The "Unpardonable Sin" of Divorce
The following article was written by Edward Watson on this most controversial subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage after much pain, tears, prayer, deep seeking, and heartfelt searching for the full truth concerning these issues.
Edward Watson's deepest desire in sharing this study is for the benefit of those who have been wrongly mistreated and truly abused by those who teach wrong doctrines concerning these issues. Many have been victimized by these wrong doctrines and have been in bondage to it due to others keeping them in bondage. As Ed Watson said “The truth of God sets us free, not binds us up. The grace of God does not make us free to sin, but makes us free from sin.” Some people have been so abused by certain individuals who continue to tell them that if they are remarried they are "living in adultery", and therefore many of these remarried people live with constant guilt, a constant fear of hell, and have no peace even if they have sincerely repented and are living fully for the Lord. However, we must not allow ourselves be the victimized by these abuses but instead remember that God wants us to be set free and that:
1. God desires that we avoid obsessing about the past: Phil. 3:13 - "...but one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead."
2. God desires that we thankfully remember that our sins have been blotted out by Christ: Isaiah 1:18 - " 'Come now, let us settle the matter', says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool.'
3. God desires that we take care to enter into His peace: Hebrews 4:1 - "Therefore since the promise of entering into His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it."
4. God desires that we remember that Christ left us with the blessed gift of peace: John 14:27 - "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid."
5. God desires that we live lives of joy in the Lord, not because this world is so wonderful, but because our Lord is so wonderful: 1 Thess. 5:16 - "Rejoice always" and James 1:2 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds."
6. God desires that we trust Him, and part of trusting Him is having confidence that He forgives us, loves us, and is concerned for us in every way: John 14:1-4 - "Do not let your heart be troubled. You believe in God so believe also in Me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
Edward Watson is able to speak about these subjects
with such grace, compassion, and conviction because he himself has suffered through the pain and anguish of divorce himself. I have never had to suffer through a divorce, so I do not know the pain and could never have written anything that compares to this
study on these issues. Ed Watson has been married for over 20 years to his lovely wife and they are the proud parents of five children. I hope that you will enjoy this study as much as I did.
~ F. A. Butler
Divorced people are in a unique position to teach clearly and concisely about the matter of divorce with passion and conviction, since they have had the personal experience of dealing with the great trials of divorce.
Before we begin this study, let's remember that we must be on guard to understand Scripture correctly. We can't isolate Scripture and give human reasoning to try and explain it. We also must read Scripture in context, which means that we must carefully read the Scriptures before and after to understand what the verses are teaching as a whole.
Many people feel that those who have been divorced are not qualified to teach about the Bible or to hold leadership positions. But this truly makes no sense because....
Is a former murderer who has become a Christian disqualified from teaching Christians about God's love and forgiveness and how to live a Christian life? ....No
Is a former prisoner who becomes a Christian disqualified from service to God and to teach Christians about obedience to God? ....No, because Paul, Peter, and John the Baptist were all once in prison.
Is a former wife abuser who becomes a Christian forbidden from teaching against the sins of his past and how to love his wife? Is he disqualified from teaching? ....No
Is a person who has sinned in the past yet becomes a Christian disqualified to teach about the dangers of sin and the power of forgiveness of those sins? .....Well, we all have sinned, so if this were true then no one would be qualified to teach, preach etc.
Is the sin of divorce a different type of sin than any other sin that Christ does not wash away? .....No, it is not. The one who has been delivered from his sin is the one who can speak best about the sin that he was delivered from, more than the one who has never experienced that sin.
Now you don't have to experience a sin in order to be qualified to cry out against it, but one who was in bondage to a particular sin can tell you with conviction and passion what they were in bondage to and warn you of that danger and tell you of the wondrous freedom they've received in Christ. These have been washed clean of a particular sin and are in a unique position to speak clearly on that subject with others.
Is divorce the “unpardonable sin?”
Now, what about divorce? Is this the 'unpardonable sin' that some people adhere to? Edward Watson once received a harsh email that exclaimed, "Well, you can't teach the Bible and pastor people since you've been divorced and remarried!" This man never even asked Ed Watson in compassion about his unique set of circumstances and had no concern or love but only condemnation to offer. The question is, how can someone truly claim to be a Christian and yet speak in such a condemning way? If this man would have taken the time to calmly listen, Ed Watson would have kindly explained to him that God is able to and deeply desires to forgive any sins that resulted in divorce in the same way that He desires to forgive any other sin! We can see this clearly from the story of the woman at the well who had five husbands. Jesus never told her that she was beyond hope but spoke in compassion to her with the desire to forgive.
Yet many fundamentalists hold to this "Romish" (Roman Catholic inspired)
teaching of divorce without understanding the truth of what the Bible really says concerning the subject. They preach "liberty to the captives and the truth will set you free", but then they turn around and bind people by the letter of the law rather than
by the spirit of which it was written.
Matthew 19:3-9 (parallel Scripture: Mark 10:2-12) is one of the main Scripture sections that is used to try to bind the divorced. Matthew 19:3-9 tells us:
(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. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder. (7) They then said unto Him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement and to put her away? (8) He said 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, Whoever shall put away his wife (put away without a written bill of divorcement as Moses commanded) except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her which is put away (put away without a writing of divorcement as Moses commanded) commit adultery."
Many people love to isolate these verses to try and prove that if someone is divorced and marries another that they're living in adultery, but these are people who are not reading these verses carefully and are not referring back to Old Testament teachings on the subject to understand the full truth. In the verses above it is important that people first of all understand that it is not God's desire for married men and women to separate from one another. God desires for men and women to continue in a marriage that glorifies God and that shows love and respect for one another (vs. 4-6). Next, we read that even though it was not God's desire for married men and women to separate, yet Moses could not stop them from separating due to the hardness of their hearts and their insistence on separating. Because of this, Moses has the command for these men who insisted on putting away their wives, to give these women a legal written bill of divorcement (vs. 7).
Many of the Jewish men in Moses' day were simply "putting away" their wives for sinful, selfish, and petty reasons without even wanting to legally divorce them. These hardened selfish men may have done this in order to keep the dowry money from the woman's family. They also many times did not want to legally divorce their wives because they were selfish and did not want to see the woman they put away (got rid of) become another man's wife. Without a bill of divorcement, this woman was still not free to remarry and was still legally bound to her husband, and if she did marry another without being properly divorced, then she would be seen as an adulterer (see vs. 9 above). Not only were these hardened, selfish Jewish men causing their wives to commit adultery, but they were also committing the terrible deed of adultery against their wives since they were simply putting away their wives without legally divorcing them and then marrying other women! (see vs. 9 above). So therefore, we read in verse 7 above that the remedy for dealing with these adulterous behaviors, was for men to "put away" their wives in the proper and legitimate way by commanding these men to give these wives a written and legitimate bill of divorcement as we can read clearly about in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. To give a bill of divorcement was a command from Moses and it was a legal agreement that the couple was truly and legitimately divorced and therefore could legitimately remarry (Deut. 24:1-4). Moses' law that he commanded was the cure to all of the evils that were going on. When Jesus later explained this law to the Pharisees in Matthew 19, He was NOT telling them the popularly known wrong teaching of our day that says "if you divorce and marry another you commit adultery", instead he was saying that "you cannot put away your wives in YOUR way, but must do it in GOD'S way" and this is done by giving your wives a written legal bill of divorcement.
So it is now very easy to understand that divorce and remarriage are far from being any sort of "unpardonable sin". Deuteronomy 24:1-4 very clearly speaks about the fact that people had legitimate remarriages in the Old Testament days, and it was not referred to as being an "unpardonable sin". In fact, if a person has no desire for a divorce but is still being forced to divorce against his or her desires, then that person is not guilty at all. Those who desire a divorce out of selfish reasons, however, such as lusting after another man or woman and other such hurtful reasons are obviously in sin. But of course, these people can be forgiven of their sin, in the same way, that any other sin is forgiven, if they genuinely repent and place their faith in the Lord for His healing and merciful forgiveness.
An interesting note concerning this area is that the term 'remarriage' does not even occur in scripture! An unknown author wrote that: “The term “remarriage” does not even occur in the Bible! The Bible does allow for certain people once married to marry again. For example, the scriptures teach in several places that a widower can marry again, but the term “remarry” or “remarriage” is never used in such scriptures. The people are simply told that they can “marry”. This is significant for the following reason. Once a marriage is legitimately dissolved, whether by death or legitimate divorce, then that marriage is considered utterly null in God’s eyes. In other words, it is as if the marriage (the legal aspect of the institution) never was. They are free in the purest sense.
Another key verse from above that people like to take to the extreme is the verse “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder. (separate)” But the question is: Does God join everyone together who says some vows? Does God join together two Satan worshipers who decide to marry? Does God join together a Muslim man who decides to marry a 9-year-old girl? Does God join together a couple who are drunk in Las Vegas and decide to make a quick trip to the wedding chapel? Does God join together a saved person and an unsaved person when the Bible tells us not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever? The answer to all of these is "No" --- God does not join together such unions as these. What God joins together is two true believers and these are the couples who are never to divorce for God wants these couples to remain in godly, committed, and faithful relationships. We will discuss this area in more detail later in this study.
The following are some helpful words from Phil Johnson answering the concern about "are people who remarry in danger of committing perpetual adultery?"
"What is the status of a Christian who divorces without biblical grounds and remarries? Is he living in perpetual adultery? What about the concept of forgiveness? If someone has remarried unbiblically and seek forgiveness, is he forgiven?
In Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus says, “It has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
Jesus is saying that the act of remarriage is an act of adultery. He is not teaching that the ongoing conjugal relationship with the new spouse is a state of “perpetual adultery”--as if God refused to recognize the remarriage as legitimate in any sense.
If that were the case--if the ongoing physical relationship between the remarried couple constituted one long, continuous, adulterous affair—the proper remedy, and the only way to end the chain of adultery, would be to dissolve the second marriage and insist that everyone return to his or her original spouse. On the contrary, Scripture teaches that the new marriage is now binding. In order to avoid further acts of adultery, the remarried person needs to remain faithful to the new spouse.
As a matter of fact, in the same passage where Moses permitted husbands to issue a certificate of divorce, the law added this restriction: “When she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD” (Deuteronomy 24:2-4, emphasis added).
Clearly, the second marriage—whether biblically justified or not—becomes as binding as the original marriage was supposed to be. A return to the original spouse is strictly forbidden.
So Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:32 (and Mark 10:11-12) mean simply that entering into an illegitimate remarriage is an adulterous act. Nevertheless, once that new marriage covenant is sealed, the remarried couple needs to remain married and be faithful to one another. A remarried couple's ongoing physical relationship is not to be thought of as “perpetual adultery.”
On the other hand, as long as they remain unrepentant about the illegitimate remarriage, they cannot expect God’s blessing on their marriage. Like all sins, that unauthorized remarriage must be confessed and repented of.
Because marriage entails a covenant that God deems holy, any remarriage (even remarriage after an unbiblical divorce) cannot be—and should not be—forsaken as we would forsake virtually any other sin. But people who have entered into such a relationship do need to seek God’s forgiveness with sincere repentance.
And yes, God does grant forgiveness for such sins to those who seek His pardon in Christ."
Does God hate the doctrine of “forbidding to marry?”
Yes, God hates this doctrine of 'forbidding to marry” as we read about in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 which tells us: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times many shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
As we can clearly read above, to 'forbid to marry' is referred to as a doctrine of devils. One famous religious figure has taught that if a woman has been abandoned and divorced by her husband that she needs to stay single. This religious figure is forbidding marriage to such a person as this even when the divorce was virtually no fault of her own. That is why this doctrine is referred to by the Lord as a 'doctrine of demons' because it leads to no hope. Many of these who condemn remarried people of being in adultery are themselves in adultery when they enjoy lustfully looking at women in secret places. These are often hypocrites and stone throwers. The Lord does not forbid remarriage, but we will study that deeper and specifically later on in this study.
Can the divorced be qualified to be leaders in the church such as pastors and deacons?
In 1 Timothy 3:2-13 we read about the qualifications needed for bishop and deacon leaders. Here we read:
(2)”A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; (3)Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; (4) One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (5)(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) (6) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. (7) Moreover, he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he falls into reproach and the snare of the devil. (8) Likewise, must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; (9) Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. (10) And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. (11) Even so, their wives must be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. (12) Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (13) For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Above we read that a bishop must be blameless. This is speaking of present tense blamelessness, since the time the person has become a born again child of God. No one was blameless before they became a born again child of God. So this is not referring to what a person was like prior to salvation, but a person's blameless walk after his salvation.
The above Scriptures also teach that a bishop must be the husband of one wife, but never mentions that this person could not have been divorced in the past. If a person has been married, divorced, and then remarried, this person only has one spouse and their “ex” is no longer their spouse. The definition of divorce is “tearing apart”, so once a legal divorce does occur they are no longer joined as husband and wife. To be the 'husband of one wife' means that a church leader must not be married to several wives at the same time. This used to be a very common practice to be married to more than one wife and is still common among some groups like the Mormons, but God no longer permits this and those married to more than one wife are not allowed to be in a leadership role.
So yes, as long as a person who was divorced in the past is now leading a pure and blameless life before God and man, is ruling over his family well, and is not a novice but is vigilant, sober, patient, of good behavior and a good teacher etc., he is well qualified to lead.
Why God hates this merciless doctrine that has binded so many people down.
If divorce is a sin that is forgiven in the same way that any other sin is forgiven in which one has sincerely repented of it from the heart, God can and does wash us clean from that sin just as He does any other sin. If we don't believe this, then we don't believe in the effectiveness of the blood of Christ.
Do we demand to know the details of sins that were forgiven by God of other people? A liar, thief, or even a past murderer or rapist is not asked to explain the details and motivations of their past sins and somehow try to convince everyone he's forgiven, correct? So why do people do this to divorced people?
Maybe the divorced person was not even at fault concerning the divorce. Many divorced people are completely innocent of what they went through and were good and faithful spouses. There are many who bear no blame in God's eyes for their divorce. Yet some people would piously proclaim that there is blame on both sides.
So many are caught up and content in their self-pride and judgment and are only judging from a distance without even knowing the facts. These believe they are “better” or “holier” than those who have suffered through a divorce. But to do this and to prejudge a situation just because someone has been through a divorce is no more just, fair, and honest than it would be to blame both parties in a murder case. We can't prejudge these situations since one is a victim while the other one is guilty of the crime. So in murder cases should we also assume that the victim had it coming? It's the same type of logic when it comes to rape cases because some people don't just want to blame the rapist, but they want to blame the rape victim too, and say that they were guilty too even though they were a victim! There is never a license for someone to go out and rape someone even if the person being raped was not dressed modestly.
So why should we prejudge victims of divorce without even knowing the facts? You see the Bible says to judge with righteous judgment, and a lot of divorce victims in Christianity have been persecuted and prevented from what God has called them to do, such as working as a deacon, pastor etc. because of this wrong teaching. What can this potentially lead to? It can lead to this person sinning and it could lead to their fall from the faith. It helps many people to be active in the ministry for various reasons, but one of those reasons is that it helps to keep them from sin and to keep them in the fear of the Lord, yet sadly many want to prevent divorced people from serving in the ministry.
Now anyone who has ever gone through a divorce can tell you that it is painful and is like going through the death of a spouse, and in many ways, death may be more easy to deal with since there is finality to death. When going through a divorce there is some hope to the injured party that things will still work out. Many will go through this as they continuously hope and hope that things can still work out, and it is like mental torment and torture for them as they keep holding on to hope when in actuality it's really against hope.
Divorced people have for too long been treated like second class citizens in the community, but not by Jesus Christ. Jesus hasn't put the guilt on them. This stigma is not from Christ but is from the world and from this merciless doctrine that seeks to bind a person to that which he has been forgiven from by the wondrous grace of God. You see, the devil wants to bind people up. He wants to bind people through ignorance and to bind them up through sin. He seeks to bind people through passiveness and not answering their God given call. He seeks to bind people up in many different ways, and the Bible tells us that God says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
Sadly though, there are so many who accuse and look down their noses at a pastor who has been through a divorce and will say things to him like “Who does he think he is to teach others?! He's been divorced and remarried!” They see your liberty in Christ and try to steal it from people who pastor. Those who pastor should not be in bondage to such harsh minded, unforgiving, merciless people as this who are ignorant of the Bible's truths on this subject. Plus these people do this in the wrong spirit, and instead of seeking to reach out in love, mercy, and compassion, they only come at those who pastor with rude accusations and merciless attacks. Those who work in pastoral roles need to simply ignore such people by putting up the shield of faith and hold to the Word of God in order to stand strong.
Even God Himself had to go through the suffering of divorce.
It is very true that God hates divorce. This is something that no one will deny since it breaks up families and marriages and causes all sorts of heartbreak and pain to everyone involved. But how many of you out there know that God Himself was divorced? We can read of this in Jeremiah 3:1-8. Here we read where God was greatly mistreated by His “wife” Israel since Israel was like a harlot wife to God since they were forever sinning, backsliding, and in spiritual adultery with no true sincere love for God and no true shame over their sins. Yet God was still merciful to His harlot wife Israel and mercifully and longingly offered to take her back as His bride if they would only come back to Him.
Yet God's wife Israel stubbornly refused in her rebellion to return to God even after His perpetual love and endless long-suffering and mercy towards her. By the time we arrive at verse 8 we see that because Israel refused to return to the Lord despite all His merciful callings and patience, God finally had to put her away and give her a certificate of divorce. Yet those who are self-righteous and love to condemn divorced people won't acknowledge this Scripture about God being divorced. They still continue to slander the divorced and it seems to makes no difference to them concerning the pain they inflict on them or how they try to bring others into bondage. Why is it that they want to stubbornly refuse to forgive and love divorced people no matter what proof is offered them from Scriptures that these have been set free from their bondage by Jesus Christ?
A sign of a true Christian is that they are to love others and have compassion, yet these who criticize the divorced have little love for those who have gone through this type of trauma in their lives, for divorces are very traumatic and are exceedingly painful and it creates a deep wound. God can heal this terrible wound, but what those who refuse to forgive always do is to reopen up that wound with their harsh words. It does not help the wounded when these critical ones come across like they are 'holier than thou', better than others, and like they know more than others. (Sounds like Job's “friends” doesn't it?)
These have a predetermined mindset that won't allow the divorced to remarry under any conditions. This predetermined mindset comes from the teachings of Rome (Catholic Church), and not from the Bible, yet they adopt the Catholic teachings on this and think it's a Christian doctrine. The true shame is when churches like the Baptists etc adopt this false teaching when historically it's not an Anabaptist or Baptist position even though it is today. (1 Timothy 4:1-3 has truly been fulfilled in our time.) The same is true with the “Once saved always saved” doctrine --- it is a Baptist doctrine today unfortunately, but it hasn't always been. These go out of their way seeking “proof text” Scriptures out of context, and dismiss all Scripture that would refute such prejudiced conclusions. These are in a mind-lock and under a stronghold so that they are unable to see the full council of the truth of God. Sadly they follow after the Romanists (Catholic Church) which teach that a marriage must never be dissolved, and that divorce is an everlasting stigma.
God desires for divorced people who have been forgiven and set free by the cleansing blood of Christ to ignore the “Romanists” and rest in the Lord who can heal them and guide them to lead God honoring lives.
Divorced people could be healed with good godly counseling and the healing balm of the Holy Spirit, yet these false teachings won't allow for healing. Hopefully, more and more divorced people will refuse to take this abuse and instead will choose to submerge themselves in the healing and peace that can only come from the Lord.
Yet sadly, many are burdened by these Romanists and don't know where to turn for healing and hope. This is another one of those doctrines that have become one of the traditions of men, and that makes the Word of God of no effect. It produces people who will do nothing for God and who will not go after their God given calling because they fear the stigma of divorce due to the accusations thrust upon them by various people, and they don't know how to properly defend themselves from them. They are too afraid of the rejection they'll receive.
It also causes many who are divorced or divorced and remarried to backslide because they know they won't be accepted, so they often stop seeking the Lord altogether since they've endlessly heard that God hates divorce so they, therefore, think that God hates them too. These people are in desperate need of healing!
Note: Edward Watson is one of those people who has experienced maliciousness and cruelty from people who call themselves “Christians” but who clearly are not abiding in Christ's love. This has a lot to do with why Ed wanted to share this comforting message since he knows that so many others who have been divorced are also suffering from this same abuse, and he wants them to instead know the wondrous peace that can only come from knowing Christ. Countless divorced people have been treated with so much cruelty, so it is important that we pass on such healing messages as this one so that they can begin to heal and know the truth about this topic and be comforted.
We can be thankful that there are those who are kind and gentle in nature and seek to be kind and caring about this subject and truly love the Lord, but even many of these have been misinformed from teachers they respect and admire, and therefore have learned incorrectly from them.
The marriage chapter of the Bible is 1 Corinthians chapter 7 and in this chapter we can learn the fullness of truth concerning marriage and remarriage.
This chapter really helps us to clearly unfold the full truth on this topic and God's clear solid teachings are truly unveiled here. This chapter is written so clearly and is written to Christians coming into the faith. Many of these new Christians were becoming new believers and had been married, divorced, and were now remarried and needed advice on marriage and others were believers who were already married to believers. Paul carefully speaks with both of these groups and teaches them God's will concerning their marriages.
1. First of all, we need to realize that God wants us to REMAIN HOWEVER WE ARE (concerning marriage) when we are called by God and became a true Christian. (1 Corinthians 7:17-27)
Many today are teaching a false and ungodly teaching, and this false teaching is that if a person is remarried when he becomes a true Christian that this person is living in a state of adultery and needs to divorce their current spouse. It is ridiculous to think that God would want us to commit the sin of divorce, in order to forgive us of our past sin of divorce. God does not want us to commit another sin so that He can forgive us of a past sin; any true Holy Spirit filled Christian should know that this is a very ungodly and unbiblical teaching. What these people fail to understand is that when we became a child of God, the redeeming and precious blood of Christ covered all of our past sins and washed them away never to be brought before us again – Hallelujah! He made us like fresh clean spotless virgins who are seen as chaste and pure in His eyes. Many religious teachers don't want to believe that God washed away the sin of divorce and remarriage and want to claim these people are living in a state of adultery, but obviously the Lord, Paul, and Moses did not believe or ever teach such a hopeless and terrible teaching as this. Many people in Corinth were coming into the faith who had previously been divorced and remarried and Paul never teaches here that the remarried who were being called to Christ first needed to divorce their current spouse, but instead told them to remain the way they were, and if they were remarried to remain with their current spouse.
If we came to Christ as a remarried person, God does not want us to divorce our current spouse as so many harshly claim but wants us to remain with our current spouse no matter if that person is a believer or an unbeliever.
2. Secondly, Paul gives us specific rules in this chapter concerning BELIEVERS WHO ARE MARRIED TO A FELLOW BELIEVER. (1 Corinthians 7:10-11, and vs. 39-40)
In verse 10-11, Paul is speaking to Christian couples in which both the man and wife are true believers who both live to obey the Lord. Here Paul says that the Lord commands these married couples for the wife to not depart from the husband, but if she departs to remain unmarried or reconciled to her husband. He also tells the husband that he is not to put away his wife.
So do you hear that Christian wives? You are not to depart from your husbands! And do you hear that Christian husbands? You are not to put away your wives!
So if there's a period of time that Christian couples need for separation to receive counseling or to work things out for healing purposes etc, the Bible says that after this they need to get back together.
As it tells us in vs. 39-40 also, true Christian couples are bound to each other as long as they live, and only if the spouse dies are they free to be married again, only as long as this new person is a fellow believer.
3. Thirdly, Paul gives us specific rules in this chapter concerning BELIEVERS WHO ARE MARRIED TO UNBELIEVERS. (1 Corinthians 7:12-16)
Paul now shares his council as directed by the Holy Spirit, to those who are believers yet have an unbelieving/unsaved spouse. Here he says that if any brother has a wife that believes not, and she is pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman who has a husband who believes not, yet he is pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. But yet if in the case that the unbelieving spouse does decide to depart, let him depart, and in such cases as this brothers and sisters are not under bondage and are no longer in bondage to their marriage.
Unbelievers are those who don't submit to God's word and council, and who won't hear His true teachings and follow Him. Unbelievers refuse to truly abide in Christ and keep His commandments, whereas believers seek God's word, believe it, and obey it.
4. Fourthly, let's review final thoughts concerning the marriage chapter of 1 Corinthians chapter 7, and WHAT DOES THIS CHAPTER REVEAL CONCERNING THE ISSUE OF REMARRIAGE?
So as we review the marriage chapter of 1 Corinthians 7, we've learned that in the case of true Christian marriages where both the husband and wife are believers there can be no divorce. We also learned that in the cases where a believer is married to an unbeliever, then there may be certain cases that if the unbelieving spouse departs, that the marriage can be dissolved by divorce and the believing spouse is then free from the marriage bond. (We must remember at times that a true Christian can fall away from the faith and lose salvation and become an unbeliever which is evidenced by his refusal to repent of a soul damning sin in his life, and will not submit to obeying the Lord.)
If the Lord declares that these divorced individuals are no longer under bondage, then how can some people try and keep these individuals under bondage? God instead lovingly tells them that they are free from bondage just as though this incident never occurred. The Lord forgives and allows these individuals to start over as new creatures in Christ, the same as He does for all others who have been born again of God and whose sins were forgiven them as well.
Now let's look at 1 Corinthians 7, vs 27-28 and here Paul reinforces everything by saying “Art thou bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned.” So the people who condemn divorced and remarried people are saying they sinned, yet God says they didn't! I will believe God over man. Let God be true and every man a liar. God is just and fair and He knows who the victims of divorce are and clearly states that it is not a sin for these ones to remarry. These are set free by God, yet the Romanists say 'not free!'
Even though we all know that God hates divorce since it causes so much pain in people's lives, God is not against divorce when there is clear evil involved such as unrepentant fornication, unrepentant abuse, or abandonment. If God Himself is divorced for a valid reason, how can we condemn people who are divorced for a valid reason? People had better be in fear of the Lord however and never seek a divorce unless it is basically completely unavoidable. We will all have to stand before the Judgment of God one day and answer to Him, so we had better make sure that our reason for divorce was not over minor problems, but was basically beyond our control. God wants families to stay together and to work to love and forgive one another, just as He always loved and forgave us.
Have you noticed that the only solution the Romanists have to their wrong theology is more sin! Romanists teach that if a person is divorced and remarried and then becomes a saved child of God, that this person needs to divorce their current spouse! This is like telling a drunkard that the only way to cure his drunkenness is through drinking more alcohol, and such logic is completely absurd and ungodly. This Romanist theology is very wrong and deceptive, and God does not solve this problem of divorce and remarriage by wanting people to divorce again from their remarriage, for this would be like saying that God uses sin to cure a past sin. This is absolutely not how God solves this problem. Instead, God works to break down a person's hard heart through the convicting power of His Word in order that a person might come to a true saving faith in which the person comes before God in true brokenness and true sincere heartfelt humble repentance. Such people as this are those who have circumcised hearts and have been made born again and are seen as being pure chaste virgins in the eyes of God who have been redeemed and washed clean by Jesus' blood. These are God's true children who have a new fresh start on life if they will just continue to abide in the Lord and walk with Him each day.
We need to run far far away from this Romish false teaching that puts multitudes under bondage. Romanists place heavy burdens on people's shoulders that they themselves would not bear. Do we believe these Romish teachings because God showed us these strange teachings or is it because we just grew up believing this false doctrine? We need to be purged from these falsities and examine our hearts, and truly examine Scripture on this which will bring Christ's freedom and peace to men.
Romanists speak of grace for everyone but the divorced. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well who had five husbands, did Jesus try to condemn her and show her no hope and tell her she would forever be living in adultery or did He instead seek to lovingly reach out to her with hope and forgiveness? Yet despite all of this biblical evidence of God's redeeming grace and forgiveness, these people still refuse to hear the fullness of Christ's teachings, and only want to share a limited grace teaching. God's grace not only washes away past divorces, but it also washes away the stigma that goes with it --- Hallelujah! God washes away this sin, in the exact same way He washes away any other sin. He can set you free!!
But, we must know that Jesus lovingly and seriously warned all those that He had so graciously forgiven that they must "Go, and SIN NO MORE." If someone truly has a broken, contrite, and fully repentant heart, this person will not want to willfully commit any more sin ever again. This means no more divorce and no more living in sins of any other sort. A truly born again child of God will never ever abuse God's precious grace by sinning if they have truly been saved.
I hope this healing and fully Biblical and sensible teaching from Pastor Edward Watson has been a true joy for you to read. If you were previously a Romanist before reading this excellent message of truth, God is understanding and is ready to forgive if you will only ask Him. Please pass on this excellent message of hope to others who need to know the truth in a world that's been deceived by burdensome lies. Thank you and God bless you!
Article by Edward Watson