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Biblical Reasons for Divorce and Remarriage, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 11, 2024 12:00 am

Biblical Reasons for Divorce and Remarriage, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 11, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here:  Discover the biblical perspective on divorce and remarriage in this thought-provoking sermon by Stephen Davey. Drawing from Luke 16:14-18, Stephen explores the challenges of marriage, the importance of commitment, and the consequences of unrepentant sin within the marital relationship. Gain insights into the exceptions for divorce outlined in the Bible and learn how to navigate difficult situations while upholding God's design for marriage. Stephen answers common questions such as, "Must an abused wife remain in her marriage?" Find encouragement and guidance for your own marriage or for supporting others who may be facing marital struggles.



For what is exalted among men, or admired among men, is an abomination in the sight of God. In other words, what men say, that's fine, that's good.

We approve that. God says that's an abomination. See, Jesus is teaching the principle that a reputation is what you might be to somebody else, but your character is what God knows you to be. God knows what's happening in private.

He can see, as it were, through the doorway of your heart. If you read the Old Testament Law of Moses, you come away with the impression that God's parameters for marriage and divorce are very strict. But you wouldn't have thought that if you were sitting in the synagogues in the first century in Israel.

The rabbis taught that a man could divorce his wife for just about any reason he wanted. The question we need to ask is, what does Jesus say on the matter? In the passage Stephen examines today, Jesus corrected the Pharisees and encouraged his followers on the topic of marriage and divorce.

Here's Stephen Davey with today's message. If you have been to a wedding where the traditional wedding vows are exchanged, you have heard the words, I promise to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part in obedience to God's holy command. Those are solemn words, aren't they?

They are a commitment to seal up any back door. They're declarations, frankly, that go all the way back to God's creation of marriage and the declaration of the commitment found as you open up God's word in Genesis chapter 2. You didn't get married because you fell in love.

You got married because you chose to love. You made a decision, a mental, emotional, spiritual and physical decision to glorify God in your union. And that's the supernatural goal. And every so often we experience that kind of harmony and unity, don't we? The trouble with marriage is that marriage is the union of two sinners. And as sinners, we happen to be really good at sinning. We're selfish sinners. We want our own way.

We're also individualistic sinners. We want independence at the same time of marriage. We want life to revolve around I, me and my.

We want it to revolve around us. And that individualistic spirit starts out very young and it's prevalent as we grow up and we certainly bring it into marriage. In fact, I was reading one little boy was asked, what made a good marriage? And he sort of summed it up by saying, well, she should like to watch sports on TV like I do and keep the chips and dip coming. He's going to be a great husband one day. Somebody doesn't straighten them out.

You add to that, that selfish individualistic fallen nature. He also entered marriage assuming that our spouse thought just like we did. Marriage was going to be easy. You didn't understand why people in your world talked about working at marriage. You figured there was something wrong with them. You might've even told your fiance, I don't get all these people talking about working at their marriage.

It's easy for us. Then he got married and it went long before you men realized that she doesn't see things like you do. And you women realized he doesn't see things at all. You're so different from one another. In fact, I always chuckle at the thought because I will remember one of the men, his wife would be my secretary for over 20 years.

They're both now with the Lord. But he came up to me after a Sunday morning service and been married for 50 years plus. He said, you know, Stephen, what you were talking about earlier, that's so true. We are so different. In fact, he said that we're so different from each other. The only thing we have in common is that we were both married on the same day. Well, there is something worse than marrying someone different from you. That's marrying someone like you. Law your problems and lack of insights and idiosyncrasies.

That's an atomic bomb waiting to fall from the sky. God has put this unwritten law into practice that opposites attract. That's because marriage will become the greatest tool of mental and spiritual development and humility and grace than any other relationship on earth. A lot of marriages end because couples assume, well, we're so different. Well, we've become different. We weren't meant for each other. So they stop talking.

They stop investing. They stop serving and decide there's probably somebody out there who just understands me better. I read some time ago about a couple who decided that their spouse would never provide the happiness they deserved and they each secretly went online searching. The husband soon found a woman and his wife soon found a man. They began to correspond then with these other people daily. The woman's chat room name was Sweetie and the man's nickname was Prince of Joy.

What a humble guy that must have been. Well, they wrote for hours sharing with one another the troubles they were having in their respective marriages and Sweetie would later tell a reporter who was doing an article on online dating that they had both found the friendship they knew they deserved. Well, they finally decided to meet. They met at their place of rendezvous which they selected only to discover they were already married to each other.

Prince of Joy and Sweetie had become selfishly blind to the relationship they already had and they just stopped investing and serving. What happens though when sin goes unchecked? What happens when that online relationship doesn't stop? What happens when a spouse decides to pursue a sinful lifestyle or give their lives to sinful evil addictions or become harmful or abusive? To put it simply, what happens when a spouse reaches a point where their vice is more important to them than their vow?

What then? Is divorce biblically justified and for what reason? Well, the Bible has an answer.

We're gonna dive in to that answer but let me say this and I had to say it first hour. This is a heavy subject. Distractions can just take everyone's attention away.

So if you take your cell phone, crush it. I mean, mute it. If you're reading Scripture on your device, mute it so that it doesn't start reading, that that happened often. If your child is not entirely swept away by my preaching and would rather have Elmo up here, I understand, please make use of the nursery or in the lobby. We got a lot to cover and we're gonna do it all this morning. We're in loose gospel account chapter 16 where we left off at verse 14. Jesus is gonna dive into a very hot topic just as hot in the first century as it is in the 21st century. He's just finished.

Let me set the stage here. He's just finished talking about investing money, making friends for eternity. And with that, the religious leaders begin to sneer or ridicule him. Verse 14 reads, the Pharisees who were lovers of money heard all these things and they ridiculed him. That word means they turned up their nose.

They mocked him as if to say, what do you know about managing money? You grew up in a little poor village in Nazareth. We know through archeologists today that that village had no more than three or four hundred people in it in the first century. They've never discovered a precious gem in that village.

All of the dishes were common clay. What do you know about money? You and your disciples are all poor as dirt. What do you mean to tell us what we should do? Well, Jesus responds here in verse 15. You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men or admired among men is an abomination inside of God. In other words, what men say, that's fine, that's good.

We approve that. God says that's an abomination. See, Jesus is teaching the principle that a reputation is what you might be to somebody else, but your character is what God knows you to be all by himself. You might have a great reputation in public, but God knows what's happening in private.

Even in the privacy, he can see, as it were, through the doorway of your heart. Jesus goes on to say here in verse 16 that the law and the prophets were until John, that is John the Baptist, John the Baptizer. Since then, the good news is that the kingdom of God is preached and everyone forces his way into it.

I believe you could understand that clause passively. Jesus is saying everyone is urgently being invited into the kingdom. John the Baptist is effectively straddling the Old Testament era and the New Testament era. He had one foot in the law and the prophets, that is the Old Testament, and he has the other foot in the dawning of the New Testament era and his message is, here's the king, get ready for the kingdom.

He's delivering revelation. God has been silent for 400 years. He's breaking the silence now and the Pharisees are ignoring the word of God. Jesus essentially says here, you Pharisees think you're good upstanding men because you've got a good reputation but you're ignoring the word of God. Well, how important is the word of God?

Verse 17, it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away that is for the universe to dissolve than for one dot of the law to become void. Even the smallest dot is important. Jesus is referring to the little seraph, the little line, the little stroke of the pen which distinguishes some Hebrew consonants from another. Just that little pen stroke, even that matters. Everything of God's word matters. Even the consonants matter. One paraphrase renders this, every comma is important.

That's true. Language depends on punctuation and individual words and letters and moods and voices and tenses. Even commas are important. I saw a picture of a t-shirt that said on the front, let's eat grandma. And then underneath it, let's eat, comma, grandma.

And on the back of the t-shirt it read, commas save lives. The difference between let's eat grandma and let's eat grandma is a matter of life and death which is why we sing what we just sang about the foundation of God's word which is why you're a part of a church that has a high view of scripture. We do not believe that the Bible contains the word of God.

That's a slick, liberal phrase. We believe the Bible is the word of God. And that's why I don't just preach the word of God. If you've been around here long enough, you know that I am preaching the words of God which means we go a little slower than you may be used to. Every word matters. For instance, Jesus didn't say I am one way.

He said I am the way. That little word is the difference between life and death as it were, life eternal in heaven. Now what Jesus is doing here is he's pointing out to the Pharisees that they're playing fast and loose with the word of God.

They're reinterpreting the law of Moses. They're picking and choosing. We like that. We don't like that. We like this.

We don't like that. They're ignoring the prophets. And so now what seems to be a random comment on divorce is actually Jesus' exhibit A on how they're playing fast and loose with the word of God. With that, verse 18. Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. And he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. In other words, apart from adultery, divorce is not biblically justifiable. Jesus' response is given a fuller treatment in Matthew's Gospel account in chapter 19 and verse 9 where Jesus says, and I say to you, whoever divorces his wife except for sexual immorality and marries another commits adultery. So the Lord is offering what we call today the exception clause that is of sexual immorality.

Now before we dive in to this exception clause, let me explain where Jesus is going and why this is such a hot topic. In his day, just as in today, frankly, there were two schools of rabbinical thought. The conservative school said that divorce was not allowed unless there was adultery.

And they would go back to the law in Deuteronomy chapter 24 and verse 1 that says when a man takes a wife and marries her and then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, he may write her a certificate of divorce and put it in her hand and send her out of his house. Well the conservative school, the school of Shammai, defined indecency as adultery. Now the more liberal school, the school of Hillel, which was, by the way, the popular school in that day, the liberal view, and the Pharisees, for the most part were part of that, the public in general, they defined indecency broadly. They focused more on the phrase, you'll notice that I've underlined it in the text, she finds no favor in his eyes. Never mind the issue of immorality, she just finds no favor in his eyes anymore. And so they took that as sort of a launching pad and Hillel and his school defined this lack of favor in his eyes to mean just about everything unfavorable. How convenient was that? In fact the rabbis were teaching in Jesus' day that this loss of favor, which could justify divorce, could be, and I quote that school, if his wife spoiled his supper, or spun around on the street, drawing attention to herself, or spoke to another man, or disrespected her husband's relatives, or spoke too loudly. Well how is, how loudly is too loudly?

Well they defined that as speaking loudly enough to be heard by the next door neighbors. So these actions they taught caused her to lose favor in his eyes and he could then divorce her. In fact one popular rabbi wrote during the days of Christ that a man could divorce his wife, quote, if he found another woman more favorable, that is attractive. In other words, if he found another woman more attractive, his wife found less favor and he could divorce her. So by the time of Christ divorce was rampant and it was a matter of rather quick and convenient paperwork governed by wicked men.

Men could divorce their wives for burning the biscuits, losing their temper, or simply growing older. Now on the flip side during the days of the Lord divorce was hardly an option for women. In the Lord's day a woman could divorce her husband only, on three counts, if he became a leper, or if he became an apostate to Judaism, or if he was caught sexually assaulting an unmarried woman or a virgin. Apart from that she had no legal standing to divorce her husband. If he was guilty of one of those three things she still had to pay back the dowry if she divorced him and of course she would not have that dowry, they would have already spent it. So divorce was nearly impossible for a woman even if her husband was immoral and cruel.

And by the way you go around the world today where there is no gospel and the Bible is rejected and you find the same thing happening two thousand years later. Women are property, they have no standing legally, their husbands can be immoral and they'll be killed if they are. Now Jesus clarifies the law here, in fact in the Matthew account he clarifies that divorce can take place if either spouse commits fornication. It's an interesting term, it's different in the fuller account. The verb form is perne me which literally means to sell. It originally referred to prostitution. The Latin term fornix, from which you get our word fornication, referred literally to the arch in the doorway of a pagan temple and that's where the temple prostitutes would gather to wait for their customers.

That word fornix became the word for fornication. And it's important to note here in the biblical record that Jesus uses porneia, he uses the word fornication to provide an exception to lifelong marriage. Fornication is a much broader term than adultery, in fact it's an umbrella term for all sexual activity that is contrary to the moral standard and design of God's word and that would include incest, homosexuality, it would also include adultery. So Jesus effectively says those actions break the marriage vows, they defile the marriage bed and the marriage union designed by God between a man and a woman. Now I don't want you to misunderstand Jesus is not saying you have to get a divorce if fornication takes place. He says you may, even Moses because of the hardness of men's hearts allowed for it, didn't command it, it permitted it. So keep this in mind as well, sexual immorality is not automatic grounds for divorce but let me tell you it is automatic grounds for repentance, genuine repentance and without that there is no reconciliation. So in the context of Luke 16, here's what's happening these Pharisees were following the popular liberal interpretation of the law, it allowed them to go from one woman to the next, from one wife to the next.

Outside of Judaism the Roman Empire was no better, in fact the women and the elite, a culture were known to date their years by the names of their husbands, so divorce is rampant. Marriage for the Pharisees worked for them as long as it worked for them but if their wife burned you know too many dinners or talked back or said something disrespectful or talked loudly enough for the neighbors to hear or if she wasn't as beautiful as somebody else he found, he would more than likely end up on the street. So Jesus reinstates then a high guardrail and in so doing he's using this as an illustration to reveal the wickedness of these men's hearts and he's saying to them essentially get your heart clean, get serious, grow up, take responsibility settle down, get over yourself, go back to the commitment of God's design for marriage that is so wonderfully spelled out in those vowels. I need to interrupt this very important message right here. Stephen is not done explaining this passage Luke 16 verses 14 through 18 but we're just about out of time. On our next broadcast Stephen will do a little bit of review and then conclude this message. This is wisdom for the heart.

Stephen called this message biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage. If you have any questions or comments we'd love to hear from you. Our email address is info at wisdom online dot org. You can use that address to share a comment, ask a question or even share a testimony of how this ministry is helping you. If you're growing in your Christian faith and understanding the Bible better we'd love to hear about it. Once again that address is info at wisdom online dot org.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-11 00:12:54 / 2024-03-11 00:21:18 / 8

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