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Marriage and Divorce

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
October 2, 2022 7:00 pm

Marriage and Divorce

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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October 2, 2022 7:00 pm

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John MacArthur

I have your Bibles with you today. Turn with me, if you would, to the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Mark. We're going to start out verses 1 through 12. They said... Let not man put asunder. And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her.

And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, I want to lift up Kim Beauchamp as she is now in the Dominican Republic and will be there this whole week. They'll be working with medical teams and also, Lord, getting the opportunity to share the Gospel. Pray that you will bless their efforts this week and keep them safe. Father, I pray for the victims of the hurricane this week, that you would be with them. Help them, Lord, to get back in their homes as soon as possible.

And Lord, be with those who have lost loved ones as a result of that this week and minister to them and give them comfort. Heavenly Father, today we study the teachings of Jesus on the subject of marriage. Marriage has been horribly denigrated in our society.

So denigrated that often couples decide to avoid it instead of embrace it. We will also be studying our Lord's teaching on divorce. Father, I pray for those who have gone through the hell of divorce.

We pray for healing and restoration. I also pray for those who are contemplating divorce, that they would understand the biblical grounds, would trust you for guidance, and if possible, avoid it. I pray for husbands in this congregation. May we remember our calling to be spiritual, physical, and emotional leaders in our homes. Father, help the wives in our church to understand and embrace the calling to be submissive to their husbands. Lord, give us marriages that would honor you and fill our hearts with joy, for it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. I want to start this message with an illustration that I have used for 30 years in premarital counseling. And I always use this illustration in the very first session of premarital counseling because I want the couple to come to grips with the strength and the importance of marriage.

B.B. Warfield was a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. He's a brilliant theologian, also a great author. Some of you have his books. One of my favorites that he wrote was The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture.

It's a great, great book. But he went to Princeton Seminary, and when he was finished, his professors asked him if he would consider being a professor there, and they gave him a job. It wasn't long after that that he decided to get married. He got married and took his wife on the honeymoon to Switzerland. While they were in Switzerland, she was struck by lightning, and she was paralyzed from the neck down. They came back to the United States. They went to one doctor after another.

Each doctor said, there is absolutely no hope of recovery. So he went, and he bought a house that was right next to the campus. And then he went to the authorities there at the school, and he says, I need to set up my teaching schedule so that I will not be away from my wife more than two hours at a time.

And they worked all that out. This was a man who did everything for his wife. He fed her with a spoon and a fork every meal that they ate. He bathed her. He clothed her. He picked her up in the morning, took her out of bed, put her in her chair. In the evening, he would put her back into the bed. He loved his wife with all of his heart. He was a great and just a steady theologian.

He had invitations all over the world to come and come to their place and teach, and he always refused. He said, no, I will not leave my wife by herself or with anybody else. Mrs. Warfield passed away at age 80. They had been married for 60 years. When she was struck by lightning on their honeymoon, that was the last of their marital intimacy, it was to be no more. But he stayed with her, and he took care of her, and he loved her as Christ loved the church. It was a radical, unselfish love and commitment. What a message to the culture that we live in today.

B.B. Warfield said, it's not about self-actualization. It's not about personal happiness. It's not about self-fulfillment. It's about obedience to the Lord, and it's about loving your wife as Christ loved the church.

B.B. Warfield died 101 years ago. To say that attitudes have changed since his day would be a vast understatement. Robert McQuilkin used to be the president of Columbia Bible College. At the time that he was there, Columbia Bible College was putting out more missionaries than any other per capita than any other Bible school in the United States. He had been a missionary himself.

We had a mission conference in my former church. I asked him to come and be the keynote speaker. He did.

It was absolutely amazing. He was a man of God. His wife, several years ago, contracted Alzheimer's disease.

What did he do? He immediately resigned his position as the president of the school, and he came back to take care of his wife. He stayed with her day in, day out. For the first five years, her memory was going down, but when the five-year mark hit, it got much, much worse, for she had no memory at all, and she did not even recognize him. She had no idea who he was.

People came to him and said, Dr. McQuilkin, you should go back to your job. Somebody can stay with her. She doesn't know who you are anyway.

He said, no, no, I will not do that. He said, she does not know me, but I know her, and I have made a commitment to her that I would love her, even as Christ also loved the church. That's a testimony that grips my heart. In the United States in the year 2022, almost 60% of marriages end in divorce. That doesn't include all the people who are just living with each other outside of marriage. If it's a second marriage, the number goes up to 80% that end up in divorce. Folks, in the last 25 years in Mecklenburg County, there have been more divorces than there have been marriages. In the second chapter of the book of Malachi, the Scripture says, and this is God speaking, He hates divorce. It doesn't say that He hates divorced people. It says He hates divorce because He knows the consequences of divorce. In Ecclesiastes chapter 5, verses 4 through 6, we have a section of Scripture there that teaches us about the danger of breaking vows.

I want to read this to you. Solomon said this. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake.

Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the works of your hands? In premarital counseling, I always start with a deep, deep look at Ecclesiastes chapter 5, that God takes vows seriously. When you stand before a congregation, or you stand before a judge, or you stand before a pastor, and you stand before God, and you make a vow to marry this person, you need to take that seriously. You need to take it seriously, because later on, you might want to say, well, we've got irreconcilable differences. Yeah, I've just kind of outgrown this marriage.

I'm not happy with this person anymore, and I need to move on. Folks, when we say that, we are in danger of God destroying the works of our hands. In Romans chapter 1, the Apostle Paul is teaching us about the process of reprobation, and he says that when a person or a culture starts backing away from God, then God step-by-step gives them over to a reprobate mind, and in verse 31, the Scripture says that they become people who are breaking covenant. They are covenant breakers, and Ecclesiastes 5 tells us that the result of that is that God will destroy the works of their hands.

Folks, we have become a covenant-breaking nation. People don't keep promises anymore. Politicians will lie to us in a heartbeat. They'll tell you they're going to do this and they're going to do that, and they don't care whether they get it done or not. They just want to give you that promise so they can get elected or re-elected. People make business deals, maybe the buying of a piece of property. They used to do that, and then they would seal that deal with a handshake.

They don't do that anymore. Now it takes about 30 pages of documents that have to be sound because they know people don't keep their promises. Worst of all, there's covenant-breaking in marriage. Divorce is common, it's acceptable, it's done flippantly, and it's done with little regard to God's commands. Kent Hughes has some tremendous insight into the failure of marriage in our day and time, and I want to read a few of his comments to you because they are true and they should be deeply convicting. Hughes gave a quote from a book that's written by two people, John Adams and Nancy Williams, and the book's entitled Divorce, How and When to Let Go.

Listen to what he said. Your marriage can wear out. People change their values and lifestyles.

People want to experience new things. Change is a part of life. Change and personal growth are traits for you to be proud of, indicative of a vital searching mind.

You must accept the reality that in today's multifaceted world, it is especially easy for two persons to grow apart. Letting go of your marriage, if it is no longer fulfilling, can be the most successful thing you've ever done. Getting divorced can be a positive, problem-solving, growth-oriented step.

It can be a personal triumph. My pastoral experience has confirmed this over and over again, said Kent Hughes, as with a professing Christian woman who wrote me saying that though she had no biblical grounds for divorce, she knew it was God's will because now that she was out of the relationship, she was growing. She had never been happier in her life and this would be best for her brokenhearted husband too. She was praying that God would give him a wife who would love him, help him grow.

Her divorce, according to her, was a healthy act of love. What a tragedy. The elevation of one's own self-fulfillment as the ultimate good functionality reduces God's Word to an optional guidebook to meet one's emotional needs. The inerrant Bible is replaced with a humanistic value system in Christians' lives.

This era is deadly. With that background, let's take a look at the text. I got four points that I wanna share with you this morning.

Number one is the test. Look with me at verse two. And Pharisees came up in order to test him, asked, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? The Pharisees were weasels.

They were conniving, scheming, deceitful weasels. They wanted to ask Jesus this question not because they wanted to know the truth, but they wanted to ask Jesus this question because they knew that no matter what answer he gave, he was gonna get himself in trouble. They also knew that King Herod Anabas had stolen away from his brother, Philip, had stolen his wife, his name was Herodias, and she divorced Philip, and she married King Herod Anabas. John the Baptist came along. John called Herod Anabas out on that. He said, this is wrong before God.

Herodias got mad at that, had him thrown in prison, and then had his head chopped off. I think the Pharisees had this in mind. If Jesus condemns divorce, then Herod very well may chop his head off. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had publicly stated his stance on divorce, and the Pharisees knew exactly where Jesus stood.

Jesus said this in Matthew 5, 31, 32. It was also said, whoever divorces his wife, let him give him a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Now, in Jesus' day, there were two prevailing thoughts on divorce, and those thoughts came from particular interpretations of Moses' words that he spoke in Deuteronomy 4, 1-4.

Let me read that to you. When a man takes a wife and marries her, if she finds no favor in his eyes, because he has found some indecency. I want you to think about that particular word, indecency, in her.

And he writes her a certificate of divorce, and he puts it in her hand, and sends her out of the house, and she departs out of his house. And if she goes and becomes another man's wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand and sends her out of the house, or if the latter man dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband who sent her away may not take her again to be his wife after she's been defiled, for that's an abomination before the Lord. In Jesus' day, there was a conservative branch of Pharisees called the school of Shammai. They believed that there was only one grounds, biblical grounds, for divorce, and that was adultery, that if a man or if a woman went off, they were sexually active with another person, not their spouse, then that was grounds for the innocent party to get a divorce and leave that marriage. There was another group called the school of Hillel. They were the liberal group. And the school of Hillel took that word indecency that I pointed out to you a moment ago. They took that word and they said this about it. If the wife does something that might embarrass or disgrace or displease or frustrate or aggravate the husband and the husband has a legitimate cause to divorce her and walk away from the marriage.

So if the wife burned the beans or if she was late for an appointment or she gained a few pounds or she got a few facial wrinkles, then man, drop her like a hot potato and run out and get you a woman that's going to make you happy. Guess which school had the most success? Yes, it was the school of Hillel. And the result in Israel was much the same as the result we see in Mecklenburg County right now, more divorces than marriages. So the Pharisees wanted to portray Jesus as an intolerant hardliner and that way people would think He was unloving and harsh.

All right, point two is the contention. Look at verse three through five. He answered them, what did Moses command you?

They said, Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away. Jesus said to them, because of your hardness of heart, He wrote you this commandment. So Jesus knows what the Pharisees are up to. The Pharisees were not seeking truth. They didn't want to know what this passage really meant. They wanted to get around that.

They just wanted to do everything they could to trap Jesus and to make Him appear harsh and unloving. Forty-four years of ministry, I can't tell you how many times I have had a couple come to me and say, Doug, we're just not happy in our marriage. We have irreconcilable differences. We have outgrown each other.

Things just aren't going well. We want you to give us our blessing that we can get a divorce and just move on with our lives. We want this to be a blessing from you and a blessing from God that we can get this divorce.

God help me never to give in to that. And I can't tell you how many times I've had people to come to me and share with me that they want a divorce like that. And I've said to them, listen, you do not have biblical grounds for divorce.

So no, I'm not going to give you my blessing on this. But I will tell you this, God can make your marriage something beautiful. God can take your marriage and bring you two back together and give you a love like you've never had before. There needs to be real repentance on both sides. There needs to be prayer. There needs to be an understanding of the principles of what God says about marriage and see what God will do with that marriage.

And I want you to listen to this carefully. What if there has been adultery, a legitimate grounds for divorce? God might still give grace and save that marriage. I had only been here at this church for a very short period of time and I had a lady from my former church to call me up and she was just weeping. She said, Doug, my husband has told me that he wants a divorce. He's been seeing another woman.

They had moved out of the city and this man was a businessman. She told me where his office was and I went to the other city and I went to his office. I walked into his office and they had a receptionist there and she said, can I help you? I said, yes, I need to see your boss.

I need to talk to him. And she said, well, who are you and what do you want? I said, my name's Doug Agnew. I said, I'm a pastor and I need to talk to him. And she smiled and she said, I'm a Christian.

I've been praying that God would send a preacher here. She said, yes, you go right on in. And she said, I'm not gonna let him know that you're coming.

Just open the door and go in so that he can't get prepared. And so I went in and he was shocked. I sat down with him for an hour and I shared with him and begged with him his need to repent.

And after just a little bit, he started weeping and he said, Doug, you're right. I do need to repent. And he got on the phone and he called his wife and he said, please, please forgive me for what I've done. She did forgive him. And then I didn't even ask him to do this but while I was there, he called up the other woman and he said, I've done a horrible thing I've sinned against my wife and I've sinned against you and I've sinned against God. I'm asking you to forgive me but I'm telling you I can never see you again. That happened 33 years ago.

I was at a funeral service five months ago and I saw this couple together and happily together. I use that illustration to say that adultery is a true legitimate grounds for divorce but sometimes God can save a marriage despite having legitimate grounds. Here Jesus speaks to the Pharisees. He said, what did Moses command you? And they arrogantly said this, Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away. And we've already looked at the passage that they're referring to here. That's in Deuteronomy 24. The Pharisees were agreeing with Rabbi Hillel who misinterpreted that word indecency. And what they were saying was if you get frustrated with your wife, if you're displeased with your wife, if you get agitated with your wife then that's all you need.

Give her a certificate of divorce and move on. Go on and do what you want to do. Jesus said, you going to believe that interpretation? Is that what God really said?

And they knew, they knew they were wrong but they were pushing it anyway. Takes us to point three, the clarification. Look at verses six through nine. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. As we have worked our way through the Gospel of Mark we have seen that Jesus has very little use for rabbinic tradition. Go over into the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter five through seven. See this phrase over and over again. Jesus said, you've heard it said by them of old but I say unto you. You've heard it said by them of old but I say unto you. What was Jesus saying?

He was saying forget the rabbinic tradition junk and let's stick to the word of God. Can you imagine what would happen in America if there was a genuine God breathed heaven sent revival? If politicians and movie stars and just common people in America would be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and they would say forget which way the culture is trying to drive us and let's just stick to the word of God. Man what would happen if that would take place? Now I know that's probably not likely that that's gonna happen.

That's what everybody thinks. That's what Jesus is saying to these Pharisees and I want you to know that that's exactly what happened in the nation of Wales back over a century ago. In the nation of Wales there was a young man named Evan Roberts. Evan Roberts was a ministerial student. He was in church, his church one Sunday night. They had the worship service. After the service was over he went to the pastor.

He said sir, he said we need revival in this nation. Could we stay and just pray for revival? Pastor said I'm not staying.

Anybody else wants to they can but I'm gone. And pastor and most of the people in the congregation left. 13 people stayed. They got on their face before God and they prayed for revival. They prayed all night long. They prayed until the sun came up the next morning. They continued to pray and pray and pray. Within four days after that prayer meeting revival began just to break out all over the nation of Wales. 80% of the nation came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They had to fire half the police department because the crime rate dropped down to nothing.

Most of the bars ended up closing their doors and they sold their property to churches because churches didn't have enough room for all the people that were coming. I read one story where there was a farmer who had to sell his ox. Why'd he have to sell his ox? Because he used to give the ox directions by cuss words. And he would use cuss words. He'd scream at that ox and yell at that ox and then finally he got saved.

He wasn't using those cuss words anymore and the ox couldn't understand him so he sold them. Folks, when God changes hearts and people commit to obeying the word of God culture changes, marriages are saved, put back together and Christ is glorified. So that was Jesus' clarification. He said to the Pharisees, quit using your own interpretations to pervert the true teaching of the word of God.

Jesus said to them, God knows the hardness of your heart. And verse six he says this, from the beginning God made them male and female. What?

Wait a minute. Male and female, that means there's just two genders. That's not what we're hearing, is it? We're hearing that there are a multitude of genders. And that's just not what God said. I saw a statistic the other day that said over 50% of Americans today believe that there's multiple genders instead of just two.

How horribly sad. Jesus said, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. In other words, marriage involves husband and wife glued together, united in mind, in spirit, in body and in will, and doing what? Pursuing each other hard.

Pursuing each other with all their heart. Well, why can marriage be so hard? The answer goes back to the fall of man. Adam and Eve sinned. God put a curse on mankind. God told man that his work was no longer going to be a joy.

It's going to be tough. And he was going to have to work by sweat and toil and with thorns and thistles. And it was not going to be easy. He also had a curse on the woman. And he said this, your desire shall be for your husband, but he shall rule over you. If you read that in the Hebrew, it says your desire will be to rule over your husband, but he will rule over you.

And so there's contention. In Ephesians chapter 5, the apostle Paul told us how to make it work. He said, this is what you do. Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her. And wives, wives be submissive to your husbands. Husbands, cherish your wife. Adore her. Love her.

Love her so much that you'd be willing to die for her if necessary. And then wives, be submissive to your husbands. And see what happens to your marriage. All right, point four, the accommodation, verses 10 through 12. And in the house, the disciples ask him again this matter. And he said to them, whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

Mark leaves out a statement here that the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to write in the sermon, I mean in Matthew 19, 9. It says, whoever divorces his wife except for sexual immorality and marries another, commits adultery. So the Pharisees were embracing this idea that divorce was acceptable for pretty much any excuse they had. Jesus said, no, divorce is acceptable only for adultery. Later on in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, added this grounds for divorce, and that was desertion, where a spouse walks away from the marriage and absolutely refuses to come back. With that said, how should Grace Church view marriage and divorce? We should view marriage as sacred and holy and permanent. We should say that there is only two grounds for divorce.

Those grounds for adultery and desertion. And as I said, an illustration that I used this morning, repented of adultery and reconciliation is sometimes possible. I've seen it happen.

I've seen it happen many times. And if you're in a situation where your spouse is broken and deeply repentant over what he's done, and God gives you the grace to hold that marriage together, then my advice to you with all my heart is to save your marriage. Now what if you're here this morning, you've been divorced and there was no biblical grounds? Maybe you said, we have irreconcilable differences. We've just grown apart.

What do you do? Well, you can't change your past, can you? So you must realize that it's harmful and as hurtful as divorce is, it is not the unforgivable sin. In that situation, there needs to be confession that the divorce was sin and then there needs to be a true belief that the blood of Jesus Christ can wash that sin and wash that guilt away if you've been remarried, then you make this resolve. This marriage is going to be different. This marriage is going to honor Christ. This time, I as a husband am going to love my wife as Christ loved the church. This time, I as a wife am going to be submissive to my husband and watch and see what God will do with that marriage. We should never take divorce lightly, but also we should never forget 1 John 1 in verse 9. It says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That can include divorce.

Let's pray. Father, the biblical view of marriage is being horribly mocked and maligned in our culture. The God-given command to be faithful to our spouses is almost laughed at. We know that our sin hurts your heart and we beg for forgiveness. We are being told by politicians, teachers, and counselors that self-actualization and self-fulfillment will lead to personal happiness. Lord, open our eyes that we might understand what a lie that is. Help us to reject the temporary happiness that this lie leads us to. And help us to embrace Your command to be obedient to Your Word even in marriage. For it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that I pray, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-28 21:52:30 / 2022-12-28 22:05:10 / 13

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