Sermon on the Mount: Jesus Teaches about Divorce

I pray God will show you his heart through this study.

Matthew 5:31-32, “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Background

  • The Jewish religious leaders and Scribes were taking Moses’ law and twisting it into what they wanted and believed to be true (Deut. 24:1-4). Moses did not command divorce but he permitted it. Wiersbe explains, “He commanded that the husband give his ex-wife a legal bill of divorcement. But the wife could not return to her first husband after being remarried and divorced.” This made couples reevaluate their relationship and think twice before divorcing.
  • In first century Jewish law there were two schools of thought: Shammai and Hillel. The school of Shammai was strict and severe and the school of Hillel was more liberal and broad-minded. William Barclay explains, “To the school of Shammai there was no possible ground of divorce except only adultery and unchastity. On the other hand the school of Hillel said a man could divorce his wife if she spoiled his dinner by putting too much salt in his food, if she went in public with her head uncovered, if she talked with men in the street, if she was troublesome or quarrelsome, etc.”
  • Jesus was seeking to deal with the situation of moral depravity and the corruption of the structure of family life. God’s view of divorce is stated in Malachi 2:16, “‘For I hate divorce!’ says the LORD, the God of Israel. ‘To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,’ says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. ‘So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” God made man to leave his family to be joined to a wife and they become as one (Mt. 19:5). “Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” (Mt. 19:6) Men in those days were using any and every excuse they could to get rid of their first wives. Jesus was clearing up and dealing with those who practiced divorce for their selfish desires.

The Sanctity of Marriage

  • God’s intention for marriage was for husband and wife to never break their bond. This is an illustration of God’s love for his people and his union with them. Wiersbe gives us 4 characteristics of marriage: 1) It is a divinely appointed union; no court of law can change what God has established 2) It is a physical union; the man and woman become one flesh 3) It is a permanent union; God’s original design was that one man and one woman to spend one life together. 4) It is a union between one man and one woman; Group marriages, gay marriages and other variations are contrary to the will of God, no matter what psychologists or jurists may say.
  • Jesus gives only one reason to divorce. Matthew 19:9 says, “And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery – unless his wife has been unfaithful.” This does not mean that divorce should be quickly sought out as an option when a spouse is unfaithful. The Life Application Study Bible explains further, “The word translated “unfaithful” implies a sexually immoral life-style, not a confessed and repented act of adultery. Those who discover that their partner has been unfaithful should make every effort to forgive, reconcile and restore their relationship.”
  • D. A. Carson gives us some perspective when it comes to marriage and divorce in this day and time. “It used to be that divorce was a problem rarely found in evangelical circles. To our shame, that is no longer the case. Our society, including many professing Christians, has rejected biblical conceptions of both love and marriage. Love has become a mixture of physical desire and vague sentimentality; marriage has become a provisional sexual union to be terminated when this pathetic, pygmy love dissolves.” He definitely does not sugar coat it. But we need to hear the straight-up truth. He goes on to describe the beautiful biblical perspective of marriage. “In God’s Word, marriage and love are for the tough-minded. Marriage is commitment; and, far from backing out when the going gets rough, marriage partners are to sort out their difficulties in the light of Scripture. They are to hang in there, improving their relationship, working away at it, precisely because they have vowed before God and man to live together and love each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness as in health, until death separates them. Love is the determined commitment to seek the other’s good, to cherish, shelter, nurture, edify, and show patience with one’s partner. And this commitment, worked out because of deep-rooted obedience to God, brings with it the emotional and sentimental aspects of love as well. Amen.
  • God truly wants the best for us and marriage is something that represents his true intimate love for us.

If we build a marriage after God’s ideal pattern, we will not have to worry about divorce laws. -Wiersbe

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Real Love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” -1 Corinthians 13:1-3

The Lord has been teaching me about love. Real love. This is an area in my life where I fall easily into legalism. Going through the motions without really realizing what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I forget to love others. I forget to love God. I feel I have to do his work and study the Word but then I stop to think, what is my motivation behind all this? Where is my joy? Where is my love for you, God? And it’s always hard when God brings you to that realization. But I’m so glad he does because I want to love so much more than I have been.

Love is a choice. It is something we should never take for granted. Just as the verses say above, we can do all these wonderful things but if we do not have any love then what was the point? I think I am only beginning to learn about how much God really loves me. I have always been taught that he does and people always say “God is love” but I don’t want to just hear those things. I want to experience them. I want God’s love to be evident in my life. I want people to see how much God loves me and how much I love him. I want to love others with God’s love. I want his love to increase so much in my life and I want my love for others to increase.

Father, increase my love for you. Increase my love for others. Let your love shine through my life and let me experience your love in a way I never have before. Help me to love the unlovable because you love me when I am unlovable. Give me your heart. -Amen.

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39 

2012: A Reflection

What a whirlwind of a year! I can’t believe that 2012 has already come and gone. But such is life.  I have been reflecting on the past year and I can’t believe where God has brought me. He hasn’t given me everything I have asked for but has given me a much closer and deeper relationship with him and that is more that I could have ever asked for. I want to share a few things about this year that God has done. He is amazing. There’s no other way to describe him. Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”

  • I received the book Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman for Christmas last year from my roommate. I started reading it at the end of January. The book talks in depth about the difference between a fan and a follower of Jesus Christ. It really brings to light the things that we have to do to be a true follower. We have to die daily to our sinful desires and stop riding the fence of God and the world. I knew all of this but this book really forced me to deal with which way I was going to choose. It started a spark within me. Matthew 16:24-26
  • Between February and June I started really digging into my Bible further. I started to put different scriptures in the Bible together. Things were starting to click. I teach Sunday school at my home church and I started writing my own lessons because I didn’t feel like I was really learning anything from the lessons already prepared. And if I don’t learn anything, then I am certainly not going to be able to teach anything. God cultivated that spark and started a fire within me. I wanted to know more. 1 Peter 2:2
  • In mid June I took 2 of my girls to teen church camp. I remember my heart stirring during that week. God was trying to tell me something. I thought for a while that I was supposed to go back to college or go to seminary or something. I had a hunger in my soul that could only be filled with God’s Word. One night I went to the altar to pray and my sister, brother, & brother-in-law came to pray with me, that I would find a peace about where God was leading me. Isaiah 55:1-2
  • A couple of weeks later my HS English teacher messaged me about coming to their church for Bible study (her husband is the pastor). I decided to give it a try. Little did I know that God had answered my prayer that day. I had asked for somewhere to learn and he provided. I started putting the Old & New Testaments together. The Bible started to click and I can’t get enough. Don’t get me wrong, I learn so much at my home church but I live an hour away and it is hard for me to get there during the week for Bible study. God showed me a place close to home and he has also given me life-long friends there. They took me in as if I were family and I am so grateful! Hebrews 5:11-14
  • The ladies from the Bible study I attend invited me to a Women’s retreat for a weekend. Before that I had never started my day with the Word. God dealt with me that weekend about starting my day with HIM. So I decided that I would get up a little earlier in the mornings to read my Bible. I have a job where I work very early mornings and I figured that I would have a hard time doing this. It turns out that I have to have my bible and prayer time before I start the day now. I couldn’t believe that I had never done that before! It’s an amazing feeling to just hand your day over to God and let him lead you. I encourage anyone who doesn’t read the Word in the mornings to try it. Can you go a day without food or water? No, and that’s how I feel about the Word of God. John 6:35; John 4:13-14
  • Some other things that God has allowed me to be a part of is helping to start our Women’s monthly Bible study at my church. I even had the chance to give the devotion one month. If you know me at all, I am terrified of speaking in public. I stutter, stammer, and get tongue-tied. Somehow God’s spirit poured through me and allowed me speak his words. I even started this blog to pour God’s thoughts through me. I have grown in relationships with the girls in my Sunday school class and I have also had the privilege of getting to know people in my church on a deeper level. And I can’t forget to mention all the new friends and people that God has put in my path this year! I asked him for Godly friends and he exceedingly provided! Phillipians 1:3-5; 2 Cor. 12:9-10
  • There have been a few bumps in the road as well. God had to drag me kicking and screaming a few times. I asked “why” a lot. I doubted and whined because I couldn’t see what he was doing in my life.  He has shown me what it means to truly love, endure trials, be patient, trust him and more. I think one of the best things I have learned is about his Grace & Mercy. Grace is something he gave us that we did not deserve and Mercy is not giving us something that we did deserve. He sacrificed his Son for our sins (we did not deserve) and he saved us from hell (we did deserve). How awesome is our God? Romans 3:23-24; Romans 9:16; Ephesians 2:4-5

All in all, my faith has grown so much stronger than I could ever imagine. I can’t wait to see where God leads me in 2013. I hope that I can say my faith is stronger than last year.  Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the CONFIDENCE that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”