Called to Peace
A second title: To Save a Marriage
(Sermon Notes) By Warren Zehrung 8/29/2020
Within the marriage relationship, “God has called us to peace.” God has called us to peace. It is God’s intent that both husband and wife be pleased to dwell within marriage. It was God Himself who instituted the marriage covenant between a man and a woman.
A Godly marriage is one of the ways that God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. God is creating us to be like He is. Everybody is familiar with the verse, “we are created in God’s image.” But the truth is that we are not yet in God’s image. I think most of us would agree with that statement!
We are becoming, and we are to be growing toward, being in the image of God. There is no greater joy and fulfillment on earth than that found within good Christian marriages. God is allowing us to be a part of His creation process by bringing children into the world. Those children, who come into the world through our flesh, are destined to become a part of His endless Plan to eventually become His eternal sons and daughters.
Good marriages were designed by God to give us a slight glimpse of what it will be like to dwell with Him for all eternity. Are we pleased to dwell with our spouse? This is where the Church of God differs from the world. A God-centered life is an absolute requirement, in order for a Christian marriage to exist.
For a fulfilling Christian marriage to exist, God’s Spirit must be an integral part of the relationship. It is not possible for worldly marriages to reach the spiritual level that is attainable by those converted brethren within God’s Church.
Our God is a covenant God. He is a faithful covenant God. We all know that there are good and bad marriages. God does not bind fraudulent covenants—including the covenant of marriage—because in God’s eyes there never is a marriage when deception is present. If either partner entered marriage fraudulently and deceptively, that marriage was never a valid, bound marriage in God’s sight. For that reason, a fraudulent marriage can be annulled.
All that we know of God is found in the Scriptures, His Word, the Bible, and in all His creation. Paul said it this way:
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people, who suppress the truth by their immoral lives.
Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is evident in them; for God has made it plain unto them.
Genesis 1:31 God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.
Romans 1:20 For His invisible attributes and qualities, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood by the things that are made, so that people are without excuse:
Yes, even creation itself reveals the wonderful hand of God’s work. And it tells us who God is, and what God is, by looking at His creation. God tells us where to look in order to be able to know and identify with Him.
Romans 1:19 “That which can be known of God is plain before their eyes; for God Himself has shown it unto them.
Romans 1:20 For the invisible attributes of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His eternal power and divine character; so that they are without excuse.”
God is saying that we are free to deduce, as we look at the very high percentage of single parent homes, that without good marriages as the foundation of our society, we will not long endure. We are seeing in all of modern Israel a rapid decline in our cultures because of wild children of single parent unions.
God’s Plan is eternal, His Spirit is eternal, and His Law is eternal. When God made Adam, He knew that there was no one to help him, and no one to be his mate. Adam needed someone to complement him physically, emotionally, psychologically, and especially, spiritually.
Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helpmate, comparable to him.”
Then God created Eve, a counterpart for Adam. Together the man and woman were complete. They were the first human family. It is God’s intention that a husband and wife together, reach the pinnacle of love and unity.
We are told by Paul in Ephesians 5 that a good marriage is a picture of Jesus Christ and the Church. Jesus sacrificed Himself that the Church might live. A good husband will do the same for his wife and family.
In a Godly marriage, between two called-out and converted Christians, there exists a covenant, not only between the man and his wife, but also with God. The man vows with God and his wife, while the wife vows with God and her husband.
For this reason, a marriage between two of God’s people rises to a Godly level. In the Church we have used the phrase—a God-plane relationship. It rises above the mundane of this world.
What is God’s intent and expectation for the duration of Christian marriages? How long should a Christian marriage last? The answer from God is simple and straightforward – marriage is for life.
Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
That means that they are welded together, stuck together, amalgamated, glued together and they are inseparably knit and woven together.
What can be done when a converted person realizes that he or she has come to an impasse in their marriage because the actions of the other spouse disclose that they are not pleased to dwell in a Godly relationship? On one hand, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), but on the other hand, God has called us to peace (1Corinthians 7:15).
Is a divorce ever permissible by Jesus Christ? Is remarriage ever an option for a true Christian who is divorced? These are difficult questions, but we need to understand God’s word on these matters. Matthew 5:31 follows immediately after the beatitudes.
Matthew 5:31 It has been said, Whosoever shall put away [divorce] his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
That was a common saying as Jesus Christ walked the earth during His public ministry – just like it is today!
“Just get a divorce – that will solve all your problems.” Jesus continues:
Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, [porneia] causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery.
So we see right there, in this verse, that ‘putting away’ is the same as divorce. Within the Church of God, we have had difficulty in coming to grasp the full intent of the Scriptures with regard to marriage, separation, divorce and remarriage. It is difficult because in one case, a converted person may remarry, and on the other hand remarriage is forbidden, because the marriage is still bound.
Do we know the scriptural definition? Do we know the difference? Do we know what Jesus Christ meant? Though marriage is a physical union, it is a divine institution, established by God at creation. We cannot treat this matter lightly. In God’s eyes, many are living in adultery because they have disregarded God’s word.
What does it mean to be bound in a covenant relationship? When a man and a woman come together as husband and wife, a covenant is established. A covenant is a binding compact or promise. It is a formal sealed agreement, or a contract that binds the parties until completion of the terms, or as in marriage, until the death of one of the parties.
It is a great travesty when a marriage covenant is broken, and it is a terrible thing. There are ramifications that go throughout the life of all of the parties involved, especially if there are children. Man enters into covenants, and God enters into covenants, but only God has proven faithful to honor and keep the covenants He has entered into.
But Jesus explained that the marriage covenant was to be kept sacred and unbroken, because it is something very precious.
Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto [Jesus], tempting Him, and saying unto Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for any reason?
Today we have “alienation of affection.” Is that a cause, brethren, for a divorce? What if she burns the toast, is that a cause? Getting her first wrinkle? – Can you trade her in for a new one?
The Pharisees were asking Jesus Christ if you can put your wife away for any old reason at all. So this is a perfect set-up for Jesus Christ to teach the Word of God.
Matthew 19:4 And [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female,
Matthew 19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
That is a covenant-bound marriage.
Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mark 10:9)
‘Put asunder,’ is the same word in Greek as ‘depart’ in 1Corinthians 7:10 and 1Corinthians 7:15. Let not man grant a divorce decree – is what this verse is saying.
Matthew 19:7 They said unto Him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
The Pharisees thought that they had Jesus Christ over the barrel.
Matthew 19:8 He said unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts allowed you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication [porneia], and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away [divorced] commits adultery.
Brethren, we need to ask ourselves the question: What is it that constitutes the Biblical meaning of fornication, or porneia? We have always recognized premarital fraud, and lying about your true character to the one you intend to marry. Why is that? It is because everyone entering into a marriage has a right to know who they are marrying. What is the character of the person that you are entering into marriage with?
I will just add that there are other perversions besides porneia. …including, but not narrowly limited to, adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, perversions, prostitution, incest, pornography, sex trafficking, or any sexually addictive deviant behavior. Drug addictions and other perversions rise to the level and often include porneia.
Toward the end of his life, Herbert W. Armstrong came to understand that porneia also included sexual transgression within marriage. Within the home marriage, I believe any appalling pattern of physical cruelty and mental abuse of the mate or the children rises to the level of Christ’s exception (Matthew 19:9).
If a child is being molested – that is porneia – and it violates Gods call to peace! In the marriage relationship, we are called to peace (1 Corinthians 7:15).
We are called to peace, and a wife and the children are not to be battered objects.
Matthew 19:10 His disciples say unto Him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
In other words, “Man you could really get yourself into a jam really quickly by getting married. Maybe it is better to stay single.” …Talking about a paradigm shift in the apostles thinking, their world was turned upside-down when Jesus told them how stringent and inflexible God’s rule on divorce and remarriage was.
Matthew 19:11 But [Jesus] said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
Yes, you must be converted to grasp the magnitude of the marriage covenant. The apostles were not yet converted – that would come later at Pentecost – and they had seen too many marriages with terrible infractions in them. There is a difference between the mind of those in the world, and the converted mind. The converted mind begins to see things God’s way.
This word of God was preserved for the Church of God, the people of God, the saints, the called out people of God. But the reality of life all around the world is that people have human nature, and even in God’s Church we have human nature with which to contend.
Brethren, when we have the failure of one or both partners to live up to the expectancy of their marriage covenant, it could result in divorce. What do the scriptures say about divorce? God hates divorce.
Malachi 2:16 “For the LORD, the God of Israel, says that He hates putting away [divorce].”
God created marriage, and it is the natural state of man and woman. Divorce destroys marriage. But converted Christians, who are led by God’s Holy Spirit, are held to the highest standard by God.
The purpose of a Godly marriage is, first of all, for each partner to help complete the spiritual development and character within their spouse. Some people would say that it is to have kids, or it is to have happiness in life. Let me repeat that, the purpose of a Godly marriage is for each partner to help complete the spiritual development within their spouse.
Each mate’s spiritual responsibility, their solemn duty within the marriage relationship, is to help and enable their partner to God’s Kingdom. It will take all of their lives together to achieve their full spiritual potential.
It takes work, and it takes thought and prayer to help their spouse to grow in Godly character to the highest degree attainable.
If a spouse says, “I am not going to say anything, I will suffer quietly, and I will let him or her go the way that they want, because God is going to have to take care of it”, then we are not living up to our responsibility in the marriage.
Marriage among God’s people must reflect the exact picture of Jesus Christ, and His loving relationship with the Church (Ephesians 5:32). Jesus Christ died for the Church, and He gave His all. In so doing, each spouse will ultimately arrive at the highest place that God has prepared for them (John 14:2). It will be the place in God’s Kingdom that is attainable for them.
Marriage for those in God’s Church must be a close, intimate, nothing-held-back, personal relationship where each is willing to sacrifice themselves in Godly love for the other. God is going to use the “good” marriages of today as beautiful examples to all those in the World Tomorrow.
Good marriages are very hard to find. When you search the Scriptures, you will find very few exemplary marriages. It is God’s intention, and with His help, that wonderful marriages are absolutely possible at this time.
Yes, it takes sacrificing, it takes prayer and fasting. Our marriages should be all that they can be. One of the greatest blessings from God in this life is a happy marriage.
Marriage reflects the exact picture of Jesus Christ and His loving relationship with His Church (Ephesians 5:32).
This is how we are able to see God in the creation. If we can picture in our minds, the most beautiful marriage of serving, happiness, creativity, and happy children who honor their parents, then we can picture God bringing sons and daughters to glory in the resurrection.
Hebrews 2:10 For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many of His children unto glory…
Sadly, very few marriages reach the level of marital harmony that God has intended. Too many marriages are plagued with anger, resentment, hurt and infidelity.
As with all things, God has given us instructions on how to have a happy and successful marriage. This world is destroying marriages, and Satan is involved. In today’s chaotic world, the sanctity of marriage is all but lost. America and England are in awful decline.
I do not know what the statistics are in the United States of America right now, and it would not do any good to give it, because tomorrow and the next day it would be worse. I went back and looked at the divorce rate when I was dating my wife, fifty-seven years ago, and it was 3% in the area that we lived. There was a very, very low divorce rate, and I thought that was the way that it was supposed to be.
Today, marriage as an institution is being rejected as unnecessary, and out of date—it is passé. Brethren, keep in mind that God’s view of marriage is entirely different from what you would find in the mainstream media. God designed marriage for the purpose of bringing many sons and daughters to glory, and He has given man an integral part in the creation process (Hebrews 2:10).
A man and woman come together and they make a little baby, and that little baby’s ultimate reality and potential is to be a child of God, born into the Kingdom of God, and resurrected for all eternity.
The sacred establishment of marriage is under attack by Satan, because it is the foundation upon which the family and society is founded. This world will not long exist when marriage is stamped out.
Paul is speaking to the converted brethren in the Church of God about marriage. When Paul says, “a brother” or “a sister,” he is speaking of converted brethren in God’s Church.
1Corinthians 7:8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. [“Stay single if you are able to do so.”]
There are two categories of people being spoken of here, and that refers to the unmarried people in God’s Church, and to those who have lost their mate. Paul was making his point that it is difficult to be a Christian, and it would be good if they could just set a high standard, remain unmarried and serve the Lord continuously.
1Corinthians 7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
That word ‘contain’ has to do with self-control; restraint on your emotions and your affections that you need to keep in check. This word ‘burn’ is pretty strong, and it means to be inflamed with inordinate desire. That is not God’s intention.
1Corinthians 7:10 And unto the [converted] married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
When God called both partners into the Church they came into God’s Church already married, their baptismal vows ratified their marriage vow, thus making them fully accountable to God at this present time.
There are vows in the world, and men break them. There are vows that are made with God that must never be broken. What Paul is saying here in verse 10, is that we are talking about converted people who have a marriage covenant, and that vow is not to be broken.
They are “bound” to remain that way. They have a marriage covenant unto death. Under no circumstances is a converted man, married to a converted woman, ever allowed to “put away his wife” and re-marry. It is totally out of the question according to God’s law. For converted brethren, marriage is for life. We need to understand that those who are converted are being judged now (1Peter 4:17).
1Corinthians 7:11 But and if she depart, [the reasons would have to be extremely serious] let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
Converted brethren are allowed by God to SEPARATE, but they are never allowed to DIVORCE. Paul is saying that between converted married couples, there could be a problem that is so horrendous, and so impossible to deal with that they would not be able to stay under the same roof. It happens sometimes… Paul has covered the categories of married, unmarried, widows, and now Paul says:
I Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord…
Who are the rest? We saw unmarried, widowed, and married, but what other category is there? Paul is speaking to those converted Christians who have an unconverted spouse, and they constitute a unique category. God has not addressed this anywhere in scripture before, and it needs to be set forth.
1Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest [those with an unconverted mate] speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
So there was a situation in Corinth, and we have this situation all over the world today, where a married person has an unconverted mate. The married Christian man comes into the Church – and he is not allowed to divorce his wife – even though she is not in the Church, and she is not converted.
Converted people must do everything humanly and spiritually possibly to build a Godly relationship within their covenant marriage. They have a covenant marriage, and their covenant is to each other. And, they have a covenant with God that is not to be broken.
If a converted person were to decide to divorce a non-believer who was indeed pleased to lovingly dwell, that converted mate would not be free to remarry, because their marriage would remain bound by God.
If an unconverted spouse is pleased to dwell with a converted person, that is, being willing to abide by their marriage covenant, then their marriage is bound by God. Just like we would say, “I have seen some pretty good marriages in the world.” God says that you do not dissolve a marriage like that.
A Converted person is not permitted to marry an unconverted person. Christians are to marry “Only in the Lord” (1Corinthians 7:39).
There is no divorce allowed by God for two converted people, or in this case one who is converted and one who is not converted when she is pleased to dwell with him. God makes no provision for a converted person to divorce. A converted person is not allowed to initiate, precipitate, cause or bring about a divorce. Quite the contrary, a converted person will do everything possible to make their marriage a wonderful relationship, and a Godly marriage. Some mates are called through their converted spouse (1Corinthians 7:16).
God has not addressed this situation in the scriptures, but Paul is facing the problem and must give an answer according to God’s word.
Paul says in 1Corinthians 7:40 …after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.
Paul says, ‘I know the Scriptures’, and he is not bragging here, he is just saying that he is in a position to relate to the Church the principles God has said about this situation of divorce and remarriage.
1Corinthians 7:13 And the [converted] woman which has an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
Why? First of all, the marriage covenant has been ratified at least on the part of the converted believer. When a person goes into the watery grave at baptism and says, “God, I will put your Way first”, that ratifies their marriage covenant, and they are going to remain faithful to their mate.
There are many versions of “Divorce and Remarriage” that are extant today in the churches of God. Many people want to put a different spin on them. How can we know what is correct in God’s eyes? We should be very careful as this is a very important subject! Unfortunately, too many people violate their marriage covenant, and show by their actions that they are not pleased to dwell with their mate with whom a covenant has been made. As a result, a Christian is left in a dilemma.
We are talking about a Christian, in God’s Church, keeping God’s Law, married to a person who by their lack of spiritual fruit demonstrate that they are an unconverted person (who pretends to be a believing) person who violates God’s laws, and becomes unfaithful by doing things that are unseemly and unGodly in their marriage.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets [false ministers], who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Here is God’s instruction in such a case: The Title of this sermon comes from this next verse:
**1Corinthians 7:15 “But if the unbelieving [mate] departs, let him depart. A brother or a sister [converted person] is not under bondage [bound or enslaved] in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.”
One departs the marriage covenant by abandonment, or going back into the world, and into addictive deviant behavior, or participating in any form of porneia, or by finding another mate… Paul reminds Christians of the obligation to save their spouse if at all possible:
1Corinthians 7:16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife. (The Greek sozo save, means to deliver or protect.)
Paul is saying that the unconverted spouse may be saved. When Paul says “For all you know,” I think that he is saying it is entirely possible that their spouse may be saved by coming to repentance.
It would be because of the converted person’s actions, sacrifices, giving, loving, yielding, and giving 100% to save the marriage.
Let us understand this. If the unbelieving person in a marriage, where there is one converted spouse and one not converted, and the unbeliever habitually behaves inappropriately in an un-godly and sinful manner, they have departed their covenant vow. The converted man or woman left in ‘half’ a relationship is not under bondage. There is no such thing as ‘half’ a relationship.
There is no way the converted person can make life hard, run their mate off and say, “See? They left!” God will hold them guilty if they do something like that.
Each mate’s spiritual responsibility, within the marriage relationship, is to help and enable their partner, for all of their lives together, to grow in Godly character to the highest degree attainable.
Too often, a weak mate will become a negative force in the relationship. Sometimes one partner will enable the other partner to continue in sin – as Adam did to Eve – even though he knew better. In God’s Church when one partner enables the other partner to continue in their sin—for ‘the sake of peace in the family’—it is a false, worldly, sinful ‘peace.’
Neither the sinner nor the adverse enabler are worthy of the Kingdom of God. To hold one’s tongue in the face of sin is not the love of God. By not confronting the sinner, the harmful enabler is guaranteeing – yes, certifying that their partner will not make it into God’s Kingdom.
God gives us clear instructions in Matthew 18:15-17 on how to handle such a situation. By step number three, the sinner should be motivated to repent! A false minister is not going to want his sins exposed to the congregation.
True Christianity calls for the courage to stand up to the sinning partner and cause them to turn to repentance. That way, their eternal life is saved. James put it this way:
James 5:20 Know this, whosoever turns around and brings back the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.
Yes, both the sinner and the enabler are recovered from their erroneous ways – their sins are forgiven – and they go into the Kingdom of God together.
1Peter 3:7 …being heirs together of the grace of life;
That is precisely what a helpmate is supposed to do. They are not free to walk away from their commitment. God placed those married partners in that situation so that intervention can take place. However, if the enabler and the sinner continue down their erroneous path, Jesus Christ’s death will not cover their sins. Peter said:
2Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
Hebrews 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
Hebrews 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,
Hebrews 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
The situation is made difficult when the habitual sinner – plays mind-games – and claims to be converted.
So, before a Christian departs their marriage from a non-repentant, sinning unbeliever – that spouse must do due diligence to ascertain, before God, that indeed their mate has no intention of repenting. The Christian must refute the false premise that the sinner is converted, (he is not!), and accept that there is no evidence of fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Christian party, after comprehensive spiritual discernment, must be able to say to God (not some D&R committee) that every effort to reconcile the marriage was of no avail. (D&R is short for divorce and remarriage.) Only then may the Christian conclude that the spouse is unconverted and not pleased to dwell (1Corinthians 7:12-13).
Romans 14:10-12 …We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ… So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
God intends for Christians who have been betrayed, frauded, abused or deserted, to be free to re-marry and to go forward, having peaceful productive Christian lives, and not remain in lifelong bondage to a lawless mate who could not care less about a marriage covenant.
The covenant has been broken, and ended by the one who departed and ended the marriage covenant vow. In the case of binding and loosing there is no in-between, one is either bound or free. When Paul says that a brother or sister is not under bondage it means that they are free, and there is no covenant relationship that exists any more.
The converted believer is free to remarry, because an unconverted mate does not, in effect, depart a marriage and still continue to hold the converted Christian in bondage the rest of their natural life. The converted brother or sister in Christ is loosed, and they are not bound when the unconverted mate departs the relationship either by leaving them self, or by making living conditions so dreadful that the converted party has no peace for Bible study, prayer and a decent, wholesome life.
For those in the world, the unconverted, they are NOT now able to live by the laws of God. It takes God’s Spirit to lead one into righteousness.
Jesus has shown the distinction between those that are in the world, and those converted brethren within the Church. A converted person is being judged by God now – and is responsible to God now.
The unconverted person will be judged in the second resurrection. One of the greatest blessings from God in this life is a happy marriage. What a wonderful and beautiful thing it is to have a truly blessed covenant relationship in marriage.
End: Called to Peace
Countdown to the Return of Jesus Christ
We’ve all known people who have had troubled marriages. God does not intend that marriage be that way. I want to share the story of a dear lady in God’s Church.
For years and years, she endured her marriage to a cruel man of deviant behavior. He has long since died and his wife is elderly. God delivered her. She is now truly a converted happy woman, active, prayerful, and faithful. But when discussing the “Bride of Christ,” she froze up. She said, “The thought of marriage – even to Jesus Christ Himself, terrifies me.” Her life’s experience under bondage to a heartless perverted man left her with a dread of marriage. For years, her marriage to a bad-tempered husband was excruciating, and without hope, contentment or happiness. He made her living conditions so frightful that she had no peace for Bible study, prayer or a decent, wholesome life.
No one came to her rescue – not even the church. The church ruled that her marriage was legal when her husband stated that he was pleased to dwell with her. It was a hard judgment – without mercy or compassion. For years, she prayed and begged God for relief. And when that harsh man finally died, she said to herself, “Never again.” Marriage had taught her a bitter lesson.
Brethren, that is not the lesson that God intends that we draw from the sacred marriage union. Jesus does not intend for true Christians to be held in bondage all of their lives by someone who has no intention of ever honoring the marriage vow. That constitutes spiritual slavery – and is against the will of God.
What can be done when a converted person realizes that he or she has come to an impasse in their marriage because the actions of the other spouse disclose that they are not pleased to dwell in a Godly relationship? On one hand, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), but on the other hand, God has called us to peace (1Corinthians 7:15). Is a divorce ever permissible by Jesus Christ? Is remarriage ever an option for a true Christian who is divorced? These are difficult questions, but we need to understand God’s word on these matters.
God intends for Christians who have been betrayed, frauded, abused or deserted, to be free to re-marry and to go forward, having peaceful productive Christian lives, and not remain in lifelong bondage to a lawless mate who could not care less about a marriage covenant. Paul clarifies:
1Corinthians 7:15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A [converted] brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace.
There are varied ways an unconverted mate departs a marriage for the world: Divorce, abandonment, addictive porneia, or finds another mate. The marriage has been broken and ended by the one who departed the covenant by breaking the marriage vow. In the case of binding and loosing there is no in-between, one is either bound or free. I mention this because some brethren in the Church have been taught that though they are no longer bound, they still cannot remarry. That is not the case because, according to God’s word, there is no in-between. You are either bound or you are free. But, before that determination is made, Paul reminds Christians of the obligation to save their spouse if at all possible:
1Corinthians 7:16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.
Before a Christian departs their marriage from a non-repentant, sinning unbeliever – that spouse must do due diligence to ascertain, before God, that indeed their mate has no intention of repenting. The Christian must refute the false premise that the sinner is converted, and accept that there is no evidence of fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Christian party, after comprehensive spiritual discernment, must be able to say to God that every effort to reconcile the marriage was of no avail. Only then may the Christian conclude that the spouse is unconverted and not pleased to dwell (1Corinthians 7:12-13).
God has called us to peace – and He makes the way possible. The converted mate must courageously take a stand and face the situation as Queen Esther did. It is imperative, it is not optional. The Book of Esther demonstrates how God is working behind the scenes directing our steps to accomplish His divine purpose. Mordecai tells Esther that she is being used by God to save the Jewish people, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Mordecai also warns Esther that her life and salvation are at stake – because if she does not perform – God will surely find another way to deliver the Jews, because after all, the Messiah will yet come from the line of Judah!
When Paul says that a brother or sister is not under bondage it means that they are free, and there is no marriage covenant that exists any longer. The converted believer is free to remarry, because an unconverted mate cannot, in effect, depart a marriage and still continue to hold the converted Christian in bondage for the rest of their natural life.
End: Countdown to the Return of Jesus Christ