Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He *said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings. – Luke 16:1-9
Could Jesus have been speaking in Luke 16 about turncoat shepherds such as Dr. Tony Evans? Let’s examine one of his articles on divorce and remarriage, and you decide….we will add comments as necessary to critique Dr. Evans’ assertions by holding them up to the true light of scripture.
When it comes to the issue of Divorce and Remarriage, God has a court. Because the question comes, “Who decides when there are or are not legitimate grounds?”
There are 3 spheres that allow one to be divorced:
• When immorality enters into a relationship —it is an allowance by God.
SIFC: We respectfully disagree, since God’s word makes it abundantly plain that man’s divorce, (and his infidelities) dissolves nothing in “God’s courthouse”, which only issues dissolutions of covenant in the form of physical death. Beyond that, “God’s courthouse” is merely a divine registrar.
• When there is a non-Christian married to a Christian and the non-Christian deserts the Christian —then that is an allowance for the Christian to proceed with a divorce allowed by God…
SIFC: Again, we must respectfully disagree, for much the same reasons. At a bare minimum, this claim is a clear and blatant rejection of Paul’s instructions in 1 Cor. 6:1-8, and 1 Cor. 7:10-11. God is not the author of confusion, and His word never contradicts itself when rightly divided. Hence there can be no “allowance” to do what His word forbids.
• Removal from the fellowship of God to be excommunicated as to be under Spiritual death (1 Corinthians 5) (where there’s immorality, beating, or being a “striker,” being a violent person, for a person who’s not taking care of his family, etc.). It’s where the “supposed” Christian will not come under authority.
To sum it all up —a death must occur. For a woman is bound to her husband as long as the both shall live, as the Scriptures says. But when one dies, she is no longer bound. So a person can die physically —therefore, the Covenant has been broken. Or they can die Spiritually and therefore, the Covenant can be broken.
SIFC: It would be helpful if Dr. Evans backed up what he says here with actual scripture, especially where he makes some limited points rather validly. Since he did so only in part, we will attempt to fill in from whence he is deriving his inferences, although we cannot vouch (with scripture) any reference to a “striker” — other than in reference to disqualifying a man from church leadership (1 Tim. 3:3, and Titus 1:7) – yet living in a state of remarriage adultery with another man’s God-joined one-flesh wife is certainly equivalent scripturally to such. In addition to 1 Cor. 5 which is specifically about fornication between two unmarried persons (a young man and his likely widowed stepmother), he is also alluding to Matthew 18:15-18 and 1 Tim. 5:8.
He’s quite right that only death breaks God’s covenants, as Paul twice confirms. However, since in most cases of a wounded spouse, God’s mercy and desire to see the offender repent and recover his or her inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, our Lord does not oblige by striking the offender dead, Nabal-style. That presents a bit of a dilemma, which Dr. Evans (like his 16th century predecessor, Martin Luther), is quite eager to resolve in sympathy for the “innocent spouse” – so, a heavenly “hit contract” should take care of it. Much less wasteful than waiting for the prodigal to repent on God’s timetable is deciding that he or she is beyond repentance, so declare them spiritually dead and on that basis, allow the one-flesh (sarx mia) partner to become hen soma with a brother or sister in the church, presuming that subsequent union to be “morally superior” to the one Paul discussed in 1 Cor. 5.
But the whole point of an unconditional covenant of God is precisely that God always keeps His end of it even when the human participants do not! Dr. Evans speaks of “excommunication”, a decidedly Roman Catholic concept which implies loss of salvation due to the sacraments being withheld (an erroneous concept, most Protestants would agree). It is one thing to administer biblical church discipline, dis-fellowshipping the serious backslider who is toxic to the whole of the body of Christ, removing the support and protection of the church. It is another to declare a state of permanent apostasy that may or may not turn around with the chastisement of the grieved and quenched Holy Spirit within.
“…Since now death alone dissolves marriages and releases from obligation, an adulterer is already divorced, not by man but by God himself, and not only cut loose from his spouse, but from this life…because now God here divorces, the other party is fully released, so that he or she is not bound to keep the spouse that has proved unfaithful, however he or she may desire it.” – Martin Luther, circa 1522
“…If they are alive and you go marry another, then you’re still married. If they are dead, then you’re free to marry another. And one of the reasons I want to stay married has nothing to do with me but with the generations after me….unless God the Coroner pronounces death.”
– Dr. Tony Evans, May 2012
So the question is: WHO determines (the legitimate grounds), and HOW is it determined —who decides? After discussing this whole issue of “removing people” from the fellowship in 1 Corinthians 5, it then continues in chapter 6 to explain HOW it’s to be done. (So chapter 6 is the continuation of chapter 5.)
God has set you up to judge the “whole world.” Judgment is a part of the role of the people of God. They render decisions on behalf of God Himself. Kingdom decisions are to be rendered by Kingdom People, because only Kingdom People obligate themselves to Kingdom rules. The Church was never intended to be a “2-hour building” that you went to for services once a week. It was intended to be an “expression of the Kingdom intentions” of the King. That’s why when Jesus prayed He said, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.“
So like it or not, judgment is a part of the role of the people of God.
SIFC: Dr. Evans takes some considerable liberties here! Yes, chapter 6 is a continuation of chapter 5, specifically with respect to the church’s responsibility to discipline sexual immorality among its members , including adultery and divorce filings undertaken to cover up or to legalize an adulterous relationship, and that is likely to result in dis-fellowshipping if the prodigal refuses to repent (or refuses to even meet, as will typically be the case). That said, Dr. Evans ignores the fact that a 2-ton elephant is now standing in the room as a direct result of 1 Cor. 6:1-8. A brother or sister in the Lord is not to take another brother or sister before a pagan judge – but rather be defrauded. We presume this would apply to the sole person to whom God has joined them as one-flesh. We know of no way to obtain a civil divorce without doing so, since the day that Martin Luther handed over to Caesar the regulation of holy matrimony which God says belongs exclusively to Him. Dr. Evans appears to be saying that it’s OK to violate 1 Cor. 6:1-8 for deemed “biblical grounds”. (We’re going to go out on a limb and say that the only truly biblical grounds for man’s divorce is to repent of a “marriage” that Jesus repeatedly called adulterous, so that both partners can seek reconciliation with their true spouse, and even then, to protect the witness of the church and obey God under man’s immoral laws, such cases should only be by agreed mutual petition.)
And what of Dr. Evans’ alleged “exception” for abandonment by an unbelieving spouse? Or adultery by an unbelieving spouse? Judgment may indeed be the role of the people of God, but 1 Cor. 5 specifically says the church is not to judge outsiders, contrary to the stretch Dr. Evans suggests here. Once we’re done mangling (but not specifically naming) 1 Cor. 7:15, it begs the question, how can a church declare someone “spiritually dead” who hasn’t been born into that realm to begin with? Didn’t Jesus highly commend John the Baptist’s fierce defense of Herod’s and Herodias’ (respective) covenant marriages even though both abandoned their true spouses? Didn’t John tell Herod, “it is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife’ ?
A couple that decides that they want a divorce for “irreconcilable differences” (which there’s no such divorce for) needs to realize that everybody is irreconcilable to everybody else. You are very different than your mate. You’re supposed to be. God intentionally made you different. The issue is not the differences —we’re to turn them into “complements rather than conflicts.” But His point is, that you don’t go to the unrighteous, who have no Kingdom view of marriage, and don’t understand that God is the author of marriage. They’ll simply grant you (because you agree on your own terms) a no-fault divorce.
He’s not putting down judges, because you must have Civil Government. But when it comes to matters of the Kingdom, they’re to be decided within the Kingdom, and then they can be confirmed in the government.
In verse 7 (of 1 Corinthians 6), he says if you go to a Secular Law Court —you’ve already lost. You’ve lost for 2 reasons: number 1 you’ve destroyed your testimony, and number 2, God is against your process.
SIFC: We all know this is not the way it happens in practice, but the other way around. Furthermore, Dr. Evans would point his remarks above not exclusively to the covenant couple, but to those whose civil-only unions Jesus repeatedly called ongoing, continuous adultery, who need to actually flee their counterfeit union, both for the witness of the church and to avoid the consequences described in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21, forfeiture of their participation in the kingdom of God. Being “married” to someone else’s God-joined one-flesh mate is about as irreconcilable a difference as anyone could have, especially in terms of reconciliation with God’s kingdom. God is all for the process of a repenting divorce to sever an adulterous union, provided a slanderous grounds trial is not involved, nor theft of assets, nor parental alienation so common these days to “family court”.
It seems to us that any pastor who is halfway serious about wanting church jurisdiction over marriage and divorce should at the very least stop signing civil marriage licenses when performing weddings, and should cease performing any wedding they’d be embarrassed to do with Jesus co-officiating. We note that Dr. Evans is not among the 800+ pastors who have signed the First Things Marriage Pledge which began circulating in 2014..
And so he raises the point here that the church is to act as God’s judging agency. Now this ought to solve a very important issue that many Christians are very confused about whenever you hear a person say, “Well, you’re not supposed to judge.” They are wrong! You are supposed to judge. The Bible tells us to judge. It tells us in 1 Corinthians 6 “to render a judgment in the Church.”
Christians are supposed to judge. In fact, Christians who are right related to God, are the best judges because they’re going to judge predicated on a righteous standard. And the righteous standard is God Himself, manifested in and through His word! Because Christians have access to Truth, we can render judgment.
In Matthew 7 (verse 1), people misinterpret the passage where it says “Do not judge, lest you’ll be judged.” Is that because you aren’t to judge? No, in verse 2 it says, “for in the same way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” He’s not saying, “don’t judge” but, BE CAREFUL, WHEN YOU JUDGE. Because the same judgment you use against another will be the very same judgment God uses against you. So think twice before you jump out there judgmentally. In other words, he’s saying, “judge carefully ” —not don’t judge at all!
How do you judge carefully? (Look at Matthew 7:3). Don’t judge folks who have something wrong with them “speck-sized” when you’ve got a tree-trunk hanging out of your eyeballs!
The problem today is, we have people judging other people when they’re as “messed up” as the folks they’re judging. Don’t condemn somebody else for something you’re doing and can’t get a handle on. (This can be further illustrated in John 8 with the woman who’s condemned for committing adultery.)
In the scriptures, when God established His courts, they carried authority with them. Deuteronomy 17, (starting with verse eight) shows that God’s court systems were to be taken seriously. And how powerful they were! (Numbers 5, starting with verse 12 illustrates this.) 1 Corinthians 10:11 says, “these things were written for our example.“
The Old Testament, you can use it —NOT for it’s REGULATIONS, but for it’s REVELATIONS. That is, the principles still applies even though the specific way of carrying it out —God may not use that anymore. And the principle is —that God wants his people to render judgment, on God’s behalf, related to any kind of litigation issues. And we’re constantly dealing with them. Do you go and sue them downtown? God’s clear —you take it to the church.
What’s the process? It’s in Matthew 18 (starting with verse 15). So the first thing you do is, you handle it personally. If your brother has hurt you (or your mate has hurt you) the very first thing that you do is try to fix it privately. YOU NEVER CARRY A PROBLEM BEYOND ITS NEED, TO BE KNOWN. What makes it a need to be known? Matthew 18:16 —if he doesn’t listen to you. He’s not open for correction. He is not repentant. But it’s a legitimate thing. He says, by then, with 2 or 3 witnesses, every fact is confirmed. Two or 3 witnesses would mean that there would be a legality attached to the process now. It became official… it had witnesses.
So you take 2 or 3 witnesses to confirm that you tried and they won’t —that you are trying to fix this marriage, but they won’t —that you’re trying to heal this relationship, but they won’t. This is so that it’s not your word against their word, that you can VALIDATE that there is a sin and that that mate is not willing to correct it.
What happens then? In Matthew 18:17 it says, “tell it to the church.” Why do you tell it to the church? Because that’s the extended family —that’s the environment where God’s decisions are rendered.
SIFC: Up to this point, we have no major dispute, but a couple of really important caveats:
(1) due to the corruption of most English language bible translations for the past 150 years, courtesy of Universalists / occultist / New World Order “scholars” Westcott & Hort in the 1880’s (about the time the masses were becoming literate enough to realize that the Westminster Confession of Faith was heretical with respect to divorce and remarriage), before applying “scripture” to any matter involving marriage, the judges in the church need to go back to the original texts, and preferably the Antioch texts. This is the reason the King James version, while not perfect, contains far fewer apparent “contradications” than any of the more contemporary translations — this was by design. The NIV, in particular, becomes more liberal and less scriptural with each new edition! Online tools make the original texts and related tools readily accessible at no cost.
(2) focusing in on the issue of the log and the splinter, many of the pastoral “judges” will indeed be in a state of ongoing adultery themselves by Jesus’ (Luke 16:18) definition of adultery, due to the widespread marriage heresies that prevail in the contemporary church, including the blatant violation of 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6. Such men lack the moral authority to render judgment. In some churches there is a further violation in that those offices are unscripturally held by women!
“And if he will not listen to the church, LET HIM BE TO YOU, AS A GENTILE and TAX-GATHERER.” In other words, HE IS TO BE VIEWED AS SPIRITUALLY DEAD! He is rendered a gentile, or a tax collector. Not only were tax collectors sinners… they were also ostracized because of their occupation. Jews didn’t have fellowship with tax collectors. In other words, they are spiritually dead. They, may be a Christian… but you can now relate to them… as though they are spiritually dead.
Why? Verse 18. God gives the church the ability to act as His earthly court, rendering His heavenly decisions. “Whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven, whatever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven.” The church’s job is to bind and loose. That simply means to “exercise authority on behalf of God.” AND IF YOU WANT TO BE BLESSED, THAT’S THE COURT YOU GO TO.
In verse 19, He says whenever you gather together to render decisions, “I’ll be in the midst of you.“ “When you gather together to make judgments using My word, applying them to the situations of life —that’s when the rubber meets the road.” The church is God’s extended family court. And just like you don’t want your children taking your family business out to the street, God doesn’t want His children carrying out kingdom business in the street to people who don’t have a Kingdom mentality.
SIFC: Just because Martin Luther declared “spiritual death” doesn’t make it so! (Luther also declared “replacement theology” without it making that so, after all.) Shall a man of God follow another man, or shall he instead follow Christ? Cutting off the fellowship of he body of Christ does not remove the Holy Spirit from inside the wayward born-again prodigal (thanks be to God!). We’ve already raised a strong caveat about which version of the Word to apply in making those judgments, since various translation manipulations have retrofitted the sacred word of God to match Luther’s heresies, as can readily be seen by contrasting them with the original Greek and Hebrew texts with literal translations, also with the unanimous teachings for 400-some years of all those discipled by those who walked directly with Jesus, and those whom the disciples discipled, all the way until the corrupting time of Constantine.
But here’s why people don’t want to come to the church. They don’t want to come to the church because they don’t want to subject themselves to God. They want to go to somebody who will agree with them. They don’t want to be rendered a “righteous decision,” they only want to be rendered THEIR decision.
So, how does this relate to marriage and divorce? 1 Corinthians 7:39. As long as the mate is alive… either physically or covenantally… then you are bound to that person and the most you can do (1 Corinthians 7:10), is separate and remain unmarried or be reconciled. You don’t have grounds for a divorce as long as they’re alive.
If they are dead, they must be dead by God’s coroner. And God’s coroner is the church. Once they’re declared dead, then a declaration of death is always a freedom to remarry —because a woman is only bound to her husband, as long as he lives. So once he either dies, or is declared to be such (as a tax gatherer or a sinner) or as 1 Corinthians 5:5 says, “put him in the realm of Satan.” At that point, the party is free to remarry. Why? It’s because God has canceled out the previous marriage.
SIFC: Not so fast, Dr. Evans! That log seems to be creeping back into that eye again! During the Kim Davis fracas in September, 2015 it seemed every liberal journalist in the country was grabbing their Gideon bible out of the motel dresser drawer and noting, quite accurately that Mrs. [Bailey Wallace Davis McIntyre ]”Davis” had been living in serial adultery, and that after she was born again, she didn’t repent of that relationship. They pointed out to the world that often the safest place for serial polygamist to hide out is the front pew of many an evangelical church. And, Dr. Evans, if a person continues to draw breath, their opportunity to repent remains undiminished…and not subject to any man’s judgment. If that person happens to be born again, the continuing presence of the cajoling Holy Spirit within them is proof enough, as if God’s holy character in covenant isn’t, that there is no such thing as being “covenentally” dead, unless perhaps one attributes God’s miracles to Satan, i.e. blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. (It should be duly noted that some of God’s shepherds come perilously close to this when one of the sheep is seeking a repenting divorce in order to reconcile with the only person on the face of the earth with whom God’s hand joined tem in sarx mia, and these pastors attribute this repentance to “violating” Deut. 24:4. )
God hates divorce. He never demands divorce. He only permits it. But He does allow it, when death occurs in order to preserve and protect the innocent.
SIFC: What God hates is the “putting / sending away” of any one-llesh covenant spouse, but Mal. 2 advocates only for that spouse, and against the counterfeit that Dr. Evans would shield and attempt to justify. Jesus made it plain in Matt. 19:6, 8 that not only does God not “permit” anyone to divorce the spouse of their youth, there is actually no act of men that makes it even possible. That’s why Jesus repeatedly declared any marriage between even an innocent person and a divorced person ongoing, continuous adultery. Man cannot sever God-joined sarx mia, nor remove God from HIS OWN covenant, only death does that. It seems obvious that if actual death has occurred,, the only type that God acknowledges, the whole remarriage conversation is moot,
There are 3 options the Christian has (and by the way, the reason God says to be married “only in the Lord” is because GOD DOESN’T WANT IT TO BE HEAVEN and HELL EXPERIENCE TO BE MARRIED, if they can help it), a person whose mate commits covenantal death has 3 choices:
• To restore them to the relationship based on restitution. In fact, that always ought to be the 1st option, to see if we can fix what got broke. What if your mate does something that causes covenantal death, but they’re sincerely repentant? And how do you know they’re sincerely repentant? The Bible says “let them bring forth fruits of repentance.” There must be a demonstration or restitution that pays back the offended party, that lets them know they’re serious in their heart about what they just verbalized with their mouth as demonstrated by their actions.
They must be restored based on “their fruits of repentance.” And if they’re sincerely repentant, then the goal should be, if at all possible, to seek to restore them. (And that’s the reason why God accepted the marriage of David to Bathsheba. God took restitution out on David. He lost four of his sons as David had declared that the man who did this crime should be punished four-fold. So he lost four of his sons as payment back to God. He set him free to marry only after he had received restitution.) So if you’ve offended your mate, you need to pay them back.
• To divorce —when your mate has become covenantally dead, that is, to have them declared so by the church, which frees you up. (This was the option Joseph was going to take with Mary. He decided to put her away privately, when he thought the mother of Jesus had been immoral.)
• You can choose to live continually with your covenantally dead spouse —even though they’ve committed an act and even though they’re unrepentant for their sin. (1 Corinthian 7:13-15) Here he sets the scenario, that the covenantally dead person or the unbeliever (he’s either an unbeliever, or he’s functioning as an unbeliever), wants to stay in the marriage relationship. If he’s willing to function, as her husband, and she’s willing to function as his wife —He says don’t leave.
SIFC: No mate “commits covenantal death” before their actual physical death, Dr. Evans, though a great many commit covenantal violations, including the violation of someone else’s holy matrimony covenant. Departing from a covenant union does nothing to actually dissolve it in God’s courthouse, no matter how much civil paper is gathered! That effectively reduces the options to two: 1 Cor. 7:12-13 or 1 Cor. 7:11. Incidentally, God only accepted the “marriage” of David and Bathsheba because she was a widow (albeit at David’s hand), and because both concurrent and serial polygamy were atoned for on a daily basis with bloody animal sacrifices, a plan that is no longer on offer with the coming of Christ. Even so, just as God took only one rib from Adam at creation who became “bone-of-his-bones and flesh-of-his flesh, God only made David one-flesh (sarx mia) with MIchal — all the other sundry wives and concubines were only hen soma partners, only legally and carnally joined in the same fashion as noncovenant spouses today. Even a casual reading of Matthew 5 or the book of Hebrews ought to make a man shudder at suggesting Christ’s disciples deliberately emulate David and Bathsheba!
You need to LOOK AT IT AS AN EVANGELISTIC OPPORTUNITY. He’s not saying you’re staying there and he’s beating on you. He’s not saying you’re staying there, and he won’t work. He’s talking about his willingness to stay there under the covenant of the family. Even if you have grounds (for divorce), if they’re willing to function properly, even though they’re not spiritually on track, then you “sanctify them.” If you love them and care about them, but they’re not on track, you may want to stay, pray, and watch God work through you to bring about a change —to bring that person back.
What do you do if you’re already coventally dead? GOOD NEWS —God has the ability to raise people from the dead!
SIFC: Even better news — God-joined one-flesh covenant spouses sanctify the other by prayer, fasting and the recognition that the one-flesh entity is a God-given, God-protected spiritual weapon that only exists in the ongoing state of indissoluble holy matrimony if God’s word is being obeyed in full, and it requires no physical presence, nor state sanction to operate in full. This reformed prodigal is so grateful that Jesus did not treat me the way Dr. Evans and Martin Luther fantasized about in order to whitewash serial polygamy. Given that it’s GOD, not humans who decides and clearly communicates the heaven-or-hell consequences thereof, it makes no sense at all to play these games with the Most High. Instead there should be a holy fear of God, and an overriding concern for the souls involved.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9
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