Divorce - Remarriage
Malachi 3:5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
ADULTERY IN THE CHURCH
The Lord said in Malachi, that He would be a swift witness against the adulterers.
Divorce and remarriage is epidemic in the church in America today. Jesus said:
Matt 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.(KJV)
It's not only the laity in general that are involved in this adultery. More and more, we hear of those who are in ministry who are divorcing their spouses, and remarrying, and still keeping their position in ministry. The message being sent to the laity is that it's O.K. to engage in divorce and remarriage.
The Body of Christ is so entrenched in their Esau-like mentality, that they are selling out their inheritance for their own self-gratification. Rather than work out problems with their spouse, they prefer to run from their problems. If they can't get along with this one, they will find one they can get along with. Or so they think. In First John we read:
I Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?(KJV)
The same type of reasoning would apply to a married couple. You may see a couple who are “full of the joy of the Lord,” and yet who claim to have “irreconcilable differences”, so they get a divorce, instead of working through these differences. If a person makes a vow to the Lord, to love Him and obey Him and to honor Him, how can he keep that vow to God whom he hasn't seen, if he can't even keep it to his wife who he has seen?
Most Christians who have gone through divorce and remarriage because of irreconcilable differences, are actually just giving up because things aren't going their way. Esau came in from the hunt, and was desirous of immediate gratification. He sold his inheritance just because he wanted to see immediate results.
One spouse will consider divorcing the other because they don't agree on where they should worship. One likes the church down the street that is vibrant and active, and the other one likes the church twenty miles away that is more “traditional”.
The vibrant spouse will begin to think that the traditional spouse may not be saved, because he prefers a church where they sing from the hymnals. Or maybe he might prefer a certain denomination over another one, that his spouse just cannot tolerate. Although she seems to be more spiritual, her flesh rises up in frustration over his seeming “lack of spirituality”. She has “travailed in prayer” for her husband with others at the church on behalf of her husband. Everyone knows he goes to church. But he goes to that “dead church across town”, and everyone “who is in the know” understands that he isn't saved, because his wife has told them that he isn't. He's so entrenched in the traditional dead church, that they need to pray that his eyes will be opened to the truth.
He hunts too much. Or he fishes too much. Or he is too busy tinkering with his tools to really devote his time to the things of the Lord. They are “unequally yoked”, and she prays that he will get a grip one day before it's too late.
If only he could be like brother Gene, who is constantly telling others about Jesus, and who is a real prayer warrior, and “so spiritual”. Everyone knows that brother Gene had the same problem with his wife. The whole prayer group at the church was praying that either Gene's wife would get saved, or that the Lord would free Gene up to serve Him more effectively. She was so carnal. Gene would always come to the prayer group so burdened by the struggles he was having at home. It was really a blessing that she left Gene. Oh, we all know that God hates divorce, but hey, in this case, it is “obvious” that it's the best thing for all parties involved.
Maybe divorce is being considered by the wife because the husband isn't “providing for the family” like she thinks he should be. When they married, her eyes were all on him, and not on his abilities. She soon finds out that he is an unskilled laborer, and the type of jobs that he qualifies for will never get them the fine things in life that she wants. Never mind that he is diligent in his work, and that he is faithful, and works hard.
As she meets more married couples, who have “more going on for them,” she sees that she is on a “dead end street” with this guy, and the other day she met a man in their cell group who is definitely “set”, and could give her the “things” that she wants. He seems to be a kind and affectionate man. He seems sympathetic to her needs. She realizes she has to make the move from rags to riches, and the only way she is going to do that, is to divorce the one she's with.
The situation is never as black and white as what I have laid out here, but if the truth were to be known, this is the underlying issue of many divorce-remarriages today.
If he or she can't learn to be content and to love the first one she married, regardless of what their situation is, how can a “woman of God” or a “man of God” really be in love with God, who instructs His children to be content in whatsoever state they are in, whether they are abased, or whether they abound (Phil 4:12), and Who says that we are not to set our affections on the things below, but on the things which are above? The fact of the matter is, they can't.
I Jn 4:20-21
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Or maybe the husband is considering divorce, because the wife doesn't comply with all his standards. She's not submissive to him like the Bible says she should be. She's stubborn and argumentive. When he gets home from work, supper isn't usually ready, or if it is ready, it's something he doesn't particularly care for. The house is messier than he would like it to be, and here he was, working hard all day, to provide for them. The least she could do is have supper ready when he gets home. He's put up with this long enough. He needs to dump this woman, and find someone who will really appreciate him.
If he can't get beyond the circumstances in their marriage, and seek for wisdom concerning how to resolve these problems, how can he Love God, Who will refuse to be manipulated by him, no matter what? God isn't our servant. He doesn't respond to our wants when we command Him to respond.
The Marriage Covenant is intended to be a picture of the covenant between a person and God. In Matthew 25, Jesus talks of the Kingdom of heaven being likened to a group of women who are waiting for their Bride Groom to come.
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
The wise virgins have their mind engaged on the coming of the Bridegroom. Their love for Him causes them to be occupied about His coming. The wise spouse will be sensitive to the issues and the needs of their spouse. We are to love one another as we love ourselves…if this is the case, we will be longsuffering to one another.
Like the wise virgins, who waited for their bridegroom, the wise man or woman whose wife or husband doesn't measure up to their expectations will wait patiently, keeping that Holy-Spirit prayer lifted up in behalf of their spouse. The five wise virgins had entered into a covenant, and would not break that covenant with their Bride Groom. They were committed to wait for His coming no matter how long He delayed. The believing wife or husband will understand the weight of their covenant with the Lord, and will wait patiently for the unspiritual one to have their eyes opened.
Rather than finding a way out of their marriage, they will intercede and not get discouraged, regardless of how long they have waited.
1 Cor 7:10-17
10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
The wise spouse will follow the prescription that was given in 1 Peter 3:1:
1 Pet 3:1-7
1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (KJV)
Sometimes the provisions the Lord gives us do not satisfy our fleshly desires, but they are sufficient to satisfy our needs. When we walk with the Lord, our life may not be as orderly as we want it to be. Every time we turn around, there may be a test or a trial that comes our way that threatens to mess up our routine, and how we think it should be. No matter how hard we work for the Lord, sometimes it seems like we don't get the rewards for our labor that we think we might deserve.
If the man can't tolerate his wife not complying with his every whim and wish, how will he be able to tolerate his relationship with God, Who won't comply with his every whim and wish? The fact of the matter is, he won't be able to, and he will never be satisfied in his relationship to the Lord. When life doesn't go the way he thinks it should, he will have to deal with frustration and disappointment.
I could go on and list a number of different scenarios that Christians use to justify themselves in getting a divorce. But in every instance, except for the case of fornication, the Bible says that there are no legitimate grounds for divorce. If we can't be faithful to uphold a vow we made with one another “for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, for richer or for poorer,” how can we expect to maintain our vow with God, who we cannot see? Christians today are slipping into adultery in greater numbers than ever before because of the divorce-remarriage issue.
Christians who haven't learned to honor their vow with their spouses, won't learn to honor their vow with God. One minute they will be true to Him, and the next minute, they will turn away from Him because things are not going their way.
Rarely will anyone ever live up to anyone else's standards. It is a fact that none of us can ever live up to God's standards, and yet He loves us, and is long suffering toward us, despite our shortfalls. If we were able to honestly look at ourselves in our relationship with God, we would have to face the fact that we are a very pitiful bride. Yet consider what a wonderful Husband He is to us, and how He bears long with us, and intercedes on our behalf so that we may become the Bride that He longs for us to be.
The Word of God in Malachi says that God will be a swift witness against the adulterers in the church. I believe that the burden of the guilt lies on the shepherds who refuse to instruct their flock in the Way of God, and who condone divorce and remarriage in their congregations “because of the times”.
Some may ask at this point, “Well, I have already divorced and remarried. Is there any hope for me?” I personally believe that God deals with us where we are at, and not where we have been; and what we know to be true, and not according to our speculations. I cannot stand in judgment of my brother or sister for their error. There is ONE Who is the Righteous Judge, and that ONE isn't me! My responsibility is to obey the Lord and to do what I know that He requires of me.
According to the Word of God, I believe that Divorce and Remarriage is a sin, and if I were to divorce my wife and get married again, I believe I would be guilty of the sin of adultery. I would be sinning Willfully, saying, “I know what the Bible says, but I choose to live this way, anyway”. I personally believe that this is where Hebrews 10:26 comes in:
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Maybe a very sincere brother and sister in the Lord (note that they are not just going to hear what they want to hear) who had both been previously married, but who loved each other, were counseled by their pastor or some other “man of God” concerning divorce and remarriage. This man of God may have advised them, by saying “Although the Bible may seem to speak against it, because of the “culture” of our day, divorce and remarriage is all right in the eyes of God”, and since they got this counsel from a “man of God”, they trusted in his advice, and they got married to one another.
I believe that the “man of God” who gave them the wrong advice will be the one who is held accountable for their sin. I personally believe they themselves may receive mercy from God because of their ignorance. But God is the Righteous Judge.
If I am approached by a brother or sister as to what my understanding is concerning divorce and remarriage, I will be very careful to point them to the Word of God, and not to my opinion. Again, I am very grateful that there is ONE Righteous Judge, and that I am not Him! BUT I PRAY THAT THE LORD WILL NEVER FIND ME GUILTY OF MISUSING THE WORD OF GOD TO JUSTIFY MY SIN, OR THE SINS OF OTHERS.
Some may ask: What if I was married before I got saved, and got a divorce from my wife before I was saved? Now that I am a Christian, does that mean I can't get married? Personally, I believe when I come to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, He forgives me of ALL MY SINS, that I committed in the past. I am a new creature. Everything I had done in the past is forgiven me. It is as if I had never done it.
Now if I was a murderer, my sins are forgiven, and I am not to murder ever again. If I was a thief, my thefts are forgiven, and I am not to steal any more. If I was a fornicator, my fornication is forgiven, and I am not to fornicate any more. By the same token, if I was married and divorced, my divorce is forgiven, and I am not to divorce again. I believe that the marriage I was once involved with has no ties to my new life, other than my responsibility to any children I may have fathered.
I personally believe the Christian who was divorced as a non-believer, can get remarried in his new life, but as a Christian, there is no room for antoher divorce and remarriage issue.
1 Tim 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
We have discussed physical adultery here, but there is also another type of adultery that the Bible discusses, and that is Spiritual adultery. The book of James addresses this type of adultery, which is a love of the things of the world.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
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