Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount
- The Blessings of Christ’s Kingdom (Matthew 5:1-12)
- The Blessings of Christ’s Kingdom: Blessings One and Two (Matthew 5:3-4)
- The Blessings of Christ’s Kingdom: Blessings 3-7
- The Blessings of Christ’s Kingdom: You Will Be Persecuted, But Yours Is The Kingdom of God (Matthew 5:10-12)
- Sermon on the Mount: Be Who You Are In Christ (Matthew 5:13-16)
- God’s Word Will Always Stand And It’s All About Jesus: Matthew 5:17-20
- The True Meaning of Adultery (Matthew 5:27-30)
- Adultery and the Seriousness of the Marriage Commitment (Matthew 5:31-32)
- Be People Of Truth (Matthew 5:33-47)
- Giving Grace Instead Of Vengeance (Matthew 5:38-42)
- What Does It Mean To Love Your Neighbor? (Matthew 5:43-47)
- Our Only Hope Is Jesus (Matthew 5:48)
- The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father
- The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father In Heaven, Hallowed Be Your Name
- The Lord’s Prayer: Your Kingdom Come
- The Lord’s Prayer: Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven
- The Lord’s Prayer: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
- Forgive Us Our Sins (Matthew 6:12)
- The Lord’s Prayer: Lead Us Not Into Temptation
- The Lord’s Prayer Activity
- Forgiven People Forgive (Matthew 6:14-15
- Fast Toward God, Not Others (Matthew 6:16-18)
- Live For What Will Last (Matthew 6:19-34)
- Judge Not, But Do Judge (Matthew 7:1-6)
- God Gives So That You Can Give (Matthew 7:6-12)
- Which Gate Have You Gone Through? Which Path Are You On? What Is Your Eternal Destination? (Matthew 7:13-14)
- Beware the False Prophet (Matthew 7:15-18)
- You May Think You Know Jesus, But Does Jesus Know You? (Matthew 7:21-23)
- All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand (Matthew 7:24-27)
“I hate divorce”, God says in Malachi 2:16. A lot of us here might well say, “I do too.” We have seen either in ourselves or in the people around us the great damage that can be done in a divorce. So, I think we would come together as a group and say that we hate divorce as well. Yet, divorce remains and has been a steadily growing part of our society. Divorce has plateaued of late because people are not getting married as much as they once did, choosing to be fornicators who live together instead. The damage done is much the same. Any time a person joins someone else in a way that is reserved only for married people then the damage can be great. And so, we are here, in a society greatly damaged by divorce and actions much like divorce struggling to see what the real problem is. In a world where God and almost everyone else hates divorce and sees the damage that it does, it is shocking to see how prevalent it is.
This message is strange because it is about marriage and none of you listening to the message are married yet. So, what I want to do today is to look at what marriage is and Jesus’ discussion of it here as it applies to the command not to commit adultery. By doing this it is my hope that you will leave here understanding more what marriage is and the great commitment so that someday you don’t wade into these waters not understanding the great commitment that you are making. This message, much like many other messages, is going to call you to live like a person from a different planet in comparison to those around you.
Have you ever planted a tree in your yard? I remember a tree that my Dad planted when I was little. He would say that it would give good shade on the house someday. He was right. I watched that tree grow, slowly. It wasn’t until I was about to move out of the home I grew up in to go to college that it really shaded the house. Today it is a big and beautiful tree. Sometimes you have to plant something knowing that one day the benefits will be tremendous. It is my hope that we will look at marriage and that one day the fruit of this will be tremendous.
We will see that marriage is a forever commitment and its breaking is an act of adultery.
Read Matthew 5:31-32
The Commitment of Marriage (Matthew 5:31-32)
The teachers’ of Jesus’ day and of previous generations taught that it was okay to divorce, some even taught it was okay to divorce for insignificant reasons. Many people agreed with a teacher named Hillel that Deuteronomy 24:1-4 allowed for divorce for the slightest reasons and there was a tremendous amount of debate around this topic. But again, like in the previous two weeks Jesus is going to teach these people the meaning of the command not to commit adultery. He is going to teach that this type of attitude is breaking the command not to commit adultery.
The commitment of marriage was always intended to be immense. Marriage is a joining of two people into one (Genesis 2:24). The husband was to leave his home and “hold fast to his wife” (Genesis 2:24). This was never about a small commitment. It was always the joining of a life together. The two become one. The commitment of marriage is about more than living together and joining together a bank account. In marriage, you become one-flesh with another person. A man and wife come together and join as one. You have a life together. You have kids together. You have a home together. You have finances together. You get invited over as a couple to see friends together. Your lives are completely joined as one. This is no small commitment.
By looking at the commitment to one another in marriage we begin to get our priorities right. Marriage is not a dream wedding. Marriage is not about the dress. Marriage is not about the cake, the food, the music or anything else going on at the wedding. It’s not about the feeling of love that you hope never goes away. It’s not about most anything that your read or see in Romantic Movies or books. Marriage is a commitment that you make to someone. It is this commitment that keeps the love going throughout your marriage.
Disney has got it all wrong. Watch the romantic storylines in Disney films and it always ends with two people deeply in love with each other and so they get married and that’s where it all ends. It’s not as glamorous, but the more heroic and interesting story comes much later. It comes when one spouse must take care of the other one through some sort of illness or struggle. That feeling of love can carry you to the altar and I hope that it does. But the commitment made in a marriage is what carries the love you have for one another for the rest of your life. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated to friends about to get married,
“It is not your love that sustains the marriage,
but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from Letters and Papers from Prison
This means that we need to be people who take marriage seriously enough that we prepare ourselves to be the type of person who can make this commitment. And we should look for someone who can do likewise. We work to be people who can care for and love a husband or wife. Men, become people who can take care of a family. Prepare yourself to be able to provide for your family, to lead your family, and to love your family in a self-sacrificial way. Ladies, become people who can love and take care of your family. Become people who can take on the weight of this awesome commitment.
This also means that you need to look for people who can bear the weight of this awesome commitment. If you are a Christian then you need to look for a Christian to marry. There are few things in Scripture that are repeated so many times and in so many ways as this. If you do not believe me then look it up yourself (Genesis 24, 27:48-28:9, 34:8-9; Deuteronomy 7:3-4; Joshua 23:12; 1 Corinthians 7:3-9; 2 Corinthians 6:14). Whether it be through the telling of a story, a command not to intermarry with people from the land they were going in to, or the New Testament picking up on these principles and applying them to their day it is clear that God commands His people to marry within the community of faith. And beyond this you need to look for people who can carry the burden of the commitment that is going to be asked of them.
Let us be people who take romantic relationships seriously. We saw last week that fornication is breaking the command against adultery. Now we see that divorce is also breaking that same command. This is serious business. Take it seriously. Don’t just run around dating people and giving your heart to everyone who passes by. There is an intense commitment in marriage that our culture fails to let us see. But here, we find it in the words of Christ from the Sermon on the Mount.
An incredible example of what I am here discussing comes from the life of one of America’s preeminent theologians, a Princeton Professor and prolific author, B.B. Warfield.
As a young man Warfield married a woman named Annie Pearce Kinkead in 1876. They both had some money and could afford a European honeymoon. While there the two of them were caught in a violent thunderstorm. Annie suffered trauma to here nervous system and never recovered. She spend the rest of her life as an invalid and her condition only worsened as time went on. Those who knew the Warfields said that the rest of their time together she needed constant care. His wife was frail and he would be by her side until her passing in 1915. His friends at Princeton often noted the care he gave her was gentle, caring, and he was rarely absent from her for any real length of time. This is a tremendous picture of a husband who took his commitment to his wife seriously.
Let us be people who take the marriage commitment seriously. Let us become and choose the type of people who can carry out this commitment. Let us take this commitment seriously.
Marriage is Forever (Matthew 5:31-32)
The commitment of marriage itself is not the only thing we should take seriously, but we should also take the length of time seriously. Read Jesus’s words here. The person who divorces his wife, unless she committed adultery and broke the covenant of marriage herself, causes her to commit adultery. Divorce was not part of the original creation and man is to “hold fast to his wife” (Genesis 2:24). Divorce was allowed due to hardness of heart according to Jesus in Matthew 19:8. So, divorce is itself a result of the Fall of mankind and not part of the original and good creation. Giving a certificate of divorce was done in order to protect women from men who would just cast them away without taking care of them. This allowed these women to go back home and be remarried.
Remember, it was being taught by some that simple dissatisfaction with your wife was reason enough to get a divorce. Jesus is here showing that this is not the case. The teachers had again, like we’ve discussed over the last few weeks, misinterpreted the command concerning adultery. Marriage is forever and by getting a divorce one is breaking the command not to commit adultery.
There is much discussion about how this idea is to be applied. There are a few exceptions throughout the Scriptures that allow one to get a divorce. Here, Jesus only lists one which is infidelity. I don’t want to dig far into the controversy, I think that will miss the point of the message today. We see two very clear times when it is okay to divorce. The first is mentioned here and that is adultery. The second is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 and it is abandonment by an unbeliever. Marriage is itself a lifelong commitment and that is really the point that I want us to understand today.
Marriage is not esteemed today as it once was it requires real work and preparation. It is not held in the esteem that God holds it and the length of the commitment is not that important to people today either. You don’t fall out of love and get divorced. You don’t make this commitment and decide to divorce a few months later because it just didn’t work out. Marriage is not a commitment that you run into without preparation and consideration. This is not like choosing whether or not you’ll play football next season. It is a lifetime commitment to a person of the opposite gender.
Don’t romanticize relationships in the Disney way. Disney doesn’t show people growing old together and being with each other through immense difficulties. Disney doesn’t teach marriage well. And it’s not just Disney, it’s rare to find Hollywood depict marriage well. Hollywood really builds up the part where love brings two people to the altar, but it doesn’t know how to depict a life together well.
Let us be people who commit in marriage and spend our time preparing to be the type of people that make and fill these long-term commitments.
Breaking the Covenant of Marriage is to Break the Law of God (Matthew 5:31-32)
Jesus doesn’t just say that divorce is wrong. He says that divorce makes an adulterer out of you. If a husband divorces his wife for little to no reason and she gets married, then he has caused her to become an adulterer. The fault lies with him, he has caused it. To marry after divorcing is to become an adulterer. There was an exception to this and Jesus gives it here, unfaithfulness in marriage.
Today it is acceptable for a person in our society to divorce for almost any reason. I have heard many reasons for divorce. I have heard people say that they should never have married the person, they didn’t love each other, they wanted different things, they fought a lot, and really the list could go on and on. But, just because the government says that something is okay to do, does that make it okay to do? Is the government the arbiter of justice? Well, I think we would all say “no”. Divorce is an affront to the God of the Universe and He says, “I hate divorce.” (Malachi 2:16).
This is all discussed within the commandment against adultery. The message is completely and totally clear. To break off a marriage for many of the reasons we hear today, is to break the Law of God.
We need to be people who take marriage seriously. It is best for you to begin to take it seriously now and, has already been stated repeatedly, begin to work the characteristics required for a good marriage commitment within your life and consider only people who would be good in this commitment to marry. Understanding the seriousness of this covenant will help you to understand your relationships better. It will help you to walk in wisdom with regard to your dating life and eventually who you will marry.
Marriage Means More Than Just Marriage (Ephesians 5:31-32)
I don’t often leave a text in a message, but I wanted to make something clear before leaving the topic of marriage. Some of you may be wondering why God cares so much about marriage. And I believe Ephesians 5:31-32 to be the reason.
Marriage is a picture of something very important to God. It is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Jesus loved the Church and gave up His life for the Church. The husband is to give up His life for His wife. He is her protector and is to be willing to sacrifice himself for her. He is also to live self-sacrificially for his wife. And the Church submits to Christ. The wife is a picture of the Church. The loving submission of the wife to the caring and self-sacrificing husband. What a beautiful picture!
So, why does God take marriage so seriously? Because He designed marriage as a picture of the gospel. Jesus Christ came to Earth and lived a perfect life for the Church. He died a sacrificial death, dying for the sins of the Church. He rose from the dead three days later having accomplished the salvation of the Church. And the Church now loves the one who lived and died for them.
Marriage is important to God because it reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church. God holds marriage in high esteem, but people oftentimes do not. Marriage is a forever commitment and its breaking is an act of adultery.
The challenge for you here today is to think of marriage the way that God does. By doing this my prayer is that you will examine your lives and the character you are building into it and begin to work toward being the type of person who makes this serious and lifelong commitment to another person. I also hope and pray that you will not take the decision of who you marry lightly and will look for a believer who has the characteristics of someone who can live in this serious and lifelong commitment with you.