In your Bible, if you would join me in Matthew 5, the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5, and when you find your place, we'll honor the Word of God this morning. And we're going to read verse 31 and 32, just a short couple of verses, but there's a long message behind them. Matthew 5, verse 31 and 32. Jesus says here in this great sermon on the mount, it had been said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.
But I say unto you that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery, whosoever shall marry her that his divorce committeth adultery. Father, we do thank you for your word today. May it be everything you want it to be in our hearts and life. May we come underneath the truth of God's word and let it reign over us. Let it be our light, our wisdom.
Let it be our understanding. You give salvation. You are righteous. And we pray that your kingdom would come and your will would be done. And I pray you would govern our hearts when it comes to the matter of divorce, remarriage, give clarity.
And we just trust you for that in Jesus name. And God's people said, man, you may be seated this morning. Last Sunday, we looked at a message entitled God's Design for Marriage, and we looked at Genesis chapter two and how that God had designed an ordained marriage to be really the most special of all human relationships. So special that God used marriage as the illustration to convey his relationship to us in salvation. He likens the church to himself as a marital union, and God designed it to be one man for one woman for one lifetime. The marriage creates, according to the Bible, a one flesh relationship, and it's unique above all other relationships. It's the only one flesh relationship that you have to become one, the Bible says. And marriage is the first of the three institutions that God ordained.
He ordained marriage being the family, then the government and then the church later on. God then richly blessed marriage in Genesis two with provision, with protection, and also he blessed it with his own perfect person in relationship with them as they walked with him in the cool of the day. God created marriage to be innocent and pure without any shame, and then he designed marriage to be lasting, that it would truly be till death do his part. And the Bible teaches that marriage is a covenant relationship. Marriage is not simply a coming together of two people in some kind of a ceremony only, but it's a covenant between three.
God is the one who literally joins two people to become one flesh in the eyes of God, and that is a very serious thing. And we saw that Satan hates that, and so in Genesis three he comes along and he assaults the marriage and tries to infect it with sin, which he does, and sin is destructive. It is what destroys marriage. Every marriage that has ever ended has ended because sin got involved some way, somehow.
This morning I want to give a biblical view of divorce and remarriage. In America we felt the pain and sting of divorce. 45 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Second marriages, it's 60 to 67 percent of second marriages end in divorce, and third marriages, it's over 70 percent average divorces in that category. And so with two million new marriages every year in America, there's a million of those that end in divorce.
It's so tragic. And I understand that this is a massive issue to work through with a myriad of questions. People have different experience that they have gone through that make this really a big topic to wade through. And I just want you to know your pastor's not taking this lightly. I've spent as much time on this sermon and preparation and prayer and reading and studying as I have for any message in my past. And really, this is a heavy message for me because there's so many people in our church who have gone through this, and whether they've been through divorce, their parents divorced, their children, and they deal with weight from this, and it affects them in ways. And so I just want to navigate this with a gentleness and with the wisdom of the Word of God.
And I pray that the Holy Spirit would let me convey this message in a way that would both honor God, first of all, but would also be the most beneficial to us here today. There's so much to this that I am actually going to preach on marriage next week as well, and some extended thoughts that we're going to be getting into in the book of 1 Corinthians 7. But some of the questions sometimes is, is divorce allowed by God, and for what reason, if any? Can someone who is divorced remarry? What if you remarried illegitimately according to the Bible, what should you do now? Is that marriage legitimate? Can God still use my life if I've committed adultery? If I remarried for illegitimate reasons, committed adultery, is that adultery perpetual? If I'm in a second marriage that is not what God had planned, should I leave that marriage? So these are some questions we're going to be answering and walking through. Now, you need to understand there are some clear statements in the Bible that deal with marriage and divorce, and then sometimes you can have an experience or situation that the Bible doesn't directly speak to, and then you've got to navigate those situations with the wisdom of biblical principles.
So for that is how we're going to address this today. Now, I want to first ask, why does Jesus address the issue of divorce in Matthew 5, verse 31 and 32? Well, our Lord has just finished discussing the sin of adultery, and adultery, He said, is not just simply a hand issue, but it's a heart issue. That adultery starts on the inside, and it works its way to the outside of a man. And so, friend, you need to understand today, God has called you to inward cleanness. God wants you pure on the inside, and so are you clean before God? Is your heart clean?
Are your hands clean before God? But the natural result of one who goes into adultery is that their marriage would then be violated, and that marriage would very potentially move toward divorce, and so the natural transition of the conversation would go from adultery to now what happens if divorce happens, and so Jesus addresses that natural question. Now, what was the view of divorce and remarriage in the day that our Lord gives this statement? There's basically, you need to understand four simple positions that you can take with divorce and remarriage.
There's only four. Either, first of all, you don't believe there's a right to divorce for any reason, and there's no right for remarriage. Secondly, you can believe that there are certain reasons that you can be divorced, and there are no reasons for remarriage. The third position is that there's certain circumstances that could validate a divorce, and there's certain circumstances that could validate a legitimate remarriage. And then finally, you could have a loose view that says, you know what? You could divorce and remarry for about any reason.
So those are the only four positions that a person can take. Now, in our Lord's Day, during the launch of the church, you need to understand that marriage was in chaos. The family unit was being disrupted and destroyed. William Barclay, who does a great job with historical areas, states of the Lord's Day, there is no time in history when the marriage bond stood in greater peril of destruction than in the days when Christianity first came into the world. At that time, the world was in the danger of witnessing the almost total breakup of marriage and the collapse of the home. I'm going to get into, because the Bible sits in the context of both a Roman-Greek perspective of marriage and what they were doing, as well as what the Jews were doing with marriage. Today I want to show you the Jewish view and how society was being affected by their views, because we're going to be working through the book of Matthew. But next week, I want to show you what the Romans and the Greeks, which were Gentiles, and that was what they were dealing with.
And we're going to look at 1 Corinthians 6 or 1 Corinthians 7 and kind of walk into that next week in that Roman situation. But the Jewish view of marriage, really, they had a high view of marriage. They believed that it was a sin if you weren't married by the age of 20. So they believed that you needed to get married and have children. They believed that it was a way to honor what the Bible says in Genesis 2, to go into the world and populate the world, replenish and multiply, and you were to get married and do that. And if you weren't getting married and populating, then you were diminishing the image of God in the world, they said. So it was very important for them to get married.
They said the only reason you were allowed not to get married was if you were going to devote your life to the study of the law of God. Jewish marriages were really the biggest celebration that the city would have. It was a city-wide thing.
It was a big deal. I don't know if you've ever been to other countries when, like, a funeral went on. I mean, it's like a whole street procession. Anybody ever been somewhere where they did that? And they, like, close down a street.
I mean, it's a big deal. We stop, and let me say this. Some people may be young and don't know some of these etiquettes that need to be done in social society, but if you ever see a funeral procession going on, make sure you stop your car and pull off to the side. It may slow you down for three or four minutes, but that's saying, I honor life. When people stop, what that's saying is, I value life.
I don't know who that person is. And just pull aside and say, you know what? I want to, God, be with that situation. Lord, comfort that family. And just really take some time to do that, because you may be on your way to go get hamburgers and need to get back because the grill's hot, but that family is saying, hey, this dad of ours, the patriarch or the mother of our home, just passed away, and they're grieving, and there's something more weighty than a hamburger at that time, okay?
Even though we do value hamburgers, they are not as valuable, obviously, as that situation. So it was a big deal, funerals and marriages, but marriages won the day. This was a very exciting time for them. They had a high view of marriage. By the time that you were married on your wedding day, you had already been what they called betrothed for 12 months. This was heavier than just what we know as an engagement. They were actually married in the Jewish culture in every aspect except in the intimate part. They were not to live together. And it was during that 12-month probation period where they wouldn't physically be together to validate the purity of the wife. And it was actually interesting because it was during that 12-month probation period that's when Mary got pregnant.
So you can see how disruptive that was for them. But Dwight Pentecost says, On the evening of the marriage, the bride was led from her parents' home to that of the husband. There was music, festivities by their friends.
They bore torches and lamps, myrtle branches, flowers. The veiled bride arrived, was led to the bridegroom. The marriage formula pronounced. The legal documents were signed. They would wash hands, and then they would have a feast that went on anywhere from one day to seven days. This was a big celebration, and rightfully so. So they had a great idea of marriage.
They elevated highly. But they also, ideally the Jews, abhorred divorce. They knew what Malachi 2, verse 16 says, that God hates divorce.
He hates putting away. And so the rabbis declared, The very altars shed tears when a man divorces the wife of his youth. Sadly, their ideal of marriage and divorce was not what they were living up to in practice.
So the ideal was not being performed in their life. And divorce was becoming rampant in the days of Jesus. Jesus, here in Matthew 532, quotes Deuteronomy 24, verse number 1. Let me read for you what Deuteronomy 24, verse 1 says, because this is a very important verse that you need to know this. And it's a verse with a simple statement, but it brought about some heavy debates about how its implications and how its applications would be felt in a society. Deuteronomy 24, verse 1 says, When a man hath taken a wife and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because she hath found, and these are the words, some uncleanness in her.
The big debate is what that means. Then let him write her a bill of divorcement and give it in her hand and send her out of his house. The bill of divorcement in the Jewish culture stated this, Let this be from me the writ of divorce, and letter of dismissal, and deed of liberation, that thou mayest marry whatsoever man thou wilt.
They would sign that in the presence of two witnesses, and the divorce would be finalized. Now, you need to understand there were two schools in that day that had very strong opposing views when it came to what you were allowed to divorce and remarry for. There was a school of Shemai and the school of Hillel. Now, the school of Shemai believed that you could only divorce and this uncleanness in her referred to some kind of sexual sin, adultery, some kind of a looseness there, unchastity, and they believed you could only get divorced and remarried if it was for unchastity or adultery. They had a lot more conservative view.
But then there was a school of Hillel. They defined the words there. They believed that that meant that there was some uncleanness in her in the widest possible manner they interpreted that. They said it meant that a man could divorce his wife if she spoiled dinner by putting too much salt in his food. Be careful, ladies. I remember one of my daughters, I won't name which one, but a while back she said, I'm going to make some shrimp.
I said, ah, sounds good, you know. It's nice having daughters because they'll cook for you. My daughters will bless me.
I don't remember ever cooking for my dad. And I just ate his food. So she made up some shrimp. And I'll never forget taking a bite of this shrimp. I thought, now I know what it would be like to lick the bottom of the salt sea. You know, I thought, sweetheart, you know, these shrimp will actually, they're almost coming back to life.
The preservative quality of salt is so rich in them right now. I mean, Jesus will return, and it's like, this shrimp's still good. We can take it to heaven. I mean, it's going to last forever. Just leave it in the fridge. We'll eat it next year. I mean, it doesn't ever go bad, you know. A whole new thing.
You don't want to get too much salt. He said, that's a reason for divorce. If she went in public with her head uncovered, you could divorce her. She talked with other men in the streets, they said you could divorce her. She was a brawling woman. If she spoke disrespectfully to your parents, you could divorce her. If she was quarrelsome. One rabbi, Rabbi Akiba, said that the phrase meant, if you find no favor in your sight, meant that a man might divorce his wife if she found a woman whom he considered to be more attractive than his own wife. I mean, so guess which school was more influential and more accepted.
The school of Hillel. Because naturally, men will receive the interpretation of a text based upon the lust that they have. They will begin to twist scripture to mold into themselves.
And we see that in our world today, don't we? So who do you believe God is? And people begin to define God by defining themselves. Well, I just believe and then they tell you what they think about God.
I'm like, you just told me what you think about you. God is not made in the image of man. Man is made in the image of God, right? So the school of Hillel was the dominant school of that day. And you need to also understand that this Rabbi Hillel had in fact just died about 20 years before Jesus Christ began his public ministry and that liberal view had permeated the culture. Divorce was so easy in that day that girls would not, they were very afraid to get divorced because of the level of insecurity that they felt inside of the marriage union. When you fast forward over to Matthew chapter 19 verse 3, even the scribes challenged Jesus or the Pharisees did and they said, can a man get a divorce for any cause?
Because that was the question of the day. Can you just get divorced for anything and because that's what was going on. So when Jesus says here, but I say unto you, you've heard that it's been said. But I say to you, Jesus was not contradicting Moses, but he was clarifying Moses and this was a shock to the system because he brings to light a elevated view of marriage, recognizing God's hatred for divorce and this was just a powerful blow to a culture that had become very liberal and loose. So number three, what is God's view of divorce according to the Bible? Well, first of all, you need to understand that God hates divorce. God hates divorce.
Malachi 2 16, for the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away. That word putting away simply just means divorce. I would ask the question, how could God not hate divorce? I mean, whoever goes into marriage saying, you know what? Let's leave divorce as a possibility. No, you say I would hate the idea of ever having to divorce my wife. Everybody would hate that at a marriage. Would anybody here hate to see these guys get divorced?
Everybody would raise their hand and say yes, except somebody who maybe didn't want to marry. But how much good has divorce done? How much heartache has it produced? Pain, separation, broken families, broken covenants, broken promises. You know, as much joy as we feel in the marriage union should equal and the grief that we feel when that marriage covenant is broken should grieve us. So why does God hate divorce? Because divorce is always a result of sin somewhere.
Either you send or someone send against you. It is a departure of God's design. It violates faithfulness.
It violates commitments. Divorce should grieve our hearts because it grieves God's heart. So what is divorce? Well, to understand what the Bible says about divorce, we need to know what divorce means. Divorce, friends, involves the breaking of the covenant union between a husband and a wife. And you need to know this.
This is extremely important. In the Bible, divorce is regulated always by a formal, written, and delivered declaration of the breaking of that covenant union. In the Bible, a divorce requires it to be written. The presentation of a writ of divorce is what actually ends the marriage.
Even if the obligations inside the marriage are violated and broken, the marriage itself will last until a formal, written decree has been issued. Even God himself delivered a writ of divorce to the nation of Israel. Some of you may not know this, but God's been divorced. God's been divorced.
The one who hates divorce has himself had to go through that. Isaiah 50 verse 1 says, Thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away? This is God putting away Judah, actually the southern kingdom.
Now, I won't prolong on this, but it's because of their... because sin is like committing adultery against God, and they continue to do that and worship pagan gods. God gave them a bill of divorcement, but then he took Judah back. Reconciliation happened because of the Davidic covenant.
God held that relationship. But with the northern kingdom, the Bible tells us in Jeremiah 3.8 that God put her away through divorce. Jeremiah 3.8, And I saw when for all these causes whereby backslidden Israel committed adultery, God said, I had put her away and given her a, notice, a bill of divorce. And so each time God always presented a bill of divorcement, a written statement, a declaration of that divorce coming to an end. I've heard people say this, We are not legally divorced, but we are divorced in our hearts, therefore the marriage is over.
I understand why people say that. I understand that people have been through some terrible situations where they've been greatly wronged and separation has happened and the divorce is getting drug out in the courts and it's a mess and sometimes it can last for months and even into years. I understand that that can be a very terrible and sometimes a nasty situation. But you need to understand you're not divorced because you feel divorced in your heart. You're not divorced until a bill of divorcement, a legal document is signed.
You need to know that. Just the same way when I got married to my wife, I didn't say, honey, I feel like we're married in our heart, therefore we're married. Now give me some kisses. We weren't married because I felt married in my heart. Neither are we divorced because we feel divorced.
Now I'm not divorced, I'm gladly married to my wife. But listen, when a person says that, they're just trying to mold the situation to what they want it to be, but you need to understand marriage and divorce are both something that's before witnesses. It is signed and it is a covenant that's made in marriage and it's a covenant that's broken in divorce.
Also, you need to know this. When the giving of a divorce is finalized, that marriage union is over. Even if the marriage ended for unbiblical reasons, it is wrong to say we are still married or that couple is still married in the eyes of God even if they got a divorce. That's not true.
Don't say that. They're not married in the eyes of God. They are divorced. Let me give you scripture for that. 1 Corinthians 7, listen to what verse 10 and 11 says. And unto the married I command, yet not I but the Lord. Let not the wife depart from her husband.
Now he's dealing with Christians married that don't have a biblical foundation for divorce. It says don't let her divorce her husband. Verse 11, but and if she depart, these are not biblical grounds for departure.
Let her remain, what's the next word? God defines her as being unmarried. She's no longer married. Or let her be reconciled to her husband and let not the husband put away his wife. So they need to reconcile their marriage and that covenant be restored because upon divorce you are unmarried. So divorce is ending the marriage by a formal written decree and secondly all divorces whether sinful or valid end the marriage. Now there are four passages where Jesus speaks about divorce. Matthew chapter 5 where we're at, we're going to look at Matthew 19 briefly. He also talks about it in Mark chapter 10 which is a same text as what the Matthew 19 deals with and it's a longer version of it. It's a dialogue about divorce. And then Luke 16 verse 18 which is comparable to what we read in Matthew 5.
Only those four. So I need to speak to this for just a moment because some of you may not have studied through divorce, remarriage in the Bible a lot. Some of you may have so let me just speak to some things and I don't want to get super confusing to people as we go through this but Matthew wrote his gospel specifically more strictly to the Jewish people. He wrote to a Jewish crowd in mind I should say.
And so there's a lot of ways I've shared with that in the past and reasons for that. That's why he calls it the kingdom of heaven and not the kingdom of God because the word God was like they just didn't say God's name out loud like that so knowing their Jewish sensibilities he would refer to it as the kingdom of heaven. That's the only gospel that refers to it as the kingdom of heaven. And so some people believe that when he's writing about this exception clause where it says you can not put your wife away, it says saving for the cause of fornication that that exception clause is only given in Matthew 5 and 19.
It's not given in Mark 10 and it's not given in Luke's gospel. That's caused a lot of debate because they say Matthew's only dealing with a betrothal period. He's not dealing with the marriage so you can only break your betrothal period if unfaithfulness is found. It's not talking about marriage so marriage can never be ended and that's a very strict view and very strongly conservative view of marriage. I do not believe that Matthew 5 and 19 is dealing with the betrothal period. I believe it's dealing with the actual marriage and the reason I believe that is because Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 24 and Deuteronomy 24 is not dealing with the betrothal period. Deuteronomy 24 is dealing with the actual marriage of a couple. Does that make sense?
And there's a couple other reasons but I won't get into that. So Jesus says in Matthew 5 32, Whosoever shall put away his wife, give her a bill of divorcement, who gives her that. Saving for the cause of fornication causes her to commit adultery and whosoever marries her that his divorce commits adultery. Now the question is what does the word saving for the cause of fornication, what does that fornication mean? Now the word fornication there is a word that actually expands beyond just physical adultery. It's a Greek word porneia where we get the word pornography from but it's porneia grafe, pornography. But this is referring to any forbidden sexual intercourse either between a married or unmarried couple.
In the Bible it's used that way. But here it refers to any perverted sexual activity. It could include incest, prostitution, homosexuality, bestiality. All of those things are inside of the word porneia. So any type of sexual infidelity, sexual sin outside of your husband and wife relationship you violate it in some way, in some fashion with anyone else, any way else. That is what that word is referring to. Now you say this is not saying that this is just a way out of marriage but rather that this is the only legitimate cause Jesus is sharing with us here that gives you grounds for divorce that God would recognize.
I like what MacArthur says. He says God never condoned divorce because what he joins together is not to be separated by man. Adultery, another reality that God never intended, is the only thing that can break the bond of marriage. In fact in the Old Testament law adultery necessarily would have dissolved the marriage because adultery would have caused the guilty party to be put to death.
Therefore you wouldn't have a spouse. And so he says if you break the marriage covenant, you divorce or any other cause other than porneia, that sexual wickedness, and causes her, it says, to commit adultery and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery. Now the phrase causes her to commit adultery, Jesus is naturally supposing that this woman who's divorced will go on and remarry, right? Because if she commits adultery there's some other relationship she naturally goes into so that's what he is presupposing. And since the marriage ended illegitimately and sinfully then the future relationship would also be sinful. And so Jesus is teaching that a man or woman who does not have a right to divorce do not have a right to remarry. To divorce someone wrongly without any biblical reason creates what Jesus refers to here and speaks to as a chain reaction of adultery.
You and your ex will end up being adulterers in the new relationships. Now in the face of this liberal view of marriage in our Lord's day, the school of Hillel and all that they were propagating about easy divorce and easy remarriage, Jesus comes and like lays this down and I can tell you this was a shock to their system. Because there were people, I guarantee you, in that day that were standing in the crowd of thousands of people that were like, you know what, I'm going to get up divorcing my wife and I'm tired of her, you know, she burnt my biscuits and she put too much salt on the shrimp.
You know, there's got to be people in the crowd thinking this stuff about divorcing. And Jesus says this and they're like, whoa, do you remember when in the other gospel record they said, it is not good for men to marry then if it's that strict. I mean that's how they felt like it's, you know, when you get married and then you have to stay married, you know, you can't just go off and no, no, no, I mean this is a big deal. And so this was also a powerful rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees who, you know, oh we're not adulterers and we look so good on the outside and yet they're lusting on the inside, they're violating this command on the inside of their heart and then they're propagating the skull of Hillel's teaching by allowing the culture to be permeated with adultery.
And so this was a powerful rebuke in that culture. You know, we live in a day where easy divorce, no cause divorce just becomes so rampant. It used to be that money was the number one cause of divorce. That's been taken over by infidelity. Sexual sin. There are some nations around this world where they have upwards of 50 to 60% of marriages that end because of infidelity. I mean just the lewdness. It's like living in a slime filled culture, I mean just half of the culture is just okay to go sleep around and those are the ones who get caught or just break it off.
It's so sad, it's such a heartbreaking thing. And, you know, the second reason for divorce is money these days and then communication and loss of sexual intimacy inside of a marriage and other reasons are dealing with the loss of wrong expectations. But Jesus here doesn't deal with any of those. He doesn't say, you know what, if you have wrong expectations you can divorce or you have money problems you can divorce or he doesn't work good you can divorce or he doesn't get a loss of intimacy you can divorce. He doesn't say any of that. He said the only reason you can divorce is if there was sexual infidelity.
That's it. And here you actually see an act of divine mercy because the Old Testament gave the death penalty. You would have to ask the question why doesn't Jesus say if you commit adultery, this sexual sin of porneia, you're committing a sexual sin that would be included around the realms of adultery.
Why isn't the death penalty applied here? So Jesus amends this because in Leviticus 20 it says the death penalty for adultery. So what Jesus is doing here is showing divine mercy now steps in because God rejoices more in reconciliation and forgiveness than he does in judgment. And he would rather give the person time to repent and get right and reconcile than he would just to bring down death upon them. And so people ask the question, am I required to divorce if adultery or unfaithfulness has happened? And the answer is no, not at all. The Bible does not command divorce.
It only allows for it under certain circumstances. Jesus is not saying immorality must lead to divorce, only that it may lead to divorce. I believe, friends, marriage must be fought for. Marriage must be fought for. I believe that it should be sought in our hearts as much as possible to work through marriage.
And I just think that people today don't do that. Jesus had just got done talking about the importance of reconciliation here in Matthew 5. Somebody's at odds, you need to seek to reconcile, and that should be the heart of a Christian to anyone else. And most, who else above all should we seek to reconcile with than the person we covenanted with before God? Now, God's desire is for us to be forgiving and merciful as he is merciful. If a spouse truly repents of their sin of adultery, that needs to be sought to be worked out. And in the case of adultery, divorce is only allowed, I believe, according to the Bible, if it's a continual state of unrepentant adultery. If somebody commits adultery or some sexual sin that violates the marriage, and they are broken and repentive, I believe that reconciliation and forgiveness needs to be the response.
Why do you believe that? Because that's what God does to us. That's what God does to me. We violate our relationship with God all the time in our life. Anybody ever put something before God in your life? Raise your hand.
And if you didn't raise your hand, you're not telling the truth, so thankfully you guys raised your hand. When we put other things in front of God, we're valuing them more than God. That's an adulterous act. And I can tell you, friends, aren't you thankful God's so gracious with us that he doesn't put us away? Amen?
Praise God for mercy, because we all need it. But I think about the Old Testament book of Hosea. The Bible says in Hosea chapter number three, notice what it says up here. Then said the Lord unto me, go yet love a woman beloved of her friends, yet an adulterous. So the prophet Hosea is told by God to go love an adulterous according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel. And as you read through this chapter, you find that he literally goes in and he had already been married to her. And he's called to go take her back out of adultery. He has to pay for her and her bills. And she's an adulterous.
She's a prostitute. I mean, she is sinful. And God says, I want you to get, you know, that'd be like God out of all the Old Testament prophets.
You had to pick me, you know, to marry Gomer, you know, and here she is out. He has children and it's just a just an amazing picture of the grace of God. Because sometimes I don't think we feel the weight of our sin when somebody has been adulterated. You know, we can get stirred up about that. But God says, I think slow down. Why don't you get stirred up about your sin to sin before God? Think about John eight. Jesus forgives a woman caught in adultery. If his spouse is violated the marriage by sin, God's ideal is not divorce because he hates divorce. God wants to see reconciliation work through if possible.
But sadly, reconciliation is not always possible, is it? Sometimes the person is hardened in their sin. They're unrepentant. They're fast in their sin. They're nothing they won't listen to. And in such a case, divorce is permissible. That is the place to apply that reality. But many people don't fight for their marriages.
They so easily walk away. Listen to a study published by Psychology Today about the only time you'll hear me quote some of these things. But it shows that 78 percent of those who remain in a difficult marriage report five years later that they are, quote, very happy.
What the study showed was those who work through their very difficult situation five years later reported to be very happy. I'll never forget when I was in college and I was working next to a lady in this, I worked for this newspaper company, and she was married to a doctor who was like so wealthy that like they went to a private island and lived like three or four months out of the year. I was like, you're ridiculous.
This is so ridiculous. And she shared with me, she said, you know, like sometimes I'm so grieved, she said, because I so quickly ended my first marriage and, you know, we didn't get along and we fought and there were some things. But she said, I just wish I would have fought for that marriage. She said, I still grieve over that. She was still grieving. Three to four months on a private island was not what she was looking for. It was that covenant that she broke.
And she said, you know, if I knew now what I knew then I would have had so much more patience and learning to work through problems. And just know this, the grass is not always greener on the other side. They still have manure over there, too. You don't know what manure is. You'll find out. Look it up.
Cow patties, right? Get it now. Turn with me to Matthew 19. I want to show you some things that Jesus says later.
Here is a dialogue about divorce. There's a question that's brought to Jesus in verse number three of Matthew 19. And the question is a test applied to Jesus by the Pharisees. It says the Pharisees also came and him tempting him or testing him and saying unto him, is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? That means divorce his wife for every cause.
Can you get a divorce for any reason? And this is a test to him because they knew, like everybody in the culture, like believe that like they believe that like, hey, this loose setting. And so Jesus is like, hey, why don't you just tell him again what your strict views are? And Jesus, according to Mark's account, it's not written here in Matthew's account, but in Mark's account, he said, What did Moses command you? He asked him that question.
You know what they do? They go directly to Deuteronomy 24. But Jesus doesn't go directly to Deuteronomy 24 dealing with divorce. Jesus goes to Genesis two, and that's what he wanted them to do when he asked them that question.
That's why what he does here. Look at verse four. Jesus goes to Genesis two and he said, Have you not read that he which made them in the beginning made the male and female?
A couple of things. Jesus believed in the Adam and Eve story and that that was the beginning. Jesus believed in the Genesis account of creation, just as we do this. God made everything in six days rested on the seventh. You say, well, that's not scientific.
Actually, it is the most scientific thing, unless you're believing in the delusion of Freudian or not for you. But but well, that goes down the same rabbit trails is that does. But going down the evolutionary hypothesis that he says in verse number five and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother shall cleave to his wife. And they twain or they too shall be how many? One flesh and wherefore they are no more twain. There are no more two, but one flesh. Therefore, God had joined together. Don't divorce or let not man put asunder.
So some of the things we see here. Jesus taught marriage was instituted by God. Marriage is two people leaving their families and coming together and leaving and cleaving. You see, marriage makes two people one flesh.
There are no more two, but they're united in one. Marriage is joining together of two by God. And marriage is not to end in divorce.
It's to stay intact, to remain. You ever ask a marriage? How long you been married, Pam?
Fifty five years. Her and John. I love it. John, her husband just got baptized here about two weeks ago and and pray for this dear couple because John, they just found out he just perhaps may have a few months left to live. He's one of our war veterans and picked up some heavy stuff when he was overseas. And we praise God for those brave men and women. Amen. And so you pray for John and Pam.
They're dear to our hearts. You know what? If you talk to John and Pam, you know, you say, John, how has it been 55 years? And I can tell you, if he's honest, it's been good being married to Pam.
But yes, Pam, she'd say, you know what? We worked through some stuff through the years, but it's good, you know. But anybody been married 55 years, they know what it means to go through battles.
But they but you know what those battles do? It just brings them closer and closer together and to sit at the end of your life knowing that, you know what? We're going to be together till death do us part. It's a beautiful union. It's a beautiful thing. It's a testimony to family that says, you know what?
You can last and it's worth fighting for and to value that marriage. And that's what Jesus is elevating here. They ask another question in verse number seven. They said in him, why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement or a writ of divorcement to put her away? He said unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your heart suffered you to put away your wives or allowed you. Notice, they said, why did he command us? Jesus said it wasn't a command. It was an allowance. Moses never commanded divorce.
He just gave allowance there because of the hardness of your heart. But from the beginning, he reminds them that's not what God's plan was. And then he repeats the exception clause. And I say to you, whoever shall put away his wife, save for fornication.
Pornea is the same Greek word there. Whoever marry another commits adultery, whoever marries another, which is put away, does commit adultery. And that's where in verse 10, they said, if that be the case of a man be with his wife, it's not good to marry. I mean, this is really strict.
Really, really. We'll get into that about two years later in Matthew 19. We'll jump back on this thing. But now, if you have your Bibles, flip with me over to Deuteronomy 24. I want to I want to show you what what Deuteronomy 24 means, because this is important.
You need to know some of these texts. This is a very important text. Deuteronomy 24, we're going to look at verse one through four. This is the passage that they're referring to in Matthew five, as well as Matthew 19. It says, when a man had taken a wife and married her and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes. Because because he had found some uncleanness in her. Now, that phrase uncleanness is a Hebrew word that means the nakedness of a thing. Some have interpreted it as being indecent exposure. It includes improper, shameful, indecent behavior. Promiscuity just short of adultery since adultery brought the death penalty. We know this isn't referring to adultery. It must be something along the lines of that.
It's some kind of sexual uncleanness. She did something. It says, then let him write her a bill of divorce when a given in her hand and sent her out of this house. Verse two, and when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. So when that happens, she goes and she becomes another man's wife. Moses does not command the divorce, but provides a structure.
And that structure protects both the man and the woman so that they have some kind of legal protection. They have a writ of divorce to show they're no longer married and that they can go on and remarry. Now, you need to know in the Near East of that day, all these other surrounding cultures, to divorce, you would just say it to your wife, I divorce you and the divorce is done. But not with the Bible. It has a writ of divorce.
And then verse three, it goes on in Deuteronomy 24. It says, and if the latter husband hate her and write her a bill of divorce, I mean, this woman doesn't have it going very well for her. And giveth it into her hand and sent her out of his house. Or the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife. Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife. She can't remarry the first husband.
Why? It says after that she is defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And thou shall not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. The question is what defiled her?
And I do agree with MacArthur, who says only one thing is possible. She was defiled in the marriage because there was no ground for divorce in the first marriage. So when she remarried, she became an adulterous. So if you're divorced for illegitimate reasons, they go off and remarry. You cannot remarry them.
That's what he's saying very clearly. Now here the command in Deuteronomy 24 is that the former husband is not allowed to take her back. Now in Jesus' day, it was just a free license to get divorced. And Jesus brings that down and restricts that to what the Bible clearly had in mind for marriage. Now God allows divorce also so that the adulter has opportunity to repent. Because again, as I said, God loves repentance more than He loves judgment.
And we praise God for that. And now I ask you today, how have you treated the mercy of God in your life? Has God been merciful to you? Has He been gracious?
And we need to say, you know what? Today, God, thank you for the mercy you've shown me. Thank you for when I sinned that you didn't cast me away, that you were gracious to me in long suffering. And so the right thing to do is to seek to be holy before God, though we all fall short. And so Jesus didn't teach adultery, mandate, or divorce, but it was an option in case of irreconcilable unfaithfulness. Now let me give you some concluding truths.
Then I want to get into some questions as we close today. So from this, we learned that divorce is a covenant made between man, God, and the woman. And it is a breaking of that marriage covenant.
It is a writ of divorce that is required for that marriage to end. God never desired for divorce to happen. He hates divorce.
He loves marriage, but when adultery happens, which He also hates, it produces an effect upon that marriage. Because of sin, divorce became necessary to regulate protection for the innocent party. Divorce is by a written formal decree. Once it is signed and formalized, that marriage is over.
Divorce is allowed for porneia. The offending spouse committed sexual sin with someone other than her spouse. If repentance is found, marriage should seek to be reconciled. If not, then divorce is allowed but not commanded.
Paul also, you need to know this, and I'm going to get into this next week, but in 1 Corinthians 7, Jesus is dealing here in Matthew's gospel with two believers that are married. But what happens when a believer is married to an unbeliever? And Paul deals with that, and he teaches in 1 Corinthians 7 that if you're married to an unbeliever and the unbeliever wants to divorce you, that you are to let them divorce you. You are to let them go.
We'll look at that later. So biblically, there's only two reasons divorce is allowed for a Christian, an unfaithful spouse and an unbelieving spouse who seeks to depart from you. You're to let them go. So let me give you some questions about divorce and remarriage. Sometimes people ask questions, well, if those are the only reasons, what about abuse? Can I divorce for abuse? Am I supposed to stay in a relationship and suffer abuse? You know, the Bible doesn't speak to abusive marriages.
It doesn't refer to that. If there is marital abuse, and abuse can come in many different forms, and sometimes people call something abuse just because they want out of it. They're verbally abusing me, and if you went in and videotaped that house, you'd find both of them were verbally abusing each other, right?
That can happen sometimes. But abuse can be verbal, it can be emotional, it can be physical, it can be addictions. There's a lot of things, but if there is legitimate abuse, I always advise the person to separate from that abusive situation. You need to get away from that.
It doesn't mean you're divorcing them, it just means you're moving away from that situation. And if it is bad enough, then I'm going to be calling the authorities, and they're going to come in there and they're going to have to deal with this and cause restraining orders, all that stuff. We had to deal with those things in the past, and those are realities because of sin in the world. But in such a case of abuse, church discipline is enforced and laid out.
But before I deal with that, I would like to say this. I believe that people can change, even if they've done something wrong, they've violated, you know, become abusive in some manner at some level, I believe that God can change them, and they can be saved or reconciled, and it can oftentimes be many months of processes, but there needs to be a sort of reconciliation, if possible, if it's safe, if it's done right with protection and things in order. You remember in the Old Testament, Hagar, which was Abraham's wife, and Congubon, I should say, and she laughed at Sarah, and Sarah beat her up, and she ends up leaving, and God comes to her and says, hey, you need to submit yourself back under that home, and the abuse didn't continue, but she went back into that situation. So you see where even God sent her back into that. But in such a case of abuse, again, church discipline is enforced, as laid out in Matthew chapter number 18.
If the person is repentant and gets right, reconciliation would be worked out. So here's what this would look like. If a girl came to our office and said, hey, and I would sit down with another counselor in our church and meet with them, and if she said, hey, or it could be, I've seen guys, there's been guys who've been beat up by their wives or abused in ways, man.
So I've seen it both ways. But we would sit down, and if it's grounds for a safety situation, I have enough law enforcement people even here today, but there's people that I would always get counsel from if it gets to that point, and we can apply some things, but there needs to be some safeguards there, and I always advise, get out of that situation. If it's a dangerous situation, we'll work through that as much as possible to make that happen and set that up. Then we would go to the guy, and we would meet with them, and we would deal with them, because that's what churches do. You're to go, and you're to, the Bible says take two or three, you're to go to them, deal with them, and if they won't hear you, then if they continue to be unrepentive, if they continue to be hardened in their sin, the Bible teaches, then you treat them like an unbeliever. Then they've evidenced that they're no longer saved, because they're unrepentive, they're in hardened, stiffened sin, and the Bible says at that point they're viewed as an unbeliever, and according to 1 Corinthians 7, then if they want out of the marriage, then you legally, biblically can let them go, and your divorce is valid before God. But I would say maintain the separation until repentance is found. You need to fight for their soul. You need to fight that they would get right with God, because if there's been something that's happened, they're still the parent of your children, right? And you want them to live for God, and God can change lives, but you know what, sometimes separation could take several months, and it could even go into years, but I can tell you what happens, if he's not willing to repent or that person's not willing to repent, they'll typically move on to somebody else, and that's adultery, and then you do have grounds again for divorce.
Does that make sense? And so that's the biblical pattern. You don't just run out and say, well, they abused me, I'm divorced, and no, no, no. You need to say, hey, let me fight for their soul like God fought for my soul. That's what we're called to do.
Is it easy? God didn't call us to easiness. He called us to be soldiers, and we're to work, but you don't have to do that alone. And if you're in an abusive situation, you need to reach out and let somebody know, okay? Now, secondly, what if I divorced for an illegitimate reason in the past and remarried, should I divorce my current spouse? You need to know this very clearly. Illegitimate reasons for remarriage still constitute a real marriage. God views it as a real marriage.
Let me give you some verses for this. Matthew 532, Jesus says, Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery, and notice the statement, and whosoever shall, what's the word? Does Jesus say it's not a marriage or it is a marriage? He calls it marrying, right? Jesus doesn't say, well, they think they're married, but they're really not. No, they're married. They're married.
You see it? What about John chapter number four? Remember a woman who had five husbands?
Listen to what Jesus says here. John 4 verse 16, Jesus saith on her, Go and call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said I have no husband, for thou hast had five guys that you thought you were married to, but you really weren't married to them.
That's not what he says. He calls them husbands. Jesus saw those marriages as legitimate, and he whom thou hast is not thy husband.
Now you're living with a guy, and you've been honest. Jesus, again, refers to all five as husbands. Also, living together doesn't constitute marriage. He says, He whom you now have is not your husband. Well, we're married in the eyes of God because we love each other.
No, no, no, no. You can live with somebody and not be married. That's called fornication, and it's sinful.
It needs to be repented of. You say, well, financially, it's too difficult. I would put God before my finances. I don't care if nobody agrees with me or not. I'll preach this by myself to the world. Amen? It don't matter to me. You can get on board or not. Well, it does matter to me.
I really hope you do. But listen, uphold righteousness over financial stuff. Also, let me give you one other example. In Joshua chapter 9, do you remember when Israel went into the Promised Land and they're conquering all these nations, and they're just totally wiping these guys out? There's a group called the Gibeonites who come to Joshua, the Israelites, in Joshua 9, and they're like, man, we don't want these guys to wipe us out, so let's make a covenant with Israel and with Joshua, which they do. They put themselves, they feigned themselves like they were real far away. They clothed themselves in old rags and made their God old crumbly bread.
And then they said, oh, we journeyed from miles, a hundred miles away, you know, all these distance away. And they deceived them, but they came into a covenant with the nation of Israel based upon faulty statements. I mean, but the covenant was made between the nation of Israel and the Gibeonites. Now, since it was based upon deceit and not completely honest, does it no longer have effect when they made a covenant before God? Listen to what Joshua 9, 19 says, But all the princes said unto the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel, now therefore we may not touch them. So what you find in Joshua 9 is a principle that just as this covenant was binding because they made it before God, even so the marriage covenant is binding when made before God, even if there was some faulty premise when you went into that. So you need to understand when you get married, that marriage is a marriage before God. That is a covenant before God. Let me answer a couple of other questions. Is the illegitimate marriage an act of adultery or a continual state of adultery?
And I'm going to expand upon this next week. I don't have a lot of time today, but I'm going to look at what Paul says about this as well. But if it were a continual state of adultery, then you would need to divorce your second spouse. But the Bible never teaches that. I believe it is an adulterous act and not a perpetual state of adultery. And I believe that act is forgivable as any sin is forgivable when repented of and turned to God and God's grace can cover those things. The Bible clearly says to not divorce. And if you remarried and divorced, then you're violating the second marriage. God doesn't want you to violate that. The Bible never says to do that. Sometimes people say this, Well, I struggle with guilt over my divorce, even though it was on biblical grounds.
What should I do? First of all, I want to say this. I believe divorce should grieve us. There should be a brokenness in our hearts about the violation of whatever that was that caused the covenant to be broken. But God has not called us to be bound in grief. And we know that because 1 Thessalonians 4 says that when you have a loved one who's a Christian who dies, not to be overwhelmed with grief, not to be controlled by grief. Are we to grief? Yes, we are to weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn. But our life is not to be defined by grief. The Bible says we're to live with the joy of the Lord and with the peace of God. And so God doesn't want us to stay in a state of mourning and controlled by grief.
Sometimes people place on themselves a false grief and guilt that is usually due to an error in their thinking. They'll say something like this, Well, you know, I know we divorced, but I feel like we're still married in the eyes of God. No, you're not. You're not married in the eyes of God. You're divorced. And I'm not trying to be insensitive.
I'm trying to be clarifying. If you divorce for legitimate reasons, don't be bound by grief. Rather, thank God that he can bring peace in your life.
He can bring fulfillment and he's all you need. Just as you're not bound not to be bound by the controlling grief to a lost loved one, you're not to be bound by the controlling grief of a lost spouse. And then the last question.
We wrap up. Would God still use my life if I've been divorced? I would remind you God was divorced. I would remind you that King David committed adultery. God could have slew David on the spot.
But he was merciful. Abraham. His marital situation was a mess. God in Christ in John four came to Sychar, a city of Samaria, and he chose to come to a woman at a well who had been married five times.
Her life was upside down relationally. And Jesus brought her into relation to himself and salvation and chose to use her to be a mouthpiece to evangelize the city. You talk about grace. Can God still use my life after I've been divorced?
You better believe. See some of the great godly men and women in our church that God's used to reach people to teach God's word. They've been perfect.
They've been like everybody. Listen, if you've been divorced, you're not a second class citizen in the kingdom of heaven, and you're not a second class member of Lighthouse Baptist Church. Everybody has sinned, and that sin is under the grace of God, and we hold hands together and rejoice in that.
Amen. If you have questions about marriage, remarriage, I would like to say this. I'm going to preach on some extended things about this next week. Feel free to email me this week.
I'll either respond to your email or address that in the message next week. Next week, I want to look at what Paul says about marriage and divorce. I want to show you some things about the Romans and Greek culture, and I think some of you will be surprised about how it was.
Sometimes we look at America, but I can tell you it was bad in that day. We talked about the Jewish model and what was going on there. I also want to give you several keys to finding the right spouse, and I think that's important.
So maybe some of you guys are single. I want to share with you some things I think that will be edifying. And so as I close, listen, marriage is a big deal to God.
We need to uphold it. We need to never say, hey, get a divorce. Just get rid of them, man.
No, no, no. Your heart should be broken. You say, you know what, we need to pray that their life will be changed. And if it's so dangerous and a bad situation, you need to separate from that situation. Let me say this. You also, you better never violate somebody's marriage.
You hear me? You better never violate somebody's marriage. Don't be going in there, pulling somebody into adultery. Say, well, we're not physically doing anything. Well, if you're causing some external, internal temptations there with that guy or girl, you need to turn that thing off.
You need to leave that job, leave that location, leave that place, whatever else. You need to know that Jesus said it would be better for you to remove your hand or your eye than to bring that situation into adultery. That's how serious it is. It's a big deal to God.
He is not joking around about this situation. I'm going to tell you something. The purity is a big deal to God. And we need to elevate that. Ain't nobody in the world going to say what I just said on TV, is there? You ain't going to turn Fox News on or MSNBC and they're going to say, keep your marriage pure.
Right? Be pure. Everything you see on TV these days is, I mean, it's people living in whatever promiscuity, nobody marrying, it's just sexual wickedness everywhere. God's called us to much more. And I can tell you after 20 years of marriage, it is the best thing. Marriage is fantastic. Let's all stand this morning.
With heads bowed, nice, closed. Maybe today you just want to come and recommit your vows to God and say, God, I want to I want to pray that you would just continue to protect our marriage, protect our home. Maybe you want to pray for your kids, grandkids.
Maybe maybe God's put a burden on your heart. I encourage you to come. You're welcome to do that. We're going to be investing in the marriages of our church much more this year in the coming years. And and we have some different marriage things that we're going to be doing to really invest in the marriages.
I'm so excited about that. But if you're here today, you say, I don't know if I died today, I'd be in heaven. I'm not sure that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. If I stood before Jesus, I don't know if heaven's my home. I'm going to be down front.
We have other men and women down front. Why don't you come today? You can trust in Christ as your savior. Turn your life over to him today. Spend time with your wife.
Spend time with your husband. You're going through challenges. Get that thing right with God. Father, we thank you for your word today.
And I know some couples today, I'm sure I don't know who they would be, but maybe have some burdens in their heart about maybe past or present situation. I pray for healing and strength. God, that we would turn to you. May your word be our peace and our joy. And I pray for anyone today that's not saved that they might come and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. And I pray for couples that need reconciled, that you'd bring reconciliation. And I pray for your work for your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-27 07:38:01 / 2023-02-27 08:04:22 / 26