As we have seen in the previous studies, Jesus’ teaching is very clear that divorce and remarriage constitutes adultery. Notice again that the Pharisees understood the strictness of His teaching (Mat 19:7), as did the disciples (Mat 19:10). So what about those who were divorced and remarried prior to coming to Christ, or even those Christians who, like so many, were misled to believe that it was lawful for them to remarry after they divorced? Although we may not like to hear it and don’t wish to admit it, according to Jesus’ teaching they are committing adultery as long as their former spouse is still living: recall that the present tense used in Mat 19:9, Mar 10:11-12, and Luk 16:18 implies a continuing action. So what should they do? Is the right thing for them to A) murder their former spouse (or spouses) so their present relationship will no longer be considered adulterous? B) divorce their present spouse and thus violate the covenant relationship they have now entered into, perhaps leaving any children from their union fatherless? Or C) remain in their present relationship and so continue to commit adultery? What does this teach us about the impossible situations our sins often put us in? Cf. Pro 13:15 and notice that the NAS “treacherous” used there is the specific word used for unfaithfulness in a covenant relationship, especially the marriage covenant; see Jer 3:20, Mal 2:10,13-16. What does all this teach us about the importance of meditating deeply and carefully and prayerfully and frequently on God’s words so that we understand His ways so as to avoid such pickles? What does it teach us about being careful to obey His laws even when we don’t fully understand them and cannot foresee their full implications?
Should we suppose that because the situation of those who have been divorced and remarried seems impossible to us that it is impossible for God? See Mat 19:23-26 and think: shall we judge their situation as necessarily more impossible than our own when Jesus says it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven and we are all very rich compared with the rest of the world? See Joh 4:10-19,28-30,34-35,39-42. When one finds himself in such an impossible situation because of his sins, what is the one thing he can do? See Luk 18:13. Besides throwing ourselves upon the mercy of the Lord, what other principles do we find in Scripture to guide us about what to do in such impossible situations?
First principle: even when there is no way out of our sin, shall we add to our sin by denying it? Contrast 1Sa 15:19-20 and 2Sa 12:9-13. Even when it seems that there is nothing we can do, can we not at the very least acknowledge sin as sin and not seek to justify it or pretend something is lawful when it is not? See 2Sa 12:15-23, 15:24-26,30, 16:5-13; in what way was David’s example of humbly submitting himself to the consequences of his sins also an example for us in such situations of trusting in the Lord’s mercy and sovereign grace even in the midst of His chastisement? Cf. Lam 3:19-33, 37-42, Heb 12:5-6,11. Consider that in spite of David’s sin he allowed it to be exposed and the consequences recorded for posterity so that others might learn from his mistakes; in like manner, even if we cannot by a good example point others to Christ, can we not at least let our bad example point them to Him? A little leaven leavens the whole lump and a truly repentant heart wants to prevent sin from spreading to others, even when it has infected itself; cf. 2Sa 24:17.
Matthew 19:3-6 (Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce, Part 1)
Matthew 19:7-9 (Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce, Part 2)
Matthew 19:9 (The Exception Clause to Divorce and Remarriage)
Scripture Passages Related to Divorce and Remarriage
Matthew 19:1-9 (The Spiritual Significance of Marriage)
Matthew 19:10 (The Disciples’ Response To Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce)
Matthew 19:1-10 (Answers to the Really Hard Questions Regarding Divorce)
Matthew 19:1-10 (Answers to the Really Hard Questions Regarding Remarriage Part 1)
Matthew 19:1-10 (Answers to the Really Hard Questions Regarding Remarriage Part 2)
Matthew 19:11-12 (On Celibacy)