Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible

It’s filled with more grace than you may think.

In our world, this has become a complex and tangled issue that is not so easy to untangle. There are feelings and emotions and issues of abuse that make it nearly impossible to give everyone a one-size-fits all rule. But the thing is, the Bible wrote about this to people who were every bit as tangled up in these issues as we are. In fact, when Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about marriage and divorce, he was writing to people living in a city that would make Las Vegas look like the buckle of the Bible belt. So I think Scripture does have some things to say that really do help untangling these issues. And it starts with a couple of principles.

GOD’S EXAMPLE
Back in the Old Testament, Hosea was commanded by God to marry a prostitute. He did, but she left him for prostitution again. And naturally God told Hosea to go take her back as his wife again. Crazy, but all of this represented God’s relationship with Israel and God’s patience with Israel. Skipping over to the New Testament, Ephesians 5 says our marriages represent God’s relationship to the Church. So in both the Old and New Testaments, God compared His relationship with us, to our relationship with our spouse. Why not look at God’s example? He would be the perfect husband so to speak. What did God do? Well, just as you’d probably expect, He fought for the relationship! He did not, and does not, give up easily. Time and again, He forgave Israel and time and again, He is patient with us. God asked Hosea to forgive his wife of her immorality. And God commands us to forgive each other as Christ forgave us. (Which is a lot!) Applying God’s example to marriage, we should fight for and not give up on our marriages easily. Forgiveness and reconciliation should be our goal.

I’m not saying we should forgive and pretend nothing has happened when a spouse refuses to be faithful. That would often be an impossibly cruel thing to ask someone to do. Any time a sin has been committed against the other person, the one who sinned must have a real commitment to turn away from that sin and leave it in the past. But with real repentance, marriages have a shot at real reconciliation. God can and does heal wounds, give strength, and bring marriages back together. He absolutely knows and understands what it’s like when someone fails you. And he knows what it’s like when a relationship gets put back together. He doesn’t give up easily, and following His example, neither should we.

IT’S NOT DIVORCE, IT’S THE REMARRIAGE THAT’S THE PROBLEM
Now it gets harder. Here’s Jesus in Matthew 19:

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” –Matthew 19:9

Jesus, in Matthew 5 or 19, did not single out divorce by itself as a sin. The sin Jesus talked about was marrying someone else after divorcing, specifically after divorcing for reasons other than “marital unfaithfulness.” (Literally speaking to sexual unfaithfulness) In keeping with that, I Corinthians 7:10-11 instructs Christian couples that if they do divorce; they must remain unmarried or be reconciled. God looks upon a marriage as something so important, and so valuable, that simply because we have a piece of paper that says we are divorced, doesn’t mean God views it that way.

Again, God doesn’t look upon these relationships as something that we should easily break up. Jesus explains that except when “marital unfaithfulness” is involved, divorcing and remarrying is the same as committing adultery.

WHY THE EXCEPTION?
As you know, many marriages include this phrase in their ceremonies: “Until death do us part.” Or as the Bible says in Romans: “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.”

And I think the reason Jesus gave us the exception of marital unfaithfulness is related to that. You see, in the Old Testament, committing adultery against your spouse was punishable by death. And if a husband or wife was put to death for adultery, then their spouse was free to remarry. However, what if they weren’t judged with death? God often showed mercy to people in the Old Testament and did not judge them with death after committing adultery. King David is one of those examples. So the exception to allow remarriage to someone whose spouse left them for someone else, is a mercy to the person who was sinned against. Otherwise, God’s mercy to the adulterer, would be a punishment to the person who was sinned against -for they would not be allowed to remarry otherwise.

MUST I ALWAYS REMAIN UNMARRIED, IF I WAS DIVORCED FOR THE WRONG REASONS?
This is the big question in our day because there is so much divorce, that a great many people have probably been divorced for reasons other than “marital unfaithfulness.” Sometimes, people seek a divorce because of abuse, and other times people don’t want a divorce, but their spouse leaves anyway. What can you do?

This is the tangled situation Paul was dealing with in the city a Corinth. A place where archaeological records indicate some people had up to 25 divorces! A very detailed explanation of the Scripture that deals with what to do regarding divorce in remarriage in various circumstances, has been done by John MacArthur. I can’t do any better than he did with it, so here’s a link to what he said.

You really should take the time and read what he said.

Here’s my much shorter version:

In I Corinthians 7, the Bible writes about different categories of people:

…1Corinthians 7:8 Now to the unmarried and the widows…
Speaking to the church, we’re talking believers who are not married now, although they may have been previously, and to widows.

…1Corinthians 7:10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): ….
Again, since he’s writing to the church, this would be believers who are married to each other.

…1Corinthians 7:25 Now about virgins:…
Believers in the church who had never been married obviously

…1Corinthians 7:12 To the rest I say this
In context this seemed to be directed at people who had spouses who were not believers in Jesus.

Let’s briefly take each case.

BELIEVERS WHO ARE NOT MARRIED NOW, BUT MAY HAVE BEEN PREVIOUSLY
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. -I Corinthians 7:8-9

You may ask, well how is remarriage possible for someone who has been married before? Wouldn’t that be adultery? And many will conclude that this passage MUST be talking about virgins, -but if that’s true, the Bible could have just said virgins. It didn’t. It says virgins in verse 25, but here it simply used the world for “unmarried” which applies to anyone who is not currently married. Verse 34 seems to confirm this by saying “An unmarried woman or virgin…” Here again you notice Paul isn’t simply talking about virgins when he says “unmarried.” Therefore the word “unmarried” sensibly would refer to singles who had been previously married AND virgins. Both were “unmarried.”

So is it ok to remarry? Does this contradict what Jesus said?

I don’t think so. Jesus was talking to people under the Law in the nation of Israel. Here, Paul is talking to Christians. And I think what we see here is that many of these people came from a sordid lifestyle in Corinth, with a lot of marriages and divorces, and when they came to put their faith in Jesus, it was a chance to start over. After all, the Bible says when we come to Christ, we are a “new creation, the old has gone.” It also says our “old self” was crucified with Christ. This wasn’t the case yet for the people Jesus was speaking to, but it IS the case for anyone who believes in Jesus, repents, turns to God and is baptized.

So I believe that Paul was saying that whatever happened in the past, before you became a Christian, no longer counts against you now that you are a believer. And if you aren’t married, it’s better to get married than to burn with passion. For people in Corinth who may have had 20 divorces before becoming a Christian, this second chance would be a blessing indeed.

BELIEVERS WHO ARE MARRIED TO EACH OTHER
To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
-I Corinthians 7:10-11

Speaking to believers who are married now. This isn’t about marriages in the past, but a current marriage, and here Paul writes two things: First, don’t get a divorce. And second, even if you do split up, remain unmarried or else be reconciled. Now we are back to God’s principle of not giving up on a marriage, and back to what Jesus said about remarriage being wrong.

See, Paul didn’t contradict Jesus earlier, he was just speaking of people who may have had divorces and remarriages before they became a Christian. But here, speaking to believers who are married, the command is to remain married, and even if you do get a divorce, do not remarry? Why? Because as Jesus said, that would be committing adultery. The only exception to this, is the one Jesus gave about marital unfaithfulness.

Here the question of abuse comes up. What about abuse? Shouldn’t that be an exception too? Honestly, if I was writing the rules, I’d include it, but the Bible doesn’t. So what do we do? First, I think as the verse above indicates, sometimes people do separate and get a divorce. Sometimes they need to because of situations like abuse. It’s not the divorce that is the problem, it’s the remarriage. So here the Bible says, “if” you do divorce, remain unmarried.

As long as remarriage doesn’t happen, reconciliation is possible. (More on that in a moment) And perhaps whatever caused the divorce or separation can be healed and restored? It’s happened for many people before, and again, this fits God’s principle of not giving up. However, is there ever a moment when a person can move on?

Yes, I think there are. Lets get to them:

WHEN A NON-BELIEVER LEAVES A BELIEVER
To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him…if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. -I Corinthians 7:12-13 & 15

It’s important to note here that Jesus said it’s not those who merely claim to be believers who are saved, but those who do the will of God. As we all know, there are people who claim to be Christians, but in reality have not repented or turned to God in obedience. As God said in the Old Testament, they “honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

So here, the Bible says do not divorce your spouse if they aren’t a believer, BUT if they leave, you aren’t bound. Listen to the reason: “God has called us to live in peace.” I believe that principle also comes into play when there is abuse. A separation for safety sake, for the kid’s sake, for the sake of peace may be needed. God has called us to live in peace. You can still fight for that marriage without putting yourself in harms way. As the Bible said earlier, there sometimes is the need to separate, and to remain unmarried while hoping and working for eventual reconciliation.

But here, regarding unbelievers leaving the marriage (and I include people who live for the world and reject God with their actions, not just words) that when it says, “a believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances” it means… well, they aren’t bound in such circumstances. In other words, if this is your situation and a non-believer has divorced you, then you should remain unmarried, but if you cannot control yourself, you should go ahead and get married, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion -but whoever you marry “must belong to the Lord.” -I Corinthians 7:39.

RECONCILIATION IS NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE
There comes a time however, in any divorce no matter what the reason, that reconciliation is impossible. The person may die. God allows remarriage when someone dies. Or they may remarry. In Deuteronomy 24:1-4, the Lord says after divorcing your spouse, marrying another, and divorcing THAT spouse, (still with me?) that going back to the original spouse is a sin. God calls this detestable and that can’t be good.

    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. -Deuteronomy 24:1-4

Now obviously, if a person leaves their spouse and marries another, that is adultery according to Jesus, which allows the person who was sinned against to move on. But unlike an instance of adultery, or an affair, remarrying is more permanent. When there is an affair, it’s possible the person who did the wrong will repent, and a married couple may try to work past and rebuild their relationship. However, leaving your spouse and actually marrying someone else, according to the Scripture above, means you can no longer go back to the first marriage -not without it being a sin.

So there are times when you can’t go back, according to the Old Testament. And if you have been left by your spouse, and you have remained unmarried, what happens if they remarry? It seems to me that if these are your circumstances and since you can no longer reconcile, it would better for you to remain unmarried, but if you cannot control yourself, then you should get married for it is better to marry than to burn with passion -but whoever you marry “must belong to the Lord.” -I Corinthians 7:39.

Notice the pattern?

So finally, you should do everything you can to keep your marriage together until there’s no going back. That’s what God does with us, and I think that’s what God wants from us. If your wife or husband has left you for an unbiblical reason you should fight to save the marriage regardless. (unless your spouse is an unbeliever since Bible said to let them go if they wish. We are called to live in peace.) In general however, if you can’t save the marriage … then I believe there does usually come a time when God allows you the grace to move on yourself.

WHAT IF I’VE ALREADY MESSED THIS UP?
If you’ve committed adultery by remarrying, I do not believe God allows another divorce to fix the first one. Deuteronomy 24 calls divorcing, and going back to a previous marriage, “detestable.” However, God does forgive sins for those who will recognize and admit their sin before Him. Even if you’ve committed something detestable in the past.

Many people could look at what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage and say… “I didn’t do the right thing. Now what?” Well, you aren’t the only sinner. No matter how much you’ve messed up in the past, God can forgive you now if you will repent of your sin, and turn to Him. After all, Jesus died for your sins, and He’s in the business of taking sinners and changing them into new creations. Guess what? He can make you pure again in His sight.

May God extend His grace to me if I said something wrong, but I think that is consistent with the whole of the Bible, -not just part of it.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible

  1. Thanks for posting this. I previously emailed you concerning something similar, and this seems to address some of those issues. Am curious if God punishes us when we, as Christians, have sinned and repented of it?? I’ve heard from several people that God doesn’t operate in a punitive way. However, it seems to me that David was punished by losing the child of his affair. I struggle with the fact that David and Bathsheba were the ones that sinned, yet the child had to suffer (for a whole week at that) and die for their (the parents) sins. Makes God seem unjust, though I’m not trying to “slam God” in this post. I also am confused by the fact that God let David “keep” Bathsheba. In my wordly way of thinking, it would seem if God wanted to punish David, He would not allow, let alone bless, a marriage between him and Bathsheba. Is it possible that David begged of God to let him “keep” Bathsheba? I haven’t found evidence of that in David’s Psalms, but do wonder if it was requested, and God mercifully allowed it. Would God even honor such a request? Someone counseled me once that God’s “will” will never involve sin. Maybe I took that a step too far in thinking we can’t ask for God’s blessing in the repercussions of sinful decisions. My pastor has preached that sin has natural wordly consequences, but that God forgives and casts our sins as far as the East is from the West. Does that mean the punishment does not come from God….and that He has nothing to do with our earthly ramifications, other than to help us endure?

    Growing up, I was taught that God would punish me, along with my future lineage, for my sins. Therefore, I spent much time worrying what all my grandparents might have done…haha! Yet, in all seriousness, I tended to fear that one day I might do something so bad that God would come crashing through the clouds in all His anger to swipe me up and destroy me. This has lingered into my adulthood. Forgive me for looking at the lives of others….yet I perceive that God has blessed some marriages around me that resulted from affairs of saved people. Will God do that? Is it right to go through with something you know is wrong, just because you trust in His mercy (premeditated sin)? Okay, I’ll stop with the questions! I’m just really struggling to understand the sin of Christians and God’s level of involvement with punishment.

  2. Good questions. I’ll try to give a few quick thoughts.

    One could say that in general, all suffering and pain and death is a consequence or judgment of the sin which started with Adam and continues in everyone. It was a judgment that included everyone for all time -until Christ returns. So, you could look at it as saying God punishes the entire human race by allowing bad things to happen, people to suffer, and tragedies to happen. So do we call that consequences or actual punishment? Not sure the bottom line matters. We suffer because of sin, even children.

    In the Old Testament, God judged the nation of Israel because their leaders were afraid to go into the Promised Land. So God made them wander in the desert for 40 years and quite a bit of suffering ensued, including suffering by their children who had nothing to do with the decision. One could say those were consequences, or that God punished them for 40 years.

    God told them: “Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert.”-Numbers 14:33

    In the New Testament, in the book of Revelation, Jesus says He’s going to judge the church at Thyatira, and particular woman (some people believe she “symbolizes” a group of people) Jesus said: “I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” -Rev 2:21-23

    So it appears that in some circumstances God does punish people, even today, with suffering on this earth, including future generations or children. The one in Revelation was tied to a LACK of repentance though, while the Israelites had to wander in the desert for 40 years even though they immediately repented when the judgment was proclaimed. We repent all the time, but children in this world still suffer because of the curse of sin that afflicts this world.

    So God it seems, judges to fit each particular situation or circumstance. I can’t remember any places in the New Testament where Christians were punished even after they repented, (except in suffering the punishment of original sin as everyone does, and in the book of Acts where Ananias and Sapphira didn’t have a chance to repent) but I am convinced we often suffer the practical consequences of our sin regardless. An affair can be repented of, and God does forgive, but usually we still have to suffer through the pain it causes.

    I’m not so sure if we could see the David’s child today, (or any of the other children who have died as a result of sin in the world) that we’d consider it unjust for the child. One week of suffering wasn’t good at all, and suffering as many other children do isn’t good at all, but compared to an eternity in the kingdom of heaven, probably wouldn’t seem as bad now. The Bible says the afterlife with God is better by far. From God’s point of view, it’s not like those kids are gone. They’re in better circumstances than us now. It’s tough for us who are left behind, but for those who make it, their suffering is over. Practically speaking, I think we’d be jealous if we could see them. As bad as the suffering in this life is, I think God makes it right in the next life. I think the next life is so amazing, we can’t imagine. (as the song says)

    God said in the Old Testament that He hates divorce, and makes it clear that marriages aren’t to be broken. In my opinion, that’s why He allowed Bathsheba to remain married to King David, because God honors the institution of marriage. He forgave their sin, and punished David with several things, including the death of his son, but God still allowed them to remain married because it’s the institution of marriage that He blessed in the Bible. People often mention how God needs to bless your marriage, as if He blesses, or doesn’t bless, individual marriages. I actually don’t think the Bible says anything specific about blessing a particular marriage, but God blessed the institution of marriage, and perhaps breaking them up would have invited or caused even more sin?

    Now for some who get married as a result of affairs and just figure God will “forgive” them. I’d worry about them. I would certainly think it wasn’t right for them to do that. The Bible says something about enjoying the pleasures of sin for a short time. People do enjoy those pleasures, but the time is short. What is our life compared with an eternity of punishment? I think those people better realize their sin, and repent to God, not only for the sake of this life, but for the sake of eternity.

  3. Thanks for the follow up. I would agree that David’s son is enjoying eternity with God. That perspective does help to bring some justice to an otherwise seemingly unfair judgement. This would go for Uriah as well, assuming that he was a saved Christian man. I am always astounded at how the Bible agelessly exhibits our human frailties….how mankind’s sinful ways are virtually unchanged over such a long time period.

    Did I understand correctly that the New Testament does not provide a direct example of God punishing saved people? A close friend of mine believes that God allows trials to come to us, but He does not punish us. I think he draws from the example of Job….how the devil had to ask God’s permission to test Job. I know that the devil is always limited by what God allows him to do, but I am still curious about the validity of the reasoning for his thinking. He thinks all bad things come from man’s sin, and the natural consequences of such. I would agree that God’s commands to us also make good common sense. Sin almost always brings about negative consequences in some form or another. I snicker when I recall a comment our pastor made about a man who sewed “bad seed” (sin)…and how that farmer prayed for crop failure. How true that is!

    While I don’t question that sin has it’s own natural consequences, sometimes I wonder if God has a “Plan A” for us. Maybe I’m insane for thinking this way, but I worry that my own sin takes me to “Plan B” sometimes. Can our sin divert us from the best God intended? Is that a punishment in and of itself? For example, if I, while being a Christian, marry a nonbeliever, did I not take myself straight to Plan B? Wouldn’t God have desired I take a Christian mate? One would assume God’s perfect will for me would have been an equalled yoked marriage. Yet now that I’m on Plan B with my unbelieving partner, there will certainly be some problems in the marriage that I will have to deal with. I can face those challenges or let it end in divorce. Plan C would start with my decision to divorce (assuming no biblical basis). There will be consequences of that also…such as the continual issues with children involved, etc. It is in these areas of life that I begin to confuse natural consequences versus punishment.

    This brings me to another issue. If two unbelieving men came to church, heard the truth and became saved, we would expect them to repent of their sin and live “straight.” In other words, we would expect them to discontinue living in sin, not to be together as a couple. Now, in contrast, let’s say two believing Christians (man and woman) have an affair, divorce their former spouses, and repent of their sin. Do we now allow them to marry and say they wouldn’t be living in sin also?? How is one situation different than the other? I realize that marriage is a God-blessed union, and gay living is not…but do you see the rational behind my argument? Are we rubber stamping one sin, while refusing to accept another?

    This prompts me to ask you about heavenly rewards. If God doesn’t directly punish us, do we suffer eternal heavenly consequences for our repented sins? Maybe I, as a believer, make some Plan B and Plan C decisions, knowing full well in advance that I’m not following what God would have me to do. I repent, and believe I am forgiven, even though I knew ahead of my sinning that I was doing so. Does my heavenly crown lack some jewels…or does my heavenly status drop in some way as a result? Maybe I’m the same Christian woman who had an affair, divorced my husband (my choice), and repent. Then later I go ahead and marry the man of my affair. Maybe I even ask God to forgive me of that, too. Am I still okay? Has my heavenly future changed any as a result? Or I am even going to Heaven since I knowingly committed so much sin, expecting God’s grace to make it right?

    I attend a church where they believe in eternal security. Can’t say that I am in 100% agreement with that belief, but my family is spiritually growing there. I also don’t like to make waves, so I ponder these things in silence. Can’t help but wonder about these issues, though. I do beleive sincere, genuine Christians fall down and sin everyday. I know I do! And I don’t believe the sin will take away my salvation…but can I knowingly sin and sin, and then sincerely repent and be okay? Do the two go together…premeditated sin and genuine preplanned repentence?

    Thanks for letting my drive you in circles in nuttiness….

  4. Revelation 2-3 provides examples of God punishing churches, I Corinthians 11:29-32 is an example of God judging people in a church who were definitely Christians according to verse 32, and Hebrews 12 says God “disciplines those He loves.” So does Revelation 3:19.

    Jesus said God obviously had a better plan for Israel, but God gives people a choice. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.”-Matthew 23:37-38

    Seems to indicate God does have better plans for us if we’d turn to Him, but even so, God works with human failures. He continues to work with the nation of Israel in fact. I think you can extrapolate that to individuals in much the same way. Consequences of sin and/or punishment of sin are terms that I think confuse all of us. Bottom line is God does discipline, judge, and allow suffering because of our sins with the hope of bringing us to repentance as Jesus wanted to bring Israel to repentance. The goal is always our eternal future. Of course, not all suffering is a punishment. Suffering can have a purpose too, in the same way Jesus suffered to bring salvation for others.

    In the situation you bring up, if they are believing Christians who have sinned by having an affair, even after legally divorcing their spouses… the Scripture is pretty clear: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.” -I Corinthians 7:10-11. Jesus said for them to get married to someone else after leaving their spouses for any reason other than marital unfaithfulness would be to commit adultery again. So if they really repent, they will break off the affair and return to their spouses if possible. The church should make it clear to them, just as the church would make it clear to the gay couple you mentioned, what God says in His word. God gives both couples the choice to obey or not to obey, the church should make sure they know what God says, at least, and in some instances, the church shouldn’t associate with them (I Corinthians 5:11)

    In heaven, the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Jesus described the rewards in Matthew 20:1-16. Some good points to consider in there.

    As far as eternal security, I have some posts on predestination where I’ve written about it, but suffice to say that I believe God gives people the choice of whether or not to put their faith in Him. Sin can certainly pull us away from Christ, and I believe we can choose sin over a relationship with Christ, but my present status (as someone who has believed and been baptized already) is really just determined by whether or not my heart is surrendered to Christ through faith. And even then, God has great patience. Thank goodness.

    I was already nutty. 🙂

  5. I admire that you are willing to put your beliefs in writing and back them up with scripture. I have visited your blog a few times, and notice that you aren’t timid in defending your faith. Being an expert conflict avoider, I would never be so brave, and I appreciate those who are.

    To be honest, I was expecting the old “line in the sand” thing regarding remarriages like the example given. Someone very dear to me married a woman who had been unfaithful to her spouse and divorced. He struggled greatly with the decision to marry her. During that time, he sought the advice of other Christian counselors, many who told them she was forgiven and it was okay to draw the line in the sand and move on. He ended up marrying her, and fortunately, the marriage has been a good one thus far. Observing from the side lines, it is easy to think that this was just one of those times when there are exceptions to what the Bible says. Everyone in their church family supported them and encouraged them. That seems to be the norm these days with these situations. Truly, since he’s a very good friend, I am relieved that their marriage has been successful. However, I will admit some feelings of envy at times that what I viewed as unbiblical was so readily accepted and seemingly blessed by other Christians. I’m ashamed that I feel that way. As I have made the hard decision to stay in an unhappy marriage because it’s the right thing (biblically) to do, it’s tempting to look at unbiblical situations of others and get disgruntled. However, I know that’s not the attitude to have. Just hard to accept that God doesn’t make exceptions to what the Bible says when your heart wants to give in to something else.

    The parable you mentioned in Matthew 20:1-16 is one of my favorites. Did I correctly interpret that you think all who are saved have the same heavenly rewards? Or maybe just that all of us who are saved enter the same heaven? I have always thought the meaning behind that parable had to do with timing…that even deathbed conversions were as valid as those who had been saved from their youth…that those people had the same gift of eternal life in Heaven as any other saved believer. In saying that, my thinking of those end of life conversions was also that their heavenly rewards would be few. Not that they were in a different heaven or any less saved than others…but that a life lived without doing God’s work would be short on rewards. Any thoughts?

    You linked eternal security and predestination in your last post. I never considered the two to be the same. Not saying you are wrong, but I always thought of predestination as “God has already picked who will be saved. Nothing I do or don’t do will make a bit of difference. So I’ll do nothing and accept my fate, since God either has or hasn’t picked me.” I think of eternal security as “I have accepted Christ as my Savior. I was sincere in that, and I know I am saved. No matter what I do, I am assured of Heaven. Even if at some point I am living a life of sin and cease to have a real relationship with God, I am still saved. Nothing can snatch me from God’s grip now.” I think my church uses John 10:28-29 to defend their stance. I cringe a little when my kids ask if I interpret it the same way as our church does. Guess I have a little trouble rectifying no relationship=eternal security. To me, it’s not the sin that’s the issue. It’s the fact that the sin leads to no relationship in most cases. That’s just my hang up.

    Somewhat of another subject, but I am praying for a changed heart. I’m struggling with a certain sin, and it is at times, consuming. The more I think on it, it’s a heart issue. I need my heart to change…to not see the sin as desirable anymore. Psalm 51 has been a help to me. Do you believe God will take away the temptation if I pray for Him to? I don’t seem to mentally/emotionally overcome the issue. I feel guilty for continuing to want and justify the sin. Someone told me we all are tempted, just as Jesus was. That the temptation in and of itself is not the sin. I feel like I’ve already sinned just by entertaining the sin. It certainly takes up more of my heart’s longings that I would like to admit.

    I’m borderline insane, so be glad you’re just a little nutty….

  6. I have thought that parable teaches we all have the same kingdom of heaven to be a part of. But I do believe there will some rewards that are more than others in heaven. The parable of the talents seems to say this, and I Corinthians 3:12-15 seems to say that as well. Jesus talked about storing up for yourself treasure in heaven, too. So I think you make a good point there.

    Eternal security is often linked with predestination and it’s in those discussions on this blog that I talk about how we have a choice. A choice to believe (put trust in) in Christ. And, if we have a choice, then even if we are saved, our freedom to choose, allows us to reject faith in God/Christ. I don’t think that is easy to do, or something that happens by accident, but I don’t believe God will force anyone to be saved if they don’t want to be. In other words, nothing can take us out of God’s hand, but God isn’t holding us prisoner. Nothing takes us out of His hand, but we ourselves can leave His hand if we reject faith in Him. What worries me about sin sometimes, is it is deceitful. Saying I have faith, but not having deeds or actions that match it, is dangerous. James said “faith without deeds is dead” and he asked “Can such a faith save?” It’s a scary question.

    I have a different take on temptation these days. The Bible says this about temptation: (you’ve probably heard this one many times)
    No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. -I Corinthians 10:13

    And in there it doesn’t say God will take away the temptation, or even make it easy, but says He will provide a way out so we can “stand up under it” which literally means endure it. I think when we feel the pain and effort of enduring temptation and trying to remain faithful, we start to really know what it feels like to take up a cross and follow Christ, to count our old self as dead. I’ve decided that’s supposed to be hard. I believe two things are helpful. One is simply looking for the “way out” as the Scripture says. Whatever helps us avoid giving in, be it counseling, or just God keeping us out of situations, or friends that come alongside, or whatever… just looking for the way out every time. It might be avoiding a sin when our hearts still feel out of whack, but avoiding the sin is a start. The other is moving forward in living for Jesus instead of staying in one place trying not to mess up. It seems easier when we are moving forward, just like alcoholics often deal with their addiction by focusing on helping others. But I think the sinful desire is often still there, it’s just that God wants us to move forward and take those escape hatches from time to time, so we can “stand up under it.”

    Just the effort, the work that it takes to overcome that sin, honors God. Plus, there are times, just like in life, when He helps us too.

  7. Liked what you wrote about having a choice. I believe much the same way as you do. My eternal security friends say if a believer ends up choosing a lifestyle of sin and no evidence of a growing relationship with God, that they were never truly saved in the first place. The thought being that a genuine salvation experience would leave you with a changed heart…the desires would change. I can fall into that thinking, also, yet I’ve known some new Christians to go for years along the right path, only to take a different course after complicated circumstances, losses, etc. I have to think they were saved during their time of spiritual seeking and growth. They weren’t “snatched away,” but made a choice to follow something other than Jesus. I think we always have the choice to reject Him, even after we once accepted Him. That seems to be the difference between my thinking and those who firmly believe in eternal security.

    Revelation 3:15-16 have always been a mystery to me. I felt that those verses were a real warning that God has high expectations of Christians. Yet, in discussing this, someone told me those verses related to two cities and the water issues of that time period. Not sure on the original meaning. Do you have any insight? I have used those verses in the past to support that God does expect works along with our faith.

    I will continue to pray for a changed heart. Thinking all sin originates in the desires of our heart. Sometimes I fear that by focusing on those desires, God will give up on me. There would be no greater loss than that of the Holy Spirit. I search my Bible and try to commit scriptures to my mind to “over ride” the lies of the devil. Yet I have periods of my life when those lies seem to make sense, seem justified. And God feels so far away in those times. I don’t want to “dance on the edge.” I need to let go of the sin and the want of it. Yet I keep the connections to it so it’s still in my grasp. Praying that I find the desire to fully relinquish those connections and turn my focus to Him.

  8. Revelation 3:15-16 has nothing to do with water issues between two cities. Your view was much closer to the meaning. The “deeds” and pride of the Laodician church are what Jesus addressed, not any municipal disputes over water management. Now, since it is symbolic, it is easy to take things too far in any direction we want, so with that said… It seems pretty straightforward (to me at least) that Jesus is warning that He will discipline the church, putting them through some very difficult times. At the end of the letter he says “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”-Revelation 3:19. You’re right that Jesus does expect works to go with faith. 5 out of 7 letters in Revelation 2-3 include “I know your deeds” at the beginning. The other 2 make the same point obvious without saying it.

  9. Divorce and remarriage are becoming more and more common and accepted in the current society. Marriage can easily be seen only as an agreement that can be cancelled any time. People may think that if problems arise, “we can always get a divorce if this does not work out.” The doorway to getting a divorce can be held open all the time, so people do not take proper care of their marriage. People do not invest fully in their marriage because divorce is seen as an alternative.
    How can this be fixed? There is no other alternative than to start committing to the relationship. Do not take your spouse for granted, but reserve time for your spouse and give him/her the same attention you pay to other things; actually, your spouse should be the most important thing after God. If we have this kind of a right order of importance, the relationship will not fade completely.
    We must also note that marriage is really a lifelong relationship that will end when we die. If we do not understand this, our motivation to build up our marriage is not right:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s