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SOME FINAL QUESTIONS

Written by: a Kempis, Thomas    Posted on: 05/12/2003

Category: Bible Studies

Source: CCN

                          Chapter 10

                      SOME FINAL QUESTIONS

    We  have  spent  considerable  time investigating the biblical principles  that  relate  to  the  binding  nature of the marriage union.  Repeatedly, we found that there is not to be divorce under any circumstances whatsoever.  What God has joined together is not to be put asunder.  Moreover,  it someone does become divorced for some reason, we found that it  would be a grievous sin to  remarry while the former spouse still lives.

    We then  looked briefly  at the  implications of  these truths upon both the husband's  role and the wife's role  in the marriage relationship.  We discovered that, even if both spouses are saved, it can be very difficult  to be the kind of husband  and wife that God desires.  But when one spouse is  unsaved, it is certain that the other will have an exceedingly difficult life to live.

    However, by  God's grace it  is possible to  live victoriously even  in such  a difficult  marriage.  But  to do so requires very careful obedience to God's  rules.  Wonderfully, God has  given us His  rules  and  principles  so  that  even  in  the  most  trying circumstances we can experience the blessings of obedience.  Those blessings include  not only the  comforting knowledge that  we are living  in  the  will  of  God,  but  they  sometimes  include the salvation of the unsaved spouse as well.

    But now we will look  at some other questions that often arise in Christian  circles.  For  example, isn't  it true  that when we become a Christian old things have passed away and all things have become new?  Doesn't this imply  that if I  was divorced before I was  saved, now that I  am saved I, as  a new creature, am free to remarry?  And  what am  I to  do if  I become  saved after  I have already  married  a  second  time?  Let's  conclude  our study by examining such questions.

Divorce And The Newly Saved

    A common  assertion these  days is  the idea  that if  we were divorced before we were saved, after becoming saved we are free to remarry.  This is based on the contention  that as saved people we have become new creatures in Christ.  Old things have  passed away and all  things have  become new.  But is  this kind  of teaching biblical?

    Actually, this  teaching is quite unbiblical.  First, it does not recognize that  God's laws apply to all mankind.  For example, the commandments "thou shalt  not kill" or "thou  shalt not covet" apply  to the  unbeliever as  well as  to the  believer.  The only difference  is  in  the  response  to  these  commands.  The true believer  earnestly  desires  to  be  obedient  to  all  of  God's commands,  while  the  unbeliever  pays  little or no attention to these rules.

    The true believer knows that all of the  commands of the Bible are  to be  obeyed.  There  is no  statment of  the Bible he would disregard.  Therefore,  if the  Bible says  he is  not to  remarry after  divorce,  then  he  will  remain  single.  And this is true whether he was divorced before or after he was saved.

    Secondly,  becoming  a  new  creature  in  Christ  does  not necessarily nullify the physical results of our sin.  For example, a murderer  is sentenced to the electric  chair.  While waiting to be  executed,  he  becomes  saved.  This  means  he will never be threatened with hell for murder or for any other sin he committed.  He now stands absolutely blameless before God.  But does this mean that now he can leave death row and avoid execution?  No, he still must be executed for his crime, unless he receives  a very unusual pardon from the governor.

    The same  is true  of a  drunkard.  Because  of his  continued drunkenness he is told he is dying of liver  disease.  But then he becomes  saved.  All of his sins, including drunkenness, have been covered by  Christ's blood.  But does this  also mean that he will not die of liver disease?  Not necessarily.  Normally, the effects of his drunkenness continue with him. 

    Likewise, the man who has a  messed up life because of divorce can be forgiven of this sin along with every other sin he has ever committed.  When he becomes  saved he can know that he will never have to answer to God for any of these sins.

    But much of the  impact of those sins remain  with him.  God's laws  concerning  marriage  and  divorce  still stand.  Even if he becomes  saved  after  he  was  divorced,  he knows that God's law prohibits  remarriage  while  his  former  spouse  is  living.  Therefore, he will remain single as God has commanded.

    This leads us into  another question.  Is it really  true that God expects  those who  were divorced  to live  the single life in total  celibacy?  Isn't  that asking  too much?  Surely a loving, forgiving heavenly Father would not expect this.

    These  questions  can  be  answered  from  two vantage points.  First of all, let  us look at a  marriage that was broken  by God.  Consider the example of a widow with five children, one of whom is a child with special needs.  God has taken her husband by death.

    Biblically she  is free to remarry, and  if any family needs a husband and a father, it is certainly this one.  But in actuality, marriage for this widow is highly unlikely.  It would be difficult enough to expect a new husband to become the instantaneous  father of  five  children.  But  it  is  well nigh impossible  for a new husband to be willing  to take on the  additional responsibilities of a child with special needs and cares.

    Now, did God leave  this poor widow in an impossible, terrible situation?  Surely God is perfect  in His actions and His  wisdom!  Therefore, when God took this husband by death God knew  full well that the widow could continue a meaningful  and happy life without the presence of a husband and father for her children.

    True, it would be a life that would be different from what the world considers to be ideal.  She would certainly need the help of others.  And  she  would  have  to  constantly cry out to God for wisdom and patience.  But she would find that God's grace is truly sufficient.  In  fact,  she  could  experience  in  an especially dynamic way the  reality of such  promises as "I  will never leave thee, nor forsake thss: (Hebrews 13:5).

    So, if  God's grace  is sufficient  for those  whose marriages have been broken  by His own action, surely we can expect that His grace  will  be  sufficient  for  those  whose marriages have been tampered with by man's action of divorce.

    There is a second emphasis here that must be kept in mind.  In our  sinful,  finite  mind  we  think  that because the intimacies enjoyed in  our marriage were  such a seemingly  necessary part of our life, that  it would be  nearly impossible to  live a celibate life after divorce.  "How can I be expected to live the rest of my life without any further intimacies with the opposite sex?  Surely a good God does not intend that for me," we reason.

    But God is the one who has designed us.  It is God Himself who has put  the body  chemistry within  us so  that we  can enjoy the intimacies of marriage.

    It is also God  who assures us that it is  possible for humans to  live very happy lives without  the benefit of such intimacies.  God  declares  in  I  Corinthians  7:27,..."Art thou loosed from a wife?  seek not a wife."  He adds in verses 32-34:

    But  I  would  have  you  without  carefulness.  He  that  is     unmarried  careth for the things that  belong to the Lord, how     he may please the Lord:

    But  he that is married careth for  the things that are of the     world, how he may please his wife.

    There is  difference also  between a  wife and  a virgin.  The     unmarried woman  careth for the  things of the  Lord, that she     may be holy both in body  and spirit:  but she that is married     careth  for the  things of  the world,  how she may please her     husband.

    These  verses  clearly  show  that  there  are  some  special advantages that are  awailable to the unmarried.  In these verses God is not speaking to a  certain group within the company of  the believers.  He is speaking to all who have become children of God.     Jesus spoke to this question in Matthew 19:12 where He taught: 

    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.

    The  strict  definition  of  a  eunuch  is  someone who is not physically  equipped  to  perform  the  sexual  act.  But Jesus is teaching that  some people make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the  kingdom of heaven.  But  He is not implying  that they are to have themselves  physically altered.  Rather, they  choose to live without  the physical  intimacy of  the marriage relationship.  In denying  themselves this intimacy, they gain  all kinds of new and wonderful ways to live to God's glory.

    True, the  world in which we live has put an enormous priority on sexual intimacy.  Listening to the advertisements, the novels, the  TV  programs,  the  psychologists  of  our  day, we have been brainwashed  into thinking  that if  we cannot  have this  kind of intimacy, we are being deprived of  the greatest blessing known to man.

    But  this  is  a  lie.  God's  Word  is the truth.  While God indicates  there  are  certain  blessings  within  the  marriage relationship --  particularly in the rearing  of godly children -- there  are even  greater blessings  to be  realized in  the single state.  This is what we learn from I Corinthians 7:32-34.

    The  single person  has the  advantage of  having more time to serve the  Lord by doing such good works as caring for the lonely, the children of  broken homes, and  the elderly in  nursing homes.  They also have more time for Bible study and prayer. 

    Married  people should also be  involved in denying themselves so that their  lives might be as fruitful  as possible for Christ.  But  it is in the lives of  the unmarried that these ideals can be realized to the highest degree.

    And  it  is  this  spiritual  dimension  that can make the big difference in the lives  of widows, widowers, divorced people, and those who have  never married.  God has given this special comfort and promise to all those who are single.

    But  it  is  only  as  they  live  in  accordance  with  God's principles  that  these  added  blessings  become evident.  If the single person listens to the advice of the world, the feeling that the single state makes a person a deprived, pitiable, second-class citizen can be overwhelming.  This in turn can set the stage for a fall into fornication.  Only when God's rules are followed can the life of the single person become even more victorious than that of the married person.

    But  now we should face  another question.  What about someone who has  married a  second or even a  third time  and then becomes saved?  Is he or she to divorce these latter spouses?  What  is to be done in order to obey God?

The Second Marriage

    The  question we are  facing is a  serious one, even though it should not be.  If the human race, led by the church, were obeying God's laws concerning  marriage and divorce,  there would be  very few second marriages.  But because of the wholesale repudiation of God's laws concerning the  sanctity of marriage, this  problem has become  enormous.  Everywhere  we  turn  we  meet  those who have remarried after divorce.  Therefore, we must try to find an answer to this question.

    We  already  know  that  the  second marriage is an adulterous marriage.  Remember, the wife  is bound to the husband  as long as he lives.  And Romans 7:3 plainly declares:

    So  then  if,  while  her  husband  liveth,  she be married to     another man,  she shall be  called an adulteress:  but if her     husband be  dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no     adulteress, though she be married to another man.

    We  cannot deny  the clear  teaching set  forth in this verse.  The wife  is an adulteress if  she is married to  a second husband while  her first  husband is  still living.  She is an adulteress because her first marriage has become  adulterated by her divorce, as well as because she has married a second husband.

    We must  recognize that a number of  examples are given in the Bible of men with multiple wives.  Jacob had four wives, David had several wives, and Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines!  But, these were exceptions.  The usual example that is given is  of one wife.  This was true of Adam, Noah, Isaac, Moses, etc.

    We  also consider that  never did the  Bible instruct a man to divorce  all  but  the  first  wife.  This  is remarkable when we remember that the principle of one man, one wife  goes all the way back to  the beginning.  God did  not tell Adam that  the three or four  or  several  shall  become  one  flesh.  No.  He instructed mankind in the beginning that the  two shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:24).  Although in Genesis 2:24 the number "two" is not used, the verse speaks  of a man cleaving to his  wife (not wives) "and they shall be one flesh."

    Therefore shall  a man  leave his  father and  his mother, and     shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh.

    Remember, Jesus  quotes this  verse in  Matthew 19:5  and Mark 10:8.  In both  of these verses He declares that  the two shall be one flesh.

    Therefore, we might  expect that God would ask  those who have violated this command  by taking multiple  wives to divorce  their additional wives.  But such an admonition is not given by God.

    Thus, we must realize that even though God has willed that the proper  marriage  is  one  husband,  one wife, nevertheless He has allowed  mankind  to  break  this  law  by  having multiple wives.  Nowhere  in the  Bible does  He ask  those believers with multiple wives to divorce the extra wives.

    The reason for this state of affairs probably lies in the fact that  even  the  marriage  of  a  second wife is still a marriage.  Even  though it  is altogether  wrong, for  some reason  God still counts it as a  marriage.  Thus, the second wife  becomes bound to the  husband  even  as  the  first  wife  has  become bound to the husband.  And once this binding relationship occurs, there  cannot be a breaking of that relationship.

    True,  the  marriage  to  the  second  wife  adulterates  the pristine, ideal character of  marriage as a one husband,  one wife relationship.  But the second  marriage still is  a marriage, and therefore, there can be no divorce.

    When a man divorces his first  wife, she is still bound to him from God's vantage  point.  Therefore, when he takes a second wife while his  first wife is  living, he has  two wives bound  to him.  The act of divorcing his  first wife was grievous sin.  Likewise, the  act  of  marrying  a  second  wife was grievous sin.  But the second marriage was still a marriage, and therefore,  there cannot be divorce from  this second wife.  This is  the marriage in which he must continue until death separates him from this wife.

    True, a  second or third marriage under these circumstances is far from ideal.  From the standpoint  of its relationship  to the first marriage,  it is  adulterous.  Secondly,  there still  exist responsibilities  towards  the  first  wife.  Alimony  and  child support  are  the  most  obvious.  But  there  are also moral and spiritual  responsibilities  and  conflicts  that  may continue to plague  the  one  who  has  arrogantly  violated  God's  rules.  Unfortunately, the children frequently suffer  the most because of these selfish parents.

    Moreover, such a husband can no longer be a  pastor, an elder, or a deacon  within the church.  In I Timothy  3 God specifically instructs  that such an office  bearer in the church  is to be the husband of  one wife.  Remember  that in Romans  7:3 God speaks of the woman's husband  still living while she is  married to another man.  God considers her  to have two husbands, even  though she is legally  divorced from  the first.  Likewise, from  God's vantage point, the man who has divorced his first wife and married another now has  two  wives.  Therefore,  he  does  not  meet  God's qualifications for a pastor, an elder, or a deacon. 

    In  spite  of  the  difficulties  of  a  second marriage after divorce, it is still a marriage.  The spouses involved are to live as if it were their first marriage.

    Wonderfully, if they have become true believers, they can know that all of the sins connected with the divorce and remarriage are covered by Christ's blood.  Christ came for sinners, not righteous people.  Regardless of  how many  dirty, rotten  sins we may have committed, when  Jesus becomes our Savior we  can know that He has paid for all our sins.

    This  brings  us  to  the  last  group  of  questions we shall consider in this study.  If  a second marriage is to be  lived the same as a first marriage with the complete assurance that the sins of divorce and  remarriage become completely forgiven  by God, why can't I just go  ahead into a second  marriage and then ask  God's forgiveness later?  Suppose I am already married to someone, but I want to marry someone  else with whom I have fallen  in love.  Why can't  I go ahead and get  an unbiblical divorce and then sinfully marry this second  person?  Cannot I  then ask God's  forgiveness, believing Christ's blood  will cover these sins?  Or, suppose I am divorced; can't I first marry someone else before I get right with God?  That way  I can  have my  second marriage  and Christ also.  Then I  don't have  to live  the rest  of my  natural life  in the single state.

    These  questions  and  observations  surely  seem  logical and attractive.  They surely appear to solve the problem of one having his cake and eating it too.

    But  this  course  of  action  is  fraught  with  danger.  Effectively, the one contemplating  this action is taking the role of an adversary of Almighty God.  Effectively he is saying, "I can sin as deeply  and as often as I wish, and  in my own sweet time I can become saved.  And God must save me when I am ready  to become saved."

    Such  a  one  is  tempting  God  like Israel tested God in the wilderness  when  they  complained  that  God  was leading them to destruction.  God warns in I Corinthians 10:9:

    Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and     were destroyed of serpents.

    The specific sin God had in view in this verse  is recorded in Numbers 21:5-6 where we read:

    And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore     have ye  brought us up out of Egypt  to die in the wilderness?      for there is  no bread, neither  is there  any  water; and our     soul loatheth this light bread.

    And the Lord  sent fiery serpents  among the people,  and they     bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

    The  nation  of  Israel  accused  God  of  being  too harsh in bringing them  out of Egypt into the wilderness where they were to live following God's direction.  But their complaints  against God only brought judgment upon them. 

    So, too, those who  insist on having their own  way concerning divorce or  remarriage after  divorce effectively  are complaining that God's way is too severe and too harsh.  They are insisting on having their own way.

    Ancient Israel insisted on having its own way and  as a result came under God's wrath.  How then  can we expect God to treat  any differently  those  who  insist  on  having  their own way in such important matters as divorce and remarriage?  Indeed, it is a very serious matter to contend with Almighty God!

    Moreover, the idea that I can  sin for as long as I like, then sometime  in  the  future  I  can  repent at will and secure God's grace, is entirely faulty.  It does not recognize  nor understand the nature of God's grace.

    We must  remember that  mankind is  not the  decision maker in salvation.  Only Sovereign God Himself decides who is to be saved.  But He comes to  us commanding us to believe in  Christ as Savior.  He warns, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so  great salvation" (Hebrews  2:3)?  He  exhorts,..."make  your  calling and election sure..."  (Peter 1:10).  And  He instructs us  that we are to come not despise"  (Psalms 51:17).  He  also warns that  He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. 

    With such warnings and exhortations before our  eyes how would anyone  dare  to  deliberately  rebel  against God in something as serious as  divorce or  remarriage after  divorce?  These  are not sins  that one slips into incidentally or accidentally.  These are sins that require deliberate planning and consistent action over a period of considerable time.  And if one's heart is rebellious and hard  enough today to  commit such a  sin, the probability is that this person  is not saved.  Moreover, it is  evidence that God is not  even  drawing  this  one  toward  salvation.  If God is today allowing this person  to engage in such  rebellion, what assurance can he have that later on God will deal kindly with him and soften his heart in order to draw him to salvation?

    We  may never presume  upon the mercies  of God.  Today is the day of salvation.  No person has  any guarantee or promise that he will even be alive  tomorrow.  How then can we  know that tomorrow we can be able to make our peace with God?

    Furthermore, if we are so rebellious  today that we would dare to sin so  deliberately, how do we  know that at some  future date our hearts will  become broken before God so  that we can honestly and  sincerely  cry  out  for  mercy?  Indeed,  we  have  no such assurance.

    Therefore,  to deliberately divorce  or remarry after divorce, knowing that  such action is  contrary to God's  will, is the most foolish  and  dangerous  action  anyone  could  take.  The  only fulfilling way to live is in  accordance with God's laws.  And the best time to begin  living in this way is right now.  May God give wisdom to those who have even played with the idea of sinning  now and repenting later!

How Did It Happen

    But now  let's turn our thought to wondering how it could ever have  happened  that  the  dreadful  sin  of divorce has become so widespread in our day.

    The problem of unbiblical marriage  and divorce is so serious, so  catastrophic, that  we wonder  how the  church could ever have strayed so far from the truth.  Fifty years ago it was only in the more rebellious  elements of the  secular world that  this sin was visible.  Because the church would not even eountenance this  sin, the secular world did not dare to go too deeply into sin.  It is a fact  that  the  church  is  to  some degree the conscience of the secular world.

    But then  comes along  a dear  lady who  was married  to a man living adulterously with other women.  The church began to wonder:  "Must this dear wife  continue to live with that  kind of horrible husband?"  So in its sympathy and compassion, the church restudied the question  of divorce for  adultery and finally  decided, "Yes, the Bible  does allow divorce for adultery."  And so the door was opened so that not only could this dear lady have her divorce, but also many others in the congregation could begin to  lawfully seek divorce.  Because the church is  to some degree the conscience  of the  secular world, the  people of the  world also began to expand their divorce  horizons.  And so divorce began  to multiply in the world.

    At this point another kind of problem began to arise.  Another dear lady  was deserted by  her husband and  she had to  labor all alone  in caring for her childre.  But there was a dear Christian man who loved her and wanted to marry her.  Surely, they reasoned, it must  be in  accordance with  God's will  for those children to have a Christian father to care for them!     So  again  the  church,  in  its  pity and compassion for this woman, appointed study committees to research the possibilities of biblical  divorce  for  desertion  and  biblical  remarriage after divorce.  &nb

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