Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 6

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
(Matthew 5:31-32)

We continue our consideration of whether Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was a “new” teaching. Were concepts like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your neighbor uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses? No.

Let’s look into this further.

In the Old Testament, can we look into the heart of God and learn what He expects in a marriage? 

In this case in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is speaking of a provision in the Law of Moses that permitted a man to divorce his wife. Take time to look at Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Notice the “if’s” in this passage. If a man divorced a woman and she went out and married again, then that woman could not return to her original husband. God was putting limits on people continually marrying and divorcing in order to keep from defiling the land in which they lived.

Thankfully, we have Jesus’ additional commentary on Deuteronomy 24. In Matthew 19 and Mark 10 we see Jesus in a controversy with the Jewish leadership about marriage. They confronted and tested Him on the topic of marriage, and they used Deuteronomy 24 as the grounds for the argument. They were clearly having a controversy among themselves, and they wanted to bring Jesus into the middle of the fight.

Can a man divorce his wife for any reason?

Did Moses “command” a man to divorce his wife?

What Jesus does is expertly and surgically cut through to the heart of the issue, revealing the hardness of heart and hypocrisy of the people. He takes them to the beginning of the “Law” in Genesis 2 to show God’s heart and original design for marriage. We don’t start in the New Testament to learn what pleases God in marriage,we start in the Garden of Eden with the first marriage.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
(Matthew 19:3-9)

The heart of God is plain in the Old Testament, “Don’t divorce.” Marriage is a covenant with God, and by divorcing and committing adultery we defile that holy covenant.

But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
(Malachi 2:14-16)

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.
(Proverbs 2:16-19)

This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”
(Proverbs 30:20)

You can see from these Scriptures, God (Jesus) expected the Jew to honor marriage. The Law did in this case give provision for divorce, but God’s heart and expectation for marriage has always been the same. Marriage is a lifelong covenant, don’t divorce. If the Jewish man would have searched the Scriptures for God’s heart on marriage, he would have found it. If he was looking for a loophole to exit marriage, then his heart is revealed and he got exactly what he was looking for. Jesus was not introducing a new standard of conduct that He did not always expect from His people.

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 1

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 2

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 3

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 4

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 5

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 2

We began last Friday a consideration of whether Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was a “new” teaching. Were concepts like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your neighbor uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses? No.

Let’s look into this further.

In the Old Testament, was it okay to lust as long as you didn’t commit adultery? (Matthew 5:27-30)

The 10th commandment says otherwise (Exodus 20:17). “Do not covet.” Just replace that word with lust. Do not covet (lust for) your neighbor’s wife.

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life. Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?
(Proverbs 6:23-28)

Job 31:1 – Job made a covenant with his eyes. He honored his marriage vows even with his eyes.

In the Old Testament, was it okay to play semantics with your promises in order to weasel out of keeping your word? (Matthew 5:33-37)

The 9th commandment says otherwise (Exodus 20:16). Don’t bear false witness.

The 3rd commandment also says otherwise (Exodus 20:3). Do not take the Lord’s name in vain. Don’t invoke God’s name, including when making a commitment, unless you are dead serious about honoring His name by keeping that oath.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-6 – Don’t be hasty to utter promises…God is in heaven and you are on earth, let your words be few. If you are going to make a commitment, keep it!

As you can see from the Old Testament passages, God (Jesus) expected the Jew to keep from lust and to keep his word. Jesus was not introducing a new standard of conduct that He did not always expect from His people.

More to come later..

Sexual Immorality

Thank you, Steve Bockmiller, for writing this article on Sexual Immorality.

Sexual immorality is rampant in our society today.  It has pervaded every aspect of our lives from the internet to television to advertising to schools to businesses to government and even to churches.  We see it in a number of forms including pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.  The recent news has been full of stories concerning this subject and as more information is revealed the worse the picture gets.  It is a heinous and ugly portrait that is fraught with ruin.  As this sin surrounds us, it may seem like we are living in the most evil of times, but Solomon tells us “there is nothing new under the sun.”  Sexual immorality has been around for a long time.

When the Angels came to save Lot from Sodom, the men of the city surrounded the house wanting to sleep with them.  In Genesis 19:5 it says, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”

Shechem raped Dinah.  In Genesis 34:1-2 “Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land.  And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her.”

Judah sleeps with Tamar his daughter-in-law thinking she was a prostitute.  In Genesis 38:15-16 it says “Judah saw her; he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.  He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.”

Samson sleeps with a prostitute.  In Judges 16:1 it says “Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a prostitute, and he went in to her.” 

In 2 Samuel 11 David takes a walk one evening on his roof and he sees a naked woman bathing.  Instead of looking away he summons her, sleeps with her, gets her pregnant, and then orchestrates her husband’s death in battle.

In I Kings 11 Solomon turns away from God due to his love of foreign women with whom God said not to enter into marriage with.  He had 700 wives and 300 concubines and even built high places for their gods.

In Leviticus 18:20-24 God warns his people of partaking in the sexual sins involved in Molech worship.  “And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife and so make yourself unclean with her. You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.  You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.  And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it; neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean.”

Sexual immorality was an issue in the Old Testament as we can see from all of these examples.  And keep in mind this includes David who was said to be “a man after God’s own heart”.  If we fast forward to the New Testament times the picture doesn’t change much.  Paul tells the Romans “let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”  He tells the Corinthians (a place where sexual immorality was widespread) “or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality.”  He tells the Ephesians “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”  Paul makes similar statements to the congregations in Galatia, Colossae, and Thessalonica.  The Hebrew writer says “let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

Sexual immorality is a sin that will captivate you, control you, and consume you.  If you have eyes and ears and feelings you are susceptible to this sin.  You must have a plan for how to deal with the temptation and it needs to start with openness and honesty.  Sexual sin can captivate you and blind you from the truth.  Have you admitted to yourself that you struggle with this?  Have you looked to God for forgiveness and strength?  Have you talked to your spouse about it?  It helps to be accountable to someone who can ask you questions and help keep you in check.  This sin is also controlling.  If you don’t get yourself under control sexual sins will control you.  Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:6 to “add to your knowledge self control.”  We talk a great deal about Bible study.  I have listened to many Bible study classes and sermons where the Preachers and Teachers drive home the point to study, study, and study.  Of course we need to read God’s word.  “They word is a lamp unto my feet” as David says in Psalms 119:105.  The problem is we don’t talk enough about discipline and self control.  Notice Peter says we need to add self control to knowledge.  You don’t need a doctorate degree to understand the concept, the history, and the scriptures about sexual immorality.  In this short article I have covered a portion of what the Bible says on the matter.  What you need to do is to control yourself.  When the temptation arises make the choice to not engage; walk away, avoid the situation, turn the TV off, or get a not-so-smart phone.  If you choose to not control yourself, this sin will consume you.  It will take you farther than you ever thought possible.  Remember the mess that David created with Bathsheba; one sin led to another.  Do you find yourself committing sexual sins and then hiding the facts, covering things up, and lying to stay out of trouble?  When we read Romans chapter 1 we are disgusted with the people who gave into sin and engaged in all kinds of evil including worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.  Verses 26 and 27 say “for their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”  Notice it says they were consumed with passion for one another.  It filled their every thought and action.  If you don’t control yourself and give in to sexual immorality, that is you.  “You are the man” as Nathan once told David.  Notice the consequence that the Hebrew writer tells us; “for if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”  You will be consumed by the fury of fire.  Don’t let that happen.  Sexual immorality is here to stay and will always impact us in some way or another.  Knowing this leads the Godly man to get himself under control and overcome.  Our families are relying on us to set the example and keep the Devil out.  Is your light shining or is the bushel of sexual immorality keeping you in the dark?

What David Didn’t See from His Rooftop

From his rooftop one night, King David saw a beautiful woman bathing. He also saw an opportunity to have this beautiful woman named Bathsheba come to his house. His vision was laser focused on getting in bed with Bathsheba. What David didn’t see from his rooftop at that time was a series of catastrophic decisions that would plague his family for generations.

Below are seven things I found that David did not see from his rooftop, and I hope that these will serve as a warning and a wake up call to all men to consider where lust leads and what sexual sin does to you and everyone around you. If you are married, you are in a covenant relationship with God and your wife, and you are called to honor her, cherish her, and forsake all others until death. If you are unmarried, your covenant with God is to be holy and sexually pure until marriage. When our minds, emotions and bodies begin to wander, then hopefully we can take a Biblical cold shower by considering what David brought upon himself.

Here is what David did not see from his rooftop:

  1. David did not see how much his sins hurt God (Psalm 51).
  2. David did not see the inner turmoil he would suffer because of his behavior (Psalm 32).
  3. David did not see the multiple families and individuals that would be carpet-bombed by his choices.
  4. David did not see the tidal wave of trouble that would sweep over his own family for generations to come.
  5. David did not see that several of his sons would die.
  6. David did not see that his position as a king would be weakened.
  7. David did not see that his influence as a parent would be greatly compromised.

Yes indeed, David was forgiven by God for his sins, and praise God for His immeasurable grace, but David felt the searing heat of God’s wrath in the wake of the consequences of his sins. The same loving and merciful God who said He forgave David, is the same God who pronounced the sentence for David’s punishment. If our affections begin to wander, may we be sobered up by pondering these effects of selfish choices.

In order for us to be the men God calls us to be, we are required to be wholly committed to our wives in mind, emotions, soul and body.  If you are struggling with this, then do not struggle alone. First of all, talk with the Lord and pour your heart out to Him. Then seek out a wise, godly man who has the strength to lead you and demonstrate to you how to love your wife like Jesus loves her.