationship in which God fuses two lives into one.

That's the idea. The two, according to Genesis 2, become one flesh. I've explained in marriage, your finances become one, your bodies and your emotions become one in sex, your families and your futures become one. Marriage is more than a contract where you find a mutually beneficial relationship.

It's more than companionship. It's more than an ideal setting for procreation. It is the literal union of two distinct persons into one. Paul would go so far as to say it demonstrates the Trinity, the Trinity. The Trinity is distinct persons, one essence. Paul says that's what's happening in marriage. Two persons, one essence. And that kind of unity can't just be walked away from.

Jesus and Paul would both say it's not a contract where you negotiate terms and have a buyout option. It's a fusion of your life into their life that makes an entirely new entity. The two become one. Divorce should therefore be as radical as amputating an arm or a leg. There are times when amputation is necessary.

Amputation is the last thing that you would do because you want to keep the body intact. It's the same way that Jesus says that's how we think about marriage. The two is not a contract. It is a covenant where the two have become one. So using the time that I have left, let me use that logic and that teaching to deal with three very practical questions that I get most often about this. The first one is how do I stay in a difficult marriage? Number two, if I am divorced, should I get remarried? And then number three, if I'm divorced and remarried, how does God see me? So here's number one.

How do I stay in a difficult marriage? I'm going to give you five quick things, quickish, that I want you to remember. All right, letter A. We'll do A through E. First of all, you need to reject once and for all the right person myth. The right person myth says that there is a right person out there for you and a happy life is determined by you finding that person. And if you don't find that person, you're going to be unhappy. And if you're unhappy now in your marriage, it's because you didn't find the right person. You may have thought when you were young and stupid that they were the right person, but then you got married and now your tastes have matured and you recognize what you don't want in a spouse and this person no longer fits that. And so it's probably better to just acknowledge that you got married to the wrong person to cut bait and to fish somewhere else.

This is the myth that is pervasive in our culture and it destroys singleness and it destroys marriages. And you need to just get rid of it out of your mind altogether because you always marry the wrong person because you're a sinner and they're a sinner and they're not God. And the best you can hope for in marriage, I told you, is less of a bad match.

That's the best you can hope for since everybody ends up being a bad match. And then you realize that God's purpose in marriage is not to restore the missing part of your soul. His main purpose in marriage is to make you more like him by teaching you to love an annoying sinner like your spouse, the way that he loves you.

I don't want to just make it dismal. I'm just saying that God's main purpose is not to make me happy in giving me the lost missing part of my soul. His main purpose, Gary Thomas says, is to make me holy, not happy but holy by making me be more like him. So you need to reject this right person myth altogether because it's what's ultimately, I'd say, the vast majority of divorces are driven by belief in that myth. Here is the second thing, letter B.

If you're in a difficult marriage, how do you stay in it? B, you do it for Jesus. The covenant we made was first and foremost to him. Veronica said to me recently, very recently in the midst of a little, I don't know, tussle that we were in, she said, you know, there are times when we are in the midst of one of these conflagrations where our marriage is going up in flames and I will look at you and I will think he does not deserve my kindness. But she says, but then I look, sometimes I look actually, it's like I look through you and I see Jesus Christ standing behind you and I recognize that while you may not be worthy of my forgiveness or my kindness, he always is. And so I respond first and foremost to him and only secondly to you because he is worthy and you're kind of being a jerk. And that's exactly what Ephesians 4 32 says, be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another because the person that you're forgiving really just needs a second chance and they deserve it. Is that what Ephesians 4 32 says? Wrong.

Okay. Forgive one another because that's what God and Christ did for you. And so it is appropriate that you respond to him by forgiving your spouse.

So you do it for Jesus. Ultimately the one that you first serve in any marriage is always him and your responses are always first to him and only second to the person that is in front of you. Listen, we don't get divorced because we fall out of love with our spouse. We get divorced because we don't take seriously our obedience to Jesus, which leads me to letter C. It goes hand in hand with this one. Soak yourselves in God's grace.

Soak yourselves in God's grace. You know what precedes this teaching on divorce? Matthew 19. If you go back to Matthew 18, just look, you got your Bible, look at it. Matthew 18 verse 22 is where Peter comes up to Jesus and says, Lord, how many times am I supposed to forgive my brother? Seven times. I would love to know what was behind that statement.

There's gotta be a great story there. Peter picks the number seven because seven sounds like a spiritual number, right? So that sounds like it's holy. So Jesus runs by saying, nope, 70 times seven. Now, what he is not saying is you're keeping a tally and just move the gauge from seven to 490. And when they go 491, then you go Old Testament on them. That is not what he is saying. Anytime you multiplied sevens in Hebrew culture, you were basically saying infinity.

It was the number of completions. So Jesus was saying forever. And then Jesus tells a story that is his most famous story on forgiveness. It is the most important parable that Jesus told, I think, for any relationship, certainly marriage.

Matthew 18. Jesus explains what he means to Peter by saying, it's like this, Peter, say you got a guy who owes another guy 10,000 talents. Now a talent in that day was a large sum of money that amounted to about 20 years of wages for the average laborer. 10,000 was the highest number you counted to in Greek.

So when you said 10,000, it was like saying infinity. So you got one guy who owes another guy an infinity of money. And the day comes for his debt to be due. Now, in those days, if you couldn't pay your debts when it was due, then you entered into what they call a debtor's prison, which was where you would go into hard labor and little by little, you would pay off your debt.

Your kids would have to join you there. When you died and they died, you weren't all paid off. Their kids would then go into debt to this family.

It's how one family would become slaves of another family. Well, the day comes for this guy to pay an eternity of debt back. And he goes into the courtroom and he falls in his face and he says, I don't have the money. And he begins to weep. And he says, please, sir, just give me more time. Now everybody in the courtroom is kind of shaking their head and they're honestly embarrassed because this is the pathetic display, right?

I mean, because the guy that owns loans, other people money, he didn't get to be in the place where he is by being a pushover. All of a sudden the most unexpected thing happens. Jesus says this loan shark fills an emotion that Jesus calls splagma, which is my favorite Greek word, because it's onomatopoeia. You know onomatopoeia where the word sounds like what it is? Splagma meant a gut level compassion, something that came from right down here. So you hear that in the words, splagma, right? Jesus says, this guy feels this splagma, this compassion that just consumes it.

We don't know why it doesn't tell us, but it gets a tear in his eye and his lip starts quivering. And he says, stand up. You do not have another week to pay me back because you don't owe me any more money.

As of right now, I forgive all your debt. Nobody in the courtroom can believe it, least of all this guy. He stands up and is this surreal feeling. And for the first time in his life, he feels like he's as light as air because this mountain eternity of debt has been gone.

And so he walks out of the courtroom kind of in a daze. And as he walks across the street, here comes a buddy of his who owes him a dollar 50 for a mountain dew that he'd borrowed the week before. And so this guy just got forgiven because of this other guy and says, hey, where's my, where's my dollar 50? And the guy said, man, I'm sorry, I don't have your dollar 50.

I just, you know, I'm in a hard week. And well, this guy responds by grabbing this guy, Jesus said by the throat and hauling them off and saying, if you don't have my dollar 50, you're going to debtors prison. Now, when Jesus is telling the story, you can imagine that everybody listening is like, that's so ridiculous. Nobody that just got forgiven an eternity of debt is going to hold somebody else accountable for a dollar 50.

And Jesus says, exactly. Thus, if you're not the kind of person who naturally and repeatedly forgives those people who hurt and sin against you, then it must be because you have no concept of the extravagant grace that God has shown to you because you're the one that got forgiven 10,000 talents. And when you can't forgive other people of the dollar 50 infractions that they've done, it just shows how out of touch you are with the grace of God, and then he goes into the teaching on marriage. Because if there was one thing that you and I probably would admit destroys more of our marriages, it is that we have a hard time forgiving our spouse when they have hurt us. I am not trying to take lightly some of the hurt that some of you have gone into. It is significant, I know that.

There are some things that have happened to you that I'm not trying to say, oh, they're just dollar 50 infractions. They are huge. But I'm saying as huge as they are, they are nothing compared to what you and I did to Jesus on the cross and the extravagant grace that God gave to us. And what will end up transforming a marriage is when you come to understand the extravagant grace that you've been giving, and then you begin to respond in the same spirit with which God has treated you. Did you notice in Matthew 19 where Jesus said, Moses gave it because of the hardness of your heart? What leads us to divorce is hardness of heart.

Guess what softens the heart? The grace of God toward us softens our heart and it changes us and makes us into different people. I have told you what saved my marriage was this understanding, because Veronica and I just had a hard time forgiving each other and we were holding all these things over one another's head. What saved my marriage is when it finally dawned on me, somebody explain this to me, that you are first and foremost not somebody who needs to forgive. You're first and foremost somebody who has been forgiven.

You are first the sinner and only second are you sinned against. So you've got to soak yourselves in the grace of God because it'll soften your heart and it'll change everything. We'll return to our teaching here on Summit Life in just a moment.

But before we do, I wanted to ask you to look ahead to 2023 for a moment. You can join with us in amplifying the gospel message in your neighborhood and the world by praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are planning churches across the globe. Or maybe it's by joining with us as a gospel partner so we can share Summit Life broadcasts in more communities every day. Our goal is always for everyone within our listening audience to put Jesus first in their lives. So when you become a partner, we'll send you our 2023 daily planner that includes a one-year Bible reading plan. It includes one New Testament and one Old Testament chapter per day and focuses on some of the teaching passages and books of the Bible that you'll hear taught on Summit Life in 2023.

Give us a call at 866-335-5220 or go online to and reserve your copy today. Here's letter D. Do it for others. The big idea here is in Paul and 1 Corinthians 7, it's not about you, it's about your other people and your family. We all know the stats on what divorce does to kids. Even beyond that, y'all, listen, we got a watching world who's learning about the love of God from our marriages. Our kids learn about the unconditional love of God from our marriage.

And when we teach our kids that when you annoy me, I leave and go to somewhere else, you have taught your kid a lie about the unconditional love of God. Now I know that for some of you that almost feels devastating because you're in a divorce situation. I'm telling you, listen, the grace of God is amazing. And we have people that are in this situation and God, because they have looked to him, God has filled their lives with gifts here in the church that replace what happened in marriage.

And so I'm not trying to discourage you, but we don't do any favors to the grace of God by minimizing the potential damage of sin. Letter E, last one, get some counseling. Get some counseling. My wife and I, our third year of marriage, went and got some counseling.

I always avoided it because I thought it meant like you were like in, you know, just really messed up, but you go to the doctor for a checkup. You ought to be the one to say, hey, let's think through this. So get some counseling.

Here's question number two. Should I get remarried? Should I get remarried quickly here? When a divorce is legitimate, remarriage is an option.

That's what Paul says. But realize that just because you can get remarried doesn't mean that you should. Paul in 1 Corinthians says that singleness can be a gift. Now you reject the right person myth. You don't have to be married to be complete.

And there's many of you that your singleness after divorce, it might be better for you and your kids for you to stay single. And God might have purposes in your time of singleness. Jesus explains that in Matthew 19 through a very unusual metaphor that you probably read over and not had any idea what he's talking about.

So I'll explain to you. First of all, for there are eunuchs who have been so from birth. And there are eunuchs who've been made eunuchs by the men. And there are eunuchs who've been made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it. And you're like, what?

Okay. A eunuch is, let's just say that a eunuch functionally speaking is a man with no sexual desire. And Jesus says there's actually three different ways he could have gotten in that condition. One, it may have been done to him by somebody else.

He's a victim of injustice. Number two, he might've been born that way. Number three, he might've voluntarily entered into that for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. When you're single, it could be one of those three things sometimes. So there are some people who aren't married because God hasn't given them a desire for the opposite sex. There are some people who are not married because there's a, you know, for the kingdom of heaven, they got specific assignments. There are others who are single because they're victims of injustice. And what Jesus says is eunuchs can have a full and thriving life in the kingdom of God because life is not about your marriage situation. Life is about the God that you walk with.

All right. So should you get remarried? I would just tell you at first, you need to take the right person myth off the table. If you determine that yes, remarriage is something that God has for you, here's a few questions I would give to you. Have you given God time to restore your previous marriage?

It amazes me the speed at which people move through these things. It's like they don't realize that it's like amputation. Even if you're separated or divorced now, you ought to ask God to heal your previous marriage and give him time to do it. By the way, there's nothing that says that if your spouse committed adultery, you have to get divorced. Some of the strongest marriages that I know, in fact, I'm thinking of two in particular in our church, that these marriages are some of the strongest marriages I've ever encountered. And both of them have adultery, the part of one of the spouses in the past. Because God's amazing grace is he takes things that are broken and he can just mend them back together.

So no, don't just rush into it. Ask God to heal what has been broken. Last question, number three. If I am divorced and remarried, how does God see me? If I'm divorced and remarried, how does God see me? I told you at the beginning that for many Christians, you almost become a second-class Christian.

You become this person with a scarlet D on your chest. I want you to listen to what God says about himself in Jeremiah 3.8. God says, for all of her adulteries, I gave faithless Israel a certificate of divorce. God has the audacity to call himself a divorced person. If I were to say to every, would every divorced person in this church stand up and God were here, God would stand up in that number. Now, obviously God, there was no sin involved on his part in the divorce.

Maybe your divorce was a sin. But in the cross and the resurrection, Jesus puts away the sin done by you and he overturns the sin done to you. Because the cross teaches that the sins that we committed were actually put into Jesus's body. And then Isaiah 53 says the most beautiful thing. It says that we wounded him for our sin, but by those very stripes, we are healed.

What irony. The very things that I inflicted in sin, God used those as his instrument of healing. The resurrection is where God spoke into the Jesus that I had killed and he actually raised him from the dead and he used that resurrection to fill me with power. What that means is that the cross can forgive the sins done by you and it can heal the sins that are done to you. You might've made terrible mistakes in the process of your divorce. You may have committed terrible sins, but see, you can't change that now.

And those mistakes don't mean that God has done with you because you are a new creation in Christ. In fact, let me prove this to you through probably the most scandalous story in the Bible, except for the cross. David and Bathsheba.

All right, so David, you know the gist of the story, you know how David and Bathsheba get together, how their marriage starts. David looks at essentially what is his generation's version of porn. He's, you know, actually worse than porn.

He's a peeping Tom. That leads to a hookup. That leads to a pregnancy. So does David come clean and own up to the pregnancy? Oh, by the way, this is one of his best friend's wives. Nope, he doesn't own up to it. He figures out a way to get the guy killed. He murders the guy and then takes his, you know, as his wife and pretends like, oh, that happened on our honeymoon. That's messed up, right? I mean, some of you have some bad marriage stories.

I wouldn't guess many of them, any of them come close. David and Bathsheba have a kid. The kid's name is Solomon. Solomon has a kid, who has a kid, who has a kid, who has a kid, who has a kid, whose name is Jesus. God chose to bring the Son of God out of a relationship that began with pornography, adultery, and murder. What is that supposed to mean?

At the very least, what it means is God is saying to you and to me, you think your case is impossible? I love redeeming the worst situations. I love redeeming the hardest cases. Go ahead, try me.

Try me. I'll admit to you, part of me finds that scandalous. It's just the mystery and the majesty of God's grace. Some of you think, well, where's the justice in that? What if you're Uriah?

Some of you got deeply hurt in your marriage and you weren't really the one at fault. And it was, and I understand you look at it and you're like, where's the justice? What's Uriah by the throne of God watching all this go down? Uriah's like, what?

Who's going to pay for that? It's not fair that they don't pay for their sin. I don't know what God said to Uriah, but I imagine it was something like this.

We ought to thank God that fairness ended in the Garden of Eden. Every sin committed against you, Uriah, will be paid in full by one of two ways. One, the person who committed it will pay for it in hell or Jesus is going to pay for it on the cross. Jesus was torn apart for the hurt that that person did to you, just like he was torn apart for your sin. And in the cross, we find forgiveness, for the sins that are done by us. And in the cross, we find healing for the sins that are done to us. And what we end up saying at the end of the day, at the end of eternity is amazing grace.

How sweet the sound that saved a wretch, a marriage wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see the Lord has promised good to me. Not because I'm a great spouse, not because I'm a great spouse, but his word, my hope secures, he will my shield and portion be as long as life endures. What happens is the mistakes of your past and the damage of your present get swallowed up in the amazing grace of God.

That's what happens. It means that the answer for a soul that has been damaged by divorce is to go deeper into the grace of God. It means that the answer, if you've committed a number of terrible mistakes in your marriage, is to go deep into the grace of God and access his healing, not just for you, but for the people that you've hurt. It means that if you're trying to figure out how to endure in a difficult marriage, you go deeper into the grace of God. Because from start to finish in the Christian life, it's all about the grace of God. It's why we often say here, the gospel, the grace of God, it's not just a diving board off of which you jump into the pool of Christianity.

It's the whole pool. It's everything that you need to know to deal with any situation in life is found by going to the depths of the love that God has given you and the amount of healing that he has put towards you if you trust in Christ. I don't know what your situation is, but could I just direct you to take a few minutes to soak in the extravagant grace of God. If you've been feeling overwhelmed by past mistakes, let me encourage you to lay them all down at the foot of the cross right now.

It's the only place where freedom is found. And if you're in need of prayer, please call us right now. It would be a privilege to lift your burden to the Lord together. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of J.D.

Greer. As God has blessed you this past year through the teaching of this ministry, will you consider extending that gift to someone else by donating today? Your support right now at the end of the year is critical in helping us continue this ministry in the coming months, and we'd love to have you partner with us. As our way of saying thanks for your support, we'll get you a copy of our exclusive resource, the 2023 Summit Life Planner. It's a great tool for busy students, parents, businessmen and women, anyone really. You can keep track of your deadlines, create to-do lists, and throughout the planner, you'll find Bible verses to remind you of what you're learning on the program. So ask for a copy of the 2023 Summit Life Day Planner when you give a one-time generous gift today at the suggested amount of $35 or more.

Call 866-335-5220 or give online at I'm Molly Vitovich. Tomorrow we'll continue this series called From the Beginning with a message about God's design for dating. Be sure to join us Wednesday for Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program is produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-13 12:05:22 / 2022-12-13 12:16:21 / 11

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