Faithlife Sermons

Understanding the Mountain of Divorce

Sermon on the Mount  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:08
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Divorce. One of the most skipped topics on the Sermon on the Mount. Today we talk about divorce and what God and His Word says about it. For most, it may be hard to hear but God's Word is straight to the point. However, there is a way to discuss this topic that both glorifies God's Word, as well as brings relief to those un sure about it. Listen up!

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Understanding the Mountain of Divorce

This part in the Sermon on the Mount, is skipped perhaps more than others, by preachers.
Jesus talks about adultery and murder, anger and revenge but when he gets to divorce it truly sends a shock through the community.
Matthew 5:31–37 NIV
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
This is because divorce, like a lot of other things- was interpreted by the Pharisees and Scribes in a false sense.
Pharisees would permit or not permit divorce based on women as property, in a sense verses a partner in marriage.
Jesus lays out plain and simple to his audience that women are to be valued, in fact they have dignity and deserve an opportunity to be set free from an adulterous husband.
Today I would like us to get an overview of Divorce from the OT to the NT and begin to see it’s purpose.
God’s intent for marriage was good and pure.
His desire was to have the two become one flesh and be in union with Himself forever.
Adam and Eve had no shame and no guilt in their lives and were living a perfect life.
However there was a 4th party in the garden.
Satan. The tempter.
Genesis 3:7 tells us that Adam and Eve’s eyes were both opened and they realized they were naked.
What once was designed to be pure, innocent and holy became defiled and sinful.
All from one decision.
Because of Adam and Eve’s sin God laid out consequences and one of them for Adam was that God would put enmity between man and woman, as well as their children.
This was giving into what they had first chosen to do, which was go their own way.
To the woman, among other things, God said that her desire would be for her husband and that he will rule over her.
Because of her personal choice to sin and not confront her husband first she reaped what she sowed, so to speak.
From then on out she would submit to her husband and serve him under his rule.
These things, God did not want to do but they were all things given as a direct result of the choice that Adam and Eve made.
Soon after, Adam and Eve were forced to leave the garden and fellowship was broken with God.
As harsh as this all may sound, God is a just and perfect God and He can not be entertained by sin.
It was up to Adam and Eve, and humankind for that matter, to chose whether to be faithful to God or to sin.
So what were some direct results from the Fall to marriage?
The fall hardened people’s hearts toward one another and especially God.
The relational aspect of God’s image was broken.
Satan tempted Eve to rebel against male leadership
Men became dominant and harsh in their leadership.
Sin brought polygamy, concubinage, incest, adultery, rape, prostitution, and all kinds of sexual immorality that have damaged or destroyed the marriage relationship.
Marriage covenants were violated.
Maybe worse yet, sin birthed death to marriages. Termination or divorce began and was caused by Adam and Eve’s sin that transferred to all of humanity.
In Deuteronomy 24:1-4, moses sought to regulate it.
Deuteronomy 24:1–4 NIV
If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
Matthew 19:8 NIV
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
Divorce, originally was not instituted by God; it was generated by sin and is against God’s ideal for marriage.
READ Malachi 2:10-17
Malachi 2:16 NIV
“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
God does not condone divorce, and even more He does not approve of unfaithfulness.
Divorce is an analogy of Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him in the OT.
Divorce could also be a direct result of our unfaithfulness to Him as well, in certain circumstances.
We will talk about that a bit later...
Going back to Genesis 24:1-4 Moses made grounds for divorce, mainly to protect the woman.
These conditions were made because of man’s hardened heart from sin.
They do not approve of divorce or encourage remarriage but they allow for it to happen, except for remarriage of a woman to her first husband.
In the book of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, the Israelites were leaving their jewish wives for foreign wives.
God said that it was a defilement of the holy race and showed unfaithfulness to Him.
The principle of not marrying unbelievers corrupts the Scriptures and appears to be the major concern of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10.
We know from Malachi 2:16 that God does not approve of divorce, however divorce is permitted in some situations according to the OT.
Matthew 5:31–32 NIV
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Jesus explains to his audience that the true intent of the Mosaic Law was to really show that true righteousness is from the heart, not from external compliance.
Jesus takes the 7th commandment “Thou shall not commit adultery”, and argues that lust, as well as divorce, are the moral equivalents of adultery.
The Pharisees of the day permitted divorce for many petty reasons and they were of course never justifiable.
Jesus is saying that adultery is grounds for divorce and it mainly happened from the men.
Jesus was protecting the woman so that she could remarry and enter into a healthy, godly marriage if she chose later on.
This is a direct analogy of what God does in our lives.
Though Satan tempted Eve and she broke the fellowship she had with God, the Lord continued to extend His hand of fellowship if she chose.
READ MATTHEW 19:1-2 and mention (Mark 10:1-12 is the same)
In this passage, Pharisees are asking Jesus whether it is unlawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason.
Like Jesus always does, He goes back to the heart of the matter.
Jesus takes them back to God’s original intent and design for marriage in Genesis 2:24.
His point is that the two become one flesh and when someone in the marriage goes and commits adultery, they have broken that union and joined flesh with someone else.
That act, sets the other spouse free and enables them to seek a divorce, if they so choose BUT it is not required.
Here, Paul argues that married people should stay married.
Spouses shouldn’t leave their partner. (This is the ideal)
If a spouse leaves their partner they have two options
Remain unmarried
Be reconciled
In verses 12-13 Paul says, a believer should not divorce an unbelieving spouse
BUT if the unbeliever leaves, the believing partner is not bound to maintaining the marriage.
The marriage is then dissolved.
Paul says nothing about remarriage
This is an interesting point because originally God did not design marriage for divorce.
Sin entered the world and divorce and adultery ran ramped.
So Moses permitted divorce only by certain circumstances.
Jesus later acknowledges that the only grounds for divorce is adultery, however reconciliation if at all possible is preferred.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7 sees the issue of divorce as ever increasing and realizes the heart of the matter is that a marriage unequally yoked is not God’s design, however it is ONLY when an unbelieving spouse walks out on a believing spouse, divorce becomes an option.
This subject has had me researching a ton this week and I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer.
In all my years of ministry here, I have never had a call to counsel a couple contemplating divorce.
Well, this week was the first time in almost 10 years where I got that call.
I met with the couple and had a great conversation as well as a time in prayer together.
The husband suggested I share that with you this morning to tell you that divorce may seem like the easy way out but it is first, not God’s way and second is a direct result of our heart conditions.
A lot of what was going on in this couple’s life was just getting back on track with where the Lord was taking them and I know they will continue to seek Him in prayer and we will meet to build their foundation in Christ.
So I guess the question is, are there acceptable reasons for divorce today?
One of the most controversial topics of divorce, in Christian circles is abuse.
What do you do in the case of abuse? Physical, verbal or sexual?
The Bible seems to be nearly silent on this topic, although God does not condone abuse in any way.
To the person in a chronic abusive relationship I would say get to a safe place. Especially if you have children.
Separation is better than divorce and may be extended.
The law may need to get involved based on the level of abuse.
Abuse is not okay.
If the abuser has no desire for reconciliation, no desire to get help or seek forgiveness, if they love what they do and have no remorse they may not truly be saved in the first place.
This is may not be biblical, but in my fleshly opinion, them choosing abuse or a chronic sin is the same as them choosing to walk out on a believing spouse.
If you are here today and have experienced this in a relationship, I am sorry.
If you are here today, have experienced this, but have watched God changed your spouse’s heart and are still married to this day… PRAISE GOD!
I think that is amazing and God has truly given you a prayer life and patience beyond anything most people could imagine.
God gives second chances.
1) If your marriage ended in divorce before you were saved, you were already not conscience of your sin.
Not that it did not matter, but sin did not make sense to you.
2) If your marriage ended, but you were both saved, my heart goes out to you.
For whatever the reason was, God’s heart is restoration.
But God’s heart is also for forgiveness and second chances, and I assume you’ve sought that out. (No matter which believer left or if it was mutual)
3) If you’ve had an unbelieving spouse walk out on you, as a Christian, I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through but I do know for a fact that God was and is right by your side.
You are not tainted goods.
He loves you very much and you have much value and worth to Him and others.
You can still minister to others in their difficult times in marriage.
Don’t give up, the Lord has and will continue to use you!
4) Remarriage is a gift and really an opportunity to do things the right way in order to please God.
If you are remarried, seeking the Lord, and are here today, you are a new creation.
The old has gone and the new has come (to take from Corinthians).
But the charge to you is that from your past marriage(s), you have knowledge/experience and should without a doubt give your marriage and your spouse to the Lord… this time.
This portion of Scripture is a followup to Divorce.
People thought the Bible have made oaths to many people, gods, themselves or God Himself but never kept them.
We so often say “I swear to God” in order to prove we are telling the truth.
If you find yourself defending your words often or covering up by a quick oath or promise, you have little integrity and that is Jesus’ point.
When we make an oath, a covenant before God regarding marriage, it is a promise for a lifetime, not temporary.
Or when we feel like we’ve had enough and want to trade our spouse in for that co-worker or friend.
An oath or covenant before God should be kept and it reflects our integrity.
Are there biblical grounds for divorce, yes.
Should divorce be the first option, like it is today, no.
What I would say for us all in a marriage that desires to honor Christ is have integrity and love and respect God first and that will reflect off of your spouse.
If you are not married, honor and reflect and have integrity by your daily choices to serve the Lord.
Adultery and walking out on a believing spouse may seem heinous to a Christian.
But the self-righteous, legalistic Christian would shame and guilt that person but commit adultery and walk out on God in their own daily choices when they become selfish in their ways and make other idols in their life.
Do you know what the disciple’s response was to Jesus after He said these things?
Matthew 19:10–12 The Message
Jesus’ disciples objected, “If those are the terms of marriage, we’re stuck. Why get married?” But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.”
Whether we are married or not, the Fall of Adam and Eve has effected us all.
Sin is a reality and the enemy is craftier than ever.
The minute we go our own way and depend on ourselves apart from God and don’t stand back to back with our spouse, we are doomed to failure and sin.
As simple as this verse is, I want to end on this because though it is simple, it gets us in alignment.
Matthew 6:33 NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
When our marriages seem on the rocks and life is hard- seek the kingdom and His righteousness, when we feel like giving up- seek the kingdom and His righteousness, when we are single and feel like we have no purpose in life- seek the kingdom and His righteousness… I could go on but I want to end by saying...
No matter what you are facing in life right now, seek the kingdom and His righteousness and you can’t go wrong.
Life may seem daunting, circumstances impossible, but we can’t discount what God can do. His is a miracle worker and loves His children. Let’s choose His will over ours.
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