Dr. Piper’s Divorce, Remarriage, and Doing WHAT??

JPiperBlog2by Standerinfamilycourt

FEAR OF GOD:
(Ezra, Chapter 9) …the princes approached me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, according to their abominations, those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites.  For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy  race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands; indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness.”   When I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and my robe, and pulled some of the hair from my head and my beard, and sat down appalled.   Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel on account of the unfaithfulness of the exiles gathered to me, and I sat appalled until the evening offering.  But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my ands to the Lord my God;  and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens.”

FEAR OF MEN:
(John Piper, 8/16/2016)  “So, this is a question then for almost every Christian.   If the marriage that you are in was entered wrongfully, you shouldn’t have entered it. Should you stay in it?   That is the question.   And my answer is: Yes.   Repent honestly before God to each other and to him. Admit it should not have happened. Ask for forgiveness from each other and from God, perhaps from former spouses. And then keep your promises that you made to each other when you made your vows, rather than a second time breaking your word. And Lisa’s question is: Are there texts for that opinion? I mean, you are just saying that, Piper. What about the Bible?  And I want to say here: I could be wrong about this. I could be drawing inferences from texts illegitimately. But there do seem to me to be three or four or more pointers in this direction in the Bible, and I will give them to Lisa now.”       [ emphasis is SIFC’s]

We do admire John Piper’s courage in calling out remarriage adultery with unusual scriptural accuracy in this evil age.    Prior writings of his have been so bold as to agree with both Jesus and Paul that the “innocent party” in adultery, abuse, abandonment, etc. may not remarry while the spouse of their youth lives, no matter how humanistically unfair that seems.    We also admire his humility shown above in admitting, in response to a woman who wrote and challenged him,  that there are really no scriptural texts counseling people to remain in a non-covenant marriage sinfully entered while having a living, estranged spouse.    What we don’t admire is his ignoring several more relevant passages that make it abundantly clear that exiting those unions in repentance is precisely what disciples of Jesus Christ should and must do.

What’s wrong with the “support” Dr. Piper gives to argue for remaining in the ongoing state of serial polygamy, in light of the repeated warnings that no unrepented adulterer has any inheritance in the kingdom of God?     Let’s take a look:

Piper:
1) In Joshua 9 there is the story of the Gibeonites who, you may remember, hear about Joshua and the Israelites destroying cities, and they don’t want to be destroyed. So, they know they are going to be next on the list of destruction, so they pretend to be from a far away country, they lie to Joshua, and they get him to promise that he will not kill them, because they are not in his territory. And Joshua makes a vow and swears to them before God that he won’t kill them. And then he finds out that they were lying to him. And it says in Joshua 9:19, “All the leaders said to all the congregation, ‘We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them.’”     There are two reasons why they shouldn’t have entered this vow. One is because the Gibeonites were lying to them and, two, is because it says explicitly that they did not consult God — and God explicitly intended for the Gibeonites to be destroyed (see Joshua 9:14, 24). And now they are keeping the vow they never should have made under horrible circumstances, thus, elevating the importance of promise-keeping or vow-keeping even when it was entered into wrongfully. And I am saying that perhaps suggests — I think it does suggest — that a vow you make to a person to be their husband or their wife till death do you part is not something to be taken lightly.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   From the beginning, Dr. Piper’s inference with regard to the binding nature of vows starts from a biblically-invalid presumption:  that man’s divorce unjoins the one-flesh entity (“sarx mia“) which God’s hand instantaneously and supernaturally creates upon the exchange of valid vows.    Dr. Piper presumes that an act of man rather than the death of one of the spouses breaks the prior covenant.   God’s word does not say that.   God’s word says that only God can unjoin what He has joined, “what therefore God has joined, let NO MAN separate.” – Matt. 19:6, Mark 10:8-9.   God’s word says that God covenants with that entity, unconditionally and irrevocably.   – Mal. 2:14; Num. 23:19.   God’s word says twice that only death releases the partners from their marriage bond. – Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39.

When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.  Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?   –  Ecclesiastes 5:4-6

That being the case, if a prior vow to God, with which He still covenants, cannot be fulfilled due a subsequent vow which a party had no capacity to make without condemning himself or herself to hell in fulfilling it, is it not a false vow?

Another reason that Dr. Piper’s “possession is 9/10ths of the law” human logic fails is that a Barna Group survey in 1990 determined that some ninety percent of the divorces with remarriage occurring in the U.S. church occurred after the parties professed Christ.   Hence, they had every opportunity to know what God’s word says about remarriage after divorce but they proceeded anyway, with Barna Group also measuring and  reporting the serial repeat rate.   Is this not mocking God by putting Him to the test?    Moses, too, stumbled when he tried to “manage” sin instead of eradicating it, and he was therefore rebuked by Jesus….”but I say unto you…from the beginning IT WAS NOT SO!” –  Matt.19:8

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Getting back to the Gibeonites,  suppose another pagan group also deceived or bribed the descendants of Joshua and company into subsequently vowing to kill the Gibeonites,  but they later discovered a scroll with the original vow.    Would that subsequent vow be binding on them, simply because it was spoken?  

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the Lord. And the Lord said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”  So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah).  Thus David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? And how can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?”   –  2 Samuel 21:1-3

 

Piper:
2) Jesus talked to the woman at the well in terms that suggest pretty strongly that he believed she had five genuine husbands and one non-genuine live-in. He put it like this: “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true’” (John 4:16–18).

Now, think about that. What does that imply?

It is true that the Greek — that includes this text here — does not have a different word for husband and man or husband and male. So, it could be translated: You have had five men and the man you now have is not your man. But even if you translate it that way, it doesn’t make sense unless you distinguish this sixth man from those other five in some way, because he says: This is not your man. Those were your men. This is not your man. This is not your husband. Those were your husbands. What was the difference? Well, the only thing I know to suggest is that they had somehow formalized the relationship in a ceremony in which they took some promises to create the relationship that was known as marriage — or husband and wife. So, it seems Jesus put some stock in calling those five men real husbands different from five live-in boyfriends that she never married.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Oooh, just let me at this one!    What does that imply, Dr. Piper?    It implies that she was shacking up after the unilateral divorce system entrenched in Mosaic law up to that point  (which Jesus was poised to abrogate on many topics, including the sanctity of marriage) tossed this woman around like last week’s garbage.
We have previously blogged on What about That Samaritan Woman?”    First of all, kudos to Dr. Piper for being honest enough to admit that the meaning of the Greek “andra / andros ”   is fluid enough to range from God-joined one-flesh husband to her “old man” (shack-up partner), one of several other points we make in our blog.    Many a theologian we’ve read aren’t anywhere near as transparent when it comes to the various partners of this chick and how the language could have applied to each.    We’ve already shown where Jesus has rebuked and slammed as adultery various situations (for example, among the Pharisees) where the serial polygamists “somehow formalized the relationship in a ceremony in which they took some promises to create the relationship that was known as marriage”.

Okay, then, suppose Jesus walked in today on Justice Ginsburg or Vice President Joe Biden or  Rev. T.D. Jakes presiding over a legal civil wedding between two men.   Are they not repeating vows?   Are they not repeating vows that if fulfilled, “til death do us part”,  will cost them their souls and their inheritance in the kingdom of God?    Does God’s hand create sarx mia at that particular ceremony?   Are those vows to continue in a lifelong state of sodomy, therefore. “binding”?

 

3) Here is the third one. Interestingly enough, I was talking this over with all the team of the Together for the Gospel guys, and I won’t say who said it, but one of them, I thought, very provocatively pointed this out: Jesus does use the verb marry for what they should not do and do when he is forbidding them from doing it. Let me show you what I mean. “Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).

PiperBlogPic

He doesn’t say whoever presumably marries or tries to marry. He says marries. He doesn’t say presumes to marry or tries to marry — as if, yes, this is a real marriage being created. It should not be created and it is like committing adultery when you enter it. He says a similar kind of thing in Mark 10:11–12. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

So, if Jesus is willing to call wrongfully entered relationships marriages, then it seems to me that we should hold people to the expectations of holiness and permanence implied in the word marriage, till death do us part. I take the warning that remarriage involves adultery, “whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery,” not to mean that sexual relations in a wrongfully entered relationship can never be sanctified through repentance and forgiveness, but rather that an unholy relationship involves unholy sex until that relationship is newly consecrated to God through repentance and forgiveness. That relationship remains tainted at every level.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   We’ve already dealt with the supernatural difference between God-joined covenant unions and all other types of unions legal under man’s amoral laws, but illegitimate under God’s law.   The other kind of joining is discussed by Paul in 1 Cor. 6:16, where it is contrasted with sarx mia.   It is called hen soma (one body), the carnal joining by the devices of man and only the inflicted, unwillful presence of God.   It is not only severable by men, it must be severed for the sake of holiness without which no man will see God.   It is not something God’s holy nature would ever covenant with (even on a “time-evolved” or “grandfathered” basis), because that means forsaking the prior covenant.    As Basil the Great said in A.D. 375,  “The man who has deserted his wife and goes to another is himself an adulterer because he makes her commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress because she has caused another woman’s husband to come over to her…the woman who lives with an adulterer is an adulteress the whole time.”   – Amphilochius 199 (a)

 

[‘….as if, yes, this is a real marriage being created. It should not be created and it is like committing adultery when you enter it. “]

Dr. Piper, surely you know that Jesus never said entering an unlawful marriage was “like” committing adultery!   Jesus very forcefully stated on three separate occasions, each recorded by two different authors using the same present indicative verb tense in the Greek,  that marrying someone who has a living prior spouse is entering into an ongoing state of adultery.   Once again, to your credit, Dr. Piper, you stop short of resorting to the intellectual dishonesty of claiming this is a one-time act, as so many of your peers consistently do, but in light of all the points made above, we must still take strong biblical exception to your next statement….

I take the warning that remarriage involves adultery, “whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery,” not to mean that sexual relations in a wrongfully entered relationship can never be sanctified through repentance and forgiveness, but rather that an unholy relationship involves unholy sex until that relationship is newly consecrated to God through repentance and forgiveness.

May we ask what other soul-forfeiting, ongoing state of sin mentioned in Paul’s two “lists” – 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21, may be forgiven and continued?    Will the unholy sex between the two civilly married “husbands” be “consecrated to God” through agreeing with God that it was wrong and repenting in their hearts (but not severing the relationship)?    That one shares the lists but isn’t mentioned as early in the lineup, or talked about nearly so much by  both Jesus and Paul as the heterosexual counterfeit for holy matrimony.    From this last point, may we then simply infer, as the gay apologists would like, that just because Jesus didn’t say “whoever ‘marries’ ,  ‘presumably marries’  or ‘tries to marry’ someone of the same sex enters an ongoing state of sodomy…”   that the partners may remain in that relationship and hope to “sanctify” it contrary to Paul’s repeated warnings?   How is either abomination “honoring God”?

May we ask, what does God’s word actually say about the modern day idol of sexual autonomy?

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.  Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.   – Hebrews 10:26-28

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?   For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,“I will dwell in them and walk among themAnd I will be their God, and they shall be My people  “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.  – 2 Cor. 6:15-17

We love what faithful shepherd and marriage warrior, Dr. Joseph Webb of Christian Principles Restored Ministries says, “no sin ever yet died of old age.”

4) One last thought. If this seems strange that a prohibited relationship can become a consecrated and holy one, consider the example — and there are several in the Bible — of the kingship of Israel. The people came to Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:6–7 and said, “‘Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.’” And yet, in spite of this evil origin of this new relationship of king and people and God, God made the kingship an integral part of his plan for Jesus to come as the King of kings and Lord of lords and as the Son of David.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Now we’re really grasping, and it’s a really good thing this piece is wrapping up, at least from the defense of “sanctified” serial polygamy side!   An old Sesame Street thinking exercise (and tune) seems really apropos here.   “One these things is not like the others.  One of these things just doesn’t belong.   If you guessed this thing  is not like the others, you’re absolutely right!”    Without the imperative recognition of God’s role in creating and covenanting with an inseverable one-flesh entity, there’s no way to detect that holy matrimony is not like the others.   It is distinct from everything else and cannot be replicated by men, ever.

That said, we can now get to the more obvious flaw in Dr. Piper’s reasoning:  in the clamor for a king over Israel and its resigned fulfillment by the Most High, there certainly was a relationship of evil origin, but there was no new vow, (at least not until the time of David)!   

Among the overlooked biblical examples that are, in our view,  a much more reliable biblical basis for discussing this topic of penitently departing an unlawful civil-only marriage, that do not support Dr. Piper’s position:

(1) Ezra, chapters 9 and 10.   Israel and Judah were ending their 70-year exile from the sacking of Jerusalem after both nations turned away from God, became idolatrous and greedy and made a polygamous mockery of holy matrimony.    God had given unmerited favor in the restoration of circumstances that had allowed the rebuilding of the temple and the wall, but had one more requirement before He would restore their sovereignty as a nation.    Beginning with the disobedient priests, they must purge their nation of unlawful marriages, even where there were children.    Concurrent polygamy still prevailed in Israel, so in many cases the foreign wives were not the covenant wife, hence there was no one-flesh entity.   These dependents were provided for and the relationships were severed.   There was no “repenting in their hearts” that was going to appease God or “consecrate” those unions that His hand never joined.

Although many try to misuse this passage as their proof-text that God allows Christians to drag their unsaved spouses into a pagan court (1 Cor. 6:1-8 and 1 Cor. 7:12-14 notwithstanding) in order to financially and spiritually abandon them with society’s and the church’s approval so as not to be “unequally yoked”,  the correct analogy is to the inherent unlawfulness of any subsequent union under God’s clearly-stated law while the true spouse remains alive.   (Obvious analogies can also be drawn to the current state of society and threat of foreign invasion in many western countries today where the indissolubility of holy matrimony has been steadily undermined since the Reformation, and most acutely in the U.S. in the last 50 years.)

(2) Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29.    The parallel accounts in two gospels of the beheading of John the Baptist for calling out the unlawful “marriage” of King Herod and his brother Philip’s wife Herodias after both had divorced their God-joined one-flesh (pagan) spouses and legalized their adultery under Mosaic law.    There’s a bit of irony in the fact that remarriage apologists dive for cover while miscasting the sin John was calling out as “incest”, for that acknowledges the unsevered (indeed, inseverable) one-flesh entity between Herodias and Philip, does it not?   John, clearly articulated that it was unlawful for Herod to have his brother’s wife.   This is after all the same civil paper was gathered to hide behind that we gather today.    In Matthew 11, Jesus forseeing John’s death, spoke the same words over John. as echoed in Luke 16, just before He said for the third time, “everyone who marries a divorced person is committing ongoing adultery.”   Jesus said of John:

“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (v. 11-15)

Luke 16:14-31.   This  sobering “truth sandwich” from Jesus, which the 16th chapter of Luke comprises, starts with a warning about preparing for hell if we are going to be in love with the world system and its unrighteous mammon.   In the middle is the commendation of John discussed above, then there was the scoffing by the Pharisees (who had become world-class serial polygamists now that Ezra had done away with concurrent polygamy), to whom Jesus responded:

“You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” (v 15)

Jesus then echoes His remarks about His cousin, John and the violence suffered in taking the kingdom of God by force, after which He makes HIs enigmatic and exceptionless statement about marrying another after divorcing from a covenant spouse creating an ongoing state of adultery, and immediately following this, He spends the next dozen verses graphically depicting hell.   Coincidence?
(Yes, Dr. Piper, we’d did just imply that if people in unlawful marriages don’t repent by exiting those unions while they still draw breath, they will perish in hell.  We think it’s reasonable to conclude that’s precisely what Jesus was saying here.)

Which brings us to a natural segue in considering the impact of Dr. Piper’s Calvinist background on his willingness to even consider the prospect of hell for a disobedient-to-apostate believer as they make fateful choices about marital holiness.   If you believe “once saved, always saved”,  and if you believe the “finished work of the cross” means Jesus died for all “past, present and future sins”, even a learned seminarian might be tempted toward the view of legalistically staying in a non-covenant union rather than go through the disruption, grief-giving and reputational damage of severing it to keep one’s true, undissolved covenant vow of holy matrimony.   If you don’t believe that remarriage adultery tends to take even believers to hell in pairs, why not counsel illicit couples to stay in their state of serial polygamy?    Why fight the civil laws that foster it, and why not sign immoral and intrusive civil marriage licenses as an agent of the state?

God keep our repenting prodigals away from the John Pipers of this world who are 99% correct in their theology, but the 1% they err in is the very difference between heaven and hell!   May the Holy Spirit speak louder than he.    Dr. Piper, outcome-wise, is just as dangerous as the thoroughly-heretical Dr. MacArthur to a prodigal trying to return to the Lord and trying to repent of his civilly-sanctioned  immorality.

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce! 

“Nana, Why Did You and Papaw Split Up?”

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by  Standerinfamilycourt

“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.   You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,  so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.”
– Deuteronomy 11: 18-21

SIFC was down in Arkansas for our eldest granddaughter’s eighth birthday, having not seen them for almost 2 years, due to some exaggerated circumstances brought about by man’s divorce.   I was trying to take a short nap on a recent afternoon when our little one plops herself down on my guest bed and says, “Nana, why did you split up with Papaw?”   I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask her until later where she had heard that.   Her 5 year old sister was in the room at the time as well.

Nana responded,

“Oh, baby. Nana never wanted that, and loves Papaw very much.  It’s not possible to get a divorce like that in God’s eyes!  Nana’s wedding ring is still on, because Papaw will always be Nana’s husband until one of us dies, and it’s sinful to go into a courtroom and get a piece of paper that says differently.   We have to pray for Papaw to stop living in sin so that he won’t go to hell — we don’t want Papaw to go to hell, do we?”

(Trigger alert:   those who do not walk with Christ, and who think obedience to His stated word is optional WILL be offended by this post.   It is already well-established that SIFC “lacks grace”, is “judgmental” and is “legalistic”.     Nolo contendre :  so was John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul and James!)

I was able to talk to this precious one about how God created one-flesh when her mommy and daddy got married, when her uncle and aunt got married (she was the flower girl in that wedding at age 3), and when Nana and Papaw got married, about how God looks and sees only one person instead of two for as long as both are alive.   She repeated it back to me with a real sense of relief, and grasped it perfectly – that only death unglues people who are really married, (“right, Nana?”).   Right, baby.

Later in the evening, her parents decided to take advantage of my visit to squeeze in a date.   Caitlin has always loved bible stories right from her big-girl bible when tucking the girls in, so I decided to tell her the story of John the Baptist, Herod and Herodias, and said Herod had a real wife once (“like you, Nana?”) and Herodias had a real husband whose name was Philip.   They both thought they could divorce their real wife and real husband and be married to each other – but how come, Caitlin,  did God not join Herod and Herodias? (she got the reason right following our earlier talk about one-flesh).  We talked about why John the Baptist cared so much about whether Herod and Herodias went to heaven that he was willing to risk having his head cut off.   It went really well, but before I did the bible story, she asked me why Papaw’s bible was in my suitcase and why Papaw didn’t want his bible any more.   I was able to explain that when someone has made up his mind that he doesn’t want to obey Jesus anymore, they can’t stand what the bible says, but we can pray that God will make them really hungry again for His word.   She wanted to know why her daddy always got mad every time she visited with Papaw on skype, and why can’t she ever see him in person.   I did my best to say her daddy just wants to protect her from Papaw’s bad friends.    Good friends help you be closer to Jesus, but bad friends make you ashamed of Jesus and make you want run away from Him.

The next day, Caitlin’s mother expressed her angry displeasure that Nana had told their daughter about hell and what sort of things send people there if they die in the same.    Nana endured the indignity of being upbraided by the child she birthed and raised and discipled,  who deems all talk of hell to be a manipulation and control mechanism, to which she will not tolerate her daughter being exposed.    How could I not “respect her beliefs”?    (This “belief” seems to be a bit late-developing, to such an extent that it was a bit shocking to hear it coming out of her mouth.   More likely, the one-flesh discussion was equally offensive to her because it inherently discredits her husband’s aunt who is in a longtime lesbian union, and it violates her liberal politics in every possible way.)

They say that God has no “grandchildren”,  only “children”.    May the telling of this family story comfort many standers who are surely going through the same struggles in their own covenant families.

The morning after that, it was the son-in-law’s turn to suggest that imposing Nana’s  “belief system”  on others was causing chaos in their family,  was directly responsible for daily strife between them, and was causing him to question Nana’s emotional stability.    We had a lengthy exchange on the infallibility of rightly-divided scripture, and the fact that there are not multiple correct alternatives when comes to rightly dividing the same.    He suggested I was not “extending grace” to my prodigal husband of 40+ years in insisting his non-covenant marriage is what Jesus called it –  ongoing adultery.     I warned him that retreating on his prior resolve not to expose his daughters to that immoral relationship will not produce the relief he craves, nor will it end the barrage of emotional blackmail the family has been receiving from my husband, who refuses to see his granddaughters unless the family embraces his adulteress.

Can admitted non-believers convey “grace” to backslidden believers? Isn’t “grace” something that flows FROM GOD THROUGH those who are exclusively His? Isn’t the “grace” of non-believers false because they themselves reject God’s grace in their own lives because they reject the idea of repentance and obedience that is attached? Aren’t they the ones who love to point to Jesus saying “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”…but they look at you stupefied when you remind them of Christ’s next sentence: “Go and sin no more!”

If one denies or doubts that there is a real hell and people send themselves there by refusing to repent and obey Christ’s commandments (the bible says in Heb. 10 that this is insulting the spirit of grace) what can the purpose of grace even be?

“Grace” without love for God’s word or His order is certainly human kindness — so long as eternity isn’t considered.   It is sympathy and empathy — making fellow travelers on a journey to the same fiery destination feel better about their unrepented sin.   Such “grace”, however, is false because it cannot supply the ingredient that restores the kingdom of God and turns that traveler around on his or her wayward road.   You cannot convey to another that which you reject for yourself, due to its high price tag, can you?

Has Nana given up on God’s ability to redeem her entire household?    Not on her life!   Over the past eleven years, the devil has launched a series of fiery attacks against various other family members, and God has always shown up and shown off.    This time last year, another son was having a massive faith crisis to which Nana’s stand was also contributing, and an even more devastating reaction issued forth from this adult married son.    It is not for nothing that Paul wrote about taking up the full armor of God while shaking up the princedom of the power of the air in the name of Jesus Christ.    Nana will be praying against any exposure of our granddaughters to Papaw’s unrepented mockery of marriage, but if it occurs, at least Caitlin will have heard the truth about it.    We will have prayed together with our arms around each other for Papaw to repent and return to the Lord, then to his covenant family.   Nana makes no apologies whatsoever for not saying something  more culturally acceptable, like…

“Sometimes people who love each other try as hard as they can, but in the end, they realize they can’t live together.   It’s nobody’s fault, so we just ‘trust God’ and move on…”       (No such pablum for this Nana!)

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.   For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”     Matthew 10:34-36

 

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

Focus On The Family’s “Summer Shortfall”

FOTF_Summer_ShortFall

by Standerinfamilycourt

Yours truly has been receiving urgent, pleading emails over the past month or so because the giving rate is down at mega-media ministries such as FOTF.     The last one was signed by Jim Daly, himself.    It arrived on the worst possible day – on a day when I was already incensed at their broadcast pushing a book by two remarriage adulterers, Gil and Brenda whose faux union was combining 7 children from two ruptured covenant families, parading their hell-bound adultery in front of them on a daily basis.

He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!     –  Luke 17:1

Very sorry, Mr. Daly

I am among a large and growing number of Christ-followers who cannot conscionably donate to a “ministry” that promotes (and encourages remaining in) “marriages” that Jesus clearly and repeatedly called adulterous – Matt. 5:32b; 19:9b (KJV); Luke 16:18.   This is not discipleship.   It is contributing to open rebellion against Christ’s commandments, and given the ongoing lawlessness in our nation of unilateral civil-only divorce, FOTF is pointing far more souls toward hell than those being in any way snatched from the flames.   I cannot be a party to such.

Many of us have written to you, pointing out the unpopular truth which FOTF continues to ignore, fearing the loss of unrighteous mammon.  Adulterous unions have so proliferated in both pew and pulpit, that when (or if ever) true revival reaches America’s shores, the civil divorce rate is going to spike, as millions repent of living in adultery with the God-joined, one-flesh spouse of another, and only after this will it recede within the body of Christ.  All the evangelical hand-wringing over “rebuilding a culture of ‘marriage’  will not bring revival nor have the slightest impact on the culture until church and ministry leadership repents in this unsavory matter.  Glorifying legalized adulterers on your broadcasts, and promoting shamelessly apostate church wolves such as Dr. John MacArthur — none of whom care one whit about what God’s word actually says, nor about the souls of the lost prodigal spouses (which includes anyone “married” to someone else’s God-joined true spouse – such as Gil and Brenda), is an offensive use of God’s resources for those of us who truly follow Christ.   Using God’s resources to pay a legalized adulterer on staff who, according to Paul’s crystal clear instructions, should not even be considered qualified to be a pastor (much less a “blended family pastor”), I would suggest openly mocks God.    R. A. Torrey said it well during the early years of the last century when there was no carnally-driven confusion whatsoever of God’s truth about this, at least within Christ’s church:

“Look at the legalized adultery we call divorce.”

“Men marry one wife after another and are still admitted into good society; and women do likewise. There are thousands of supposedly respectable men in America living with other men’s wives, and thousands of supposedly respectable women living with other women’s husbands.”
From R.A. Torrey’s book How to Pray, pages 94-95

Why do you suppose a former Moody Bible Institute president said, this, Mr. Daly?   Jesus was very clear on the reason, with what He declared in Matt. 19:6, 8 – God cannot be removed by man’s civil paper from His own unconditional covenant (Mal.2:13-14), nor can the God-joined supernatural one-flesh entity be severed by anything but death.   No act of men created the authentic one-flesh entity, according to Jesus, and no act of men, good or bad, can sever it.   There is, however, a counterfeit entity from Satan (hen soma, 1 Cor. 6:15-16) that not only can be severed, it must be severed to avoid the eternal consequences of 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Gal. 5:19-21, that no unrepentant adulterer has any inheritance in the kingdom of God / heaven.    A kingdom is a place where the King is OBEYED!

On no less than three distinct occasions, the Lord Jesus Christ repeated, “EVERYONE (πᾶς – http://biblehub.com/greek/pas_3956.htm) who marries a divorced person, enters into a state of ongoing, continuous adultery.”   By the Greek verb tense “present indicative”, Jesus was referring to a state of sin, not an act of sin as Dr. MacArthur claims in his conscious intellectual dishonesty.  It is clear that any claimed “exceptions” to EVERYONE cannot be true, regardless of how cleverly “porneia” is retranslated by apostate lexiconographers and bible translators to condone the taking of one’s own unforgiving vengeance against their exclusive living one-flesh.   As a reminder, not only will adulterers have no inheritance in the kingdom of God, Jesus repeatedly warned that neither will non-forgivers who have conveniently forgotten that their own spiritual adultery against Him was forgiven.

With unilateral divorce literally forcing divorce on some 800,000 unconsenting people a year in the U.S. alone, if only 5% of them hold faithful to an untainted biblical view of the absolute indissolubility of holy matrimony, that’s 40,000 believers a year who find marriage permanence ministries and thereby gain the detailed biblical scholarship to publicly rebuke ministries like FOTF who stand for the sort of legalized adultery which Jesus explicitly defined.   It is going to become ever more difficult to dodge this issue in churches or media vehicles such as yours.   Covenant marriage standers are rapidly becoming the conscience of the evangelical church, just as Ezra and Malachi were under the old covenant.

I will purpose to pray for your ministry, and will be happy to support FOTF again financially if there is repentance and a godly change of direction.

Blessings, In Christ,

“standerinfamilycourt”

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |   Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

What if This Had Been Dr. Brown’s Stream Article in 1972?

Sorry, But We Won’t Rewrite the Bible for Divorced People Who Have “Remarried”
two-rings-in-a-bible-900-AskDrBrown
by Standerinfamilycourt

Dr. Michael Brown has written an article for The Stream in response to a letter he says he received from a self-professed bi-sexual Christian, and another man’s commentary on his Facebook page, entitled, “Sorry, But We Won’t Re-Write the Bible for Gays and Lesbians“.   Knowing what we do about the extensive history of biblical revisionism and man-voted “culturally-relevant” revision of denominational doctrines / practice, we couldn’t help doing what it immediately comes to mind to do when such articles come out, goring the other guy’s ox but leaving our sacred cow untouched.   Had there been a fiery Dr. Brown to take up an equally-vigorous defense of the Matt. 19:6-end of God’s definition of marriage, would we be where we are today?

 

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC Notes:  Dr. Michael Brown is an Assembly of God ordained pastor, who by his own testimony, came to faith in 1971 after growing up in a Jewish heritage.   In 1973, about 2-1/2 years after the first blatantly-unconstitutional unilateral divorce law was signed by Gov. Ronald Reagan in California (1969), the AOG in their annual General Assembly voted to abandon their 60 year old “bylaws” that prohibited all AOG pastors from performing a wedding involving anyone with a prior living spouse, and banned from pastoral credentials anyone who was remarried with a prior living spouse on either side of the remarriage.    We have blogged about this 1973 event previously.   Dr. Brown’s biography doesn’t indicate the year of his AOG credentials, but it seems clear the earliest possible date would have been late-1970’s.   He married Nancy Gurian Conway Brown in 1976 at age 21, recently passing his 40th wedding anniversary.   (We know Nancy’s maiden name is Gurian, but we do not know where the Conway name comes from.)  FB profile 7xtjw

 

In response to my open letter to I.M. Sanctified, who describes himself as a divorced and remarried Christian, Richard S. posted a lengthy comment on my personal Facebook page, including this statement: “The logical conclusion to your theology (remarried people can’t physically repent from their ongoing state of sin, if they do, it must be because they don’t have faith or are deceived) is extremely damaging to the souls of people who have been through divorce and have married somebody else. That was the point of I.M.’s letter.  No amount of nice words will erase the damage [of implying that his 2nd, 3rd or 4th “marriages” were adultery].   Only honest reconsideration of your theology will bring healing.  Please don’t discount/deny the faith of you divorced and remarried brothers and sisters. They have much to contribute to the church.”

Of course, Richard has completely misstated what conservative Christians believe (we don’t say or believe that if adulterously- married “Christians” don’t exit those immoral unions “it must be because they don’t have faith or are deceived”), just as other parts of his comment (not quoted here) were also based on serious misunderstandings.

But that is secondary to the bigger issue, and Richard is one of many who are telling serious Bible believers that, “Only honest reconsideration of your theology will bring healing.”

He could not be more wrong.

First, what Scripture says on marrying somebody else’s inseverable one-flesh spouse while they remain alive is not negotiable, and no amount of new books or videos or personal stories will change that.

As I explained in my book “Can You Be Married to Somebody Else’s Spouse and be Christian?  no new textual, archeological, sociological, anthropological or philological discoveries have been made in the last fifty years that would cause us to read any of these biblical texts differently.  Put another way, it is not that we have gained some new insights into what the biblical text means based on the study of the Hebrew and Greek texts. Instead, people’s interaction with the divorced and remarried community has caused them to understand the biblical text differently.”

Simply stated, if not for the sexual revolution, no one would be reexamining what the Scriptures state about God’s intention for His creation. No one would be wondering if two divorced people could “marry” or if a husband could be joined by God to both a covenant and a non-covenant wife.   No one would be doubting that the Lord made men forwomen for life, and that any deviation from that pattern was contrary to His design and intent.

As one New Testament scholar was candid enough to admit, it was clear to him that the Bible forbade marrying another while having a living, estranged spouse, but when his own daughter came out as  the fiancée of such a man, he changed his opinion on the subject.

That’s why I’ve often stated that there is not a single argument that can be brought from God’s Word to defend the practice of marrying adulterously after man’s divorce, but there are powerful emotional arguments that can be brought. In that context, I’m often reminded of Jesus’ words that, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”  (Luke 14:26).

Second, if there was something to reconsider in our theology we would gladly do it. The truth be told, as impossible as the “adulterously remarried Christian” arguments struck me, I went to the Lord about them, buying the books that defended this new way of reading Scripture, reading the stories (and listening to the stories) of professing adulterously remarried Christians, allowing my heart to be torn and my mind to be challenged.

At the end of the day, as a biblical scholar, a lover of Jesus, and a lover of people, it was impossible for me to accept their arguments. The Word is just too clear on this, and without some kind of emotional or social or other pressure to reconsider what Scripture states, no one would deny this.

Third, those who argue that Christians agree to disagree on lots of things without denying each other’s faith fail to realize that they do not agree to disagree on behaviors that Scripture strongly condemns — unless they themselves are living in some kind of moral compromise.

We’re not dealing here with a question of whether speaking in tongues is for today or whether Christians are required to tithe or whether Jesus is coming before the tribulation. We’re dealing with redefining the very meaning of marriage and claiming that a behavior that is plainly condemned in the New Testament — I’m talking about cohabitation with someone else’s God-joined one-flesh spouse— is now blessed by God.

And while God alone is the judge of every professing Christian, be that person gay or straight, we cannot embrace as fellow brothers and sisters those who are affirming, practicing, and even celebrating sanctified, legalized adultery.

We will put our arms around everyone who struggles with lusting after someone else’s spouse and refusing to forgive or reconcile with their own spouse, loving them and embracing them and encouraging them in their walk with the Lord, whether their walk entails transformation from unforgiving to forgiving life partner or whether it entails celibacy. But we will not and cannot affirm and bless what the Lord Himself opposes. To do so is to do a disservice to those perishing in the divorced and remarried community.

Fourth, God’s message of grace and truth brings healing and wholeness and deliverance and freedom, as millions of people from every walk of life can attest, including large numbers of people who once were in adulterous “marriages” which they’ve now exited to reconcile with their own spouse.

I’m quite aware that there are genuine haters of “standing” covenant spouses in the Church (I plan to address this yet again in the coming days; God is their judge as well), and I’m quite aware that Christians have often failed to demonstrate Christlike love and compassion to the divorced-against-their-conscience community (to put it mildly).

But I’m also quite aware that when we speak the truth in love and people actually hear what we’re saying (not the interpretation they put on our words but the real message of our words), if that message is received it will bring life not death.

To all of you reading this article who say, “I’m divorced and remarried, I’m Christian, I’m involved in a union with someone else’s covenant spouse, and we’re thriving in the Lord,” I invite you to call my radio show or to send me your story or, if you live in my city, to get together with me and some of your friends — not for the purpose of debate but for the purpose of honest, loving, heartfelt interaction.

And if you have time, would you watch my video, Can You Be ‘Married to Someone Else’s Spouse and Christian? and tell me what I don’t understand and where I don’t display genuine empathy?

And if you’d like to read my book by the same title and you genuinely can’t afford it, email me your story, include your address, and I’ll send you a copy for free. You will not find a hateful word in the book, but you will find someone who cares.

In the end, though, your issue is with the Lord not with me. I can assure you that He understands and He will provide everything you need if you truly entrust your life to Him.
{END]

 

You [adulterers and ] adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:4

 

Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
1 Corinthians 6:16-18

 

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

 Therefore,

“Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”

And,

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:16-18

 


www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

The Obstructed View from 2002: Debating One-Flesh and Covenant From the Pulpit

FoundersBaptby Standerinfamilycourt

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?   For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.   For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;  but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,  but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.   Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.    1 Corinthians 1:19-24

Sometimes in this ministry, the Lord puts an unexpected enlightenment in our hands which allows us to get a very interesting glimpse of what has gone before in the history of the remarriage debate within the evangelical Protestant church.    A late-night instant message linked SIFC to a very interesting recorded sermon where in late 2002, a Baptist pastor from Spring, TX was doing an excellent job of debunking 1 Corinthians 7, faithfully setting the record straight, section by section, on just who Paul was addressing with his various pieces of instruction, and methodically closing the door on the various evangelical heresies that proliferate (like mold) from the humanist propensity to “run with” advice that Paul meant for a different group, while ignoring the context (and even the content) of what he wrote within the same chapter.    We have also blogged recently on this 1 Cor. 7 topic.

Despite the excellent insights this man of God was bringing forward in his message, around 25 minutes in he attempted to use the term “agamos” [ἄγαμος] , as in “let her remain unmarried” per 1 Cor. 7:11,  to assert that man’s divorce was real in God’s eyes and that it indeed dissolved what both Jesus and Paul asserted could only be dissolved by death and by God’s hand.   If according to Paul she is “no longer married”,  he argued,  how can her marriage not actually be dissolved in God’s eyes?   Overlooked is the fact that this passage is silent as to whether a civil divorce is actually undertaken by either spouse,  rather than a mere separation.    “Gamos” can mean either wedding or marriage, i.e. uniting with a spouse, so Paul’s usage could simply mean in a literal sense, “without a new spouse / wedding” while remaining perfectly consistent with Paul’s overall message about indissolubility except by death.   This presumption on Rev. Caldwell’s part that man’s divorce dissolved holy matrimony was troubling, and since this message was part of a 12-part series,  SIFC couldn’t help but wonder how this pastor treated the topic of God’s character in covenant, as well as the crucial topic of the one-flesh state and its severability or inseverability by acts of men short of dying.

Fortunately, this entire sermon series is available online, so a listen to the very first installment of the series proved a bit infuriating, but still very worthwhile for gleaning some insights into the development of evangelical heresies in both of those two pivotal matters, treatment of covenant, and treatment of the one-flesh state joined by God’s hand.    So pivotal and central is a correct understanding of these, that if that foundation isn’t rock-solid, there is no adequate foundation for discerning or refuting the full range of divorce and remarriage heresies.    (The only thing that’s equally pivotal in this regard is a correct understanding of the betrothal nature of our salvation, binding on heaven, but revocable by us through choosing to die in a persistent state of willful disobedience to His commandments.)   Naturally, a Calvinist-leaning Baptist pastor is far more likely to temper his marriage permanence views on  the notion of “once saved, always saved”,  especially when faced with the discomfort of needing to admonish those who are living in a state of being adulterously “married” to someone else’s one-flesh partner, or when faced with the need to refuse to perform such a wedding.    We know of only one (part-time) Baptist pastor whose “pastoral care” is biblically faithful to that extent.

Why did SIFC find the content of that first sermon on Genesis 2:18-24 infuriating as well as enlightening?    First, it strikes us as highly unusual for a pastor, already brave enough to do a 12-part sermon series on marriage,  divorce and remarriage,  to do any sort of a studious “deep dive” into the supernatural nature of the one-flesh state.   It far better serves the evangelical marriage revisionists to claim that the one-flesh state is a gradual human process accruing over the course of the union, rendering counterfeit spouses   interchangeable  with covenant spouses, with the passage of time.   Even the very commendable, and far more accurate series by Church of Christ pastor David Sproule  in 2013 didn’t linger long on the topic of one-flesh.   What was triggering this in 2002, and why have we heard so little about it from any pulpits since?

Secondly, Rev. Caldwell of Spring, TX seemed to be coming up with a very novel treatment of Jesus’ command in Matthew 19:6, “therefore what God has joined, let no man separate.”   He argues, while stating that John MacArthur also makes this point (but we must have missed it), that Jesus was not referring to individual couples in His commandment, but to the institution of holy matrimony as a whole.   This, of course, implies that God covenants with an institution, but with regard to any given pair that He has joined, it’s a sliding covenant, that is, it is in bearer form.    The sole biblical “support” offered for this idea is tenuous at best.   Caldwell argues that Jesus’ use of the word translated “what” was deliberately chosen not to mean “whom“.   That word in the original text shows as     ( 3739 [e]
ho ), according to both www.biblehub.com and www.scripture4all.org.    As we drill into the concordance reference, we find that it can mean either “what” or “whom”, depending on the context.    We feel the context of Jesus’ words argues far more strongly for “whom“,  otherwise Jesus would have been agreeing with the Pharisees and Moses, which He obviously did not do.    If Caldwell got the notion and its support solely from MacArthur, it’s no surprise, the latter being notorious for the liberties he takes with his scriptural eisogesis when it comes to defending marriages that Jesus and Paul repeatedly called adulterous.   Many denominations prefer, post-1970’s, to treat this verse as though it isn’t there – ignore it.   Caldwell and MacArthur apparently prefer to redefine it.   This appears to be a concept that didn’t develop the traction to go anywhere after that. 

With regard to the first thing that’s noteworthy about Caldwell’s sermon, he mentions the work of Dr. William Heth of Taylor University in Indiana, an interdenominational Christian college.  Caldwell is impressed (as are we) with Heth’s insight in his 1985 book, co-authored with Dr. Gordon Wenham,  Jesus and Divorce:  The Problem with the Evangelical Consensus, specifically, that the one-flesh joining of holy matrimony is a point-in-time event effected by God’s hand, and not a gradually-accruing process.

It turns out that the year 2002 produced quite a lot of scholarship (and pseudo-scholarship) on marriage ethics that apparently triggered Caldwell’s sermon series.   That was the year that Dr. David Instone-Brewer published his studious, but thoroughly heretical book,  Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible

CWs_coverDRinBible
and it was a few years before Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary wrote an excellent scholarly paper rebutting that book.   In 2002, the first of the tyrannical same-sex marriage lawsuits was surfacing in Massachusetts resulting in court-ordered legalization of sodomous nuptials the following year, and several years before the hypocritical implications of fighting off this development and its totalitarian fallout while cleaving fiercely to its entrenched system of legalized institutionalized adultery would begin to plague the evangelical church.   In that same year, 2002, the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology published opposing pieces by  Heth, who had now decided to align with Instone-Brewer in a reversal of conviction,  and his former co-author Dr. Gordon Wenham who held true to the biblical position.    This journal edition was also just beginning to grapple with the political rise of the homosexualist lobby.    It is fairly likely that these 2002 developments were at least the backdrop, if not the actual trigger for Caldwell’s unusual deep-dive into one-flesh joining and God’s role in it.

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.    –  Galatians 1:10

As mentioned before, Heth had recently been influenced to change his earlier position to the liberal position of Instone-Brewer, a journey he describes in this journal article.    This 2002 article reveals that Heth was not only swayed by the pseudo-scholarship of Instone-Brewer but also by two of the scholars mentioned  (and quite convincingly rebutted) by Drs. Jones and Tarwater in their 2005 paper,  Are Biblical Covenants Dissoluble?  : Toward A Theology of Marriage.   That scholar was  G. Hugenberger, author of Marriage as a Covenant,  in which he purported to cite Old Testament instances where God abandoned various covenants as evidence that the marriage covenant was dissoluble if one of the human parties declared it dissolved.
[FB profile 7xtjw SIFC  noteIf Hugenberger’s  rationale truly reflected God’s reality, this would greatly blunt the Christian community’s motivation to set aside their carnal proclivities and take a strong moral, political stand against the constitutionality of unilateral (“no-fault”) divorce, would it not?   Instead, we have religious freedom legal defense ministries shamefully adopting a blanket policy not to get involved in such cases, claiming there’s only an “incidental” violation.]

To be clear, both Heth and Wenham had always taken the politically-correct Protestant position that divorce was “allowed” for so-called biblical grounds, hence that it was recognized by God and effectual in dissolving covenant marriage, but prior to Heth’s change of heart, both men agreed that remarriage while that “former”  covenant spouse lived was forbidden by scripture.    If a premise is incorrect in some respect, it’s really difficult to be on-target in the scholarly discussion that falls out from that.    If divorce is indeed deemed to dissolve the marriage bond in God’s eyes (as per Hugenberger), what basis actually remains at the end of the day for forbidding remarriage?    Indeed if either choice, to remarry or not to remarry, has no effect on either spouse’s eternal destination, why does the debate matter at all, in the first place, against that Calvinist backdrop?   Heth  journeyed to this new place, he tells us, under “concern” for the opinion of other renowned scholars toward his earlier work (fear of man exceeding the  fear of God), and because Instone-Brewer’s arguments seemed compelling to him, as did Hugenberger’s.

What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?  May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,
That You may be justified in Your words,
And prevail when You re judged.”    –  Romans 3:3-4

From the Jones & Tarwater 2005 rebuttal to Hugenberger and Heth, page 10:

“…both Köstenberger and Heth appeal to the work of Gordon Hugenberger as the basis for their belief that covenants may be dissolved. Hugenberger contends that covenants can be both violated and dissolved, asserting that these ideas are conveyed by the same Hebrew expression (Hiphil of parar + berith).32 In order to corroborate this claim, Hugenberger cites fourteen scriptural examples of covenants that were ostensibly dissolved (Gen. 17:14; Lev. 26:44; Deut. 31:20; 1 Kgs. 15:19; Isa. 33:8; 24:5; Jer. 11:10; 14:21; 31:32; 33:20; Ezek. 16:59; 17:15; 44:7; Zech. 11:10-11).33

Despite Hugenberger’s monumental contribution to the study of biblical covenants, we are not persuaded by his evidence for dissolubility. While Hugenberger correctly notes that the Hebrew word parar may be translated with the English term “broken” or “annulled”34 — connoting violation or dissolution — parar does not necessarily carry both meanings at the same time. Imposing more than one meaning simultaneously upon parar is what James Barr calls the error of “illegitimate totality transfer.”35 In other words, it is wrong to conclude that because a covenant was “broken” it was, therefore, “dissolved.” An examination of the fourteen aforementioned examples, we believe, sufficiently demonstrates this truth.

First, three of the passages (1 Kgs. 15:19; Isa. 33:8; Ezek. 17:15) cited by Hugenberger refer to treaties between men where God is clearly not a covenanting party. Thus, even if these agreements were dissolved, they would have no bearing upon this study, for we are solely concerned with covenants in which God is a part.  With that stated, it is not even certain that any of these three examples constitute an occasion on which a covenant was dissolved. In fact, the example from Ezekiel seems to illustrate the exact opposite as the prophet asks, “Can Israel break her sworn treaties like that and get away with it” (Ezek. 17:15)? The Lord answers with a resounding, “No!” (Ezek. 17:16). By allowing Israel to be punished, then, the Lord demonstrated the applicability and enduring nature of the terms of the covenant. Thus, these three examples fail to demonstrate that covenants in which God participates can be dissolved.

Second, two of Hugenberger’s examples (Jer. 14:21; 33:20) deal with the prophet Jeremiah’s consideration of whether or not the Lord will dissolve his covenant with Israel. Jeremiah records a prayer on behalf of Judah,

LORD, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you. For the sake of your own name, LORD, do not disgrace yourself and the throne of your glory. Do not break your covenant with us (Jer. 14:20-21).

While it could be argued from this prayer that Jeremiah believed it was possible for God to dissolve his covenant, later God revealed that annulment of the covenant was not possible, not even theoretically, as he declared, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you” (Jer. 31:3-4). Furthermore, in Hugenberger’s second example from Jeremiah, God demonstrates the permanence of his covenant by comparing it to the times of night and day: “If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that they do not come on their usual schedule, only then will my covenant with David, my servant, be broken” (Jer. 33:20). Thus, these two examples fail to demonstrate that biblical covenants in which God participates can be dissolved — indeed, they seem to indicate the exact opposite.

Third, eight examples mentioned by Hugenberger (Gen. 17:14; Lev. 26:44; Deut. 31:20; Isa. 24:5; Jer. 11:10; 31:32; Ezek. 16:59; 44:7) refer to God’s people violating the terms of a covenant. A careful reading of these texts, however, reveals that such violations did not dissolve the covenants in question. For example, are we to believe that the Abrahamic covenant was dissolved (Gen. 17:14)? To the contrary, Scripture evidences that God’s covenant with Abraham was “forever” and “eternal” (Gen. 13:15; 17:8). Moreover, on at least eight different occasions, Scripture affirms that God “remembered” his covenant with Abraham.36 Thus, Gen. 17:14 cannot represent a dissolved covenant.

Contrary to Hugenberger’s interpretation, these eight examples of Israel “breaking” their covenant with the Lord beautifully illustrate God’s attitude toward the nature of covenants in which he participates. For example, Moses prophesied that the people would rebel and break God’s covenant (Deut. 31:20), and Scripture repeatedly records the fulfillment of this prophecy and its subsequent consequences (Isa. 24:5; Jer. 11:10; 31:32; Ezek. 16:59; 44:7). Yet, as we have argued above, the Lord’s punishment of his people for covenant violations is itself a de facto demonstration of the enduring nature of these arrangements. Ralph Alexander writes that the Lord’s punishment of his people affirms “his immutable faithfulness to his covenants.”37 Similarly, Andersen and Freedman comment on God’s wrath toward covenant disobedience noting that, “The punishment is not an expression of a broken relationship. On the contrary, it is enforced within the relationship; punishment maintains the covenant.”38 Therefore, as with the previous examples, these eight citations fail to demonstrate that biblical covenants in which God participates can be dissolved.

The prophet Zechariah presents the final example (Zech. 11:10-11) cited by Hugenberger. When Israel returned from exile, God implored the people not to act like their fathers had before them (Zech. 1:1-6), because real blessings, Zechariah records, will come only when God’s people obey him and walk in righteousness (3:7; 6:15; 7:9-14; 8:14-17). Sadly, however, the people acted as did their ancestors whose behavior had caused them to be exiled (Zech. 7:1-14). The people of Zechariah’s day had rejected the pleas of the righteous and consequently, writes the prophet, the Lord would withhold his covenant protection if there was no repentance (Zech. 11:10) — that is, God would “break” his covenant. Did the Lord, therefore, dissolve the covenant he had made? Certainly not, as the last three chapters of the book present an eschatological picture of God pouring out his grace upon the nation in the end times (12:10-14:11). Once again, far from dissolution, God’s judgment demonstrates his faithfulness to the covenant.

In addition to the fourteen examples cited by Hugenberger, we surveyed every example of berith in the Old Testament (267 examples), as well as of diatheke and suntheke in the New Testament (34 examples), and were unable to discover a single example of a dissolved covenant in which God participated. Like the language used to describe the nature of biblical covenants, the manner in which covenants are established, and the way in which God deals with covenant violations, the absence of any dissolved covenants in which God participates provides evidence that points to the indissoluble nature of biblical covenants.


Since Rev. Caldwell especially highlighted Dr. Heth’s writings about the nature of the one-flesh relationship, and to Rev. Caldwell’s credit he noted God’s hand in creating it instantaneously, we looked forward to seeing firsthand how Dr. Heth treated the topic of one-flesh and how he could possibly reconcile his new liberal views with what Jesus said in Matt. 19:6 about it being inseverable except by death.    It turns out that Dr. Heth’s revised view fails to mention God’s hand at all, nor the supernatural, instantaneous event.    He instead chooses to degrade  sarx mia to hen soma, citing Gen. 29:14; 37:27; Lev. 18:6; 2 Samuel 5:1; Isaiah 58:7), and steers well clear of the enlightening New Testament descriptions delivered by Jesus and by Paul, for example, Eph. 5:28-30.

I had argued that the covenant and consummation of marriage made two totally unrelated people as closely related as they will be to their own flesh and blood children.   However, the unity between unrelated persons established by the marriage covenant is not the same as the vertical blood relationship between a parent and a child nor the horizontal blood relationship that exists between siblings. The Genesis 2:24 phrase, “they become one flesh,” refers “to the bondedness which results from and is expressed by sexual union” and “refers to the establishment of a new family unit”..

(Dr. Heth, that’s not what Jesus said and you know it.)
Today we know that even sodomists claim to form a sexual union and a “new family unit” under the sanction of the civil state, but today Dr. Heth might well be the first to protest that there’s no one-flesh relationship since God’s hand isn’t joining them, given the correct views he once held but “repented” of with regard to heterosexual unions.

Heth’s co-author, Dr. Wenham, on the other hand, in his countering article tragically fails to address the one-flesh relationship at all, and only touches on the nature of covenant in passing, leaving Heth’s newly-embraced fallacies unrebutted scripturally.    Instead, Wenham embarks on a much-needed contextual argument for the invalidity of concluding that one may remarry after divorce.    He does a masterful job of starting with ante-Nicene church fathers, then working back in time to the apostles’ positions, then the person of Jesus, and finally Judaic tradition, showing quite effectively how none of these support the Erasmean view that the innocent party in adultery or abandonment may remarry.    At one point in the article, Dr. Wenham says this:

“The same is true of the second half of the statement in both gospels: “He who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18b); “If she divorces her husband and marriesanother, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:12). The Lukan form of the statement is almost the same as Matthew 5:32b.  The Markan form is unusual in envisaging a woman taking the initiative in divorce proceedings, which rarely happened in first century Palestine.   But what is striking about both forms of the saying is the implication that divorce does not break the marriage bond, so that sexual relations with anyone but one’s first spouse is adultery.

Unfortunately, this is the closest Wenham ever comes to deducing that divorce is entirely man-made and not recognized by God, i.e. that only death dissolves a God-joined union, or that not all civilly-sanctioned heterosexual unions are God-joined for that very reason.    In other words, he never brings his accurate observations to their full inevitable conclusion, and never makes the heaven-or-hell linkage with 1 Cor. 6:9-10 or with Galatians 5:19-21.   Perhaps if he had, he’d have never been published in a Southern Baptist scholarly journal.

Dr. Al Moehler was the editor-in-chief of that 2002 journal edition.    In 2010,  Dr. Moehler went on to write a convicting and influential article,  Divorce – the Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience.   How much more convicting and influential might this piece have been if the deceiver hadn’t wooed away Dr. Heth and broken up the collaboration with Dr. Wenham, curtailing their further studies into the divine and inseverable nature of the one-flesh relationship that God has now revealed to so many in the common laity.

 

(Our previous posts on the topics of one-flesh and God’s character in covenants with men are here and here.)

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO DR. MICHAEL BROWN: CONCERNING MARRIAGE HYPOCRISY AND KIM DAVIS

Kim..againby Standerinfamilycourt

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.     James 4:4

Dear Dr.  Brown,

This past week saw the Governor of Kentucky sign into law the bill inspired by Kim Davis’ five-day trip to jail last year, which now protects the right-of-conscience of elected court clerks not to affix their names to civil licenses that legalize sodomous unions.    Mrs. Davis, in her third adulterous marriage, was widely quoted at the time (and with dead-on biblical accuracy) that this issue was to her a matter of heaven-or-hell.    Last year you blogged extensively about Mrs. Davis and her right-of-conscience under the First Amendment, while this week you posted a brief teaching video on divorce and remarriage which drew a torrent of rebuke on your Facebook page from the marriage permanence community because of your reliance on 1 Corinthians 7:15 to deem remarriage by a deserted spouse not to be adultery, saying that such a person was “no longer bound” to their inseverable one-flesh state and their indissoluble joint covenant with God.

Although we wrote a scholarly blog some time back about the chronic abuse of 1 Corinthians 7:15 in contemporary evangelicaldom as part of our series on disciplined application of the principles of sound, basic hermeneutics, we won’t take you to task on that “understanding” of yours, nor on your underlying presumption that Jesus “allowed” one believer to take another into the family court system before a pagan judge, of which Mrs. Davis ran for election as her county’s official recorder of countless decrees that unilaterally shred families in violation of the right-of-conscience of roughly 80% of the civil case “respondents” and their children.
familycourtdozer
We know this issue has already been on your heart to a truly commendable extent, as you wrote in your blog, “Christians Have Been Hypocrites, So Now What?”

What we’d like to do is revisit another blog you wrote in September, 2015, “Why a Christian Blogger is 100% Wrong about Kim Davis”, specifically:

RE:  “2) … He is right in highlighting the Bible’s strong condemnation of divorce (with rare exceptions), but he forgets that Kim Davis had her multiple divorces before coming to faith in Jesus, at which point she began a new life as a forgiven person.”

Respectfully, Dr. Brown, can you please direct your readers (and ours) to the scripture which confirms that coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ unjoins the one-flesh entity God formed with the covenant partner of our youth, despite Jesus plainly stating  (Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9) that this God-joined entity will never again be two?   Can you point out the scriptural support for assuming that either civil divorce or entering another civil marriage “dissolves” the unconditional covenant which God entered into with that supernatural one-flesh entity?   Did He not rather say…”I stand as a witness between [Kim Davis] and the husband of her youth…”
(Malachi 2:14) , saying that the husband of her youth IS (not “WAS”) the companion of her marriage covenant?

Did Jesus not highly commend His cousin John the Baptizer,

“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.   From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. “   Matthew 11:11-13 

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.   But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.

“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and HE WHO MARRIES ONE WHO IS DIVORCED FROM A HUSBAND commits adultery.”     Luke 16:16-18

…after John sacrificed his literal head to uphold the one-flesh holy matrimony covenant between Herodias and the husband of her youth when he told Herod, “it is not lawful for you to have YOUR BROTHER’s (divorced) wife.”     (Mark 6:17-18)

In fact, the account in Luke 16  is only one of three separate occasions where Jesus voiced NO exceptions when He bluntly stated,

“…EVERYONE who marries a divorced person commits [enters into a state of ongoing, continuous] adultery.”

We know He wasn’t merely speaking of a one-time, past act  because of the present-indicative Greek verb tense He used on all three occasions.   We’ll grant that the divorces were past acts, but such talk is really only a deflection from the true issue, that of cohabiting under man’s paper with the one-flesh spouse of another living person.    (If  Mr. Everyone  then “marries”  Mrs. Deserted, is that “marriage” only half-adulterous under this ever-popular 1 Cor. 7 theory?)

In light of Rom.7:2-3, 1 Cor. 7:39….and 1 Cor. 6;9-10 and Gal.5:19-21….

Can you show us the scripture which says that baptism converts ongoing holy matrimony to a “sin” that can be washed away for the benefit of remaining in an adulterous union under man’s civil laws?   Or the one that confirms that coming to Christ singles out serial polygamy as the only sin in all of biblical history that doesn’t actually need to be forsaken to be “forgiven”?   As a consequence, will you counsel a lesbian differently who has come to Christ “married” to another woman for whom she has civilly divorced the husband her youth?   Is the lesbian’s soul more valuable than that of the serial polygamist, or are you not being a “respecter of persons” ?

Not to attempt to speak for you, since you were silent in your blog about your scriptural justification for all this, we suspect you may be referring to the commonly-encountered abusive exegesis of 2 Cor. 5:17 while detaching and looking past verse 18.   If this is the verse you had in mind when exonerating Mrs. Davis’ ongoing state of remarriage adultery, is this lesbian who is now a “new creation in Christ”  equally exempt from the requirement to forgive her one-flesh rejected husband so that she will be forgiven,  and from the “ministry of reconciliation” of the very next verse (2 Cor. 5:18) toward the companion of her marriage covenant, which Paul tells us is dissoluble only by death?

In light of the heavy reliance of evangelicals on the other side of this argument who insist, contrary to what Jesus and Paul consistently taught, that acts of men are sufficient to dissolve and terminate an unconditional covenant in which God is a covenanting party, Dr. Brown, we would like to direct your attention and consideration to a September, 2005 scholarly work by Drs. David W. Jones and John K. Tarwater published in Reformed Perspectives Magazine,

Are Biblical Covenants Dissoluble?:
Toward a Theology of Marriage

Paul reminded us at least twice that the only act of men that accomplishes this feat of dissolving a covenant in which God is a participant is his or her death, or that of their God-joined, one-flesh spouse.    These authors rigorously examined all of the earlier scholarly works on this topic and brought forward the overwhelming support that it is as Jesus, Paul and Malachi all asserted it was, that God never breaks or abandons covenant, as an intrinsic part of His holy character, even when the human subjects do, and does not enter into a competing covenant.

Far from countenancing unlawful marriages and heterosexual disrespect for the sanctity and indissolubility of holy matrimony, Ezra chapters 9 and 10 demonstrate what church leadership’s attitude ought to be, and what God requires in terms of the personal holiness of those who would retain or recover sovereignty of a nation that God once favored but is now severely chastising!

We don’t bring these matters to your attention flippantly,  Dr. Brown, but under the holy awe of God’s already-advanced judgment on this land…of His astounding sense of humor in working through a Kim Davis to make His point to a tone-deaf and stiff-necked bride who protests loudly against every conceivable  encroachment  to the First Amendment, while remaining oblivious and unconcerned about the oldest, most expansive and pervasive surrender of Constitutional right-of-conscience protections ever inflicted on American society, the enactment of unilateral divorce laws in all 50 states, the last as recently as 2010.

Last question:  in her recent religious freedom victory, does Mrs. Davis still put her official signature as a blood-washed new creation in Christ on licenses that legalize the same serial polygamy in which she personally continues, with apparently no fear of God?

We’re not too sure that Chris Boeskool is necessarily a Christian blogger,  but we’d like to propose that he  is only 75% wrong about Kim Davis, in light of the biblical authority he legitimately brings to bear on the matter of how God sees the selectiveness Kim Davis’ convictions and the status of her domestic arrangements.

Thank you for considering the perspective of the international community of covenant marriage standers in the matter, Dr. Brown.

Blessings in Christ,

“standerinfamilycourt”

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

Calling Out the High Priest of Serial Polygamy (Hypergrace to You!)

by Standerinfamilycourt

Comments by J.H., a standing brother in speaking recently with his pastor….
I was invited to lunch today by an elder in our church. Our meeting lasted nearly 3 hours. After we were done, he thanked me for sharing my views on MDR with him. Later in the afternoon, he sent me a copy of John MacArthur’s church position paper on the topic. I believe this has been discussed here before; it did not take long for me to find several points of contention. I would appreciate any and all comments that point out the places where we believe this paper would be flawed. Any and all comments are desired as I develop any response I may make to this elder. Thanks.
GTYHeresy

 

(CRITIQUE OF) DR. JOHN MACARTHUR’S GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH DISTINCTIVE

God Hates Divorce. He hates it because it always involves unfaithfulness to the solemn covenant of marriage that two partners have entered into before Him, and because it brings harmful consequences to those partners and their children (Mal. 2:14-16).

Error #1 – Dr. MacArthur fails to point out that the context of Malachi 2 is specifically addressing only the covenant with the spouse of our youth, and that God not only called breaking faith with that indissoluble covenant “treacherous” and “violent”, He said it always resulted in broken fellowship with Him, and also that it defiled future generations.   The word “sane” שָׂנֵ֣א is the same strong word God used for “hate” in Proverbs 6:16-19 when He tells us His 6 or 7 “hot buttons”

Divorce in the Scripture is permitted only because of man’s sin.

Error #2 – Divorce of a consummated marriage was never “permitted” in scripture, but only to dissolve a ketubah betrothal contract, under which a fiancé was legally considered a wife prior to consummation of the marriage according to Mosaic law.   To the contrary, Jesus said Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning IT WAS NOT SO!

 

Since divorce is only a concession to man’s sin and is not part of God’s original plan for marriage, all believers should hate divorce as God does and pursue it only when there is no other recourse.

Error #3 – Our Holy God never makes “concessions” to man’s sin!   In fact, in Hebrews, He calls this “insulting the spirit of grace”, “trampling under foot the Son of God”, and “regarding as unclean the blood of the covenant” sanctifying us.   He says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”.   (Matt. 5:48)

 

With God’s help a marriage can survive the worst sins.

A civil-only “marriage” (unlike true holy matrimony) cannot survive the worst sin, that of being only carnally joined to someone else’s one-flesh covenant mate, as per 1 Cor. 6:16, rather than joined by God’s hand as per Matt. 19:6.   There is no “help from God” for that which Jesus repeatedly called adulterous.   In fact, in Luke 16:19-31, Jesus gives us the true picture connected with violation of Luke 16:18, after commending John the Baptist for rebuking the adulterous remarriage of Herod and Herodias, being concerned enough for their souls that he gave up his head.

 

In Matthew 19:3-9, Christ teaches clearly that divorce is an accommodation to man’s sin that violates God’s original purpose for the intimate unity and permanence of the marriage bond (Gen. 2:24).

Error #4 – in Matthew 19:8, Jesus teaches clearly that civil divorce is a man-made construct under which Moses tried to regulate the dissolution of Hebrew betrothal so that an unholy arbitrage in the bride price paid under ketubah would not result.   With regard to consummated holy matrimony, God may have a “purpose” for marriage, but that “purpose” is fully a COMMANDMENT, because Jesus very clearly and imperatively stated, “therefore what GOD has joined, let NO MAN separate.”

 

He taught that God’s law allowed divorce only because of “hardness of heart” (Matt. 19:8).

Re-assertion of Errors #2 and #4 discussed above.   Jesus did not say, “God allowed”, He said “Moses allowed.”

 

Legal divorce was a concession for the faithful partner

Re-assertion of Error #3 above.   Jesus was clearly stating in 19:6 that man is given no power or authority to dissolve a covenant in which God Himself is an irrevocable participant, nor to unjoin the one-flesh entity He has joined.

 

….due to the sexual sin or abandonment by the sinning partner, so that the faithful partner was no longer bound to the marriage (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:12-15).

Error #5 – both Matt. 5:32 and Matt. 19:9 (full text) clearly state that anyone / everyone who marries any divorced person commits continuous, ongoing adultery. Since marriages cannot possibly be only half-adulterous, it follows that there cannot therefore be any provision for either partner to remarry so long as both spouses remain alive.  

Error #6 – Dr. MacArthur is being intellectually dishonest in his claim that 1 Cor. 7:12-15 releases the “faithful partner” from the marriage bond.   Any lay person going online and consulting a Greek-English interlinear tool can see that the word dedoulōtai δεδούλωται (Strongs 1402) means “enslavement / subjection”, not “marriage bond”.   The true word for marriage bond, dedetai δέδεται (Strongs 1210) is used, however, in verse 39 where Paul makes clear that nothing but physical death breaks that bond, echoed also in Rom. 7:2.   For the founder and president of a theological seminary, Dr. MacArthur’s sloppy hermeneutics is inexcusable.

 

Although Jesus did say that divorce is permitted in some situations, we must remember that His primary point in this discourse is to correct the Jews’ idea that they could divorce one another “for any cause at all” (Matt. 19:3), and to show them the gravity of pursuing a sinful divorce. Therefore, the believer should never consider divorce except in specific circumstances (see next section), and even in those circumstances it should only be pursued reluctantly because there is no other recourse.

Error #7 – there is never “no other recourse” for problems in the holy matrimony covenant of our youth.   In fact, 1 Cor. 6:1-8 forbids Christ’s disciples to take matters before a pagan judge instead of the church. Also, 1 Cor. 7:10-11 provides for separation without dissolution or remarriage for the most dire of cases that might arise in holy matrimony.   That said, an unlawful civil marriage where one of the spouses has a living, estranged prior spouse must be dissolved civilly in a step of repentance since Jesus defined adultery as marrying a divorced person, and nobody living on in the state of adultery has any inheritance in the kingdom of God.
 

 

 

The Grounds for Divorce

The only New Testament grounds for divorce are sexual sin or desertion by an unbeliever. The first is found in Jesus’ use of the Greek word porneia (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). This is a general term that encompasses sexual sin such as adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest.

Error #8 – There is no stated grounds to dissolve holy matrimony ever mentioned in scripture for desertion.   To the contrary, Jesus clearly stated in Matt. 19:6 that men have no power or authority to dissolve consummated holy matrimony.   The only sexual sin where Jesus permitted divorce was in the case of fornication (porneia) – rendered prostitution or whoredom in all lexicons and translations prior to 1850 – that occurred during contractual Hebrew betrothal and only up to the wedding night.  

Error #9 – Porneia is not a general term that encompasses adultery, bestiality or incest according to the older, more reliable lexicons where it was consistently rendered as prostitution. The Roman term “fornication” literally comes from the fornix – the arches under which prostitutes carried on their trade, and a porne was a temple prostitute during Christ’s time on earth. In fact, both Jesus and Paul consistently referred to porneia (fornication) and moicheia (adultery) separately in several lists of grave sins, and also referred to sodomy separately.

 

When one partner violates the unity and intimacy of a marriage by sexual sin—and forsakes his or her covenant obligation—the faithful partner is placed in an extremely difficult situation. After all means are exhausted to bring the sinning partner to repentance, the Bible permits release for the faithful partner through divorce (Matt. 5:32; 1 Cor. 7:15).

Re-assertion of errors refuted above, with “extremely difficult situation” duly acknowledged, as Christ acknowledged it.   Discipleship and purity carries a cost – that of laying down our lives for the kingdom of God.

 

The second reason for permitting a divorce is in cases where an unbelieving mate does not desire to live with his or her believing spouse (1 Cor. 7:12-15). Because “God has called us to peace” (v. 15), divorce is allowed and may be preferable in such situations. When an unbeliever desires to leave, trying to keep him or her in the marriage may only create greater tension and conflict. Also, if the unbeliever leaves the marital relationship permanently but is not willing to file for divorce, perhaps because of lifestyle, irresponsibility, or to avoid monetary obligations, then the believer is in an impossible situation of having legal and moral obligations that he or she cannot fulfill.

Error #10 – the “peace” the disciple is called to is not a lack of conflict with the departing spouse, but the inner tranquility of a life in Christ for the obedient spouse who continues in the unbroken covenant with God.   The assumption that civil divorce is “necessary” to avoid conflict itself conflicts with many other scriptures, notably 1 Cor. 6:1-8.

Error #11 – while the believing, abandoned spouse is indeed left in a difficult situation, there is no impossible situation in Christ.   Indeed, Jesus discussed this situation in Matt. 19:10-12 when He talked about the three types of “eunuchs”, with the third type being the one who wasn’t born that way, nor physically injured that way, but becomes a eunuch voluntarily for the sake of the kingdom of God.

 

Because “the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases” (1 Cor. 7:15) and is therefore no longer obligated to remain married, the believer may file for divorce without fearing the displeasure of God.

Re-assertion of Error #6, discussed above.   The very reason the brother or sister is not “under bondage” is their salvation / sanctification itself, not any man-made attempt to dissolve what Jesus said cannot be dissolved except by death.    Of course we risk the active displeasure of God and all fellowship with Him when we disobey His explicit commandments.

The Possibility of Remarriage

Remarriage is permitted for the faithful partner only when the divorce was on biblical grounds. In fact, the purpose for a biblical divorce is to make clear that the faithful partner is free to remarry, but only in the Lord (Rom. 7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:39).

The only purpose for a “biblical divorce” is to repent from an adulterous remarriage while having a living, estranged prior spouse, as repeatedly defined by Jesus (Matt. 5:32b; Matt. 19:9b and Luke 16:18) in order to recover one’s forfeited inheritance in the kingdom of God.


Since divorce is only a concession to man’s sin and is not part of God’s original plan for marriage, all believers should hate divorce as God does.…Those who divorce on any other grounds have sinned against God and their partners, and for them to marry another is an act of “adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). This is why Paul says that a believing woman who sinfully divorces should “remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband” (1 Cor. 7:10-11). If she repents from her sin of unbiblical divorce, the true fruits of that repentance would be to seek reconciliation with her former husband (Matt. 5:23-24). The same is true for a man who divorces unbiblically (1 Cor. 7:11). The only time such a person could remarry another is if the former spouse remarries, proves to be an unbeliever, or dies, in which cases reconciliation would no longer be possible.

Since Christ repeated three separate times using the present indicative verb tense of moicheia (commits continuous adultery), that an otherwise perfectly-innocent person is entering a state of ongoing adultery by marrying any divorced person, it should be abundantly clear that there is no “permission” to remarry while having a prior covenant that is undissolved by death.   It should also be clear that man’s divorce neither unjoins one-flesh, nor removes God’s participation from the original covenant.   Paul says to remain un(re)married or be reconciled because to remarry without being widowed is to forfeit heaven.

 

The Bible also gives a word of caution to anyone who is considering marriage to a divorcee. If the divorce was not on biblical grounds and there is still a responsibility to reconcile, the person who marries the divorcee is considered an adulterer (Mark 10:12).

The last part of MacArthur’s last statement is ironically true, and it echoes Matt. 19:9b, from which most modern English translations fraudulently omit this critical phrase (see King James Version, Young’s Literal Translation, and Wilbur Pickering’s The Sovereign Creator Has Spoken).   The two other occasions where Christ made this same unconditional, exceptionless statement are Matt. 5:32b and Luke 16:18. This alone should be ample proof of the heresy of MacArthur’s liberal and soul-destroying position.

 

The Role of the Church

Believers who pursue divorce on unbiblical grounds are subject to church discipline because they openly reject the Word of God. The one who obtains an unbiblical divorce and remarries is guilty of adultery since God did not permit the original divorce (Matt. 5:32; Mark 10:11-12). That person is subject to the steps of church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-17. If a professing Christian violates the marriage covenant and refuses to repent during the process of church discipline, Scripture instructs that he or she should be put out of the church and treated as an unbeliever (v. 17). When the discipline results in such a reclassification of the disobedient spouse as an “outcast” or unbeliever, the faithful partner would be free to divorce according to the provision for divorce as in the case of an unbeliever departing, as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Before such a divorce, however, reasonable time should be allowed for the possibility of the unfaithful spouse returning because of the discipline.   The leadership in the local church should also help single believers who have been divorced….

While there are believers who have been divorced, it certainly does not follow that they are “single”, since man’s divorce does not dissolve holy matrimony per Matt. 19:6, Rom. 7:2 and 1 Cor.7:39, as well as a host of other scriptures.   The only “single believer who has been divorced” is the widow or widower who never reconciled with their one-flesh.

….to understand their situation biblically, especially in cases where the appropriate application of biblical teaching does not seem clear.

[This paper by MacArthur appears to be the classical example of Calvinist misapplication of biblical teaching….]

….For example, the church leadership may at times need to decide whether one or both of the former partners could be legitimately considered “believers” at the time of their past divorce, because this will affect the application of biblical principles to their current situation (1 Cor. 7:17-24). Also, because people often transfer to or from other churches and many of those churches do not practice church discipline, it might be necessary for the leadership to decide whether a member’s estranged or former spouse should currently be considered a Christian or treated as an unbeliever because of continued disobedience. Again, in some cases this would affect the application of the biblical principles (1 Cor. 7:15; 2 Cor. 6:14).

In addition to the spiritual state of the spouses being an  entirely irrelevant matter in this context, each believer is irrevocably sealed with the Holy Spirit who can be grieved or quenched.   It is never the domain of church leadership to pass judgment on the state of anyone’s soul beyond what scripture says about their final, unrepented destination.   This is why in 1 Cor. 5:5, Paul instructs the church to hand a man who is  fornicating with his step-mother over to Satan “for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit may be saved. ”   MacArthur apparently would have made a subjective judgment of salvation based on the man’s  present conduct, of whether the man had truly been born again.  This, even though Paul specifically says in this same passage that we don’t judge those outside the church, but only those within it.

 

Pre-conversion Divorce

According to 1 Corinthians 7:20-27, there is nothing in salvation that demands a particular social or marital status. The Apostle Paul, therefore, instructs believers to recognize that God providentially allows the circumstances they find themselves in when they come to Christ.

The circumstance of every believer called while having a living, estranged spouse (and therefore an inseverable, God-joined one-flesh partner) is called while married to their living covenant spouse regardless of their civil status under man’s immoral laws.   Salvation does nothing to change this, and in fact, actually imposes a duty of purging immoral relationships such as serial polygamy (carnal civil unions which God did not join), to pursue forgiveness and reconciliation, or pursue forgiveness and celibacy while the true spouse remains alive – 2 Cor. 5:18; Matt.6:14-15, Matt. 18:21-35, 1 Cor. 7:10-11). Sanctification resulting from salvation imposes a duty to obey all of God’s revealed word, and to watch out for the souls of everyone in the believer’s life including that of the counterfeit mate and watching children who might emulate the immorality.

…If they were called while married, then they are not required to seek a divorce (even though divorce may be permitted on biblical grounds). If they were called while divorced, and cannot be reconciled to their former spouse because that spouse is an unbeliever or is remarried, then they are free to either remain single or be remarried to another believer (1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14).

1 Cor. 7:39  actually states the exact opposite, that only death dissolves the God-joined union and any other “marriage” constitutes ongoing adultery.   2 Cor. 6:14 cannot therefore be retroactively applied to a one-flesh entity that GOD has joined, as Dr. MacArthur suggests. Instead, Paul assures us in 1 Cor.7:14 that the believing spouse who lives in sold-out obedience to Christ sanctifies the unbelieving spouse.

Repentance and Forgiveness

In cases where divorce took place on unbiblical grounds and the guilty partner later repents, the grace of God is operative at the point of repentance. A sign of true repentance will be a desire to implement 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, which would involve a willingness to pursue reconciliation with his or her former spouse, if that is possible. If reconciliation is not possible, however, because the former spouse is an unbeliever or is remarried, then the forgiven believer could pursue another relationship under the careful guidance and counsel of church leadership.

In cases where a believer obtained a divorce on unbiblical grounds and remarried, he or she is guilty of the sin of adultery until that sin is confessed (Mark 10:11-12). God does forgive that sin immediately when repentance takes place, and there is nothing in Scripture to indicate anything other than that. From that point on the believer should continue in his or her current marriage.

Error #12 – In cases where a believer obtained a divorce on unbiblical grounds and remarried, he or she is guilty of the sin of adultery until that sin is fully and physically repented of by exiting the adulterous union.   MacArthur’s claim that there is “nothing” in scripture to indicate anything other than “confession” being sufficient is patently false.   Jesus specifically used a verb tense to indicate this was an ongoing state of sin, which if died in would result in loss of the kingdom of heaven.   All scripture is clear that sin is only forgiven where it is discontinued, not just confessed.   Our nation is under judgment because it is repeating the grave sin of Israel and Judah of God’s priesthood being complicit in rampant immorality exactly as MacArthur is, and the book of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10 point up God’s expectation for repenting, and possibly turning away His advanced wrath.   MacArthur is mocking God by implying that lesbian and homosexual “married” couples can therefore also confess their sodomy and remain in it, while he has no clue that the Lord is returning the mockery in-kind, to get the nation’s attention.   Furthermore, pastors who perform such weddings are taking the Lord’s name in vain (misusing His name to perform a vain act). They are therefore guilty of corrupting those souls over whom they claim God forsakes His first covenant to covenant with adultery, or that He replicates the one-flesh entity of holy matrimony – neither act being within His holy character.   Lastly, living on in a state of separation from the only person God’s hand has made a covenant spouse one-flesh with is living on in a state of permanent unforgiveness and lack of reconciliation.   Jesus stated several times that unless we forgive, we will not be forgiven, also thereby forfeiting our inheritance in the kingdom of God.   It is ridiculous to presume that a one-flesh spouse is the only possible exemption in all of the kingdom of God from this basic law of God.

 

For a fuller treatment of divorce and remarriage, see The Biblical Position on Divorce & Remarriage from Grace Community Church’s Elders’ Perspective Series, from which this paper was adapted.

For a truthful and biblically-faithful treatment of divorce and remarriage which applies a disciplined and sound hermeneutical approach to the difficult scriptures and to the common abuses of them in the evangelical world, see our 7-part “Stop Abusing Scripture” series on “standerinfamilycourt’s” blog:

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall. www.standerinfamilycourt.com.

 

 

Man After God’s Own Heart — Polygamy and All?

DavidAbishagBathshebaby Standerinfamilycourt

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance.   Selah.
Psalm 32

After He had removed [Saul], He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’
Acts 13:22

After lecturing marriage-permanence warriors on “grace” and “legalism”  utterly fails, whenever divorced-and-remarried evangelicals want to justify remaining in civil-only remarriages that Jesus and Paul called adulterous, it’s not long before they retort, “You mean to tell me, David’s in hell because of his multiple wives??   Why then does the bible say that he was so blessed and was a ‘man after God’s own heart’ ?”

Response:  Yes David lived for many years in unrepentant adultery (as Jesus defined it, not as Hebrew tradition defined it), and no, he is not in hell because he observed the requirements of the Abrahamic Covenant.  You don’t have to be, either, but since we’re now under the Messianic Covenant, it’s not for the same reason.

No man who has ever lived, from Adam on, has been made one-flesh (per Matt. 19:5-6) by GOD with more than one living woman at a time, a bond that is dissolved and unjoined only by death.   This was just as true in David’s time as it is now — otherwise, Jesus would never have taken us all the way back to the Garden, rather than back to the days of Moses, when He was challenged by the Pharisees, who had become world-class serial polygamists.   What is one-flesh?   Genesis 2:18-23 gives us a strong clue – (noting that only 1 rib was taken out of Adam):

“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,

This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

We know that David had only one such wife when he married the 2nd, 3rd, 4th through 7th and Bathsheba.   According to the book of 2 Samuel, chapters 2 and 3, this was most likely  Ahinoam of Jezreel, the mother of his firstborn, Amnon.     Prior to that, he had a ketubah (betrothal contract) with Michal, daughter of King Saul,  but before the marriage was able to be consummated,  she was given to Paltiel, before she was later recovered and returned to David.   She and the rest were all basically concubines, and not joined by God as sarx mia, but only carnally as hen soma.   This is equivalent to today’s situation with remarriage after divorce, except that David’s arrangement was actually more moral because he never divorced or abandoned any of them, but supported all of them all of their lives.   All this said, however, he had to offer bloody animal sacrifices every day of his life because he didn’t have Christ’s atonement or Christ to obey out of gratitude.   The same Christ made it crystal clear that EVERYONE who marries a divorced person commits ongoing adultery for which the kingdom of God is forfeited.   Of course,  David never did this, though he did widow two of his carnal wives.   Since Christ has now come, animal sacrifices no longer accomplish the kind of atonement that David relied upon.

Even so, David paid a severe multigenerational price for his lustful, covetous life.   His children wound up raping and killing each other, and one son commited adultery with some of his consorts. The prophet Nathan told him the sword would never depart from his house. The nation of Israel was split and his progeny many generations on were mostly evil with the exception of a few — which resulted in the nation begin given over to Nebuchadnezzar (perhaps ISIS is our Nebuchadnezzar?), and Israel was only restored to national sovereignty following a purge of unlawful foreign polygamous marriages.  Many Hebrew experts believe this was the end of concurrent polygamy among the Hebrews (basically replaced with serial polygamy, which Jesus and John the Baptist also bluntly rebuked).

Finally, there is substantial evidence in some of his later psalms and in 1 Kings 1 that David repented and died celibate, despite all of his wives and concubines.

1 Kings 1:1-4  New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with clothes, but he could not keep warm. So his servants said to him, “Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king, and let her attend the king and become his nurse; and let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may keep warm.” So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful; and she became the king’s nurse and served him, but the king did not cohabit with her.

In Deuteronomy 17,  God issues this harrowing warning, generations ahead of David’s birth:

When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’ HE SHALL NOT MULTIPLY WIVES UNTO HIMSELF OR ELSE HIS HEART WILL TURN AWAY; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.

We immediately think of David’s noncovenant son, Solomon who did exactly all of that after his youthful years during which God prospered him.   Solomon’s one-flesh was evidently the Shulamite of the Song of Solomon, before he multiplied hundreds of foreign wives to himself.   The Proverbs and Ecclesiastes give strong evidence that he, too, repented and returned to putting God first in his old age.    His sons were wicked, that resulted in the kingdom being divided after Solomon’s death. 

We think this lays to rest the idea that God ever approved of polygamy, whether concurrent or serial.  That’s why Jesus said, “from the beginning IT WAS NOT SO.”

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |   Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

How Good is the Pledge of Being Sealed?

bank-vault-door-72by Standerinfamilycourt

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.   He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.      John 14:23-26

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.   Ephesians 4:30

Do not quench the Spirit   1 Thess. 5:19

 

These verses are a great comfort to countless covenant marriage standers whose once-saved prodigal spouse has become deceived and has walked away from their covenant with the Lord.     When well-meaning but false teachers add the injury of claiming that our one-flesh partners were “never born again to begin with” ( a speculation made just for the sake of defending the Reformers’ heresy once saved, always saved “OSAS),  hopefully the scriptures about being sealed with the Holy Spirit as a token of their salvation is our firm, unflinching answer back to them.

However, as we recently found out from the spirited arguments of one of the fans of our Facebook page (Unilateral Divorce is Unconstitutional),  these verses about being sealed with the holy spirit can also be a source of false comfort, the erroneous idea that one cannot lose their inheritance in the kingdom of God, regardless of how they live or die, and in direct contradiction of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 or Galatians 5:19-21.    This gentleman said he would never challenge anyone living in an adulterous, civil-only “marriage” (who was born again) to exit that state of ongoing sin because their sealing with the Holy Spirit was a “guarantee” of heaven, and the most that could happen to such an individual or couple was the loss of rewards associated with the bema seat judgment of the believers.   He argued (quite correctly) that the Holy Spirit could never depart a sealed believer, but went on to assert this was the basis of the “guarantee” of heaven.

This person, by the way, is also a stander of some years according to his own account, and appears to be biblically literate to a greater degree than most.     We were just wrapping up our 7-part series “Stop Abusing Scripture” which taught the application of sound hermeneutical principles to several verses commonly mis-rendered to prop up remarriage adultery in the evangelical church,  when the news of the death of Joey (Martin) “Feek” (at the time of her death, adulterously married to another woman’s estranged and civilly-divorced husband) with all the headlines proclaiming that she was surely in heaven.    We posted one such piece while posing the question, was this really so?     No other post of ours to-date has ever drawn so much spirited discussion by such numerous commenters.

It seemed like a good idea to apply some hermeneutic rigor to examine the notion that a believer’s sealing with the Holy Spirit was a guarantee of heaven.     The most basic principles involved in doing this are:  CONTENT, CONTEXT, CULTURE, COMPARISON and CONSULTATION.      In this blog, we’ll apply three of them in a shortened version of what we did in our earlier series.    Our readers who are interested in this topic may want to delve into the other two principles on their own.   For example, several key verses in the book of Hebrews make for a sound COMPARISON with the three scriptures where Paul discusses the permanent state of being sealed with the Holy Spirit: Ephesian 1:13-142 Corinthians 1:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:5.    In this blog, CULTURE and COMPARISON principles will be incorporated into the discussion of the other three.

The Principle of CONTENT
If we pull these three scriptures up in side-by-side comparison across various bible versions, we can see that some of them (notably, the progressively corrupted NIV and the Amplified Version) do indeed translate these verses to say that God gave us a guarantee of heaven.   But is this valid, or is it going just a bit beyond?  The first thing we must do to validate the meaning of any scripture is go back to the original text and literal language translation (Greek to English) to expose any liberties the bible translators may have taken, and strip them back to the original meaning.   There are two online interlinear tools which are helpful for this task:  www.scripture4all.org, and www.biblehub.com.    We’ll link to both as we take our deep dive in.

Ephesians 1:13-14
Eph.1_13

2 Cor. 1:22
2Cor1_22

2 Cor. 5:5
2Cor5_5

The red-circled key words repeated in each of these verses are arrabōn (ἀρραβὼν)- “a pledge”,   and  sphragizó (σφραγίζω) – “to seal”.     We’ll take a closer, cultural look at both of these words in their context, with some additional biblical examples.

All of the older bibles translated ἀρραβῶνα (arrabōna) literally as “earnest” rather than “guarantee” .    A modern analogy would be “earnest money”,  as in making the down payment on a house.    Doing so substantially increases the likelihood that the deal will be consummated, and the buyers will take possession of the property, but does not absolutely guarantee it.    The party accepting the down payment is legally bound, but there’s still a conditional element for the property acquirer who may not meet one of the other conditions of the sale or may actually change their mind if they’re willing to forfeit that earnest money,  or there’s some other impediment to the sale going through – the underlying contract still has several conditional elements.    Bible teacher Ray VanderLaan points out that biblical covenants absolutely bound the more powerful party, but made allowances for the event that the less powerful party was not able to absolutely fulfill their part of the covenant, making it important to understand whether the covenant was conditional or unconditional.    Some additional biblical examples of ἀρραβῶνα (arrabōna):

Genesis 15:9-17  –   the blood covenant God made with Abraham in the splitting of cow, goat, and ram, where the custom was to walk through the blood implying “so may you do to me, if I do not keep my covenant”, yet something unique happened in this situation. Abraham knew the minute he passed through he was a dead man, because his end of the covenant was to walk blamelessly before his God, yet the Lord had it covered for him:

“Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds….Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him…It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.”

 

Genesis 38: 16-19 –  in the story of Judah and his widowed daughter-in-law Tamar, where because Judah did not follow through on his pledge to have his youngest son marry her and give her a son, she disguised herself as a prostitute and obtained certain tokens from him in pledge that he would send her a young goat in payment for her services as a prostitute, by which she would become pregnant with twin sons.

So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, “Here now, let me come in to you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?”  He said, therefore, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” She said, moreover, “Will you give a pledge until you send it?” He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” And she said, “Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him.  Then she arose and departed, and removed her veil and put on her widow’s garments.

 

Esther 3: 10-11 ; 8 :8-10 –  Another instance where the token or authentication of the King’s authority had strong force to compel the likelihood of a decree being carried out, but a good example that this did not guarantee the final result.    Mordecai was able issue another decree rendering the first sealed decree secured by Haman moot.

“Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.
– Esther 8:8

 

Matthew 27:62-66 –  The seal of Pontius Pilate on the garden tomb where the dead body of Jesus was laid could not guarantee the intended outcome, even with a 2,000 rock behind it.

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”   So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Looking closely at the other key word in these verses,    sphragizó (σφραγίζω),  the lexicons say the following:  properly, to seal (affix) with a signet ring or other instrument to stamp (a roller or seal), i.e. to attest ownership, authorizing (validating) what is sealed.   Signifies ownership and the full security carried by the backing (full authority) of the owner. “Sealing” in the ancient world served as a “legal signature” which guaranteed the promise (contents) of what was sealed.   We see this in most of the above cultural examples to which Paul’s assurances in these three passages appeal.  

In the case of realizing our salvation, the Messianic covenant that seals us with the Holy Spirit is conditional on Jesus becoming both our Savior (justification – upon our acceptance of Him as such) and our Lord (sanctification, which is impossible without our being indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and obeying Him).

   

The Principle of CONTEXT
So, is the liberty taken by NIV and Amplified Version unreasonable in interpreting our sealing  (spraghizo) as a deposit carrying a guarantee  Not as blatantly and outrageously so as was the libertine retranslation of porneia as general sexual immorality (rather than specifically, whoredom or prostitution, per older bibles), but they have overlooked some very important context in what Jesus said about it.   Any study of the context of being sealed with the Holy Spirit must  include  Christ’s discussion captured in the book of John 14, which is then followed immediately in John 15 by His discussion of the necessity of abiding in the vine (remaining in Christ).

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Paraklēton  Παράκλητον) , that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.   –  John 14:16-17

In this verse, the words of Jesus tell us some very important things about this “earnest”, this deposit:

(1) He is person, not an inanimate object.
(2) He has a function, as verses 25-26 go on to tell us.
(3) He is referred to as a helper, a counselor, and an advocate, not a guarantor.
(4) He remains abiding within the born-again believer, as Paul also tells us in 1 Cor. 6:19.

 Paul tells us a couple of other important traits of this Helper.   He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30).    He can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:18-20), that is, hindered or delayed from completing His purpose in the believer’s life.    The only thing that He cannot be is ejected or jettisoned by the backsliding believer, because He is an element of the Messianic Covenant, and God never breaks or reverses His covenants.   Returned, redeemed prodigals often say this was a constant source of internal misery in the “far country”, it accounts for their rapid aging and the loss of joy in their eyes as they try to outrun Him.

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser….. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. ” 
John 15:1,6

Here’s a case where some are grafted in, they receive the sap (the presence of the Holy Spirit), but since there’s no guarantee they will continue to abide, there is no guarantee of an inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Scripture should always help confirm our understanding of a given passage since the God-breathed word cannot contradict itself.   However,  we need to be aware of the extent of tampering with that word by rogue translation scholars over the past 100+ years, in order to normalize sexual and marital sin.     Take for example, Romans 8:1, where NIV, NASB, AMP (and most others) put a period instead of a comma, and critical phrase after “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The full, faithful rendering of this passage per Wilbur Pickering’s “The Sovereign Creator Has Spoken” (2013- New Testament) is:

“Now then, there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, because the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of the sin and the death.”   

(Consistent with being sealed, isn’t it?  Notice that we still have to walk in one or the other, the Spirit or the flesh, so guarding our heart and repenting of known sin can hardly be a “works-based” salvation effort, can it?)

Another truth warrior from an earlier day, Rev. Milton T. Wells, president of a Pennsylvania bible college in the 1950’s wrote, “etymology [word study] will kill you, but context will save you.”   This passage underscores how crucial it is to take a diligent look at the context, as we’ve done.

A few other relevant scriptures for comparison, bearing in mind that the indwelling holy spirit is a reinforcement and enabler to live holy lives, rather than either a guarantor of heaven or a waiver from living in full repentance and obedience to His word:
Matthew 7:21; John 10:28-29; Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 4:6-11; 6:4-6; 10:26-31

The Principle of CONSULTATION
.
’This section draws in what other scholarly commentators have said about these passages that remind us that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:5-8. Now he that hath wrought us for — Or to, this longing for immortality; is God — For none but God, none less than the Almighty, could have wrought this in us; who also hath given us his Spirit — In its various gifts and graces; as an earnest — Of our obtaining the heavenly habitation. We are confident, therefore — Or courageous in all dangers and sufferings, and dare venture even upon death itself; knowing that while we are at home — Or rather sojourn (as ενδημουντες here signifies) in the body, we are absent, εκδημουμεν, we are exiles; from the Lord.

Pulpit Commentary
The earnest (see 2 Corinthians 1:22) The quickening life imparted by the Spirit of life is a pledge and part payment of the incorruptible eternal life. The Spirit is “the Earnest of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30).

 

(22) Who hath also sealed us.—Better, who also sealed us. The thought thus expressed is that the gift of the Spirit, following on baptism or the laying on of hands, is as the seal of the covenant which God makes with His people, attesting its validity. (Comp. Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30; and, for the Jewish use of seals, Jeremiah 32:10.)

And given the earnest of the Spirit.—Better, for the same reason as before, gave. The Greek word for “earnest” (arrhabôn), which occurs here for the first time, and is used only by St. Paul in the New Testament (2Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14), has a somewhat interesting history. Originally a Hebrew word, from a verb meaning “to mix,” “to change,” “to pledge,” and so used, as a cognate noun, with the last of the three senses, it appears simply transliterated in the LXX. of Genesis 38:17-18. It would seem to have been in common use among the Canaanite or Phoenician traders, and was carried by them to Greece, to Carthage, to Alexandria, and to Rome. It was used by the Greek orator Isæus, and by Plautus and Terence among the earlier Latin writers. The full form came to be considered somehow as pedantic or vulgar, and was superseded in Roman law by the shortened “arrha,” the payment of a small sum given on the completion of a bargain as a pledge that the payer would fulfil the contract; and it has passed into Italian as “arra;” into modern French, as “les arrhes;” into popular Scotch even, as “arles.” As applied by St. Paul, it had the force of a condensed parable, such as the people of commercial cities like Corinth and Ephesus would readily understand. They were not to think that their past spiritual experience had any character of finality. It was rather but the pledge of yet greater gifts to come: even of that knowledge of God which is eternal life (John 17:3). The same thought is expressed, under a more Hebrew image, in the “firstfruits of the Spirit” in Romans 8:23. Grammatically, the “earnest of the Spirit” may be taken as an example of the genitive of apposition, “the earnest which is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 1:22. Ἀῤῥαβῶνα, earnest) ch. 2 Corinthians 5:5. ἀῤῥαβὼν, Genesis 38:17-18, is used for a pledge, which is given up at the payment of a debt; but elsewhere for earnest money, which is given beforehand, that an assurance may be afforded as to the subsequent full performance of the bargain. Hesychius, ἀῤῥαβὼν, πεόδομα. For the earnest, says Isid. Hispal., is to be completed [by paying the balance in full] not to be taken away: whence he who has an earnest does not restore it as a pledge, but requires the completion of the payment. Such an earnest is the Spirit Himself, Ephesians 1:14 : whence also we are said to have the first fruits of the Spirit, Romans 8:23. See Rittershusii, lib. 7, sacr. lect. c. 19.
 

Why does all of this matter?    We believe it is imperative that pastors and other church leaders grasp the balanced truth about our eternal security or there will never be any national or denominational repentance from institutionalized serial polygamy in the church, including adulterous weddings, disastrous apostate counseling, and apathy toward restoring biblical morality to our national laws.    Those who falsely believe that salvation cannot be lost or abandoned by men have no incentive to address the states of sin that Paul specifically listed as leading to forfeiture of one’s inheritance in the kingdom of God.   With around 1,000,000 civil divorces a year in the U.S., and an approximate 70% remarriage rate, the church is unwittingly misdirecting millions to perdition for the sake of upholding remarriage-friendly  Reformation dogma that is false and is contrary to what Jesus and Paul both consistently taught.

We all know or have read accounts of backslidden prodigals who have fallen into the devil’s trap, and have returned from the “Far Country” only coming to their senses after a decade or two.   It is the Holy Spirit who terrifies them with warnings as they lay their heads on the pillow, who brings back the word of God hidden in their hearts but repressed, as some divine appointment triggers the memory.

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

 

But Mr. (or Mrs.) “New Creation” HASN’T Passed Away – Stop Abusing 2 Cor. 5:17: The “Debunk” Series – Part 7

RevAllWet10by Standerinfamilycourt

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.   Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…
2 Corinthians 5:16-18

This is our final installment of the “Debunk / Stop Abusing” Series.   Hopefully we’ve taught you, dear reader, how to systematically examine any scripture and discern when someone is twisting it for their own misguided purposes.    Most Christians who misapply God’s word are parroting someone else, and don’t actually know any better.   Fewer and fewer of today’s evangelicals even read the bible for themselves on a regular basis, much less study it deeply, so they are prone to absorbing popular heresies.   To be sure, there are abused scriptures that deal with endless topics besides marriage and divorce (some of which are also heaven-or-hell matters), so this is an invaluable skill to become proficient in.

In sharp contrast to the contemporary caricature of a “new creation in Christ”,  here’s a portrait actually more like what Paul had in mind as he penned this portion of his second epistle to the church at Corinth:

And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.  Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.   So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.   When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”   And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.   When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”   Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”   And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  –  Luke 19:2-10

So…let’s see if our new life in Christ transforms a sinful relationship with somebody else’s one-flesh spouse into a sanctified one, and excuses us from reconciling with or making restitution to those we have wronged before our conversion. What is a one-flesh spouse?   Does becoming a new creation in Christ make one-flesh two again, contrary to what Jesus declared–since man’s civil paper does not?    We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

The Principle of CONTENT
As we did with our core truth in Matthew 19:6, we will take 2 Cor. 5:17  back to the original Greek manuscript and literal syntax to strip away any bias about what it actually says on the surface.     We will rely on the Greek interlinear text tools and the literal syntax for our analysis of content, in order to detect any translation bias that may have occurred in your favorite bible version in more contemporary times. One very useful technique for detecting any possible tampering with word translation or manuscript choice versus the version in our hands (in this case, NASB) is to bring up the passage in a mix of versions, being sure to include some versions based on the Antioch manuscripts (such as KJV).   In this case, we are pleased find no material difference between the translations in the two interlinear tools, so we’ll present the more understandable biblehub.com version: 2Cor5_17 For the curious, however, the link to scripture4all.org’s version is here.

 The very first thing to notice about this text concerning  “old things” passing away (and everything becoming new) is that it is entirely conditioned on being [remaining / abiding] in Christ.   But what does it actually mean to be in Christ?    Are those “old things” external things or are they internal things?   If we do not fully graft-in to begin with, or if we later pull away,  can we then claim that all things have been made new?    This conditional phrase argues that we cannot!

Once again the dry topic of verb tenses becomes very important to accurately understanding the passage, so we will again have to suffer through that discussion.      There are five verbs in this passage, including two forms of “is” that are only implied, that is, we can’t see their tense (was, is now, is becoming, continuing to be, etc.) including whether the are in the active or passive voice, because they are merged with either a preposition or with an adjective.

ἐν          Χριστῷ,
[is] in   Christ ,

Here, we may need to jump to the COMPARISON principle where we look at similar verses in which Paul and others spoke in the New Testament of being in Christ.   To properly discern whether this is referring to a sort of completed transaction of external cleansing (similar to taking one’s suit to the dry cleaners), or whether it is a continuous abiding makes an enormous difference in the understanding of what Paul was saying, because the latter would shift the transformation from external to internal. καινὴ [he is] a new…      it seems reasonable here to place this verb in the present tense, since it is associated with an adjective, new.

The other three verbs are: “passed away”  παρῆλθεν (parēlthen) , “behold” ἰδοὺ (Idou), and “emerged”, become new  γέγονεν  (geogonen).  Did the “old things” pass away suddenly and in a single transaction?   Did they pass away gradually but in the past?    The verb tense used by Paul here is aorist indicative active.    In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense, but it is a misnomer to thus imply that, in every instance, the action only happened at one point of time.  This can be true, but it is often dependent on other factors such as the meaning of the verb, other words in the context, etc.   (source: www.ntgreek.org/learn).
The past tense is strongly supported here, and is consistent with the Young’s Literal Translation rendering.   However, the root verb is parerchomai, meaning to pass by, to come to.   

It’s also helpful to zero in on the literal meaning of “old things” (archaios ἀρχαῖα),  actually meaning ancient things from which we get the word “archaic”.
(We don’t know of anyone who would get saved and call the marriage of their youth “ancient” or “archaic”  –  though we can think of many other “a”-words that get applied in the culture today).    Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it:  ἀρχαῖος, ἀρχαῖα, ἀρχαῖον “(from ἀρχή beginning, hence) properly, that has been from the beginning, original, primeval, old, ancient, used of men, things, times, conditions.” Accordingly, “old things”  seems to be referring to mindsets, predispositions, proclivities, etc. , not to relationships and commitments, nor to vows.  

Since these things are not of a nature that can pass away in a single transaction, it seems more reasonable to conclude that these old things passed away over a period of time in the past.   This understanding would also be consistent with the other main verb,  “emerged”, become new  γέγονεν  (geogonen).   This verb is in the perfect indicative active tense.   The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on,  full effect.   In other words, the progress of the action has reached its culmination and the finished results are now in existence. Unlike the English perfect, which indicates a completed past action, the Greek perfect tense indicates the continuation and present state of a completed past action.   

Once again, we see that this verse cannot be referring to externals, as though one takes a dirty suit to the cleaners and picks it up cleaned and pressed.   This scripture is clearly dealing with internal attitudes and affections, the ongoing fruit of the completed process of having become a disciple.   This is not a transaction, but a completed process.   

Not too much needs to be said about the verb, behold (idou).   It’s in the aorist imperative active voice, as one would expect for a command.    All that remains is a bit of elaboration on the noun, κτίσις  (ktisis)  meaning “created being” (or in this case, newly-created being).    And the Christ that he / she is in?       Χριστός,  Christos – literally “the Anointed One,” the Christ (Hebrew, “Messiah“) from the root word,  xríō, “anoint with olive oil”. Summing up the analysis, this verse is describing the transformation that has taken place inside a person, but only if they are truly in Christ, the old propensities and inward iniquities have given way to the mind and nature of Christ.   This is in keeping with what the Lord described in the Sermon on the Mount, where externals no longer substituted for righteousness, but obedience now is to come from the heart, which is at the heart of the Messianic Covenant.

The Principle of CONTEXT:
It’s always important to look at the surrounding verses to make sure our interpretation is consistent with the larger context. 

As we’ve seen from previous posts in this series, notably 1 Corinthians 7,  the popular understanding can be in severe conflict with the overall message of the chapter, and with the strong, clear statement that ends the chapter.   In 2 Corinthians, chapters 4 and 5, Paul is laboring to fix the disciples’ eyes on the eternal.  He tells the church that even if the gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing because the god of this age has blinded minds.   He says that our treasure is held in jars of clay to show that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from men, speaking of the crushing trials, tribulations and persecutions, dying to self as Jesus died to self so that the life of Christ can come about in others.    Paul reminds that while externally it may seem we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day-by-day, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a far greater glory in eternity.    He urges his readers to fix their eyes not on what is seen which is temporary, but on what is unseen which is eternal.  He then speaks of our body, calling it an earthly tent which is being destroyed, but we have a heavenly body awaiting that is not made with human hands.   Until we achieve it, we are going to have an inward longing (groaning).

Importantly, Paul reminds that we have been given the Holy Spirit as a deposit toward that heavenly covering, guaranteeing what is to come.   We live by faith and not by sight, and we will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive according the things we’ve done, good or bad, while occupying our earthly bodies.   He speaks of the fear of the Lord which compels us to try and persuade others, and of no longer living for ourselves but for Christ who died for us and was raised to life.    These were the thoughts that preceded the notion that if we are in Christ in this way, we are a new creation, and this is what has driven out the former things from within us.

Very importantly, the very next thing Paul says is that we are charged with a ministry of reconciliation, and given a message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).   We are told that we are Christ’s ambassadors.   That is, we are ambassadors of the Bridegroom who said on three separate occasions, “everyone who marries a divorced person enters into an ongoing state of adultery.”  [Matt. 5:32b; Matt. 19:9b;  Luke 16:18].   It seems that any ambassador carrying around such a civil-only “remarriage” is carrying around excess baggage that impedes from this ambassadorship, and in fact makes it impossible to even head in the direction of the assignment, while at the same time actually misrepresenting the Bridegroom.    Indeed, in one 1990  Barna Group survey of professing believers, 90% of the divorced and remarried admitted that their family destruction came after their conversion, and not before.  

It seems the popular evangelical application of 2 Corinthian 5:17 to absolve an abandoned covenant marriage vow for that which Jesus repeatedly called adultery could not be more out of context with these two chapters.    It seems the ministry of reconciliation should begin with the only person on the face of the earth that God has joined us to as one-flesh, and to the covenant children and grandchildren of that union.

The Principle of CULTURE:
Remarriage apologists are fond of coupling this passage with their (jaundiced) version of 1 Corinthians 7, reflecting today’s culture of the apostate church promoting serial polygamy under the heavy influence of unilateral divorce laws.     (See our two previous discussions of 1 Corinthians 7,  here and here.)

We’d argue that the much better linking is actually with 1 Corinthians 6, because that passage so completely captures the culture Paul was speaking into.   This was a culture where it was illegal to commit adultery with someone’s wife, but prostitution was not only legal but encouraged by the culture.   The city was the home of the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and reportedly over 1,000 temple prostitutes.   Paul was very blunt in stating in verse 16 that our union with Christ should preclude union with anyone we aren’t one-flesh with by God’s supernatural joining, precisely because Christ is being involuntarily made a party to the immorality.    This reasoning makes the contemporary evangelical mishandling of 1 Corinthians 7 the very antithesis of what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 6.  

Indeed, what makes us a new creation in Christ is this union with Him, whereby we no longer live, but crucified with Him,  Christ lives in us; and the life which we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God. Because of this, rather than use the Greek sarx mia as Jesus did when speaking of divine and permanent one-flesh joining, Paul spoke of the natural and carnal hen soma, when referring in 1 Cor. 6:16 to the immoral and transitory transaction of the flesh which is devoid of God’s voluntary participation.    Addressing the saints (the born-again who profess Christ), Paul warns them not to be deceived by what their sex-saturated culture was telling them,  that adultery, fornication, sodomy, idolatry and several other apostate sins, if not repented by ceasing them, will cost them their inheritance in the kingdom of God.    He goes on to commend them “and such were some of you…”  but as a consequence following their becoming a new creation in Christ, these old proclivities had passed away, replaced by the character of Christ – they had been washed, sanctified, and justified.    He could certainly not say that about someone who did not also crucify their immoral partnerships and reconcile their sacred, consecrated relationships out of reverence for their new relationship with Christ.

The Principle of COMPARISON:
By this fourth basic principle of sound hermeneutics, scripture interprets scripture, with the clearest passages helping to answer any ambiguity remaining after an honest analysis of CONTENT, CONTEXT and CULTURE.   Since  God’s word tells us that all scripture is God-breathed, that is,  equally inspired by the Holy Spirit, then if its seems that one scripture contradicts another, it’s a sign of bias or that the analysis is not complete enough.   In other words, we don’t just run with it as the “Reverend All-Wets” of our day are all too prone to do, but we keep studying until the conflict is resolved.

Part 1 of our series, on Matthew 19:6 built a strong case for this verse (and its counterpart verse, Mark 10:8-9 from the same historical occasion) being the cornerstone verse for this comparison, but as also shown, there are many others.

Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9  –  established by the divine, instantaneous act the irrevocable reality of the one-flesh relationship, and its permanent inseverability by any act of man.   What came directly out of the mouth of Jesus Christ is in direct conflict with attempts to interpret 2 Corinthians 5:17 as “biblical evidence” that coming to Christ  dissolves a pre-salvation covenant or validates as holy matrimony a remarriage undertaken in adultery (i.e. any situation where there is living, estranged first spouse).   The only instance where this ear-tickling evangelical presumption would actually be the case is where the first spouse was actually the spouse of another, making that first marriage non-covenant.   (This is actually what happened with Ronald and Nancy Reagan due to the fact that the Gipper’s first civil-only marriage with Jane Wyman was a case of legalized adultery that was never recognized in God’s courthouse.)    

Psalm 103
This magnificent psalm is sort of the “trail mix” psalm in the hands of those who wish to believe that God “forgives” and “cleanses” marriages undertaken and divorced while not yet born again, excusing the disciple from reconciling that marriage and freeing them to marry another person (often, the estranged spouse of another).    Verse 3 assures us He pardons all our iniquities   עֲוֹנֵ֑כִי     ă·wō·nê·ḵî   (forsaken wrongdoing).    Verse 5 says He satisfies our years with good things, which they take as “proof” of God’s “blessing” on the remarriage.  Verse 8 tells us the Lord is compassionate and gracious.   Verse 10 says He does not deal with us according to our sins nor rewards us according to our iniquities.  Verse 12 assures us that as far as the east is from the west, He has removed our transgressions פְּשָׁעֵֽינוּ׃  pə·šā·‘ê·nū    (from the root word pasha, meaning revolt or rebellion)  from us.   Verse 14, He is mindful that we are but dust.   The image must be of David gadding about the countryside, picking up and discarding wives and concubines as readily as he changed his sandals, and still being called a “man after God’s own heart”.    However,  that’s a bit of an incomplete picture without the counterbalancing accounts of David’s journey, such as his chastisement to repentance, and his isolation at the end of his life.

At the same time, verses 11, 13 and 17  all say these things are for those who fear him.   Verse 18:  To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.    This was written centuries before there was a Savior, so these precepts included daily animal sacrifice as atonement for willful sin.   Since we no longer have that means of atonement, all we have is abiding in Christ, which entails obeying Him.   Is a first (covenant) marriage wrong-doing, so that it must be forsaken, or is the subsequent one, which Jesus repeatedly called adulterous, the true wrong-doing that must be forsaken?    Which marriage reflects revolt and rebellion against God’s precepts, and indeed reflects the lack of the fear of God? 12524355_1297370276945019_62108117333624254_n

Here are additional verses shedding light on what it is to be in Christ, without which we are the same old carnal person and nothing is made new:

John 3:5-7
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 

John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

Matthew 5:27-32 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;  but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.   If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.  “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’;  but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit [ongoing] adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits [ongoing] adultery.

Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.   Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?  May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.”  But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.   Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

 
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,  because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,

 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.

. 2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 4:22-24
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

2 Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

 

The Principle of CONSULTATION:
It is clear from all the commentary on this passage that the transformation spoken of here is of internal constitution, not external choices and circumstances, and certainly not of forsaken covenants joined by God.

Justin Martyr (First Apology; ca 155 A.D.)
As many are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to live accordingly, are instructed to entreat God with fasting…then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we ourselves were…For Christ also said :”‘Unless you be born-again, you cannot see the kingdom of God”.

Tertullian ( ) They who are about to enter baptism ought to pray with repeated prayer, fasts, and bendings of the knee, and vigils all the night through, and with the confession of all bygone sins, that they may express the meaning of the baptism of John.

Didache (ca. 100 A.D.): But before the baptism, let the baptizer fast, and also the baptized, and what ever others can; but thou shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

Irenaeus , Against Heresies ca. 180 A.D. We are lepers in sin, we are made clean by means of the sacred water and invocation of the Lord, from our old transgression; being spiritually regenerate as new born babes, even as the Lord has declared “except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. A wealth of additional quotes concerning regeneration in Christ are available for further study at this link:  http://www.bible.ca/H-baptism.htm

5:16-21 The renewed man acts upon new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company. The believer is created anew; his heart is not merely set right, but a new heart is given him. He is the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Though the same as a man, he is changed in his character and conduct. These words must and do mean more than an outward reformation. The man who formerly saw no beauty in the Saviour that he should desire him, now loves him above all things. The heart of the unregenerate is filled with enmity against God, and God is justly offended with him. Yet there may be reconciliation. Our offended God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. By the inspiration of God, the Scriptures were written, which are the word of reconciliation; showing that peace has been made by the cross, and how we may be interested therein. Though God cannot lose by the quarrel, nor gain by the peace, yet he beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation he offers. Christ knew no sin. He was made Sin; not a sinner, but Sin, a Sin-offering, a Sacrifice for sin. The end and design of all this was, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, might be justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Can any lose, labour, or suffer too much for Him, who gave his beloved Son to be the Sacrifice for their sins, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him?

Therefore if any man be in Christ – The phrase to “be in Christ,” evidently means to be united to Christ by faith; or to be in him as the branch is in the vine – that is, so united to the vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it. John 15:2, “every branch in me.” John 15:4, “abide in me, and I in you.”

2 Corinthians 5:17. Εἰ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, if any one be in Christ) so as to live in Christ. If any one of those who now hear us, etc. Observe the mutual relation, we in Christ in this passage, and God in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:19; Christ, therefore, is the Mediator and Reconciler between us and God.—καινὴ κτίσις, a new creature) Not only is the Christian himself something new; but as he knows Christ Himself, not according to the flesh, but according to the power of His life and resurrection, so he contemplates and estimates himself and all things according to that new condition. Concerning this subject, see Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10.—τὰ ἀρχαῖα, old things) This term implies some degree of contempt. See Gregor. Thaum. Paneg. cum annot., p. 122, 240.—παòρῆλθεν, are passed away) Spontaneously, like snow in early spring.—ἰδοὺ, behold) used to point out something before us.

Verse 17.Therefore. If even a human, personal, external knowledge of Christ is henceforth of no significance, it follows that there must have been a total change in all relations towards him. The historic fact of such a changed relationship is indicated clearly in John 20:17. Mary Magdalene was there lovingly taught that a “recognition of Christ after the flesh,” i.e. as merely a human friend, was to be a thing of the past. In Christ; i.e. a Christian. For perfect faith attains to mystic union with Christ. A new creature; rather, a new creation (Galatians 6:15).   The phrase is borrowed from the rabbis who used it to express the condition of a proselyte. But the meaning is not mere Jewish arrogance and exclusiveness, but the deep truth of spiritual regeneration and the new birth (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:23, 24; Colossians 3:3, etc.). Old things; literally, the ancient things, all that belongs to the old Adam. Behold. The word expresses the writer’s vivid realization of the truth he is uttering.  All things. The whole sphere of being, and therewith the whole aim and character of life. The clause illustrates the “new creation.”

2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore — Since all Christ’s true disciples do thus live to him, and not to themselves, and only know him in a spiritual manner; if any man be in Christ — By living faith and the indwelling of his Spirit; if any man have an interest in and union with him; he is a new creature Καινη κτισις, there is a new creation, in the soul of that man. His understanding is enlightened, his judgment corrected, and he has new ideas and conceptions of things. His conscience is informed, awakened, and purged from guilt by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 9:14. His will is subjected to the will of God, his affections drawn from earth to heaven, and his dispositions, words, and actions, his cares, labours, and pursuits, are all changed. Old things are passed away — All old principles and practices; behold — The present, visible, undeniable change! all things are become new — He has new life, namely, a spiritual and divine life; new spiritual senses, new faculties, new desires and designs, hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, passions and appetites. His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives as it were in a new world. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, angels, men, sinners, saints, and the whole creation — heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.

New Testament Church Source Another common justification is the statement by Paul regarding all things becoming new in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is interpreted by some to mean that if a person is in an adulterous relationship (a second “marriage”) when they come to the Lord, “all things are new” and the one they are with is their legitimate wife or husband from this point forward. If marriage were a Christian institution, perhaps this argument could have some validity. However, in the passages pertaining to marriage, there is no mention of faith before God being a factor. If a man and woman “leave and cleave,” God considers them one whether they are Christians or not. The Amplified Bible translation of this passage may help us: “Therefore if any person is [engrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Amplified Bible) This brings out the truth that the “new creation” refers to the interior of a person, not his exterior circumstances, such as his marital situation. Becoming a Christian is not an opportunity to get a new wife or husband, nor does a couple need to be married again because they were not Christians at their original ceremony. If a couple is in adultery when either or both turn to the Lord, the only way to be free from this sin is to repent and forsake the adulterous relationship. Yes, all things are new in the sense that I am now a new creation in Christ Jesus, but this does not make another person my lawful wife or husband in Christ if they were not they were not before.  

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  

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