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Abusing God's Word: An Example

Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

“We desperately need meditative and reflective dependence on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” - D.A. Carson
Luke 1
Luke 16:18 ESV
“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
This verse of Scripture has sparked intense debate for almost 2,000 years. Therefore, we must approach it with humility and discernment. Let’s ask God to help us understand the sense of what Jesus is communicating with this verse. PRAY
PRAY

Jesus is Making a Point

Before we look at the verse itself, I believe we should reset the context so that we can understand why this verse is here. On the surface, it looks like Jesus is simply talking about disconnected truths in verses 14-18. He tells the Pharisees of God’s omniscience in knowing the hearts of all men and that God hates or abominates what the fallen world values. He adds a couple of verses that discuss the lasting validity of the Law and Prophets and now he talks about marriage and divorce. Based upon my study of this portion, the best way to understand this is that Jesus is undercutting the Pharisees, their interpretation of Scripture and their failure to live lives that actually honored God.
Let me say that this one verse of Scripture has sparked intense debate for about 2,000 years. Therefore, we must approach it with humilty and discernment.
Regarding verse 18, some have taken it in such a way that they believe that Jesus’s main task is teaching about marriage. However, if one were to have knowledge of the Pharisees teaching and practice during Jesus’ day, it changes how you look at this verse. Jesus has just told them that the Law and Prophets will not be void. I summed that up last week in saying the the message about God’s character and the promises of God that are communicated in the Old Testament will stand the test of time and will be fulfilled. Jesus’ main intention is to give an example of how his opponents were incorrect.

Jesus is on the Offensive

Secondly, all true standards of righteousness reflect God's unchanging holy nature.  First of all, if God said it's going to happen, it's going to happen because He can't lie.  Secondly, if He said it's right and it's wrong, that's going to be that way forever because God cannot change.  Prophetic promises will all come to fulfillment and righteous standards of God will never change.  He is aware of this.  Jesus is affirming this.  If they really believed in the righteous character and nature of God being inviolable and the law of God being inviolable and unchanging, they wouldn't be living the way they were living.”

Jesus on the offensive

Everyone who divorces his wife - The person, specifically man, because women could not initiate divorce in Israel at this time. The word divorce means to put away, let go, or release. Jesus is referring to the act of discontinuing a marriage and the no longer living in the same house.
And marries another commits adultery - This is strong language from Jesus. Based upon the language, he indicates that a divorce with a remarriage means adultery, which was a transgression that was punishable by death. Jesus continues.
And he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery - Likewise, the man who marries a woman that was divorced breaks the Law and is guilty of adultery.
What Jesus is doing in this verse is not to be considered lightly. He is making an extremely serious accusation against the Pharisees. Though, he is not saying “you” are committing adultery, it would be very plain to them what he was doing. Why did he make such a statement to the Pharisees? What does he bring up divorce and remarriage?
Listen to John MacArthur on this, “Divorce was pretty rampant among the Pharisees.  Well, of course, we wouldn't expect them to live pure lives, would we?  Because false religion can't restrain the flesh.  Being a legalist is pretty hard stuff.  They didn't commit adultery.  They just dumped their wives and went with the woman they preferred and then when they didn't prefer her, they dumped her and went with somebody else they preferred.  That was their M.O., so He's addressing them as adulterers.  He's saying, "You're standing before Me and you have divorced your wives and you've married somebody else.  Who are you to tell Me I'm depreciating the law?  Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery."
Listen to John MacArthur on this, “Divorce was pretty rampant among the Pharisees.  Well, of course, we wouldn't expect them to live pure lives, would we?  Because false religion can't restrain the flesh.  Being a legalist is pretty hard stuff.  They didn't commit adultery.  They just dumped their wives and went with the woman they preferred and then when they didn't prefer her, they dumped her and went with somebody else they preferred.  That was their M.O., so He's addressing them as adulterers.  He's saying, "You're standing before Me and you have divorced your wives and you've married somebody else.  Who are you to tell Me I'm depreciating the law?  Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery."
Several realities are commonly understood about marriage and divorce during this time. Let’s looks at a passage of Scripture on divorce that the Pharisees sought to interpret.
Let’s looks at a passage of Scripture on divorce that the Pharisees sought to interpret.
Deuteronomy 24:1–4 ESV
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.
As you can see there is an allowance for divorce based upon the husband finding “some indecency in her *his wife. The nation of Israel’s leaders sought to obey the Law based upon the interpretation of various rabbis and teachers of the Law. In this area, there were two primary understandings. Here they are:

9:10 A The House of Shammai say, “A man should divorce his wife only because he has found grounds for it in unchastity,

B “since it is said, Because he has found in her indecency in anything (Dt. 24:).”

C And the House of Hillel say, “Even if she spoiled his dish,

D “since it is said, Because he has found in her indecency in anything.

E R. Aqiba says, “Even if he found someone else prettier than she,

F “since it is said, And it shall be if she find no favor in his eyes (Dt. 24:1).”

Of these two rabbis, Shammai and Hillel, the Pharisees favored the more liberal interpretation. It was the way of understanding that allowed them to do what their flesh wanted with their wives. In short, they were using a faulty understanding of Scripture to justify what they were doing in regards to their wives. This did this while not actually obeying God or walking in the ways that they should walk if they were living as his children. This is what Robert Stein writes about their actions:

Jesus therefore brings in this other flagrant sin of the Pharisees and exhibits likewise how they manipulate the Word of God in order to permit its open violation, their most famous teachers showing them the way.

Here’s this group of religious leaders, who act like they have it all together. They are the great keepers and preservers of the Law in Israel. They are judgmental of the tax collectors and sinners. They accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard, lawbreaker. Yet, it is they that are divorcing their wives for reason that do not honor God. In fact, nothing they did honored God.

Jesus is Upholding God’s Way

Two clearcut reasons for divorce - abandonment and unfaithfulness
God is a redeemer
Everyone who divorces his wife
When this process was followed, remarriage was a possibility.
Deuteronomy 24:1–4 ESV
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.
Deuteronomy
Why was the way of the Pharisees so despicable?
When this process was followed, remarriage was a possiblity.
God hates divorce and the reasons for divorce
God hates divorce and the reasons for divorce.
God hates divorce and the reasons for divorce.
Malachi 2:14–16 ESV
But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
And he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery
God’s design for marriage is for life.
Matthew 19:3-
Matthew 19:3–8 ESV
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Matthew 19:3–6 ESV
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Matthew 19:3–8 ESV
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
God allows exceptions, but does not command divorce. Two clear cut reasons for divorce - abandonment and unfaithfulness
God hates divorce and the reasons for divorce
Matthew 19:7–8 ESV
They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Matthew 5:32 ESV
But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
1 Corinthians 7:12–15 ESV
To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.
And he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery

Practical Application:

God hates divorce and the reasons for divorce
Two clear cut reasons for divorce - abandonment and unfaithfulness
One who is born again and trusting in Christ Jesus alone is the only person that can live a holy life. All other ways will lead to pretending because there is no power active other than flesh.
God is a redeemer
There is a danger for us to look for “loopholes” in the Scriptures in order to justify evil behavior. This will not be the pattern for a true believer.
One indicator of a low view of Scripture is a low view of marriage. We must not succumb the fallen, worldly approach to this precious gift from God. We should be applying the Word of God to our marriage relationships. Husbands and wives, read together today, pray through it, ask God to make your marriage better than it is today for his glory.
To the unmarried:
1 Corinthians 7:8–9 ESV
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1 Corinthians 7:
God is our Redeemer. Our motivation to change should be to please God. The goal to studying the Word should be to know him. It is only in close fellowship with Christ that we are transformed.
1 Corinthians 7:6 ESV
Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.
Hebrews 7:25 ESV
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
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