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The Law and Gospel views on Christian Marriage and Divorce


Introduction: The nature of the exposition: IN this exposition it should be clear that no demand on Man made by God is to be idealized or moralized. Every demand of God is for a purpose. And it takes Man without sin to obey any demand of God. This applies to the Law given to Adam to keep before the Fall and to the Laws given to Israel by the hand of Moses. This point is to be kept in mind when we read the teachings of the Lord and Paul’s on Marriage against the backdrop of Moses’s Law on Divorce.

The question to be answered in the exposition of all demands of God, is, what was the condition of Man did God have in mind when He commanded Man to do this or that? He had in mind a Pre-Fall Adam. When Adam fell through sin, he became a Man in need of deliverance from the bondage to sin. The Post-Fall Law of God was to lead Man to the Cross of Calvary, for no Man under sin can keep any of the laws of God. The teaching of the Lord Jesus replicated by Paul was to make Israel know that the law could not be kept. Paul portrayed the dilemma of one who sincerely seeks to keep the law. What Paul discovered is what any man who sincerely seeks to keep the law, then, now and in the future will discover; namely “that apart from” (Jesus of Nazareth) we can do nothing (John 15:5). Paul’s experience is every sincere man’s experience.

“I find then a law, that when I would do good evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in  members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death “ (Romans 7:21-24).

Whatever the area of human endeavour addressed by the law, be the man, Jew or Christian in his attempt to be right with God, he will find Paul’s experience to be his. The Law is not an ideal of a moral duty; it is the revelator of sin dwelling in the flesh. Legalistic Pentecostals stumble at this truth; namely that the law was not given to the justified before God but to the condemned in the sight of God. In the Epistle to the Galatians we learn this truth. The Lord’s teaching on marriage and divorce was not to teach the performance of the law but the impossibility of man under sin to keep the law.

The marriage between the sin-dwelt man and woman is not a union but a coupling; Moses law permitted the dissolution of such coupling. But the Lord taught what became of couples after sexual consummation of their cohabitation; they become one flesh and whether conscious of this fact or not, sexual intimacy makes of two one; one flesh, or one spirit. The sexual intimacy of two sin-dwelt man and woman produces the union of one flesh; each has become members of the other; that is why this union is not dissoluble. But this union is not “glorified” or “idolized” it is just a fact.

This is why Paul taught celibacy as the antidote to adultery according to the teaching of the Lord. Calvary, however, brings the reign of sin to an end, for all that are dead are freed from sin (Romans 6:7). The union of sinners suffered the same fate at the Cross as the celibacy of the unmarried sinner “for we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead’ (II Cor 5:14b).

The marriage that counts in Christ is not that of couples, but that of members of the same body. The action of the Redeemed Christian Church of God when it removed the pastor because as one separated from his wife he was to remain unmarried or be reconciled to his wife was in defence of the union of two under bondage to sin, the legalistic union. This is their fundamental error. This is the conclusion argued for in the text to which this is an introduction.

Most Christian couples need the instruction in righteousness provided to the Corithian and Galatians churches; both churches were troubled by spiritual immaturity.


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