True North: Don’t Separate What God Has Joined Together

True North: Don’t Separate What God Has Joined Together

Don’t Separate What God Has Joined Together from Brainerd Baptist Church on Vimeo.

The first institution in the garden was marriage. Satan has been attacking the family unit Ever since. Every topic that I have covered and will covered dealing with sexuality is an attack on marriage. Whether it’s cohabitation, you don’t need to be married to live together, purity, you don’t need to be married to abstian from sexual immorality, homosexuality, you don’t need to be married the way God suggested: a man and a woman; or divorce, you don’t need to be married period. It’s an attack on the marriage covenant between two people. I want to paint a picture of the beauty and intimacy of marriage, so you will avoid the consequences of doing it your way and not God’s way.

Matt. 19:1, “When Jesus had finished this instruction, He departed from galilee and went to the region of Judea across the jordan. 2 large crowds followed him, and He healed them there. Verse 3, “some pharisees approached him to test him. They asked, “is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?” 4 “haven’t you read,” he replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” 5 and he also said: “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?

The pharisees approached Jesus for 2 reasons:
1. To slander Him
2. To destroy Him

They weren’t asking for clarification but for confrontation. They had their minds made up. They didn’t want to know what God said. They wanted to justify their actions.
Whenever you hear God’s word on a particular issue, you have 2 choices: do I follow God’s word or man’s opinion?

Man’s depravity in sin

An attack on the scriptures

Verse 7, “why then,” they asked him, “did moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?” 8 he told them, “moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning.”

First of all, these twisters of truth go beyond the confines of scripture. Moses never commanded divorce, he permitted divorce in the case of adultery. In Deuteronomy 24:1, he descries a scenario in which divorce happens, but he never encourages it.

We must take this text and place it in the entire canon of scripture. The pharisees were looking to justify the once again are twisting scipture to fit their belief.

God consistently confirms marriage throughout the Old Testament.

Exodus 20:14

Ex. 20:17, “don’t covet your neighbors wife.”

An exception for adultery

Verse 8, “but it was not like that from the beginning. 9 and I tell you, whoEver divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Although God did not completely forbid divorce, he never encouraged divorced. Apparently, the pharisees reduced the covenant of marriage to an issue of paperwork, so Jesus reminds them of Feut. 24:1–4, “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, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 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, 4 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.”

When we study scripture we must take the passage as a unit, not separately, we understand the meaning. This passage is saying, “you need to think long and hard about divorcing your spouse. Once you have put her away, she will become the wife of another man. Even if you realized that you’ve made a mistake, you will not be able to take her back, Even if she is rejected by her new husband or Eeven if he dies, she will never be yours again.” The focus is on the regret you will feel, not the divorce.

Jesus uses this passage as the framework for his answer. The word in deuteronomy is indecency. Matthew uses sexual immorality.

The english word for porneia is pornography. A strict interpretation of the phrase “except for sexual immorality” means unfaithfulness after marriage. But porneia also included incest, fornication, prostitution, homosexuality, and bestiality (lev. 20:10–14). Any of these actions were permissible grounds for divorce.

Guys and ladies, if you are married and are addicted to porn, you are committing adultery on your spouse. You need to repent and ask God and your wife for forgiveness, and get help now.

It’s important to know that the tense of the verb is active, signifying “continual infidelity rather than a single act of adultery.” a believer is not bound to continue in the marriage when the spouse lives in continual unfaithfulness because they repeatedly defile the relationship.

If adultery is unfaithfulness toward your marriage partner, and porneia is the sexual sin of any kind. The permission to divorce is based on the violating act of porneia. Adultery is the effect of that sin. It’s the by-product of that action. You don’t commit adultery. You engage in porneia and in the process commit adultery. Adultery is not a verb. It’s a result.

But the exception is never the rule. Even if you have grounds for divorce, you should always attempt to work things out.

It is important to note, this is significant, that all the offense of adultery was originally punished by death under the mosaic covenant. Marriage was terminated, not by divorce but by death. It gives new meaning to “til death do us part.”

However, the death penalty, under Roman law, was difficult to secure, so divorce was a substitute for death.. For anyone who has gone through a divorce, you know it can feel like a death. Regardless of who’s in the wrong, you are affected by the loss of your former spouse.

God’s design for marriage

Verse 3, “some pharisees approached him to test him. They asked, “is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds?” 4 “haven’t you read,” he replied, “that he who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” 5 and he also said: “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? 6 so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

Before Jesus answers their question, he points out their ignorance: “have you not read?” of course they read Gen. 1:27 and Gen. 2:24. They were experts of the law. They held PhDs in legalism. The problem is that they haven’t applied what they read.
They have the same choice we have today: listen and apply God’s word or man’s opinion.

He created man for woman

He didn’t create multiple women or men to choose from. Adam had one option: Eve. He may have wanted E-Harmony back then, but that wasn’t an option. Eve had 1 option: Adam. She may have wanted a Christian to mingle with, but that wasn’t an option.

He designed marriage for intimacy

Divorce was not an option for them. If Adam divorced his wife, he would have been isolated and alone. He would have had no one to talk to or nowhere to go. He couldn’t complain to his friends or family about his wife. Adam couldn’t leave Eve for Evelyn. This one flesh union is the closest relationship you will experience on earth.

Some of you are saying, “look at us, we’re still married. 30 plus years.” yes, you are legally married, but physically separated.
You haven’t been intimate in years. When was the last time you did something unexpected for your wife? A trip? A dinner? A romantic evening? Sleeping in the same house in different beds is not what God expected for you.

No one would believe you love him or her by the way you talk to her. Or treat her. Have you taken your wife for granted? Have you taken your husband for granted? The Bible says, “he who finds a wife finds a treasure.” Marriage is about intimacy, romance, and respect.

He expected marriage for life

Jesus cites Genesis 2, “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh.”

A couple years ago, my mom bought three wise men that she set out for Christmas. It seemed like a great idea until she placed them on the coffee table in the center of her living room. It didn’t take long before rig an ryder to use those wise men as pins with their bodies as bowling balls. One lost his head immediately, another an arm and another, well, let’s just say it took my dad some time to piece them back together again. Super glue is a wonderful invention. It only takes a little dab to stick pieces together again forEver. Once my dad glued the pieces together, they were like new, and impossible to separate. The glue actually adheres to the ceramic material to form a new substance. You couldn’t separate them apart if you tried.

The key word is leave. This means to have a bond that can’t be broken. When you divorce your spouse, it’s like shattering a ceramic figurine into a thousand pieces.

Notice that it says, 1 flesh. The 2 become one flesh after marriage. There is no such thing as half a person. It’s 1 or none. It’s indivisible. You can’t separate 1. It’s the lowest common denominator. Therefore you can never separate it.

What God has joined together let no man “separate” is the word for “put asunder.” It’s the word for divorce.

Let me destroy the lie some have bought into: “I can now get a divorce since God didn’t join us together in the first place.” this misses the point of the passage. Jesus is not interested in your view of marriage or your spouse’s view of marriage. He is concerned with how God views your marriage. He’s not talking about Christian marriage exclusively. He’s talking about all marriages. He made marriage. He brought the first couple together.

Jesus tells the pharisees, “don’t look for the legal loopholes in the system.”
A man and a woman went to their pastor and said, “we’re going to get a divorce, but we want to come to make sure that you approve of it.” this kind of thing happens all the time. Many couples don’t come to their pastors really looking for help. They just want him to confirm a decision they’ve already made. They’re hoping that when they tell the pastor about their “unique” situation that he’ll just say, “well, if that’s the case then it’s probably best you two split.” They are looking for a loophole, Even thought they know it’s wrong.

Well, this particular pastor didn’t give this couple any out. He said to the husband, “the Bible says you’re to love your wife as Jesus Christ loved the church.” And the husband says, “oh, I can’t do that.” So the pastor says, “if you can’t begin at that level, then begin on a lower level. You’re supposed to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Can you at least love her as you would love a neighbor?” The husband says, “no. That’s still too high a level.” Then the pastor says, “the Bible says, love your enemies. Begin there.”

R. Kent Hughes says, “divorce is always a tragedy, always a departure from the divine ideal. All the modern talk about “creative divorce” and “positive, growth-oriented” steps is a lot of pseudo-scientific and pseudo-liberated bunk. Christians who go ahead with an un-biblical divorce “sin with a high hand,” as the Old Testament puts it. They place themselves in harm’s way. The outcome will not be shalom or peace.”

God’s display of grace

Ephesians 5:32, “this mystery [of marriage] is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 howEver, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

C. J. Mahaney, in his series on marriage entitled, according to plan, says, “the key question is this: will we approach marriage from a God centered view or a man centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful word to a reconciling creator.”

Marriage was not a covenant that God stumbled upon. It was pre-ordained before the foundation of the world as a means of proclaiming the gospel. It was a means of displaying God’s relationship with his people.

The sacred covenant of marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. Wives give a picture of the church to world.Husbands give a picture of Christ to the world. Can you feel the weight of that?

Every one of our marriages preach the gospel to the world. We are God’s representatives. You don’t choose to representation God or not. You do. There is no choice. You preach to your kids about God, you preach to your co-workers, your neighbors, and lost family members Every day by your actions. So what kind of picture are you giving? What kind of message are your preaching?

Wives, if you sleep around on your husband, you are saying that Christ is not satisfying enough for his people.

Wives if you disrespect your husband, you are saying that the church does not respect Christ.

Wives if you don’t follow your husband, you show the world that Christ is not worth following.

Husbands, if you desert your wives, you show that Christ deserts his people.

Husbands if you ignore your wife, you show Christ wants nothing to do with his people.

Do you realize what is at stake today?

You defame the name of Christ when you flippantly approach marriage. We have to change the way we look at marriage.
God created marriage not to make you happy but to make you holy.

Walking points:

*Singles/ widows exercise self-control

1 Cor. 7:8, “to the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”Pual answers questions that were posed to him by the Corinthian believers. If God has given you the gift of singleness, stay single. You can do more individually for the kingdom of God single than if you got married. Just like Pual did.

But “if you can’t exercise self control sexually or burn with passion” get married.

Saved couples exercise faithfulness

1 Cor. 7:10, “to the married I give this charge (not i, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.” Jesus acknowledges 1 and only ground for divorce: porneia (fornication or sexual sin). Matthew is the only writer to include this. Neither Luke, Mark, nor Pual include an exception. Remember that Matthew was written to jewish converts. He knew this would have an effect on the morality in the church.

Does this exception refer to remarriage as well? Yes. You commit adultery when you marry someone who has divorced their spouse for any reason other than sexual immorality: “he doesn’t love me, we didn’t get along, I couldn’t get along with my in-laws, he treated me bad, she was disrespectful or jealous.”The second spouse commits adultery by marrying someone who divorced his or her husband for any reason other than sexual immorality.

What if you are on the receiving end? If you spouse leaves you for a reason other than immorality, remain single. You must to be ready for your spouse when they return. If you break the covenant made with your first husband and remarry, you cannot divorce and go back to your former husband. 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

No book paints a clearer picture of God’s patience and love for his people than the book of hosea. Gomer, hosea’s wife, was unfaithful in Every way. She prostituted her body repeatedly. But Hosea was longsuffering and forgiving no matter what she did to him. He relentlessly pursued and forgave her.

In the same way this man relentlessly pursued his wife, God ceaselessly pursues, forgives, draws, and forgives our transgressions Even when we prostitute our bodies to the world. From this story, we can learn how to deal with a wayward marriage partner. We must continually extend grace and forgiving love to our spouses. Marriage is filled with mistakes, but God restores.

Remember that God gave the exception clauses because of the hardness of the people’s heart. The exception is never the rule. But my husband did this, or my wife did that. Do you know what she said or what he looked at? Here is a question to ponder: would Jesus divorce his church? Better yet, do you think Christ has biblical grounds to divorce you? How many times have you cheated on God and he never left you?

2 case studies:

• If your believing spouse commits adultery, comes back and begs for forgiveness from believing wife, she must forgive him. She is permitted to divorce him, but she is commanded to forgive him.

Luke 17:3, “be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 and if he sins against you sEven times in a day, and comes back to you sEven times, saying, ‘i repent,’ you must forgive him.”

• If your believing spouse commits adultery and is unrepentant. You approach them privately about it according to Matthew 18. Then you take 2 or 3 with you. Finally, you bring them before the church for reconciliation. The church declares the person an unbeliever similar to a pagan or tax collector and removes them from fellowship and turns them over to satan for the buffeting of their bodies. Similar to what happened in 1 Cor. 5.

Saved spouses exercises holiness

1 Cor. 7:12, “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. 13 if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 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. 15 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. 16 for how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” This is the toughest marriage to be in. Being married to an unbeliEver can be exhausting annoying and difficult. When Pual says, the unbelieving husband is made holy or sanctified through his wife, he is not referring to one’s personal salvation, but one’s family. The home is made holy or set apart when a beliEver resides in it.

In the same way the church is not holy when it is empty, it is sanctified when the people of God are present. Because God indwells a believer, blessings that flow to and through that individual are extended to those around.

John Macarthur says, “furthermore, God looks on the family as a unit. Even if it is divided spiritually, and most of its members are unbelieving and immoral, the entire family is graced by a believer among them. Therefore, if an unbelieving spouse is willing to stay, the believer is not to seek a divorce.”

There are 3 allowance for divorce:

  1. Adultery
  2. Abandonment by an unbelieving spouse
  3. Death

Notice Pual doesn’t say that the believer leaves. It is the unbeliever who leaves because of the righteousness of the spouse, not the obnoxiousness. The spouse does not nag the unbeliving husband or wife. You are a looser. Look at yourself, you never go to church. You are going to hell for that attitude. No. You win them over by your meekness, your humility, and your devotion to Christ.

I am divorced should I remarry?
1. If you were married to an unbeliever who abandoned you. You can remarry (1 Cor. 7:15).
2. If you were married to a believer who committed porneia and left you, you are permitted to remarry, not commanded to.
3. What about 2 people divorcing improperly?
4. Both are Christians, no infidelity, and no church discipline? The ultimate goal is reconciliation and repentance with their covenant partner. If one person has remarried after the separation, you are free to remarry but only in the Lord.
5. What do I do if I remarried without biblical grounds? Am I living in a life of sin married to my new wife or husband? Should I divorce my new spouse and reconcile with my former wife or husband? Am I living in continual adultery?

Somehow we have put adultery and divorce for unbiblical grounds on the list of unforgiveable sins. Divorce and remarriage for any reason other than adultery is a sin. However, you are not continually living in that sin. The sin took place in the past. If you have confessed your sin and sought the Lord’s forgiveness, you are cleansed. Forgive yourself and move on.

The case of David and Bathsheba is a perfect example. God allowed the marriage of David and Bathsheba to remain even though both parties were guilty of adultery and david of murder. Sadly, David didn’t repent until after he was married. God did over time grant forgiveness and use them. Divorce and remarriage is not the unpardonable sin. Failure does not have to be final.

However, the sin is forgiven but the effects remain.

The problem with divorce and remarriage is that it does not just affect your relationship with God, but it affects your relationship with others. I can’t prove this biblically, but many divorced and remarried couples seemingly struggle more than those who have not divorced. When we follow God’s plan, the road is always paved with protection. Going outside of his rules is your prerogative, but there will be a price to pay. You can choose your sin, but you can’t choose your consequences, God does.

Divorce of any kind affects you, your kids, your future kids, your past spouse and futuer spouse. Not to mention child support, financial constrains, travel inconveniences, and step-moms and step dads. All because 2 peole decided to “separate what God has joined together.”

Your sin may be great but God’s grace is greater.

If you are married, stay married.

If you are single, be sanctified.

If you are divorced, devote yourself first to God.

Zig Ziglar says it well: “I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person in your mind. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you.”

Robby Gallaty is the Senior Pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN. He was radically saved out of a life of drug addiction on November 12, 2002. In 2008, he began Replicate Ministries to equip and train men and women to be disciples who make disciples. He is also the author of Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples (2013), Firmly Planted: How to Cultivate a Faith Rooted in Christ (2015), Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus’ Final Words Our First Work (2015), Foundations: A 260-Day Bible Reading Plan for Busy Believers (2015), and The Forgotten Jesus: How Western Christians Should Follow an Eastern Rabbi (2017).