Summary: We begin our marriages with high hopes and great expectations and marriage is a wonderful gift from God. No marriage is perfect though and we experience "trouble in paradise." Our understanding of what God's word has to say about marriage and divorce wi

Trouble in Paradise - Matthew 5:31-32 - January 15, 2012

Series: Kingdom Life – A World Turned Upside Down #14

This April I will have been in full time pastoral ministry for some 10 years. In that time I’ve had the privilege of literally preaching several hundred messages. I’ve spoken in churches, care homes and hospitals. I’ve brought messages at men’s breakfasts, weddings and funerals. And some of those messages were difficult to deliver. I knew that what the Word of God said would not be popular with those I was speaking to. Yet despite the truth of all those things I do believe that the message I bring this morning will be the most difficult I’ve ever had to preach. In fact I cannot think of another topic in Scripture that is more difficult to talk about than the one we will look at this morning.

It will be difficult for a number of reasons. First, because it affects people that you and I know and care about very much it is emotionally charged. Secondly, because it is deeply personal and touches the lives of almost everyone here today. Thirdly, because while Scripture touches on it in a number of places, it is far from exhaustive on the subject, and I confess that I don’t have all the answers I would like to have this morning. Fourthly, well known and respected pastors and theologians have come down on different sides of this issue. Fifthly, because there is no possible way we can deal with this issue thoroughly in just one message. Sixthly, because it will not be a popular message and some of you will not want to accept it.

Despite those things, or perhaps even because of them, it is a Word that is worth preaching. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NIV) And that’s what we want, isn’t it? We want to be thoroughly trained and equipped for every good work that God has prepared in advance for us to do. We want our worldview to be molded by God’s Word so that when we see the need, or the hurt, or the sin, that we see it as though through God’s own eyes so that our response to it is godly to the very core. We want our families and churches to be shaped by the Word, to be refined and purified by it if you will, so that they are pleasing before God – our lives a living sacrifice unto Him. And that means that we can’t just turn to those passages that speak truths that are easy to accept. It means we have to look at those passages that challenge us, that “rebuke” us and “correct” us, passages that set us apart from the world. That’s what holiness means – to be set apart – and that’s what we are to be. Peter writes these words, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”” (1 Peter 1:15–16, NIV)

That being said, please open your Bibles with me to the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew chapter 5, beginning in verse 31. This morning we return to our series in the Sermon on the Mount. I’ve called this series: Kingdom Life – A World Turned Upside Down, because that’s what Jesus is revealing to us through His words. A world where the priorities, values, and beliefs of our society are turned upside down when compared to the life God calls each of us to live. Life in the Kingdom is at odds with, is different than, life as many live it today and we need to ask ourselves, “Where am I going to take my cues for living from? Will it be from the World or will it be from the Word?”

We need to remember that all these verses we are looking at in this series are part of a bigger picture. They are all part of one message that Jesus preached one day up on a hillside. What has gone before cannot be separated from what comes after. So we need to be reminded this morning of what has gone before. Jesus started His message with what we call the Beatitudes. These are the things where we are going to find a true and enduring happiness – these are the things that will bless your life and mine and the fellowship we share. He moves from the Beatitudes to two word pictures. He takes things we are familiar with – salt and light – and He tells those who would follow Him that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

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