“And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into
the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan; and great multitudes followed him; and he
healed them there. The Pharisees also
came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put
away his wife for every cause? And he
answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and
female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall
cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one
flesh. What therefore God hath joined
together, let not man put asunder. They
say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and
to put her away? He saith unto them,
Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your
wives: but from the beginning it was not
so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall
put away his wife, except it be for
fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth
commit adultery. His disciples said unto
him, If the case of a man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
“Turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 19…I love the way Matthew has organized these events and teachings of Jesus, because of what we’ve just looked at and considered, he certainly lays a wonderful platform as we come to chapter 19. You remember, as we saw in the last chapter, just about this heart of greatness, as Jesus was asked, ‘What is true greatness?’. And he kind of shared what the heart of true greatness is like and what the life of true greatness is like. And one of the things he mentioned is just this heart that loves to the degree that when you love other people, you’re really not comfortable when the relationships around you are at odds, and there’s not peace and harmony in relationships. The love of God is a holy thing, and you’ll do whatever it takes to have a good relationship with the people that God has put into your lives. And it’s a heart that also forgives, it’s a humble heart. And so now we come to chapter 19. And it is interesting, that sometimes we can study chapter 18, and say ‘Oh yeah, I’ll forgive that person, and I’ll be nice to that person’, but when it comes within the home between a husband and wife, it’s like some of those rules don’t apply anymore, because of, I don’t know what it is, but it’s somehow different in our own homes and it seems to happen in our marriages. And you know, greatness, Paul talks about, Peter talks about the husband and wife and what greatness is there. Even a wife in 1st Peter, it’s hard to even imagine sometimes, but he talks about this tremendous woman like Sarah, that would love her husband in such a way, even if he didn’t obey the Word, she’d lay her life down and love him, and be an example of Christ to him. And so, we come now to marriage, marriage, divorce, remarriage, Jesus deals with questions like that. But in this chapter we see what God desires for marriage. And I pray, you know, sometimes it seems there’s a spiritual battle, when we, I don’t know, maybe it seems that way, as we come to some text, and I wonder ‘Wow, Lord, is there just a battle, is there something you want to say?’ Maybe there’s marriages here right now, maybe you’re here now, husband and wife, and you’re in the midst of a war at home, and you’re thinking ‘I want to get out of this deal, and it’s time to get out of this deal.’ And maybe temptation has come into the equation too, or the Devil is tempting you, and here you are. And God has what he is going to say, so clearly, we’re just going to keep it simple as we do. And he’ll say what he does through his text. Last night, just wondering about the battle, you know, I get a few hours sleep every Saturday night, I don’t know why, but I always can’t get it done until the last minute, and so, I got a few hours sleep, and for whatever reason, sometimes because I get so little sleep, I’ll sleep in the office other than in the bedroom. So if I’m in the office I’ve got my cell-phone, because that’s what I got in there to wake me up, so it’s got my alarm on it. And don’t you know, multiple times, 12:30, 1:30 I’ve been getting called by I think it’s Pinocchio Pizza [laughter], and they kept wanting to deliver pizza, whatever, Nacho’s I think they said. Seven times, I kept saying ‘Leave me alone, I’m trying to sleep, you know, I’ve gotta teach in the morning, leave me alone.’ And the phone’s ringing and ringing. Finally my wife said ‘I’ll take the cell-phone in the other room, you sleep, and I’ll take the orders for Nachos.’ It just went on and on, it was bizarre, bizarre, and I’m wondering, maybe there’s a battle, I don’t know. You never know, but, maybe you’re here and God wants to minister to your heart. I tell you, you take hold of what God has here, our families, our relationships, our marriages are so important in our lives. And if we would do what God has here, it goes a long way. Let’s say a word of prayer and we’ll begin chapter 19. ‘Lord, thank you for your Word, thank you that we can study these things, and it is your Word, and we sometimes come from what the world thinks, or what maybe somebody has tried to put a spin one way or another on a text, erase things, yet you have a standard and it’s the best thing, it’s beautiful, and I pray God you’d help us all to see the light of what you have here for us. And may we be committed in our hearts to live according to what you say. Because you know what’s best, for sure. Thank you you’re so loving and good, in Jesus name, amen.’
Jesus heads south, crosses the
Jordan, starts healing people
Chapter 19, verses 1-10, “Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that he departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there. The Pharisees also came to him, testing him, and saying to him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ And he answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that ‘he who made them at the beginning made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’ They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.’ His disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’” Now Jesus, we’ve been studying him on the Sea of Galilee, he now leaves that area. And you know, Matthew has not really showed us, but John tells us, there’s multiple times that Jesus travels down, during the Feasts and things, down to Jerusalem and the area of Judea. Matthew’s pretty much kept us where Jesus is up in Galilee, that’s the stories that he’s given to us. But at this point, he now leaves Galilee. We don’t see him returning there until after the Resurrection. But he leaves and he’s heading now south to Judea, ultimately to Jerusalem. It’s not a long time until he goes to the cross, it’s a short time, it’s right around the corner. And he knows where he’s headed. I mean, he’s been telling the disciples ‘I’m going to go to Jerusalem, and I’m going to suffer much at the hands of the religious leaders, and I’m going to be killed by them.’ Of course he shared too that he’d be resurrected from the dead. So he knows what’s waiting for him as he goes, and that’s the path he’s on now, he’s heading to Jerusalem. It says that he goes down to the region of Judea, beyond the Jordan. And the way that’s interpreted, is that he probably crosses the Jordan and goes to the area of Pirea, you know, the Transjordan, crosses that and goes to what would be the eastern side of the Jordan River. That’s what most say. Well, you know I think about him on this trip, and I wonder, ‘How would I be?’, you know, if I knew what was ahead, if I knew that I was going to be crucified, if I knew I was heading to a place where I was going to give my life, you know, what would I be doing? What would I be thinking? How would my life be expressed in that time? And one thing that we see consistently about Jesus, is he came to pour out his life. He came to give his life. So even he knows where he’s heading, he absolutely knows. But on the way, there’s multitudes around him, lots of people, and what he’s doing is he’s loving them, ministering to them. You know, I would think I would be consumed with issues in my own life, of fears and anxieties about what I’m to face and deal with. But not Jesus, he is ministering, it says in Mark that he’s teaching (which he’s always doing, teaching Bible studies), and with that he’s healing lives. And it always goes together, teaching and healing. You know, we go through the Word as we do, we’re going through it this morning. Who knows, God might heal your life, he might heal your marriage, he may heal your heart. That’s the work, two or three gathered together, Jesus in our midst, and that’s what he does. So he’s working in lives. But what would you be doing, you know? I think of his example, and I say ‘Lord, I pray to the very end of my life, the very end, that I would have that sense of giving my life for others, to the end. There wouldn’t be seasons of being self-consumed, that I would just give and give. And he’s certainly our Lord as an example of that.
The religious leaders confront
Jesus---try to trap him
Now, he’s being a blessing, but when you have light and you have just the love of God going out, man, there’s a spiritual battle, there’s darkness right there as you see in these verses. Meaning the religious leaders, the religious elite, these folks that think they’re in the know, who really know very little about the character and heart of God. They come to Jesus with a question, verse 3, they’re threatened by him, we know, it’s been told to us, that they want to take his life. And they’re going to in a short time, they want to do away with him. They’re absolutely threatened by him. What he represents is not what they represent. And the people are really being radically effected by Jesus. So they come with this question, as you see, in verse 3, and with this question---they’re essentially trying to trick him and trap him. They’re trying to get him pitted against people, so they confront him in front of the people. They pose a theological question, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’. On the surface that seemed well, that’s an honest question, it’s a humble question, we need the answer. But they know this is a loaded gun, at least it is from their perspective. And that is because in their day, as it is even true today, there’s a division, there’s two different camps. I think back to when I was in college, in hockey, the hockey at Boston University, man, was a big deal. And we are often in different camps as people, and you know, just being a silly foolish college student, I could remember during the games some of the things we would do. But I think of this hockey game in the type of groups that Jesus has before him. We would get things going, one of those things would be where one side of the arena would say, ‘Less filling’, and the other side would go ‘tastes great’. And we’d go back and forth, really boldly, we’d yell and shout, ‘Tastes great!---Less filling!, we’d go back and forth like that. And you’d be cautious if you were in the middle and going to side with either side. It’s kind of like that, they know this is a loaded gun. Is it going to be this, or is it going to be that, Jesus? You’re going to offend one of these two groups, because there’s division. The reason why, you might remember back to Matthew chapter 5, two camps, one was headed up by a rabbi named Shamei, we went into this a little bit back then, and we said we’d go into more detail here. Shamei was a conservative rabbi, and his followers were conservative. And he interpreted the Law, Deuteronomy chapter 24, let’s just turn there and we’ll read it so we get it all in context. Moses shares these things, of course, God has given him the Law and he’s sharing with the people of Israel. And they interpreted this in different ways. Shamei took a conservative view of what is said here. Deuteronomy chapter 24, verses 1-5 as you turn there in your Bibles, back in the beginning not too far into your Bible. You have Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.” What is he saying here? This is the basic idea: If you have a spouse and you divorce your spouse, let’s say a gal divorces her husband, or the husband divorces her, and she’s now free, she goes and remarries, has a second husband. He either dies, or they divorce. Moses says here in the Law it is an abomination for her then to go back to her first husband, that is an abomination. Why is it an abomination? I can’t tell you exactly why except that God says that it is. And it tells me that there is a real high standard for marriage, for sure. But because he talks about divorce here, and remarriage, and you notice, it says divorce, she has another husband. There’s no sense that it’s wrong for her to divorce at this point, there’s no sense that it is wrong for her to remarry. Of course, you’ve got other Scripture. But they would come back to this, and they would debate, ‘you know, what’s this uncleanness he’s talking about, that where he can divorce his wife?’. ‘What’s the “uncleanness,” and what does that mean?’ So they would debate. Two groups, just as there are today. You know, you can go to Morning Star [a local Christian bookstore], Christian bookstore, and I’m sure, I haven’t done this, but I bet you can go, you can go and buy a marriage-divorce-remarriage book, you know the questions, you can buy one book that will say ‘It’s this way’, you can buy another book that will says it ‘It’s that way.’ And that’s a challenge, because, maybe you’re here, and before, you looked at marriages a certain way, and you thought ‘This is forever, man, this ain’t gonna end, no matter what.’ But now you’re in the room and your marriage is not going well, and you’re thinking, you know, you’d love to read one of these books that gives you all the other options, and so maybe you can consider the other options. So it’s funny that we have two different deals here, two different camps even today. But what does the Word say? And that’s what we want to look at. Well, the conservative Shamei taught that when it says “uncleanness” that meant, and the Hebrew does indicate like it was a shameful thing, and it was then taught, he would teach, that it is clearly adultery, he’s referring to sexual sin by the word “uncleanness” in Deuteronomy 24. And so if the gal has committed adultery, the man can issue this certificate of divorce. Now he also said, because of the Law, in the Jewish culture at the time, if you married, and you’ve discovered that your spouse was not a virgin, which of course with a woman that could even be visible, then that would be just like adultery, because of the way the engagement was seen. It was essentially, when you’re engaged you’re basically married too. So if she had been unfaithful to you then, that was essentially adultery too. And so they would take it that way, those are the times when he can then, they would teach, Shamei, he can divorce his wife. The second camp was this guy named Hillel, he was very liberal, and he had liberal followers. And he took the “uncleanness” in a very broad way, so broad, that if you even, you can read the rabbinical writings, some of their books, if, you know I shared this back in Matthew 5, if the wife burnt the dinner, or if she put too much salt on the eggs, and now he’s upset because of his salty eggs. Well now he’s upset, she’s stumbled him, so now she’s unclean, he could divorce her because she put too much salt on his eggs. He could even, it was written in the rabbinical writings, if she snored and kept him up, he could divorce her. If he was nagged by her, or if there was another woman, who now in his eyes was more virtuous, more beautiful, more godly, now she’s unclean compared to that other gal, and he could divorce his wife. Very liberal interpretation. Now you look today, we have the same deal, you know, with “you can divorce for any reason,” or “no, in the conservative camp there’s a narrower kind of deal.” And so we can relate to that [in the Body of Christ, not in the world]. Interesting about the liberal interpretation, this guy Hillel, they also taught, it was not wrong for a man to have a concubine or to sleep with a harlot. That wasn’t wrong. So, you know today, I mean we’re not too far from that too. Well the conservatives said, ‘Certificate of divorce, meaning you had to go get a document, potentially from the priest’, that could be a big deal depending on where you’re living and how far you have to go, and try to set up the meeting, and maybe that would discourage you from getting a divorce, maybe you’d reconcile, harder to get a divorce. The liberal said that all, this guy Hillel said, all you had to do was this, ‘My wife is unclean, she has burnt the toast.’ I just have to say to her, ‘I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you.’ Say ‘I divorce you’ three times, you’re divorced. So that’s what they actually taught. So, this is a loaded gun, because Jesus has a multitude around him, and some are like, the guy’s done it a few times with a few women, ‘I divorce you---done!’, next woman. Here he’s in the crowd. And yet there are others that are looking at marriage in a different light, in the same crowd before Jesus. And so they’re trying to pit him one group against the other.
Jesus takes them back to the
original created order
Verses 4-6, “And he answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Well, thinking they’ve got him cornered, Jesus now comes and responds, and he responds by taking them back. And what he does actually here is something that stuns them initially, I’m sure. But he doesn’t go to Deuteronomy 24 initially, he goes back to the created order, goes back to the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve. There they are, perfection with God, in what God did in making Adam and Eve, in making that family. He takes them back there, and then from there he says, ‘Let’s swing over to Deuteronomy 24 now, and consider Deuteronomy 24 in the light of the other Scripture, the created order. What did God do there? Certainly it still applies. So, taking them there, and in that light, you know, the question ‘Can you divorce for any reason?’. Well, given in that light, he says, ‘Go back to the very beginning, and look at Adam and Eve, and look at what it is, and if you do that, you’ll get the right perspective.’ And I think, man, if we all do that, the pain we would save ourselves, and society would be so much stronger. You know, today in our culture, we’re told Adam and Eve is a fairly tale, and evolution is how we all got here, and so now we can’t figure out what marriage is, and we can’t stay married to anybody. And if we would just go back, to ‘God made man and God made woman, and he made the family, and he made it a certain way,’ boy we’d be so much better off. We were better off when we used to believe that. There were a lot less hurting kids in our country when we used to go back there and look at that and consider that. [When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, it was common for a married couple with kids to at least wait until the kids were grown up and on their own before divorcing.] Our society was stronger when we used to do that. Well the first thing he says, go back there, he says “Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning, made them male and female.” That’s of course what he did. There was a man, and there was a woman. Made them male and female, right from the very beginning, and of course that was the family. And you see the purpose, as he goes on, he says to Adam and Eve, ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ So there was the purpose. Part of the purpose was to go and continue the race. Good thing it was a man and a woman, because we wouldn’t be here if he did it differently. But he says “Be fruitful and multiply”. Secondly you remember, the second purpose in that, if you looked at Adam, you know, the created order, God is making all of creation, he makes all these things, he says ‘This is wonderful, this is beautiful, this is good,’ and then he gets to this man who is all alone, and he says, ‘This is not good.’ And so he makes a woman, and he makes the woman from the man, interestingly, he doesn’t just recreate her from the dust, he actually takes his rib and makes her from the man. And with that, making her from Adam, and he makes this other half, and he says, ‘This is now good.’ Of course, Adam thought it was great, I mean, Adam, you remember, he’s like ‘Wow! This is great, this beautiful lady.’ Of course, at the time she wasn’t wearing anything [laughter] and he’s like ‘Man! This is cool! This will work, God, good job, no problem.’ And of course she’s probably the most beautiful woman who ever lived, you know, she’s perfect. And he was probably pretty buff and hunky too, you know. So, he says, “From the beginning, God made them male and God made them female”, and with a very clear purpose, and a very special relationship. Now, we should say, because we’re so confused, and I say this in respect, but this I believe is absolutely true, and I will not stop teaching it, if I go to jail, I go to jail, this is the truth. God did not make two men, and he didn’t for a reason. God did not make two women. He did not make a man and two women. He did not make a woman and two men. He made a man and he made a woman. And we can just look and see why he did that. They are different, they are equal but they are beautifully different. If you have a man and a woman, you have “the other half”, you get “one” as you bring them together as he shares. But you have this half and you have that half. If you have two men you don’t have other halves, you have two of the same half. Two women, you have two of the same half. But when you have a man and a woman…interesting, we were watching the men yesterday, at a men’s conference, and Ken Graves comes up in this conference, and some of you are already mentioning it, because Ken is quite a manly man, he’s got more testosterone than any man on this planet, and I say it respectfully [laughter], I say it absolutely respectfully to him, because I love him. But he shares, he gets up, and he says, he starts telling the guys, he’s from California, he says ‘You know, I’m concerned for you guys in California, I’m watching some dress practices out here, and he says, ‘Guys, what’s up?’ He says, ‘Some of you guys are actually wearing women’s jeans, women’s jeans.’ And he’s like, ‘Listen, the Bible says gird up your loins, and how can you gird up your loins if you’re wearing women’s clothes?’ And he goes on about that, and then he says, ‘Listen, guys, what you need to do is you need to get on the Mr. scale, you’ve got this Mr. scale, you’ve got Mr. Rogers on one side, and you’ve got Mr. T. on the other. And you need to be somewhere inbetween Mr. Rogers and Mr. T. Get on the Mr. scale.’ So anyway, that’s Ken Graves. But he shares, he says, ‘You know, looking at the character of God in Christ’, and this isn’t necessarily theologically accurate, but it’s a beautiful point, he says, ‘We’re told that Jesus is the Lion, and Jesus is the Lamb.’ He says, ‘It seems to me, in the marriage you see Christ obviously represented’, and he says, ‘It seems that God took the man, the lion, and put in that the lion, and in the woman he put the lamb, so you see Christ in a certain way in a man, and you see Christ in another way in the woman. But you have the Lion and you have the Lamb.’ And I believe it’s clear, I mean we’re different, men and women are different, we just are. We’re equal and we’re the same in one way, but we’re different by God’s design. And you come together, and you have two different halves that make one, by God’s design. Of course our culture says evolution and other things, and so now we have what we do in our state, and I believe it’s going to reap fruit in the future, and some things just take a long time to begin to undermine culture and society. One man and one woman, clearly, God’s design, no doubt about it, if you’re honest with the Scripture. He says, “He made them male and female, and said for this reason shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ Joined, King James says “he shall cleave to her”, NIV says “be united”, and it’s this deal of a special relationship. The word “joined” in the Greek is the word poskaloa, and it literally means “to be glued to.” Glued, they shall be joined, be glued. And a good picture of that glue is superglue. It is like the super of all superglues. You know you’ve worked with the stuff, and glued your fingers together, and the wrong things, but you take two pieces of wood and you put superglue there, they are glued together in a radical way. And he’s saying in that, remember, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined, be glued to his wife---and this is marriage. It is a man and woman joined, merged. You have the mathematics, one plus one equals one, not one + one = two, one + one = one. One plus one, the two shall become one it says there, they shall become one flesh. Interesting thing about that, and we’ve looked at this before too. But that glue also includes the marriage bed. Paul says in 1st Corinthians to the Church, he says listen he says “If a man sleeps with a prostitute, if a man sleeps with a harlot”, then Paul goes back to the created order, back to the Garden of Eden, and he says this, “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her, for the two, he says, shall become one flesh.” It is amazing that he actually goes back to the original created order, and where God joined the man and woman in marriage in this oneness, that’s obviously more than physical---there’s another dimension to it too---Paul then says when a man sleeps with a harlot, the two are joined, and they become one flesh. Now, that tells me, then the marriage bed is part of that joining. There’s a thing that goes on there in that relationship. And so therefore, obviously, sexuality, I mean, sex between a man and a woman is made for marriage. It’s clear in the Bible, it’s made for marriage. It is not made for outside of marriage. It’s between a man and a woman, and it’s a beautiful thing, something to be experienced, something to be enjoyed, something to be pleasurable. But yet, it’s this thing that God has created, and it’s doing more than just fulfilling a pleasurable experience, there’s something going on there, something going on. So, as a side-note, that tells us too, the two shall become one, a man and a prostitute, that says to me sexual sin is destructive. And it really is. It is very destructive. Maybe you’re here as a young person. I tell you what, I wish I could go back in my life with an eraser and erase certain seasons of my life. I can’t go back and erase my life, because here I am today at 39, I can’t change when I was 19 and 20, I wish I could, or 15 or 16. But you’re here as a young person, you’ve got everything coming at you, you’ve got the world telling you, man, ‘This is pleasurable, this is life’, I mean, come on, it’s out of control sometimes, that you would think that, you know, to have a Budweiser and have sex, there’s nothing greater than a Budweiser and sex, I mean, or have a cigarette and have sex, you know, you look at the billboard and that’s what it’s saying to you. And so you’re a young person, and now you’ve got all these desires too, because we’re kind of designed for it. And then you throw in temptation, and the TV and the video games and the Internet, and here you are battling, and then you sit in school and they’re telling you man, ‘This is for you, this is healthy, you try it out, figure out what’s best for you.’ But the Word of God comes up and says, ‘It’s made for a husband and wife. And to do anything else is destructive.’ I can tell you without a doubt, that my younger years, where I was not pure, have absolutely given no value to my life today. All it has done is left me with scars, and left me with things I wish I could take out of my life. I have a weird auto-immune kidney-liver disease, and I don’t know how I got it. It showed up in that season of my life. I was just there this week having my blood tested again, and they’re like, ‘Well yes, you’re kidney and liver are hanging in there.’ And I was a young Christian then too, battling in college, the temptation. So here you are as a young person, right. And you’ve got all these things coming at you, and God says, ‘Husband and wife.’ Sex can be destructive, it is destructive outside of marriage. You take two pieces of wood, you take superglue, two pieces of wood, you superglue them together, right, they’re glued together. What happens when you take them apart? Or your fingers when they’re glued together? They don’t come apart the same way they were before. Right? If it’s good glue. You rip apart two pieces of wood that are glued together, and some of it goes on that side, and some of it goes on the other piece, they don’t come apart the same. And that is the truth…[tape switchover, some text lost]…people in marriage are often fighting shadows from sexual immorality earlier in their life. And nobody will tell you, I’m sure all of us could get together and say, you know, as adults, ‘You know, those of us who were foolish, what value did it have, except, I wish I hadn’t done it now.’ I say that to you, because as a young person you so infrequently ever hear that. But it’s the truth. Hey listen, maybe you’re here, maybe you’re here and we’re talking about this, and you have had the worst week in your life. Maybe you were even pure and you were till like Friday night this week, you know. Hey God is a God of grace, too. And we make messes, and we do things that are destructive, but God is a God that does forgive us. He’s gracious to carry us through what comes from it later. And to use it even to good in our lives. But the truth is, we all know in life, wisdom, better not to do it at all than to deal with the ramifications. So, I don’t want anybody to feel bad either, I speak as one who knows. Right? Well, ‘the two shall become one’, man, joining together, you know, there’s another point here then. I should say about sexual immorality, Paul says this, and if you don’t agree with me, listen to what he says here. “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” What is he saying? It’s against your own body, your own person, it has an effect upon your very person. So, hey, maybe you haven’t had the best past, I could start a club with you, but you know there came a time in my life where I chose to live differently. By the grace of God you could start to do that today, and bear the fruit of that.
Sex, the Marriage Bed, is part of the Glue
We should know too though, consider, it’s glue. Right? The marriage bed is part of the glue. So therefore too, a husband and wife, that should be part of the relationship, it’s that stickiness. And if you are married, and you’re here, and you know maybe you’ve gotten married five years ago, and you were just like infatuated with your partner, and now for whatever reason you don’t know why, but she’s not interested, you’re not interested, and that’s not part of your relationship---that’s a concern. That says that there’s hedges going up between you and your spouse. And rather than having hedges around the two of you to protect your marriage, you’re actually becoming vulnerable. It’s like you move the bushes between the middle of you guys rather than having them around you to protect you. Paul says, you know, he talks about in 1st Corinthians 7, a man and woman shouldn’t stay apart too long, lest one of you is tempted. So, the marriage bed, a husband and wife coming together sexually, is needed and it’s important. It’s to be enjoyed, but it’s needed. And so I counsel couples at times, that when that’s gone, it’s not part of the relationship---and that says there’s something wrong, because it’s part of the deal. It’s to be there. Now hey you might be like really old, you know, maybe you’re like 40, I don’t know [laughter], I’ll be 40 in just a couple months so I can say that. But maybe you’re like really old, and you’re like ‘I’m just too tired, man, come on, go easy on me, give me some grace, I’m too old.’ Alright, too tired. [with Viagra you’re not!] But you know what I’m saying. And now, sometimes, it’s not happening in a marriage, that glue, sometimes pornography has worked its way in there, and because there’s pornography, that just warps your way of thinking. [Pornography will dull a man’s desire for his wife proportionally to the amount a guy uses it, making her look less attractive in his eyes than what he’s looking at.] Sometimes it’s not happening because, it was when you first got married, but it stops now, and that’s because of sexual immorality, you’re fighting the shadows from a long time ago. That often is the case. And then other times, it’s somebody was molested. I’ve counseled and I’ve mentioned that before. I’ve counseled a gal that’s been molested, and now in the marriage, because of that traumatic experience, doesn’t want to even be part of that. But I will say this to you, it is needed in marriage, and God can heal every one of those situations, every one. Pornography, God can bring to repentance, forgiveness, he can heal that. Ah, fighting shadows from the past, earlier immorality in your life, repentance, forgiveness, and working things out, God can heal, man. And even molestation. I remember one particular couple, and that had stopped a long time ago, the marriage bed. And here they are, and their marriage is not good because there’s hedges now in the wrong place. And so here we are meeting together, and that comes out in the meeting. And so then I learn as we’re going through it, because I’ve noticed, I asked her, ‘Were you molested?’ And she said, ‘Yah, I was molested, not good when I was young.’ So here’s all that. Right? Well, we kind of went through the Scriptures, and God in his time did a work. And I remember later that gal coming to me, she goes ‘Man, we are doing great!’ [laughter] And I didn’t want to get any details, but I could tell what she was saying, ‘Things are going good, man, just letting you know, man.’ And God can heal. And I’ve got to move on, because this room is getting hotter, man. The temperature is going up in here.
Marriage is a God-thing, and
it’s for life
So anyway, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, so they’re no longer two but they’re one, therefore what God has joined together let not man separate.” What God has joined together, let not man separate. Another thing about marriage, that Jesus is sharing here, that’s so important, is that marriage is a God-thing. And I know most of you guys know that. It is a God-thing. It is not this contract between just two people, it isn’t ‘That me and Mary we like each other, we got married, we just decided to do it.’ Marriage, it’s an equation, it is a God-thing, God has designed it, God enters that equation. When two people decide to get married, it’s not just a thing of human convenience or social convention, a two-people contract, it is that God is involved in marriage. He’s ordained it. When two people enter into marriage, God is part of that equation. When he’s recognized as part of the equation there’s strength, because you’ve got that third twine, making that rope strong. [I would guess, and this is just me, that God is not really all that involved in the marriages of people in the world, who are a part of Satan’s society, and are not believers, based on everything I’ve seen, and having been a believer for 40 + years, and based upon 1st Corinthians 7.] But he says it’s a God-thing, and when it’s treated that way, if we only did that, in our country. You know, we have gotten to where we are in this state, because we took God out of the whole deal. So then suddenly because of Hollywood, we’re thinking marriage is just being in love, and if you’re in love you get married, and if you’re not in love you get divorced. And marriage is a whole lot more than that. Companionship is part of it, but it’s a whole lot more than that. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor7.htm for more on this “whole lot more to it” theme.] And so therefore, if it’s just being in love, then any combination of any people that are in love can get married, doesn’t matter sexes, doesn’t matter numbers, and it will just continue because the reasoning is wrong. ‘Why not keep two people that are married, doesn’t matter if they’re the same sex, or they’re related’? That will be next, ‘They’re in love.’ But since when is marriage just two people in love? No, marriage is a God-designed thing, an institution that he’s given us. And you can go to other cultures, little Asian couple, now they’re in their 80’s today, and they’ll tell you ‘We didn’t even know each other, Mon and Dad picked us and said ‘You guys are getting married.’ You know, it was arranged. And they can yet tell you, ‘We’ve been married for 65 years and it has been great. We didn’t even know each other before.’ But they had a certain understanding of marriage. Now I’m not saying that’s what we want to do [the arranged marriage thing], don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t marry two people that aren’t in love, I mean, you’ve got to be in love, this is important here. But it’s more than just being in love. And when we understand that, and that when we’re not in love anymore, that doesn’t suddenly give us a license to just end this thing. You understand, there’s a vow, and God’s part of the equation, it’s a God-thing. We want to recognize that. So, it says, “What God has joined together let not man separate”, the point is, that marriage is for life, also. It’s for life. And it should be seen as “I have entered into this with you.” When my wife and I, August 1991, and we entered marriage, and we had our wedding ceremony and the vows, for better, for worse, from this day forward, this is for life. And we’ve had that perspective, this is for life, we don’t talk about divorce. Sometimes we’d like to, but we don’t. We just don’t go there. But we have a good marriage, I’m doing a good job anyway [laughter]. She’s in the front row so I can say that. But it’s forever, it’s forever. Now, I understand, you’re here, and some of you are like ‘I’m on my 5th marriage’. And I’m not trying to condemn you, God is a God of grace too, and we’ll go onto that. He’s a God of grace. But from this day forward, I can live a certain way. I can’t go back and change my past, you can’t change your past. But you can today repent of things from the past, make your heart right and determine from this day forward ‘I will follow and hold to the standard of God.’ And that’s very powerful. It is interesting, that when people are divorced and remarried, you guys know, they’ll statistically tell you, this isn’t a church statistic, this is psychologically proven that the likelihood of divorce is much greater in those cases than the first marriage. So there’s effect, there’s fruit of divorce. But yet, if you today repent, say you’re on your fourth marriage, repent, ‘I’ve not been doing this right, God forgive me.’ But now you’re here with your wife or your husband, and now in repentance and letting God heal your heart and mind, and forgive other people, and even choose in Christ to love your former spouses, in love, in Christ, I tell you what. Some of that baggage from the past won’t effect you today, you can go on, new and do it right with this marriage. But you’re carrying baggage with you, you know. It’s effecting you and you have to make it right with God and have the right view of marriage. It’s forever. You know, when we do pre-marital counseling, I have them watch a video, it’s called “A Vow To Cherish.” It’s a Billy Graham video, it’s a great video, if you’ve never watched it. And in this video, I say, ‘Well, listen, you guys are getting married, this is what you’re doing, watch this video, this makes the point, you’re making a vow.’ In this movie there’s this man, he’s a businessman, I would say he’s 50, I don’t know, somewhere around there, he’s got a wife, and let’s say she’s mid-40s, 50. And things are just great, although there’s pressures at business, and I don’t remember the movie, it’s been awhile since I’ve watched all the details. But the basic storyline is his wife gets Alzheimer’s, and she’s not, it seems like she’s getting it early in life. And so now he has this wonderful wife, he’s a businessman, she’s not all that old, I mean, let’s say she’s 45, he goes home and she’s having this disease, and she’s starting to act like a child, and do strange things. She walks away and you have to find her somewhere in the neighborhood, Alzheimer’s, and that’s hard, you know, that’s hard. And she’s like four years old now. Well, as you watch the movie, he’s now, all these pressures, he’s out running, running around the track, park. And as he’s doing it, this cute little gal, wonderful little gal is out there jogging too, and they just happen to end up by each other jogging, and they’re talking. Well you know there’s a little connection that happens, and it doesn’t take too long and she’s kind of interested in him, but he’s married. And he’s hurting, and she’s listening to him, they talk, and so he’d be out running and there she’d be, and they’d run together. Well, you know the devil is working, as you watch the movie, and here’s this man, he’s got a 4-year-old at home basically that he’s married to, and here’s this wonderful fit beautiful woman, and she’s so nice to him, and all this stuff. Well eventually it gets to the point where she calls him, if I remember it correctly, and invites him over her house. So now it’s getting to that deadly place. And he wants to go, so gets in his car and he’s going to go, but thankfully he’s got some Christian friends, and on his way, rather than going to visit her, he goes to visit the friend first, godly friend who just sets it straight. As he’s honest with his friend, he says, ‘You have made a vow before God, what kind of man are you going to be, you made a vow.’ Well the movie ends, it is powerful, he decides not to go over this gal’s house, he goes back to his wife, she is acting like a little child in this scene, like a little girl sitting in the bedroom, playing with toys, whatever, he goes up, gets on his knees, takes her by the hand, and he goes through the marriage vow with her, ‘for better or for worse, from this day forward, till death do us part.’ That is marriage. That is the standard of God. Not to condemn. Hey, man, I was just as honest about my life, maybe you won’t come back here when you heard about my life, you know. But that is it, and let’s commit to live that way from this day forward, for the sake of our children and our culture. Marriage is for life.
Divorce is a thing of the
hardness of the heart
Verses 7-9, “They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.’” Jesus says that. Then the religious leaders, they’re thinking he’s saying that Moses was wrong, you know, they’re saying, ‘Moses talked about divorce and remarriage, I mean, he didn’t have a problem with that, what are you talking about?’ Verse 7, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He says, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” He says go to the created order, and then come to Deuteronomy 24. When you look what God did there, and then come to Deuteronomy 24, you find, marriage is for life, clearly, that’s the purpose. So that’s where we come to Deuteronomy 24, and then he does include, which is probably in Deuteronomy 24 when it says uncleanness, it’s probably sexual sin in there, because he says, “I say whoever divorces his wife except for sexual immorality and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” He’s more conservative than anybody, when he says what he does here. But he says Moses allowed it for [because of] the hardness of your hearts, God knew, I mean, God says this is the standard, but I know sin has entered into Adam and Eve and their descendants, and so when he comes and brings the Law, and all this stuff that goes with it, Cain murdered his brother, and you’ve got all this stuff, you started out with two people in love that now maybe want to kill each other---because of the hardness of your heart. That’s why. That’s why he’s allowed this, because of the hardness of your heart. In marriage, divorce is always a thing of the hardness of the heart and selfishness, that’s what it is. That word for heart, hardness of heart, is a sklerkardia [Strongs # 4641] and it means to dry up, like it was alive but it’s dried up and hard, like the mud. “But from the beginning it was not so”, the tense of that means, it’s in the present perfect active, meaning that the original is still in force, nothing’s changed with the original, meaning what God did from the beginning. From the beginning it’s always been that way. Well, Jesus explains, divorce and remarriage only is permitted when there is adultery. And he’s not saying it’s like if my wife is unfaithful, if she ever is, I pray she isn’t, but if that happens, that I’m commanded to divorce her, it’s a choice at that point, God even says it in his Word. But if things aren’t repairable in your eyes, then you have the freedom to divorce and remarry, but you don’t have to. Now, it says “for sexual immorality” verse 9, Jesus says is the exception. Interesting, the same two camps exist today, one group that’s really conservative says “There’s no exceptions, he’s not saying there’s an exception.” In fact they say that wasn’t even in the original [Greek] text. Now the challenge when you say something wasn’t in the original text, nobody is 100 percent sure, there are a few passages here or there where we wonder, but to not be 100 percent sure is truly hard to base a doctrine on that. And if you go back to Deuteronomy 24, putting it all together, and you go to the Law, and you see what adultery is, now if you go back to the Law, back to Israel and the Law, when there was adultery, what happened? Those that were caught in adultery were stoned. So clearly in the Old Testament Law, when it happened, the other person remarried, or was free to, because your spouse is dead [along with the guy who did it with her]. So, in the Law, divorce was, you know, moving on to remarriage was acceptable in that case because, you know, your spouse was stoned to death. And Deuteronomy 24 is certainly coming with that angle too, in the sense of sexual sin. But one camp will say ‘Oh it’s not in the text’ and so therefore, maybe you’ve had your spouse commit adultery, and you’ve chosen to remarry, and they’ll say ‘Oh, that was sin.’ And yet the Bible does clearly give this exception. But then others will say ‘Well the word here is unfaithfulness, and then they take like the Hillel group, they’ll say ‘Hey, if she burns the toast, it’s unfaithfulness, she’s been unfaithful to you’, they do the other thing. But, the word for sexual immorality here, the Greek word is actually a sexual word, it’s pornea, where we get pornography, that’s what it is, it’s pornea, if you look at the Greek text it’s pornea, he’s talking of sexual sin here, very clearly. So, except in that case. And in that case, I tell people, you know, your spouse has been unfaithful, you can go divorce and remarry, although you don’t have to. And there are people I know, wonderful people where, a spouse has been unfaithful, and they have a good marriage today, because God worked and brought healing, and they’ve moved on, and you’d never even know.
between believer and non-believer, 1st Corinthians 7
Well, there’s one other exception in the New Testament, Paul gives one more. He says if you have a believer married to a non-believer, 1st Corinthians 7, and the non-believer leaves, Paul says if the non-believer doesn’t want to be married to you because you’ve radically changed, let the non-believer go, live at peace. And therefore you can divorce and remarry, I think it’s clearly implied there. But any other situation, any other deal, you’re committing sin, you’re committing adultery, that’s what he says. Because God did something between the two, and to just go ‘Oh, they’re not very nice to me,’ or ‘We’re not loving anymore’, you’re committing adultery if you remarry to somebody else. Now you can, it says in 1st Corinthians 7, you can be separate and remain separate, but you’re committing sin to remarry. Now, one other thought. When he says, let’s say, man and woman are married, they get in a big argument, they get divorced, that’s all that happened, two Christians, and now one is remarried, and the Bible says here they’ve committed adultery. Are they forever in a state of adultery? Are they forever condemned? Sometimes a church will say that they are, ‘You’ve divorced, you’re not welcome in our church.’ But that’s not what it actually says, in the Greek tense actually in that phrase, it’s a one-time deal, you’ve committed a sin. And now you’re married, and it certainly wouldn’t be right to divorce again. But you’ve committed a sin, and God forgives sins, the Bible’s clear, God forgives all sin except for the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is to deny Christ. My point being, this is the standard, but at the same time, maybe you’ve gone down the road and here you are, and you’ve not lived according to what he says here, but God forgives. What do you do? You repent, you repent, you’re remarried for the third time, or maybe later when you’re alone, you pray “God I’ve not lived your way, God forgive me, I’m sorry Lord. I thank you for your grace, that you’ve forgiven me, and I’m going to live for you full-tilt from this point on, and be the best husband, the best wife I can be.” And that’s what you do, and you’ll experience the grace of God in your life. But it is important for your own life, that you see God’s standard. And sin deceives us. The writer of Hebrews says “Beware lest the deceitfulness of sin”, and you can get into a situation where you’re sure, “No, no, no, no, I’ve got other exceptions. I know I do. You don’t understand.” You’re being deceived by sin, you’re not seeing what God has. And so for your own good. Now maybe you’re being tempted, maybe you’ve been out jogging this week, and your spouse has been struggling with physical affliction or whatever, and marriage is really hard right now, and you’ve met somebody. Consider what God is saying in his Word. Consider that that path is a path that you don’t want to take. Go back to your husband, go back to your wife, and love ‘em. And you’re not perfect either. And maybe you’re not the best, maybe they’re even harsh, just go back and live Christ before them. If there’s physical abuse, I counsel people that if there’s physical abuse, separate, I mean, you’re not to get beat up, that’s weird. Separate, if you need to, call the cops, hold your spouse accountable. But that doesn’t mean you should divorce, because it sounds like your spouse has issues of anger, that God can heal, and deliver. [I will say this, usually physical abuse is a clear sign the Holy Spirit is not present in the other spouse, making that person a non-believer by their very actions, and in that case, divorce, do what you have to do to get free of that person, especially if you have children whose safety may be threatened by this person.] Well, let’s just end our time. The disciples say, verse 10, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” Now, obviously he meant what we said, because the disciples in hearing it go, “Aye, yi, yi! I ain’t getting married! I mean, what if I get this broad, and she’s just like, man, I’ve got to stay in this deal? Aye yi, yi!” That’s really the way they respond. So that’s what he meant. That’s the way they understood it. Hey lets just read the next two verses and we’ll be done, and I’ll make a quick thought.
Verses 11-12, “But he said to them, ‘All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: for there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.’” He says, all cannot accept it, I mean, this is a humble heart, and a man and woman of the Spirit that sees it for what it is. He says, ‘There are also eunuchs,’ some were born that way, obviously, physical deformity, there are others that were made that way by other men. Of course, if you were in charge of a king’s harem in eastern cultures, I mean, they’d make you a eunuch. That was not uncommon, so others have been made eunuchs by men. And then there’s those that are eunuchs by choice, for the kingdom of God. Now, he’s not speaking literally when he says that. Unfortunately there was an early church father, great man, Origen, radical guy, who for whatever reason, when he first was studying this, said, ‘Oh, well that’s who I want to be.’ And he actually castrated himself. And he was a great man of God, and later realized, ‘Oops, I misinterpreted it.’ And the problem is, you can’t go back at that point. That’s a true story. [Origen, in my estimation, was not part of the true Christian Church, or Body of Christ, but was part of the great False Church. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm and weigh the historic evidence for yourself.] Jesus is not speaking of that, he’s talking of the heart, meaning that there are some, and the apostle Paul was one of them, 1st Corinthians 9, 1st Corinthians 7, he says, ‘You know what, yea, the other apostles can have wives, I don’t have a wife because I don’t want to get distracted, I’m called on a mission for God, and I’m called to be single.’ And he says even to the people in 1st Corinthians 7, the church, he says ‘You know, if you can be single, stay single, man, stay single and live, the single life is a blessing. If you can’t stay single, and you’re struggling with desires, then if God brings a mate, get married and that’s ok too.’ But that’s what the Scripture says. Let’s close in prayer…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Matthew 19:1-12, given somewhere in New England.]
Other Bible chapter on Divorce & Remarriage:
Some essential keys to how a successful marriage works: