Matthew 19:3 – 10
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 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’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 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. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a]
10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
1. What is happening?
a. The Pharisees test Jesus about divorce “for any cause.”
b. Jesus teaches them from God’s design.
2. What is Jesus teaching?
a. [v 4] There is a creator who made them “male and female.”
b. [v 5] The “leave and hold fast” principle.
1.) Why leave? BECAUSE people with a safety net tend to use it when things get difficult.
2.) Why hold fast? BECAUSE marriage does not work without absolute trust.
c. [v 6] The “one flesh” principle.
1.) Genesis: Eve was just created out of Adam (act of creation).
2.) Now God puts them back together as “one flesh” (act of creation).
3. What’s the problem?
a. “Divorce” [v 7]
1.) Allowed by Moses. [v 7]
2.) The command was to give a “certificate of divorce” effectively allowing her to remarry. BASICALLY Moses was protecting the woman.
b. The real problem Jesus identified “hardness of heart.”
1.) “Hard heart” is being unresponsive.
2.) “Hard heart” is being unwilling.
3.) “Hard heart” is also another way to understand “selfishness.”
c. [v 8] “… but from the beginning it was no so.”
1.) God’s design prevents events that lead to divorce.
2.) When the design is violated, pain follows.
d. Reasons for divorce and remarriage.
1.) [v 9] “Sexual immorality” [Paul will build on the “hard heart” theme and add “abandonment.”
2.) Remarriage after divorce on the grounds of a “hard heart,” Jesus calls “adultery.”
4. Here’s the thing:
a. God considers marriage as HIS work (like creation).
b. Anything that violates that, HE takes personally.
1.) Because God designed man and woman to be permanently together: “one flesh.”
2.) Because God used marriage (and adultery) as an illustration of relationship between Himself and His people (Israel and the church).
d. This is difficult to accept. Even the disciples reaction is “it is better not to marry.”
1.) [vv 11 – 12] Jesus expected those who followed Him, who did not like this, to live like eunuchs (no sex).
2.) Rest of the Bible: sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman for life breaks God’s design.
5. The dangers of not following God’s design? [1 Corinthians 6:15 – 20]
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined[d] to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin[e] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
a. [v 15] Believers are members of Christ. (Prostitute is in keeping with the image of the temples of Corinth.)
b. [v 16] Paul equates sex with the marriage formula from Genesis, as quoted by Jesus.
c. [v 17] Sexual immorality is against the person’s “own body.”
d. [vv 19c – 20] “You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! [Psalm 19:13 a]
e. Once sexual sin grips a person, it can drag us to hell.
6. So how do we recover?
a. Innocence can never be regained.
b. Some things once broken can never be fixed. (“own body” Paul used)
c. Since we cannot go back and undo then we must move forward.
c. It starts here:
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 2:4 – 5a Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.
1.) Acknowledge that God is right and we are wrong.
2.) Start doing the right thing.