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Summary: The fourth message in a 7-Part Series, Shift - A New Way of Thinking. Today's challenging message from Matthew 5:31-32 explores Jesus' teaching on divorce.

The Difficulty of Divorce (Matt 5:31-32; 19:1-12; Deut 24:1-4)

VIDEO…

The difficulty of divorce – it has a ripple effect – all of us have been impacted in some way… difficult to experience… difficult to discuss… its difficult outside the church… difficult inside the church…

Introduction: Unfortunately, divorce has either been AVOIDED altogether by the church or ATTACKED by those within the church. In many cases, it has produced a SECOND-CLASS mentality for those who are divorced.

I. Starting Point: Not the EXCEPTION but the DIRECTION of the passage.

God’s Frame for Marriage (Genesis 2:18, 21-24)

Monogamy – vv 18-22… Fidelity – v 23… Longevity – v 24… Intimacy – v 25

II. Spreading Problem: Understand CONTEXT before REFLEX

• I’m well aware that this is a hot topic bc of our sensitivity to it… everyone has an opinion… reality is the other challenges Jesus issues in this section carry just as much teeth… Divorce is a lightening rod bc we can disguise the others…

• Issue then… NT & OT as it is now…

• Controversy between two Rabbinic schools – Hillel & Shammai

Deuteronomy 24:1-4… passage in question …

• According to Josephus (historian), Hillel interpreted in widest way possible… bad cook… husband lost interest… etc… divorce her

• Shammai much more rigorous line… divorce was an offense against marriage… soul ground for div. deut. 24 was some grave indecency…

• Pharisees seem attracted to Hillel… see MATTHEW 19:3

• Jesus explains Moses permitted b/c hardness of hearts…

• Jesus says divorce is a concession NOT a command

• I find it interesting that the Pharisees were consumed with the grounds for divorce & Jesus draws their attention back to the institution of marriage…

III. Scripture’s Position: PURITY before marriage, FIDELITY afterward

Pharisees were asking Jesus to give a judgment based upon their interpretation of the Law… Jesus was not legally focused He was God’s will focused.

First… understand God’s design/picture of marriage…

If a man (or person acts as God would want His standard is total fidelity regardless of the actions of other. A piece of paper does not nullify the permanence of marriage…

Then… seek reconciliation… confession of sin and request of forgiveness… not about personal pride… personal obedience to God’s will

After that… the exception clause can be addressed…

Biblical Reasons for Divorce…

1) Adultery 2) Abandonment 1 Cor. 7:15

Putting it all together…

God’s standard is difficult… especially to those involved in situations of separation or divorce or remarriage… let me share a few things (my interpretation of these passages)

1. these standards are for Christians, not the world

2. for those who became Christian after their marriage… divorce… remarriage… Jesus wipes our past clean…

3. one Christian… the other is not… 1 cor 7… resp of Christian to stay unless the unbelieving spots abandons the marriage

4. we live in an imperfect world… there are times where a Christian has to choose the lesser of two evils… (abuse… etc)

5. it is true that there are times when Christians who marry out of God’s will and get divorced and then remarry and God blesses that remarriage by His grace. God has not changed His standards… serious as divorce and remarriage is… it is not unforgiveable by God and He is still at work… no second-class… consequences with any sin yes… but equally loved and accepted by God…

Example of Hosea & Gomer… greatest loves story in the Bible

Ch 1 God’s call… ch 2:5-8… men gomer was with were poor… so Hosea pays the bills to make sure she is taken care of… ch 3. Gomer on auction block as a slave… women were stripped and stood naked as they were sold… Lord told Hosea to go and buy back your adulterous wife…

Marriage is a picture of what Christ has done for you and for me… He has purchased us… even when we continue to run away… He provides for us… and He pursues us… and while we were still sinners… Christ died for us…

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