"A WRITING OF
1. Sometimes a man will put away his wife
emotionally but not physically. That is, he will emotionally distance
himself from her, will isolate himself from her and refuse her intimacy,
without moving out of the house or throwing her out of the house. Women
do the same thing. Whoever does it, God hates it.
2. Sometimes a man will go farther than
emotionally isolating himself from his wife and will actually leave her
by moving out of the house, by driving her out of the house, or by
committing adultery. Adultery is when a married man leaves his marriage
bed for another womanís bed. That, too, is putting away, but is made
far more serious and damaging with the addition of the sin of adultery.
3. All of these things which tend to
separate a husband from his wife are things which God hates, because He
wants husbands and wives to be intimate with each other, spiritually,
emotionally, physically. Anything which interferes with a married couple
functioning as one flesh is something God is opposed to because it is
contrary to His plan, His purpose, His preference.
4. Though God hates putting away, which I
have briefly discussed, most people down through history have thought
little of putting away and have had much stronger feelings about
divorce. In how many western countries down through the centuries have
people abandoned their mates, have people committed adultery, have men
kept mistresses? But we mustnít divorce because thatís wrong.
5. Well, the fact of the matter is that
sometimes divorce isnít wrong. After all, God divorced His spiritual
wife, Israel, for her adultery, Jeremiah 3.8. If God divorced Israel how
can divorce always be wrong? The fact of the matter is, divorce is not always
wrong. What is always wrong is putting away. It is always
wrong to refuse emotional and physical intimacy with your spouse, and it
is wrong to abandon your marriage bed for another personís bed.
7. So you see, there is great confusion and
error related to divorce. And this is not a new development. It seems
there has always been confusion and error related to this matter of
divorce. So, to address the confusion, and in an attempt to clear up
some of the errors, letís turn to Matthew 19, where the Lord Jesus
Christ responded to some questions asked by some Pharisees on the
subject of divorce.
8. When you have found Matthew 19.3, please
stand for the reading of Godís Word:
3 The Pharisees
also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful
for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he
answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them
at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For
this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to
his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined
together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto
him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and
to put her away?
8 He saith unto
them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put
away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say
unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for
fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso
marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
9. For reasons I will go into
next week, Lord willing, this passage of Scripture should be understood
to have direct application only to marriages in which both the husband
and the wife are converted. With that understood, letís examine these
1A. First, THE CONFLICT
Just why did the Pharisees come
to the Lord Jesus Christ to "tempt" Him, as verse 3 tells
us, by asking this question about divorce, "Is it lawful for a
man to put away his wife for every cause?"
1B. Is this the renewal of an
Are the Pharisees men who
hold a grudge? Are they seeking revenge for not being able to win
any arguments with the Lord Jesus, for not being able to trick Him
in front of the common people? Is that what this is all about,
2B. Perhaps they are riling up
1C. The Lord Jesus Christ is
now passing through the territory ruled by Herod, who, you may
remember, took his brother Philipís wife to be his own, in
violation of the Law of Moses.
2C. Also remember that John
the Baptist preached strongly against that divorce and illicit
marriage and ended up being beheaded because of that wicked and
vengeful woman named Herodias.
3C. Are the Pharisees
tempting the Lord Jesus in the hopes that He will say something that
will enrage wicked Herodias and cause her to retaliate against Him?
4C. Remember, folks, there
are few evils that are as wicked as a Herodias type woman, or a
Jezebel type woman, who is set on committing sin and who is not
stopped from committing sin by her wimpy and passive man, but who is
rebuked by Godís man.
5C. You can almost always
count on such a wicked woman to want to do anything she can to stop
the preacher from preaching against her sin, by whatever means are
at her disposal.
3B. These Pharisees are
certainly trying to involve the Lord Jesus in a rabbinic controversy
1C. The hot dispute among the
rabbis, who were the teachers of the Law, was What is meant in
Deuteronomy 24.1? There Moses said, "When a man hath taken a
wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour
in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her:
then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in
her hand, and send her out of his house."
2C. What was meant by the
phrase, "some uncleanness?" The rabbinical school of
Shammai limited this to refer only to moral transgressions. The
school of Shammai recommended divorce only for sexual infidelity,
but did not actually forbid divorce for other reasons.
3C. But the rabbinical school
of Hillel felt such an interpretation was much too strict. The
school of Hillel interpreted "some uncleanness" in the
widest possible way, including failing to tithe the vegetables taken
from the garden.
4C. Whose side of the issue
was Jesus on? If He sided with the school of Shammai those of the
school of Hillel would be offended. If He sided with the school of
Hillel those of the school of Shammai would be angered.
5C. So you see, these
adversaries of the Lord Jesus Christ were diabolically crafty,
exhibiting keen political skills and cunning, and exercising careful
planning in opposing and seeking His harm.
6C. But they were dealing
with the Son of God, Who reminded them that Godís will is not to
seek divorce from your wife. Godís will is for marriages to be
7C. They then asked Jesus a
second question, verse 7: "Why did Moses then command to
give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?"
2A. Next, LETíS JUST LOOK AT
THIS "COMMAND" OF MOSES
Turn to Deuteronomy 24.1:
"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to
pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some
uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of
divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his
1B. Please notice that this
verse tells us what Moses allowed, not what he commanded
1C. Look at the phrase
"and it come to pass." That translates a Hebrew word that
is a hypothetical participle. In other words, Moses is in no way
commanding that a man divorce his wife if he finds some uncleanness
2C. This verse is simply an
example of Moses considering a hypothetical set of circumstances in
which a man would be permitted to divorce his wife, but is not
commanded to divorce his wife.
2B. But why did Moses allow
divorce in such a case, though he admittedly did not command divorce
in any case?
1C. In Matthew 19.8 the Lord
Jesus Christ tells us why Moses was inspired of God to allow
divorce: "Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered
you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not
2C. Divorce results from sin.
And not just sin. But sin and a hardness of heart to either refuse
to repent of the initial sin or a hardness of heart to refuse to
forgive the initial sin.
3A. We Move To Our Third Main
Point, THE COMMENTS OF OUR LORD JESUS
1B. First, see what Jesus says
about the will of God (3-6)
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him,
Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which
made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and
shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God
hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
1C. Notice that their initial
question was concerning putting away. A husband would put his wife
away as a prelude to actually divorcing her. On what grounds was a
man justified in putting his wife away? These menís usual concern
was "How can I justify doing this?"
2C. The Lord Jesus Christ
points out that Godís will is that you look for ways to hold a
marriage together, not quietly celebrate when you think youíve
found a justification for dumping your wife so you can go shopping
for another one.
2B. Then they ask him about the
writing of divorcement (7-8)
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of
divorcement, and to put her away?
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts
suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was
1C. Notice how these
Pharisees twisted the Scriptures. They asked why Moses commanded
a writing of divorcement to accompany the putting away of a wife?
But he didnít command it. He allowed
2C. The Lord Jesus Christ
correctly observes that Moses regulated divorce so
that wives would not be put away and left to their own devices. Had
Moses not regulated divorce when a wife was put away, husbands could
have set their wives aside for another woman and effectively
abandoned them without mercy and without recourse.
3C. But when a writing of
divorcement is issued the marriage is dissolved, the couple are no
longer one flesh, they are no longer a single legal entity, and the
womanís dowry money has to be returned to her. Thus, divorce was
regulated to protect the innocent woman from the financial ruin
caused by a hard hearted husband who had already demonstrated that
he didnít want her.
3B. Having explained what Moses
did, the Lord Jesus Christ now adds to the revelation of Godís will
given by Moses on the subject of divorce (9)
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it
be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth
adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit
1C. This is new stuff Heís
giving. To paraphrase the Lord Jesus Christ: If you put away your
wife (with divorce understood to follow), unless your reason for so
doing is her committing fornication, her cheating on you, you will
be committing adultery should you marry another woman. So Christian,
divorce your wife for some reason other than her being unfaithful to
you and you become an adulterer if you marry another woman!
2C. What if you are a guy who
marries a previously married woman who is now divorced? If you marry
a woman who has been put away by her husband, and she did not cheat
on him, you commit adultery by marrying that innocent woman who has
been divorced. Think about it.
4A. Finally, THE CONCLUSIONS
Do you understand that there
are factors affecting this pronouncement the Lord made, such as what
happens when a couple splits for reasons other than adultery but one
of them remarries? What about marrying a woman whose husband has
married again, though the divorce was not for adultery?
My friends, things related to
divorce and remarriage are complex, and require careful consideration.
And we have time limitations. But there are two conclusions that we
can come to this morning.
1B. First, we conclude that
both rabbinical schools were wrong on divorce
1C. The school of Shammai and
the school of Hillel both looked for reasons to justify getting a
divorce. But Godís will is that men look for ways to preserve a
marriage, not end a marriage.
2C. After all, there is
always forgiveness and reconciliation. So, His enemyís attempts to
force the Lord Jesus to take sides failed, as had all their previous
attempts to trick and trap Him.
2B. Second, we conclude that
adultery is always a part of divorce and marrying again
1C. There will always be
associated with a divorce and subsequent marriage the sin of
adultery. Always. Either adultery will cause a divorce and marrying
again, or adultery will be the result of a divorce and marrying
2C. If a man divorces for a
reason other than adultery he commits adultery by then marrying
another woman. If he marries a woman who was divorced for a reason
other than adultery he commits adultery by marrying her.
3C. So you see, one way or
the other, the sin of adultery is always and in some way associated
with a divorce. Maybe it wasnít you who committed adultery to end
a marriage or after the end of a marriage, but adultery was
committed by someone if there was a divorce and a remarriage.
1. The issue of divorce seems so
terribly complex. But thatís one of the characteristics of sin; itís
complicated. Obedience to God, on the other hand, is always the simplest
of matters. Always.
2. Before this morningís
sermon, in which I will attempt to personalize this entire issue,
brother Isenberger will come to lead us as we stand to sing.
1. It is interesting to note that
although we live in the state of California, the state that I believe
pioneered the no fault divorce, we find that the Lord Jesus Christ is
very definite in assigning blame for divorce.
2. Many people file for divorce
or explain a marital breakup by using excuses like "irreconcilable
differences," or "we drifted apart," or "I didnít
love him anymore." But such reasoning doesnít wash because human
beings are responsible for their decisions, responsible for their
actions, responsible for their feelings.
3. Shall we deal with reality
concerning this subject of divorce? Shall we open our eyes to the truth
and face facts? Shall we use Godís infallible rule of faith and
practice, the holy Bible?
4. Being open and honest, opening
our eyes to face the truth, and using the Bible, allow me to lead you
through some of your experiences to where perhaps you are now, and then
take a look to the future.
1A. First, SOMEONE HAS SINNED
Sin is a terrible thing, a
damaging thing, a damning thing. One of the sad characteristics of sin
is the effect of sin on bystanders. In addition to rebelling against
God when you sin, your sin creates a fallout effect that rains down on
your spouse and your kids, as well as you. Letís consider the sin of
putting away and the sin of adultery. When can these sins be
1B. During marriage you can sin
by putting away your spouse and by committing adultery
1C. Sometimes a wife puts her
husband away by denying him intimacy, and he reacts to being put
away by committing adultery
2C. Sometimes the putting
away and the adultery are committed by the same person in a
marriage, with adultery actually being the ultimate act of putting
away your spouse.
3C. There are many scenarios,
as you can well imagine, in which different combinations of actions
and reactions by a husband and a wife, putting away and adultery,
can occur in a marriage.
2B. But itís also possible to
commit serious sin after a marriage has ended in divorce
1C. The sin of putting away
your spouse cannot be committed after you divorce because when a
divorce is final you are as away from your spouse as you are going
2C. The sin of adultery can
be committed by a single man or woman, however, according to the
Lord Jesus Christ. Here is how: If you are divorced for a reason
other than adultery and you marry another person you are guilty of
adultery! If you marry someone who got divorced for a reason other
than adultery then you are, again, guilty of adultery.
3C. The point that I seek to
make is that divorce involves extremely serious sin, either during
the marriage so as to cause a divorce, or after a divorce when a
remarriage takes place to someone who was divorced for a reason
other than sexual sin!
4C. And if sin was committed
then someone committed that sin. So, someone sinned. And itís
important to your future to find out who sinned, because you canít
do much about someone elseís sins.
2A. Second, A MARRIAGE HAS
ENDED IN DIVORCE
We move from consideration of
the individual who was involved in a divorce to the divorce itself.
Two questions simply must be asked by anyone who is concerned about
Godís will for his life when contemplating a divorce or when
considering marriage to someone who is divorced.
1B. First, is it a permitted
dissolution of a marriage?
1C. Recognize that although
Moses did not command divorce, he did permit divorce. Recognize also
that although the Lord Jesus Christ did define what the grounds for
divorce are, He did not overturn what Moses wrote. Moses wrote by
inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. And to challenge what Moses
wrote is to challenge the inspiration of Godís Word.
2C. Now, granting that Moses
did permit divorce, and the Lord Jesus Christ also permitted divorce
(though He obviously made clear what the grounds for divorce must
be), it must also be recognized that permission to marry again was
totally dependent upon whether or not the divorce was permitted.
There has to be adultery in the marriage to permissibly divorce.
2B. Or, is it a prohibited
dissolution of marriage?
1C. Moses was not so clear,
but the Lord Jesus Christ was very clear, that divorce was
sanctioned, divorce was permitted, the dissolution of a marriage was
allowed, only as a remedy for adultery. In other words, adultery is
the only recognized cause of divorce that results in permission to
2C. But what if a Christian
couple just didnít want to be married to each other anymore? Such
a divorce is not sanctioned, is not permitted, is not authorized.
And in such a case the ex-husband and ex-wife would be committing
adultery by marrying again, and anyone who married such an
ex-husband and ex-wife would also be committing adultery.
3C. This is very clear from
Matthew 19.9: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it
be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth
adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away (again, except it
be for fornication) doth commit adultery."
3A. Finally, WHAT IS TO BE
You know, people can really
mess up their lives. Itís possible to become so tangled in a web of
sin and bad choices that you look back and see a trail of broken
hearts and broken lives in your past. Busted marriages? Broken homes?
Kids living in different places? Visitation and custody and child
support issues? Ex-husbands and ex-wives to deal with?
And on top of all this mess you
find yourself in, I have shown you that there is a question you need
to address about whether or not you should ever get married to the
person you want to marry, whether or not you should ever get married
My friend, these are issues
that are quite complex. And as I mentioned before, sin makes
everything complicated. And you have ample evidence of how things turn
out when you just do what you want to do. What I suggest now is that
we ask four important questions about where you ought to go from here.
1B. First, what is to be done by
you? You should ask, "Pastor, what should I do?"
1C. Stop. Just stop. Have you
not been running and hustling and messing around long enough? Look
at the mess youíve made of your life. You need to stop and think
for just a minute.
2C. What are you doing? Where
are you going? How are you getting there? If you continue doing what
you are now doing, and what you have been doing, where will you be?
And what will your life be like?
3C. I heard a definition of
insanity on the radio some months ago. A guy said, "Insanity is
when you do the same things and expect different results." Are
you pleased with the results so far? How will things be different so
long as you are the same person you are now?
4C. My recommendation is that
you think very seriously about becoming a real Christian. And why
not? Being a non-Christian doesnít seem to be working very well
5C. So, what you should do is
come to Church regularly, take stock of your life and destiny, and
give serious attention to becoming a Christian. Letís talk. Iíll
answer any questions I can.
2B. Next, what is to be done
1C. You do your part and we
will do our part. You attend Church and we will welcome you, will
pray for you, will love you, will befriend you, will welcome you
into our lives . . . so you can take a look around.
2C. Find out what
Christianity is from us by watching us, by spending time with us, by
gathering when we gather and playing with us when we play.
3C. When you spend time with
us you will see that we are inconsistent. After all, we are very
much sinners and not at all capable of living sinless lives. But we
are also grateful for the Lord Jesus Christís work for us and on
4C. We remember when we were
where you are. We remember when Church was a very strange and
foreboding place, filled mostly with people we didnít know. We
remember having no idea what questions to ask.
5C. If you will do what
should be done by you, then we will do what we can do for you. And
what will we try to do for you? We want to try and impress you with
our Jesus, not impress you with ourselves. We want you to see Christ
in us the hope of glory. If you catch a glimpse of our Savior then
we have succeeded, by Godís grace. If you see nothing in our lives
that seems to reflect the grace of God to sinners, then we have
miserably failed you, and failed God, as well.
6C. But give us a chance.
Remember, weíre not dealing with successful marriages and happy
families here, only. Weíre addressing issues of eternity, heaven,
and Hell, as well.
3B. Third, what is to be done
1C. While you are in Church,
and while we are trying to create a warm and friendly atmosphere for
you, we will also be doing something to you. The congregation
sitting here around you realizes that their role in this drama
thatís playing out is to love you, to really love you, and to
earnestly pray for Godís best for you.
2C. While they do that before
Church and after Church, and during the week, I will be doing the
same thing they are doing. But on several occasions each week my
God-given responsibility includes preaching to you and counseling
3C. Turn to Second Timothy
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus
Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing
and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove,
rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
4C. So you see, Iím
supposed to preach to you, using Godís Word to show you what is
true, to show you where you are wrong, to show you how to fix it,
and to show you how to keep it from getting broken again. And I am
supposed to do that all the time.
5C. So, while our folks love
on you and work to show you how welcome you are, my task is to
convince you how sinful you are and how desperately you need Christ
as your Savior.
6C. So, there you have it.
What is to be done by you, for you, and to you. We have nothing to
hide. No gimmicks. No manipulation. No hidden agenda. What you see
is what you get.
4B. Finally, what is to be done
1C. What is done with you
depends on what you end up doing with Jesus Christ. Reject Him,
which is to say, do nothing, and you are condemned. You are
condemned now, as a matter of fact, if you are not genuinely
2C. And the condemnation you
will face as an unsaved sinner when you die is an eternity of
torment. Our desire, rather, is for you to become a Christian.
3C. So you see, there are two
alternatives for you to consider. Will it be life without Christ, or
life with Christ? Will it be condemnation, or conversion? Will it be
guilt, or glory?
1. If you look around our Church
you will not find many families who have been spared the pain and
heartache of divorce. But you will find people who, in their darkest
hours of life, when things seemed the most hopeless, can now say, with
David, "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the
miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my
2. It would be nice if young men
and women became Christians before they got married and were by and
large spared the pain and suffering associated with divorce. But some
people donít get saved until after they have married. Still others
donít get saved until after theyíve divorced.
3. Wherever you happen to be,
whatever your lifeís experiences to his point happen to be, there is
room here for you at Calvary Road Baptist Church. More importantly,
thereís room at the cross for you.
4. Jesus Christ suffered and bled
and died for you, that you might have the forgiveness of your sins. He
made it possible for sinners to be reconciled to God. I hope someday you
will become a Christian.