Don’t Separate What God Has Joined Together
By: The John Ankerberg Show
This article is the transcript of a sermon delivered by Pastor Robby Gallaty on August 24, 2014.
The title of the message this morning is this: Don’t Separate What God Has Joined Together.
The first institution that God set up in the Garden was the institution of marriage. And you would agree with me that since that time, Satan himself has tried everything to break that relationship up. Every one of these topics, Church, that I am preaching on – the ones I have already preached on, the ones that I will preach on that have to do with sexuality, all are an attack on the family.
You see, if the Enemy can break up the family nucleus, he wins. I mean, think about it: cohabitation – you don’t have to wait to get married to live together. That is an attack on the family. Purity – you don’t have to wait to engage in sexual intercourse until you are married. That is an attack on the family ultimately. Homosexuality – you don’t have to do it God’s way with a man and a woman, you can do it your way. It is an attack on the family.
Today, as we see with divorce and remarriage, you don’t have to wait..you don’t have to continue being married to someone you don’t love, you can just do what you want and do it your way.
And it always comes down to one of two things; you are either going to do it God’s way or you will do it your way. And that is what I want to talk to you about. I want to paint for you this morning a beautiful picture of marriage, the intimacy of marriage, the closeness of marriage, the gift of marriage from God, so that you will do it God’s way and avoid the consequences for doing it your way.
If you have your Bibles, and I hope you do, turn with me to Matthew Chapter 19, Matthew 19 and we will consider Verses 1 and following. When you have your Bibles and you are there, say “word.” The Word of the Lord.
“When Jesus had finished this instruction, He departed from Galilee and went to the region of Judea across the Jordan. Large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there. Some Pharisees approached Him to test Him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?” “Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” and He also said: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”
Father, we pray You will bless the reading and the preaching of Your Word. Conform us into the image of Christ by what we have heard today. Strengthen our marriages, protect our families. We pray in Jesus’ name. And everyone said, Amen.
I want to drop down to Verse 7. That was kind of a running intro. We will get back to that. We will camp out there, but let me begin with Verse 7 and following just to give you kind of a background of what is happening here. And I want to pain the picture of the depravity of man. So if you are taking notes, write this down. You see man’s depravity in sin. You see man’s depravity in sin.
Look at Verse 7. This is an attack on the Scriptures. That is all this is from the Pharisees and the religious leaders. You can write it down. An attack on the Scriptures. Look at Verse 7.
“Why then,” they asked Him, “did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?” He told them (what?), “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning.”
First of all, these twisters of the truth have come to Jesus, not for clarification, but for confrontation. They are going beyond the confines of Scripture. And I want you to see, God never commanded for anyone to be divorced. He permitted divorce, but He never commanded for anyone to be divorced.
Now they are not asking for Jesus to justify or clarify, they are asking in order to continue doing what they already want to do anyway. And that is what most people do. When most people are asking you for clarification, not most people, but a lot of people…that is strong…a lot of people, when they come to you for clarification, they want you to clarify in order for them to justify their actions, right? And so Jesus is not going to have any of this. He realizes it is an attack on Scripture, so secondly, Jesus gives them the exception for adultery. He gives them an exception for adultery.
Now the exception is never the rule and remember that the exception was because of the hardness of their heart. Look at Verse 8. “But it was not like that from the beginning.” He goes back to Genesis. “And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, (that is the key word), and married another, commits adultery.”
Let me say it again, God never forbids divorce. He never commands it, though. Jesus makes a case or actually takes them back as they asked this question about is it legal to marry. They are going back to Deuteronomy 24. As you are turning to Deuteronomy 24, we should read this in context. And what happened was, they reduced divorce to an issue of paperwork. They said, if you don’t like your husband, if you don’t like your wife, you just sign a piece of paper and you can move on. And Jesus brings them back there to show them that they have misunderstood the passage. So go to Deuteronomy Chapter 24 and lets see in context what God suggested to Moses. When you are there, say “word.”
“If a man marries a woman but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something improper about her, he may write her a divorce certificate, hand it to her, and send her away from his house.” That word “improper” I don’t think in the Holman is strong enough. It is the word that means indecency. It is the word that means immorality in the New Testament. The same idea here. “If after leaving his house she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the second man hates her, writes her a divorce certificate, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house or if the man dies, the first husband who sent her away may not marry her again after she has been defiled, because that would be detestable to the Lord. You must not bring guilt on the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.”
What Jesus’ point is, by bringing them back to Deuteronomy 24 is this, it is not that you should give a divorce certificate to someone if they do something that is indecent, although God permits that in this case. What Jesus is bringing them to think about is this: you need to think long and hard about divorcing or separating from your spouse of your youth. Why? Because there will come a time in your life when you may regret that separation. And if you leave them and marry someone else, you are stuck in that new marriage. You see, some people say if I have divorced my first husband and I marry my second husband, do I divorce him and go back? You can’t. That is a new marriage covenant and so you stay within the bounds of that marriage. And what He says is, once you leave them and marry again, you cannot go back to them again. It is defiling, it is detestable to the Lord. The focus of this passage, I think, is on regret, not necessarily the divorce.
Now, lets go back to Matthew. What He says here is, this word “sexual immorality.” It is the same word of indecency in the Old Testament. It is the English word, as we have been studying for weeks now, pornonea or pornea is actually how it is said. It is the word, now follow me here, pornea is immorality, fornication, sexual immorality of any sort, prostitution, homosexuality or incest. Any of these actions allow you grounds for divorce.
Now let me explain it this way, pornea is the act of immorality. Any one of those categories is the act of immorality. Adultery, watch this, is the result of the act of pornea. Adultery is not a verb. You can’t adulterize, okay. Adultery is the result of the sinful act of pornea. It is important to know the voice of that verb there. The sexual immoral act is not a one-time act here. The voice is active. It is signifying a continual action rather than a single act of pornea. And it shows us that this partner is continuing to defile themselves and defile the marriage. And if that is the case, you have Biblical grounds to separate from your partner.
However, the exception is never the rule. Even if you have Biblical grounds for divorce, you should always attempt to work things out. Now this is significant. In the Old Testament, if a person engaged in adultery, it was punishable according to Leviticus 20 Verse 10 by death. Did you know that? Leviticus 20:10. You can read it later, says that if a person terminates the marriage because of adultery, the adulterous partner should be sentenced to death. It gives new meaning to death do us part, right? You could get out of the marriage, but you are either going to naturally die or you are going to die from stoning. And if anyone who has ever gone through a divorce will tell you, there is a death element to divorce. I mean, there is a mourning just like you would mourn the death of someone. You mourn this relationship and you start new again.
So we see in the text right out the gate, Jesus identifies the depravity of man over their sin. They are not looking for answers, they are looking for justification for their actions.
But then we get to the heart of the passage. And this is where I think it could be the most helpful for you this morning, and that is God’s design for marriage. God’s design for marriage.
Verse 3, “Some Pharisees approached Him to test Him. They asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?” Jesus says, I love this. “Haven’t you read?” Jesus, they have read. It is sarcastic. Jesus knows they have read. These are the PhDs of His day. These are the legalists of His day. They know Genesis 1:27. They know Genesis 2:24 by heart. When Jesus says, “Have you not read,” He is saying, you have read it, but you don’t apply it. There is a big difference, right? It is one thing to know the Word of God, as we keep going back to in this series, it is another thing to apply and live out the Word of God in your life. When Jesus says, “Have you not read,” He is basically questioning them for their actions and following their own opinions.
Now, in order to give a picture of what marriage is like, Jesus goes back to the first couple in the Garden. And Church, let me submit this to you, as we are looking at marriage from here on out, the first couple in the Garden is the prototype of marriage.
Let me give you three insights about the first couple. The first one is this: God created man for woman. God created woman for man. If you have noticed about God, He didn’t give Adam multiple options for women in the Garden. Have you ever thought about that? He didn’t say, Adam, here is a bunch of women, just choose one and you will be happy. There was no such thing as Eve-Harmony back then. Some of you may get that later. But he had Eve. That was it, right? I mean, he had one choice. And Eve, on the other hand, she had one choice. It was Adam. She may have wanted a few Christians to Mingle with, but there was only one choice, right? It was Adam, right? And so they had each other. God created man for woman and woman for man.
Secondly, He created marriage for intimacy. The marriage is not just for intimacy between a man and woman, it is intimacy between that individual and God, but as your relationship with God strengthens, your relationship with one another strengthens as well. Divorce was never an option in the Garden. I mean, think about it! If Adam divorced Eve, where would he go? Think about it. He could divorce her but he would be isolated and alone. He didn’t have parents to go run to and complain about his wife to. He couldn’t do that. Eve didn’t have girlfriends that she could call and slander her husband. She couldn’t do that. You see, God created them for each other and He created them for intimacy, right? They were created to serve one another and love one another.
Now, I know what you are going to say as I am preaching this message here. We are not divorced, Pastor, we have been together for 30+ years. Look at our marriage. You may have been together for 30 years, but there is no intimacy in your marriage.
Friends, listen to me. If you live in the same house and you sleep in different beds, that is not God’s design for your marriage period. When was the last time, guys, you surprised your wife with flowers? Just because. Wives, when was the last time you wrote your husband a note. You know, men need affirmation and confirmation. When was the last time you wrote him a note and put it on his car as a post-it note and say, Hey, love you. Thank you for working hard and serving our family and leading our family. When was the last time you did that? When was the last time you planned a romantic trip? Do not take your marriage for granted. Your marriage is a gift from God.
But Pastor, I am not married to a princess. Do you know what someone told me one time? If you want to be married to a princess, Guys, start treating her like one. Women, you want to be married to a King, start treating…well, that is another sermon.
But you know what I am saying here. The Bible says, “He who finds a wife, finds a treasure.” Treasure your wives. God created you for intimacy.
Thirdly, God expected marriage for life. That was the expectation. Verse…in the passage here when Jesus cites the first couple, as we go back and look at Jesus saying, “For this reason.” Verse 5, “Man will leave his father and mother and the two will be joined together or he will be joined with his wife.” He cites Genesis 2 here. He is talking about this idea of leaving and cleaving together as one.
My Mom had the great idea last Christmas. She had searched and searched at Hobby Lobby and she finally found these long, slender, ceramic wise men. You may have seen them at Hobby Lobby. I mean, these things were nice. Someone had painted them and they were really nice. And I knew we were in for trouble when Mom decided to display them on the coffee table in the middle of her living room. Before we could see what was happening or even address or give attention to it, Rig and Ryder had decided to line those three wise men up as bowling pins and their bodies as the bowling balls, right? And before you knew it, one of the wise men’s head was flying off and an arm was over here and the last one just disintegrated…well, it took my Dad a while to put them back together. That is all I will say. And my Dad decided, he gathered all the pieces up and thank God for superglue, right? Have you ever used crazy glue before? It is so crazy that if you get it on your fingers, you can’t get them apart. And my Dad worked for a while and he started piecing these pieces back together. And after time, you would never know that they were broken.
But what happened is something interesting. He took these pieces that were once separated. He glued them back together and they permanently formed again. They went from two separate pieces to one new piece. They became something new. It was a new substance.
Now we could take that wise man, if we wanted to…my Mom would kill us…but we could take it and we could shatter it in a thousand pieces, but it would still not be what it was before. Why? Because those pieces are now permanently joined.
Do you know, when God brought you together in your marriage, what He did is He super glued you two together, not only emotionally but spiritually? Now you can separate it, but God says, don’t do that. Why? Because what God brings together, let no man separate.
Now, it is interesting because it says the two become one flesh. They are a new substance. They are a new entity now. And does it strike you that the number one is the lowest common denominator in our system. You can’t divide one by anything. It is indivisible. You can’t have a half of one person. You either have one or you have none, right? And so we see that God says once you come together, you are a permanently connected forever, at least for your earthly life.
Now, let me destroy a lie that I think some of us have bought into. I hear this from time to time. People will say, well, Pastor, that makes sense, but God didn’t bring us together, we did. This first marriage that I was sin, God didn’t do that. We brought ourselves together. Let me share with you, that is a lie. It is not Biblical. Why? Because when Jesus says, don’t separate what God has brought together, He has little concern about your view of marriage. He has little concern about what your spouse views your marriage to be. He is concerned by how God views your marriage. And what He says is that since God was the One who created marriage in the Garden, God is concerned about your marriage. And so you can break it down and separate it as much as you want, but it is God who brought you together and God desires you to stay together.
If Jesus Christ were standing here today, I believe He would say this to you. Stop looking for legal loopholes to get out of your marriage! Period! It reminds me of the couple who went to the Pastor one day. You know, couples are interesting when they come for marriage counseling because a lot of times, by the time we get them in marriage counseling, it is too far gone. It is a pornography issue or drug addiction. By the time they come for help, it is almost beyond repair. But normally when couples come in for marriage counseling, they have already made up their minds and they want to separate and they are just looking for a pastor to give them Biblical grounds for separation.
It reminds me of this couple that went in to their Pastor and they said, we don’t get along anymore. I don’t love her. The Pastor said, well, that is okay. The Bible has set a standard that man should love his wife like Christ loves the Church. We are commanded to that. Ephesians 5. He says, oh, no, Pastor, that is too high a love, that is too high a level. I can’t do that. The Pastor said, Okay, let me bring it down a little bit. The Bible says that you should love your neighbor as yourself. Can you love her as a neighbor? He said, oh, no, Pastor, that is still too high. The Pastor was quick on his feet. He said, Okay, well, the Bible says love your enemies. Can you start there?
Friends, I want you to see, love is not something you fall into. Love is an option. It is a choice. You can choose to love or you can choose not to love. God commands us, if we are married, to love our spouse.
So Jesus finishes with this amazing truth about how we are joined together. And I want to take that idea and I want to bring it under the auspices of Ephesians 5 which is the charge to couples by Paul to show you God’s display of grace in marriage. I think we need this Scripture to give us a Biblical picture of marriage. God display of marriage. Go to Ephesians 5. When you get there, say “word.”
“This mystery of marriage,” now he is talking about this passage of wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives. And then he finishes with this. Paul says, “This is a mystery. It is profound. You can’t understand it in your finite, human minds. “And I am saying to you that marriage refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” You see, marriage is not a covenant that God just stumbled upon, it is an institution that He set up all the way back in the Garden.
And what He says is, your marriage proclaims the gospel to those around you. You are demonstrating the gospel to a lost world and a saved world around you and it shows a picture of God’s relationship to His people by the way you treat your spouse. Now this puts new weight on a marriage. And this is what he says. The husband is a picture of Christ. The wife is a picture of the Church. And the way you two engage and interact with one another is a picture to a lost world. Every one of us in here preaches the gospel with our marriage. You are a representative of Christ.
Well, Pastor, I didn’t sign up for that. That is okay. God signed you up. You preach the gospel to your lost friends, your lost family members, your children, your future grandchildren and you preach the gospel to them.
Do you know something, just a side note. The way you raise your children is how you are actually raising your grandchildren. Did you know that? So generationally, the way you treat them and you treat your wife…how many times has your wife said, you are just like your Dad. Well, I can’t help that I am just like my Dad because I saw my Dad do that, right? So it gives new meaning to the way you talk to your wife or the way you talk to your husband, right? And so what he says is, you are a representative of the gospel to a lost world.
Let me ask you, what kind of message are you preaching? When your kids think of Mom and Dad, do they think of two couples who are in love with one another like Christ loved the Church and like the Church served Christ?
You see, wives, you have to understand, if you sleep around on your husband, do you know what you say to the world around you? That Christ is not satisfying enough for His Church. Husbands, if you abandon your wives, you are saying that Christ deserts His people. You may not think you are saying that, but that is what you are saying. Wives, if you disrespect your husband, you are saying that the Church doesn’t respect Christ. Husbands, if you ignore your wives, you are saying that Christ wants nothing to do with His people. Wives, if you don’t follow your husband’s leadership, you are basically saying to a lost world that Christ is not worth following.
Do you realize the magnitude of marriage? God created marriage first and foremost to make us holy. Happiness is a by-product of our holiness. Now here is a beautiful thing, the more holy you are, the more happy you are going to be in marriage. Do you want your marriage to be happy, satisfying and joyful, start seeking holiness. It is amazing how God begins to draw you together.
Let me give you some walking points because it is hard to apply this and I want to really make it practical as we close. I want to address three different areas. Let me talk first to the single or the widows in here. My challenge to you based out of I Corinthians 7…you can turn there as we are talking…is to exercise self-control. I Corinthians 7 is a letter that Paul writes to the church in chaos. It is church gone wild, if you will. It is basically similar to the city of New Orleans or Las Vegas, one commentator said. That is what Corinth was. I Corinthians 7 is Paul answering questions that you have like we have today, like what happens if I have someone who is married and I have divorced and I have remarried. What if I have someone who is not divorced and then their husband is cheating on them. That is the kind of questions that they were asking. And so Paul just runs through the list.
Now I don’t have time to go through this list. You can look later, but I want to identify three areas of application.
The first one is this, if you are single or you are a widow right now, I want to challenge you to remain single for the glory of God. You see, many people don’t talk about this, but the gift of singleness is probably one of the greatest gifts that God can give you to advance the kingdom of God. Here is why. Because when you are married, immediately you move from worrying about only yourself to now worrying about the family nucleus.
Now I love marriage like the next guy, amen. But, there are some people that God gives the gift of singleness to. Once you get married, you have the responsibility over your wife, you have responsibility over your children, you have responsibility over your family. You can’t pick up, like Paul said, like I did and just go at a moment’s notice.
Look at what he says in Verse 10, “To the married I give this charge – not I but the Lord.” Now why does he say that? He says Jesus doesn’t give, God doesn’t give a clarifying word on this, but I am going to give you my opinion which is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is the Word of God. Let me give you my opinion on this ruling or let me give you a ruling. The wife should not separate from her husband, but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband and the husband should not divorce….I am sorry, I am reading the wrong one. To the unmarried. I am sorry, we will get to that one in a second.
Verse 8, I Corinthians 7:8, “To the unmarried and the widows, I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” And so what he is saying is this, if you are single…I want you to hear this from your Pastor…you may be given the gift of singleness for the glory of God.
Now notice what he says. He doesn’t say get married because you are worried about being lonely. That is not why he says get married. He doesn’t say get married because it is the right thing to do or the culture says get married and have kids. What he is saying is, you get married if you are single if because you burn with passion, you are tempted to sin in immoral ways, then get married. But, if you are able to remain single, do it for the glory of God. Now there are not a lot of people saying that message to our young people today. But that is what God would say.
Here is the second one. If you are a saved couple, exercise faithfulness. I Corinthians 7:10. Notice what he says here. “To the married, I give charge over this. Not I, but the Lord.” Now, here is the question. Why is he saying that again? Because he is giving another ruling on this passage. “I command the married – a wife is not to leave her husband. But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband – and a husband is not to leave his wife.”
Now, Jesus only in Matthew gives one exception for divorce. Obviously, there is death, obviously natural death. But Jesus gives one allowance for divorce. Do you know what it is? Sexual immorality or pornea. Does it strike you as odd that no one else does? Mark on the same passage leaves it out. Luke on the same passage leaves it out. You won’t find it in Luke or Mark. You won’t even find it in Paul’s writings. Paul doesn’t give the exception clause. Why in the world is Matthew the only one giving the exception clause? Here is why I think it is. Matthew is writing to a predominantly Jewish audience. They were Jewish converts who had converted from Judaism and believed in Christ as their Messiah.
And so what Paul does immediately is, he raises the morality of that group of individuals. Now, is that an allowance? Absolutely. Jesus gives us this allowance. Does that exception apply to those who have remarried as well? Yes. Or those who are about to be remarried. Yes. What Jesus would say to you, if your husband left you for any reason other than sexual immorality and you separated, when you marry someone else, you commit adultery with that person for any reason other than sexual immorality.
But Robby, what if our first marriage we didn’t get along? What if we just weren’t a good fit for each other? We fought all the time. He was a jealous husband or she didn’t get along with my in-laws or he treated me bad, or any irreconcilable difference that you could ever think of. You know irreconcilable differences is an excuse for sin, mostly, because if you separate for any reason other than pornea, the Bible says that you commit adultery.
What if I am on the receiving end? So that is the person who leaves the marriage for any reason other than sexual immorality. What if I am on the receiving end and they leave me for a reason other than sexual immorality? If your spouse leaves you for any reason other than sexual immorality, God commands you to stay single. Why? Because if you go off and get married, you know, he is a dirty dog anyway, you need to get back at him and go get married. If you go get married, here is the deal, you can never go back with them if they want to come back to you. You can never rekindle that relationship because once you get married for the second time, what happens is, you can’t divorce that marriage in order to make this one right. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
So basically what he is saying is, you remain single for the glory of God. But Robby, that is tough to do. I know it is tough to do and some of you are in that position now. And by God’s grace, He is helping you through that. I can’t imagine how tough that is. But let me offer a Scriptural encouragement to you. The book of Hosea should be a healing balm to your soul right now, if you are in this right now.
Hosea has a wife named Gomer, if you remember the story. Gomer repeatedly prostitutes herself out to men in the world. And Hosea relentlessly, ceaselessly pursues her and woes her and forgives her until she ultimately comes back to him. Now that picture in that story is not only a picture of a man loving his wife unconditionally, it is a picture of how God loves His people unconditionally.
Aren’t you glad that God continuously pursues us until we come back to Him, right? Marriages are filled with mistakes. We know that. But God is a God of redemption and forgiveness.
Let me give you a question to ponder. Does Jesus Christ have Biblical grounds to divorce you? Does He? Have you prostituted your bodies out to the world at times? Does Jesus Christ have grounds to leave you? Aren’t you glad that even though we turn from God and we get involved in all kinds of things that He doesn’t approve of, He still never leaves us. Aren’t you glad of that?
Friends, I know this is a difficult situation. It is probably one of the hardest situations to be in. Remember that God gave the exception to the rule because of the hardness of the people’s hearts.
I am just mindful this week of how many times I myself have cheated on God with temporal things and God was always there waiting for me to return. What an amazing picture of the gospel in your marriage.
Let me give you two case studies to help you. If you are a believer and your spouse commits adultery and comes back and begs you to take them back, what do you do? This happens a lot. Adultery of any kind, pornea of any kind. My husband looked at pornography which is adultery. My husband is engaged in sexual relations with another woman. It is adultery. My husband had an emotional affair with another woman. It is adultery. And that husband or wife comes back to you and says, I want to make the marriage work. What do you do? Well, you have grounds for divorce. It is permissible, but you are commanded by the Bible to forgive. So the command to forgive supersedes the allowance to divorce.
In the book of Luke, Jesus was asked by Peter at one time, Luke 17:3, “How many times do I forgive a man who has done me wrong? Jesus says, if your brother sins against you seven times in a day, go back to them seven times and say, I repent,…saying I repent, you must forgive him.
Pastor, what if my unbelieving spouse commits adultery and refuses to come back to me, what do I do? Here is the plan. God gave us a clear plan on what to do. Matthew 18. If your husband or wife is in an adulterous relationship right now, you approach them and you ask them to repent and come home. If they refuse to do that, secondly, you take two to three friends, based on Matthew 18, to approach that person in the Lord, God is with you, and you approach them about their sin. If they refuse to repent, you bring it before the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and the church confronts that person’s sin with church discipline. Discipline is always for redemption and never condemnation, always. The purpose for discipline is for restoration. If that person is brought before the church and they refuse to repent, the Bible is clear. You remove them from fellowship, you eradicate their presence from your congregation and you treat them as an unbeliever, no better than a tax collector and a pagan. If you go to I Corinthians 5, Paul is pretty harsh. He says you remove them from the fellowship and you turn their body over to Satan that he may buffet the body that their soul may be saved.
In I Corinthians 5, a son was sleeping with his father’s new wife, his step-mom. It was a horrific situation. Paul says, take that man and remove him from fellowship so that Satan may buffer his body. These are hard situations, but they are happening in our fellowship.
Let me speak to the saved spouse who is in a relationship of an unbelieving spouse. If that is you, which could be many of you, exercise holiness. Look at I Corinthians Chapter 7 Verse 12. “To the rest of you, I say, I not the Lord, if any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he must not leave her. She must not leave her husband. For the unbelieving husband is set apart for God by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is set apart for God by the husband Otherwise, your children will be corrupt, but now they are set apart for God. They are holy for God. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to live in peace. For you, wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Or you, husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?”
This is probably one of the toughest marriages to be in. It is when God has transformed your heart. You are married to someone who is an unbeliever…at least they may say they are a Christian but their actions prove otherwise. And what he says is, you are not called to leave that person. You see, people get saved and they look at their husband and say, this guy is a bum, I need to leave him. That is not what he is saying here. What he is saying is, you remain in the marriage because your presence is sanctifying and holy to the family. You see, what he is saying is, by you being in the relationship, you are bringing holiness to the family unit. You see, it is the picture here of this church building. We love our church building. We love meeting at the BX. But there is nothing holy about this building. This building is a building. When you guys leave here after the service is over, this is just bricks and mortar. The only thing that makes this place holy is when the people of God enter into the building. There is nothing holy about this building. It is just like a building just like any other building.
When you enter into your family and you may be the only believer in your entire family, you sanctify those around you. Why? Because the favor of God flows in you and flows through you to those around you and your family are the benefactors of your faithfulness. How cool is that? So why would you remove the only light in some cases in a family by separating from your unbelieving husband.
Notice Paul doesn’t say that the believer leaves, ever. And he doesn’t say, you cause the unbelieving husband or wife to leave because of your obnoxiousness. He says it is because of your faithfulness, your righteousness. Stop nagging your unbelieving spouse. That is not going to win him to Jesus, I can promise you that. You ole bum, keep staying home on Sunday and see what God does to you! That is not going to do it. The way you are talking to our kids, you are going to hell for that! That is not going to do it. Stop nagging and start living like Christ in your home, with meekness and gentleness and kindness and you will be amazed at what God does because of your devotion to Him.
Robby, what if I am divorced? Should I remarry? Let me give you a couple of scenarios. If you are divorced, should you remarry? You can remarry. You are allowed to remarry if you were married to an unbeliever who abandons you. I Corinthians 7:15. If you are married at one time, your unbelieving spouse abandoned you, you are permitted to be remarried, but it is not commanded. If you can be single, be single for the Lord. If you were married to a believer who committed sexual immorality (pornea), you are permitted to be remarried but you are not commanded to. If you go divorced for unbiblical reasons, consider remaining single. I want you to hear that. Even if you were on the receiving end of that divorce, consider remaining single.
Here is the hardest one and I want to leave you with a word of encouragement. What do I do if I have been remarried, my first divorce, his first divorce was unbiblical, now we are remarried together. Are we living in continual sin? Am I in perpetual adultery? Let me suggest to you that is not true. You see, unfortunately, whenever people talk about divorce and remarriage for unbiblical reasons, it seems like those two issues are on the short list of sins that are unpardonable. Friends, that is a lie. Yes, you have committed a sin, but the sin is in the past. And once you commit a sin, like any sin, you ask God for forgiveness and you repent of that sin and you move on with your life.
Let me speak to those who have been remarried and you have been divorced for unbiblical reason and you maybe have married for unbiblical reasons and now you are trying to serve the Lord, serve the Lord for the glory of God. Don’t let people hold you back from doing what God has to do in your life. The final chapter of your life is yet to be written. And I will give you a perfect example of this. David and Bathsheba. I mean, think about it. The man after God’s own heart. The relationship began with an adulterous encounter. David committed murder. They both committed adultery. David committed murder and he didn’t repent until after they were married. And God, over time, forgave them and he wept to the Lord, give me clean hands and a pure heart, Lord. I mean, he wept to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord, Forgive, me, God. And God forgave him and over time God began to use him. So much so that He gave him a son named Solomon and Solomon was the one who built the Temple of God.
Friends, I want you to hear this. If you have been remarried after a divorce that was unbiblical, failure is never final. God can still use you. And here is the flip side, though. You know as well as I do that your sin may be forgiven, but the effects of your sin will linger on for your earthly life. I mean, there is just no way to get around this. I have thought about this long and hard. I know a lot of people who have divorced and remarried.
You see, what God says is this. Here are the perimeters for living a joyful, fulfilled, satisfied, victorious life. Here is the six lane highway. You can drive as wide as you want. You can do it your way and you can sin. It is your prerogative, but there will be a price to pay for your sin. You see, you choose to sin. You can sin. But it is God who chooses the consequences. Let me say that again. You can choose the sin, we all can sin if we want, but God chooses the consequences. And if you don’t believe me that being divorced and remarried is tough, just ask somebody. They will tell you. It is tough. Because it not just affects you, it affects every person around you. It affects every relationship that you have around you. No one is free from the sting of divorce. Divorce affects you personally,. Divorce affects your kids. Divorce affects your future children, your former spouse, your future spouse. If you get divorced, you know, or if you have been divorced, you know that you have to deal with child support and alimony and court costs and animosity and divisions and slander from other partners. You have to deal with selfishness and lawsuits, financial constraints, travel inconveniences, step-moms, step-dads, step-in-laws and the list goes on and on and on and on. That is why the Bible is clear. Do not separate what God has joined together.
Your sin may be great, but guess what? God’s grace is greater. If you are married, my charge to you is, stay married. But Pastor, my marriage is hanging on by a thread. Get help! Do not leave this service today without at least talking to someone about help. If nothing has changed in the past, then if you continue to do the same thing, nothing will change in the future. Ruthlessly fight for your marriage at all costs.
If you have been widowed or divorced, consider staying single for the glory of God. If you have remarried for unbiblical reasons or even for biblical reasons, devote yourself first to God and then to your spouse for the glory of God.
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