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SF915 - Jesus' Teaching on Divorce (Matthew 5 31-32 19 1-9)

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Matthew 5:31-32

Introduction

What is the state of divorce in the United States?

Statistics show that nearly half the marriages in the United States end in divorce.  Perhaps the most alarming statistic is that the divorce rate among members of Southern Baptist churches is actually slightly higher than the national average. 

“Each year in the United States there are well over one million divorces, and beneath the rubble of those numbing statistics lie the crushed lives of men, women, and children.  For every million divorces, there are two million adults and several more million children who are directly involved.  None of them escapes suffering and damage, no matter how amicable the divorce may be.  Nearly every state has enacted “no fault” divorce laws, making divorce almost as easy as marriage.  It is not surprising that the largest caseloads in civil courts today relate to family disputes.” (MacArthur, John F., Jr., MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary: Matthew 16-23, Copyright © 1988 by The Moody Bible Institute of ChicagoElectronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc., Chapter16.)

Something is terribly wrong, we must reclaim God’s standard for marriage.  Now is not the time to compromise God’s standards.

Why is divorce such a difficult issue for the church?

Emotionally charged

There is possibly not a more emotionally charged subject in the church today than divorce.  Because divorce is so common, there are very few families and individuals who have not been affected by divorce.  Most if not all of us here this morning have experienced either directly or indirectly the pain of divorce.  Therefore, whenever divorce is discussed it tends to become and emotionally charged situation.  Too often I have been guilty, as I suspect many of us have of approaching this subject with a good deal of emotional baggage.  I hope to avoid that this morning.  My intent today is to neither condone divorce nor condemn divorcees.  My desire is to set forth our Lords teaching and to call each of us to his standard.


Various views

There are nine passages that are normally referred to on the subject of divorce and remarriage, Genesis 2:24; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Malachi 2:6-16; Matthew 5:31-32; Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:1-6; and 1 Corinthians 7:10-15, obviously we do not have the time to examine each of these this morning.  Evangelical Christians have developed at least four different views concerning divorce.  I do not intend to detail each position this morning.  I simply want to make you aware of what they are.  If you are interested in pursuing this matter further I recommend you purchase Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views, edited by H. Wayne House.  The four views simply stated are:

Ø      No divorce and no remarriage

Ø      Divorce, but no remarriage

Ø      Divorce and remarriage for adultery or desertion

Ø      Divorce and remarriage under a variety of circumstances.

Within each of these groups there are various sub-groups.  If I have discovered anything in my study I have discovered there is no set position even among conservative Bible believing Christians.  With such being the case it behooves us to focus on Scripture even more intently.

What is the origin of divorce?  (Matthew 19:8)

John MacArthur is his commentary on Matthew19 traces the origin of the marital problems to our original parents. 

“The first sin of mankind was not marital, but it was committed within the framework of marriage.  God created man and woman equal in many ways, but He gave them clearly different roles.  Man was to be the provider and leader and woman his helper in a perfect, balanced, and majestic co regency over all the earth (Gen. 1:27-28).  The man’s headship and the woman’s submission were blended in a loving interdependence that allowed them to multiply and fill the earth together, subdue the earth together, and rule the earth together.  But because Eve did not consult Adam, her head and protector, when temptation came she easily succumbed to Satan’s wiles.  And when Adam forfeited his role of headship and willingly followed her lead, he also succumbed to sin.

As a consequence of that sin, God cursed Eve and all other women to pain in childbirth and cursed Adam and all other men to the hardship of laboring for their food and sustenance (Gen. 3:16-19).  In addition to that, because the God-given harmony between man and woman had been broken, God also placed a curse upon their relationship to each other.  Because they reversed their roles, with Eve usurping the place of leadership and Adam submitting to the place of follower, God destined them to continual conflict.”  (MacArthur, Chapter 16)

MacArthur is correct in his premise, divorce is rooted in sin and sin originated with Adam and Eve.  Each of us is born with a sin nature and have been at odds with God and each other ever since.

What can and should we do?

Context

We must always seek to understand the Scripture in context.  This statement is one of six statements made by our Lord in which He uses the formula, “You have heard that it was said…But I say.”  In this particular section the Lord is teaching how our righteousness is to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20).  He is contrasting the truth of God’s word with the false teaching of the Jewish leadership.  In Matthew 19:3-9 Jesus takes up the same subject as a response to the Pharisees questions.  The Matthew 19 passage provides more details on the subject so we will refer to it as we study.

Content

We will examine this passage by seeking to answer three questions.

Ø      What did Moses teach concerning divorce?

Ø      What did the Pharisees and scribes teach concerning divorce?

Ø      What does our Lord teach concerning divorce?

1A.      What did Moses Teach Concerning Divorce?  (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

1B.      Moses’ law limited divorce to only certain causes.  (24:1a)

“Indecency;” ervah; nakedness, Usage: bare(1), indecency(1),  indecent(1), nakedness(48),  shame(1), undefended parts(2).

“Because the penalty for adultery was death, the indecency mentioned here obviously referred to some kind of sexual looseness or lewdness that came short of adultery.  And it was because such indecency, vile as it might have been, was not sufficient grounds for divorce that the divorced wife was defiled by remarriage and could not be taken back by her first husband.  Because her divorce to her first husband had no sufficient grounds and thus was invalid, she became an adulteress, and therefore defiled, when she married again.  That is why John the Baptist declared that Herod and Herodias were living in adultery.  In God’s sight, she was still “the wife of his brother Philip” (Matt. 14:3-4).  For the first husband to take back a defiled woman would be unholy.”  (MacArthur, Chapter 16)

2B.      Moses’ law protected the woman.  (24:1b)

In a society that treated women as property Moses brought order and decency to the chaos.

Ø      It protected her from being charged with adultery and possibly stoned.

Ø      It protected her from becoming destitute with no means of support.

3B.      Moses’ law made divorce a formal and serious matter.

Ø      Prior to this law men could simply put there wives out without any formal requirements.

4B.      Moses’ law made divorce and remarriage more difficult and in some cases impossible.  (24:2-4)

Once a divorced spouse has left and married someone else the original couple can never remarry.  The net effect was to make divorce a much more permanent and serious matter.  It was a means to convict the hard and sinful heart of man.

2A.      What did the Pharisees and Scribes Teach Concerning Divorce?  (Matthew 19:3, 7)

Among the Jews of Jesus’ day there were essentially two schools of thought concerning divorce.

1B.      Rabbi Shammai held a more conservative view.

Ø      “Indecency” refers to gross indecency but not necessarily adultery.

2B.      Rabi Hillel held a more liberal view.

Ø      “Indecency” could refer to almost anything from adultery to an improperly cooked meal.

Ø      Hillel’s view was most popular among the people and Pharisees.

3A.      What does our Lord Teach Concerning Divorce?  (Matthew 19:4-9)

1B.      Jesus upholds the sanctity of marriage.  (19:4-6)

Jesus goes back before Moses indeed before the fall and quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24.  In doing so He sets forth God’s original plan.

God’s original plan was one man – one woman.  (19:4)

“He created him; male and female He created them.”  (Genesis 1:27b)

God did not create a group of males and females who could pick and choose mates as it suited them.  There were no spares or options.  There was no provision, or even possibility, for multiple or alternate spouses.  There were only one man and one woman in the beginning, and for that very obvious reason, divorce and remarriage was not an option.  (MacArthur, Chapter 16)

God’s original plan was for marriage to be a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman.  (19:5a)

Malachi 2:14 “Yet you say, 'For what reason?'  Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

“leave… and be joined”  (Genesis 2:24a)

Ø      “leave,” azab; to leave, forsake, loose, usage: forsake(48), forsaken(56)

Ø      “to be joined,” dabaq; to cling, cleave, keep  close

The Hebrew word (daôbaq) behind cleave refers to a strong bonding together of objects and often was used to represent gluing or cementing.  Marriage as God has always intended it to be involves the total commitment and consecration of husbands and wives to each other and to Him as the divine author of their union and witness to their covenant.  (MacArthur)

God’s original plan was for a man and a woman to be “one flesh.”  (19:5b, 6a)

1 Corinthians 7:4 “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Ø      In God’s eyes they become the total possession of each other, one in mind and spirit, in goals and direction, in emotion and will. 

In the creative sense, every marriage is made in heaven.  (19:6)

Ø      Marriage is first of all God’s institution and God’s doing, regardless of how men may corrupt it and deny or disregard His part in it.

“Whether it is entered into wisely or foolishly, sincerely or insincerely, selfishly or unselfishly, with great or little commitment, God’s design for every marriage is that it be permanent until the death of one of the spouses.”  (MacArthur)

Ø      Marriage is always the work of God, whereas divorce is always the work of man.

“No man—whoever he is or wherever he is or for whatever reason he may have—has the right to separate what God has joined together.  (MacArthur)

Ø      God never commends much less commands divorce.

2B.      Jesus restricts the possibility of divorce.  (5:32; 19:9)

Jesus allows for divorce in the case of sexual immortality.

“Immorality, unchastity,” pornei,a( (1) gener.  of every kind of extramarital,  unlawful, or unnatural sexual  intercourse fornication, sexual  immorality, prostitution (1C 5.1); (2)  when distinguished fr. adultery (  moicei,a) in the same context  extramarital intercourse, sexual  immorality, fornication (MT 15.19);  (3) as a synonym for moicei,a  (marital) unfaithfulness, adultery  (MT 5.32); (4) metaph. as apostasy  fr. God through idolatry (spiritual)  immorality, unfaithfulness (RV  19.2). 

Ø      This is an allowance, not a commandment.

“The act of adultery, shattering as it is to the marriage relationship, does not in itself dissolve a marriage.  Marriage is a mutual covenant, a God-ordained obligation between a man and a woman to lifelong companionship.  When rebuking the Israelites for their adultery and frequent divorces, the Lord declared that by divorcing his wife a man “dealt treacherously” with her, “though she is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Mal. 2:14-16).  In God’s eyes, every wife is a “wife by covenant,” never merely a wife by fornication, convenience, or whim.”  (MacArthur)

The key here is the phrase found in verse 8, “hardness of heart,” which indicates an unrepentant heart that continues in this sin.

Ø      This allowance is a demonstration of God’s grace.

God’s grace is expressed in the fact that the guilty party is not put to death.  (Deuteronomy 22)

God’s grace is expressed in the fact that the innocent party is permitted to remarry without committing adultery.

“If God is gracious to the sinning spouse by tolerating divorce instead of requiring execution, He would surely also be gracious to the innocent spouse by permitting remarriage, which was permissible when a spouse died (cf. Rom. 7:2-3).  The purpose of permitting divorce is to show mercy to the sinning spouse, not to condemn the innocent one to a lifetime of singleness and loneliness that would not be required if the Lord had the sinning partner executed.  Should His grace to the sinner penalize the innocent?  The Lord allows divorce in order that the adulterer might have opportunity to repent rather than be put to death.  And both here and in Matthew 5:32 Jesus specifically allows remarriage by the innocent spouse in order that he or she might have opportunity to enjoy again the blessings of marriage that were destroyed by the other partners adultery.  The qualification except for immorality clearly permits the innocent party who marries another to do so without committing adultery.”  (MacArthur)

Jesus warns against illegitimate divorce

“Our Lord says that if you divorce your wife for any other reason you cause her to commit adultery.  The argument is this: There is only one thing that can break this bond.  Therefore, if you put away your wife for any other reason you are putting her away without breaking the bond.  In this way you are making her break the bond if she should marry again; and she is therefore committing adultery.”  (Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, reprinted 2000, 260.)

Application

God’s plan for marriage has not changed.

Ø      Marriage is to be a one man, one woman lifelong covenant that is never to be broken.

Sin is always the root cause of divorce.

Ø      While divorce is sometimes permitted is never commended.

Ø      As Christians we should always seek reconciliation with a heart of forgiveness.

God’s grace must be the basis for dealing with the sin of adultery.

Ø      We are not to require the death of the adultery so that they may have time to repent.

Ø      We are not to require celibacy of the innocent party.


Matthew 5:31-32

Introduction

What is the state of divorce in the United States?

Nearly half the marriages in the United States end in divorce.  The divorce rate among members of Southern Baptist churches is actually slightly higher than the national average. 

“Each year in the United States there are well over one million divorces, and beneath the rubble of those numbing statistics lie the crushed lives of men, women, and children.  For every million divorces, there are two million adults and several more million children who are directly involved.  None of them escapes suffering and damage, no matter how amicable the divorce may be.” (MacArthur, John F., Jr.)

Why is divorce such a difficult issue for the church?

Emotionally charged

Various views

Nine passages that are normally referred to on the subject of divorce and remarriage, Genesis 2:24; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Malachi 2:6-16; Matthew 5:31-32; Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:1-6; and 1 Corinthians 7:10-15,.

Four different views concerning divorce.  (Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views, edited by H. Wayne House). 

Ø      No divorce and no remarriage

Ø      Divorce, but no remarriage

Ø      Divorce and remarriage for adultery or desertion

Ø      Divorce and remarriage under a variety of circumstances.

What is the origin of divorce?  (Matthew 19:8)

“The first sin of mankind was not marital, but it was committed within the framework of marriage.  God created man and woman equal in many ways, but He gave them clearly different roles.  Man was to be the provider and leader and woman his helper in a perfect, balanced, and majestic co regency over all the earth (Gen. 1:27-28).  The man’s headship and the woman’s submission were blended in a loving interdependence that allowed them to multiply and fill the earth together, subdue the earth together, and rule the earth together.  But because Eve did not consult Adam, her head and protector, when temptation came she easily succumbed to Satan’s wiles.  And when Adam forfeited his role of headship and willingly followed her lead, he also succumbed to sin.

As a consequence of that sin, God cursed Eve and all other women to pain in childbirth and cursed Adam and all other men to the hardship of laboring for their food and sustenance (Gen. 3:16-19).  In addition to that, because the God-given harmony between man and woman had been broken, God also placed a curse upon their relationship to each other.  Because they reversed their roles, with Eve usurping the place of leadership and Adam submitting to the place of follower, God destined them to continual conflict.”  (MacArthur, Chapter 16)

What can and should we do?

Context - Content

Ø      What did Moses teach concerning divorce?

Ø      What did the Pharisees and scribes teach concerning divorce?

Ø      What does our Lord teach concerning divorce?


1A.      What did Moses Teach Concerning Divorce?  (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

1B.      Moses’ law limited divorce to only certain causes.  (24:1a)

“Indecency;” ervah; nakedness, nakedness(48)

“Because the penalty for adultery was death, the indecency mentioned here obviously referred to some kind of sexual looseness or lewdness that came short of adultery.  And it was because such indecency, vile as it might have been, was not sufficient grounds for divorce that the divorced wife was defiled by remarriage and could not be taken back by her first husband.”  (MacArthur, Chapter 16)

2B.      Moses’ law protected the woman.  (24:1b)

Ø      It protected her from being charged with adultery and possibly stoned.

Ø      It protected her from becoming destitute with no means of support.

3B.      Moses’ law made divorce a formal and serious matter.

Ø      Prior to this law men could simply put there wives out without any formal requirements.

4B.      Moses’ law made divorce and remarriage more difficult and in some cases impossible.  (24:2-4)

Once a divorced spouse has left and married someone else the original couple can never remarry.  The net effect was to make divorce a much more permanent and serious matter.  It was a means to convict the hard and sinful heart of man.

2A.      What did the Pharisees and Scribes Teach Concerning Divorce?  (Matthew 19:3, 7)

1B.      Rabbi Shammai held a more conservative view.

Ø      “Indecency” refers to gross indecency but not necessarily adultery.

2B.      Rabi Hillel held a more liberal view.

Ø      “Indecency” could refer to almost anything from adultery to an improperly cooked meal.

Ø      Hillel’s view was most popular among the people and Pharisees.

3A.      What does our Lord Teach Concerning Divorce?  (Matthew 19:4-9)

1B.      Jesus upholds the sanctity of marriage.  (19:4-6)

Jesus goes back before Moses indeed before the fall and quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24.

God’s original plan was one man – one woman.  (19:4; Genesis 1:27b)

God did not create a group of males and females who could pick and choose mates as it suited them.  There were no spares or options.  There was no provision, or even possibility, for multiple or alternate spouses.  There were only one man and one woman in the beginning, and for that very obvious reason, divorce and remarriage was not an option.  (MacArthur, Chapter 16)


God’s original plan was for marriage to be a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman.  (19:5a; Genesis 2:24a))

Malachi 2:14 “… the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

Ø       “leave,” azab; to leave, forsake, loose, usage: forsake(48), forsaken(56)

Ø      “to be joined,” dabaq; to cling, cleave, keep  close

“The Hebrew word (daôbaq) behind cleave refers to a strong bonding together of objects and often was used to represent gluing or cementing.  Marriage as God has always intended it to be involves the total commitment and consecration of husbands and wives to each other and to Him as the divine author of their union and witness to their covenant.”  (MacArthur)

God’s original plan was for a man and a woman to be “one flesh.”  (19:5b, 6a)

1 Corinthians 7:4 “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Ø      In God’s eyes they become the total possession of each other, one in mind and spirit, in goals and direction, in emotion and will. 


In the creative sense, every marriage is made in heaven.  (19:6)

Ø      Marriage is first of all God’s institution and God’s doing, regardless of how men may corrupt it and deny or disregard His part in it.

“God’s design for every marriage is that it be permanent until the death of one of the spouses.”  (MacArthur)

Ø      Marriage is always the work of God, whereas divorce is always the work of man.

Ø      God never commends much less commands divorce.

2B.      Jesus restricts the possibility of divorce.  (5:32; 19:9)

Jesus allows for divorce in the case of sexual immortality.

“Immorality, unchastity,” pornei,a( (1) gener.  of every kind of extramarital,  unlawful, or unnatural sexual  intercourse fornication, sexual  immorality, prostitution (1C 5.1); as a synonym for moicei,a  (marital) unfaithfulness, adultery  (MT 5.32);

Ø      This is an allowance, not a commandment.

“The act of adultery, shattering as it is to the marriage relationship, does not in itself dissolve a marriage.  Marriage is a mutual covenant, a God-ordained obligation between a man and a woman to lifelong companionship.”  (MacArthur)

The key here is the phrase found in verse 8.


Ø      This allowance is a demonstration of God’s grace.

God’s grace is expressed in the fact that the guilty party is not put to death.  (Deuteronomy 22)

God’s grace is expressed in the fact that the innocent party is permitted to remarry without committing adultery.

“If God is gracious to the sinning spouse by tolerating divorce instead of requiring execution, He would surely also be gracious to the innocent spouse by permitting remarriage, which was permissible when a spouse died (cf. Rom. 7:2-3).

The purpose of permitting divorce is to show mercy to the sinning spouse, not to condemn the innocent one to a lifetime of singleness and loneliness that would not be required if the Lord had the sinning partner executed.  Should His grace to the sinner penalize the innocent?  The Lord allows divorce in order that the adulterer might have opportunity to repent rather than be put to death.  And both here and in Matthew 5:32 Jesus specifically allows remarriage by the innocent spouse in order that he or she might have opportunity to enjoy again the blessings of marriage that were destroyed by the other partners adultery.  The qualification except for immorality clearly permits the innocent party who marries another to do so without committing adultery.”  (MacArthur)


Jesus warns against illegitimate divorce

“Our Lord says that if you divorce your wife for any other reason you cause her to commit adultery.  The argument is this: There is only one thing that can break this bond.  Therefore, if you put away your wife for any other reason you are putting her away without breaking the bond.  In this way you are making her break the bond if she should marry again; and she is therefore committing adultery.”  (Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn)

Application

God’s plan for marriage has not changed.

Ø      Marriage is to be a one man, one woman lifelong covenant that is never to be broken.

Sin is always the root cause of divorce.

Ø      While divorce is sometimes permitted is never commended.

Ø      As Christians we should always seek reconciliation with a heart of forgiveness.

God’s grace must be the basis for dealing with the sin of adultery.

Ø      We are not to require the death of the adultery so that they may have time to repent.

Ø      We are not to require celibacy of the innocent party.


JESUS’ TEACHING ON DIVORCE
Matthew 5:31-32

1A.      What did __________________________ Teach Concerning Divorce?  (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

1B.      Moses’ law _______________ divorce to only certain causes.  (24:1a)

2B.      Moses’ law protected the woman.  (24:1b)

3B.      Moses’ law made divorce a formal and ____________________ matter.

4B.      Moses’ law made divorce and remarriage more difficult and in some cases impossible.  (24:2-4)

2A.      What did the Pharisees and Scribes Teach Concerning Divorce?  (Matthew 19:3, 7)

1B.      Rabbi Shammai held a more conservative view.

2B.      Rabi Hillel held a more _____________ view.

3A.      What does our Lord Teach Concerning Divorce?  (Matthew 19:4-9)

1B.      Jesus _______________________ the sanctity of marriage.  (19:4-6)

God’s original plan was _______________ man – ________ woman.  (19:4)

God’s original plan was for marriage to be a ________________ covenant between a man and a woman.  (19:5a)

Malachi 2:14

God’s original plan was for a man and a woman to be “_____________flesh.”  (19:5b, 6a; 1 Corinthians 7:4)

In the creative sense, every marriage is made in heaven.  (19:6)

Ø      Marriage is first of all God’s institution.

Ø      Marriage is always the work of God, whereas divorce is always the work of man.

Ø      God never commends much less commands divorce.

2B.      Jesus restricts the possibility of divorce.  (5:32; 19:9)

Jesus _________ for divorce in the case of sexual immortality.

Ø      This is an allowance, not a commandment.

Ø      This allowance is a demonstration of God’s grace.

Jesus warns against illegitimate divorce

Application

God’s plan for marriage has not changed.

Ø      Marriage is to be a one man, one woman lifelong covenant that is never to be broken.

Sin is always the root cause of divorce.

Ø      While divorce is sometimes permitted is never commended.

Ø      As Christians we should always seek reconciliation with a heart of forgiveness.

God’s grace must be the basis for dealing with the sin of adultery.

Ø      We do not require the death of the adultery so that they may have time to repent.

Ø      We do not require celibacy of the innocent party.

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