"THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT"
The Effects Of Divorce
1. As we continue our study of "The Sermon On The Mount," we find Jesus
in our text still discussing "The Righteousness Of The Kingdom"
2. Having dealt with the subjects of "murder" (Mt 5:21-26) and "adultery"
(Mt 5:27-30), He now addresses the matter of "divorce" (Mt 5:31-32)
3. The effect of what Jesus teaches on this subject is even more
challenging than His comments on adultery, but please keep in mind...
a. Jesus DID warn us in verse 20 that the righteousness of those who
would be citizens of His Kingdom is one with very high standards
b. If we truly desire to be citizens of that kingdom, we must be
willing to accept whatever Jesus may require of us
c. We should take courage from the fact that we are not alone in our
efforts to do God's Will, and that whatever strength is needed
will be provided cf. Phil 2:12-13; Phil 4:13
[On the subject of divorce, then, consider first...]
I. THE "TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION" OF THE LAW Mt 5:31
A. "WHOEVER DIVORCES HIS WIFE, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF
1. This was the "traditional" interpretation of Deu 24:1-4
2. In applying the Law, they had focused on the certificate of divorce
3. I.e., they concluded divorce was permissible as long as a
certificate of divorce was given to the wife
B. BUT IS THIS WHAT THE LAW ACTUALLY SAID?
1. Please read Deu 24:1-4 carefully...
a. Verses 1-3 are simply describing a particular situation
b. It is in verse 4 that Moses actually commands what must not
c. Which was: "her former husband who divorced her must not
take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled;
for that is an abomination to the Lord"
d. This passage is simply forbidding a man to remarry his wife
after she had been married to another. cf. Jer 3:1
2. But the scribes and Pharisees had interpreted it to permit
divorce as long as a certificate of divorce was given to the
a. Is this a proper interpretation and application?
b. What does Jesus say?
II. JESUS' INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF THE LAW ON DIVORCE (Mt 5:32)
A. "WHOEVER DIVORCES HIS WIFE FOR ANY REASON EXCEPT SEXUAL
IMMORALITY CAUSES HER TO COMMIT ADULTERY"...
1. The only acceptable grounds for divorcing a wife is ADULTERY
2. Otherwise, divorcing a wife "causes her to commit adultery"
3. How? By placing her in a position where she is likely to
remarry, in which she becomes "defiled" (cf. Deu 24:4 )
4. Isn't that what the Law stated in Deu 24:4 and Jer 3:1?
a. That is why the first husband couldn't take her back
b. Even if her second husband had died
c. Because the wife had become "defiled"
5. Notice these comments by KEIL & DELITZSCH...
"The second marriage of a woman who had been divorced is
designated by Moses a defilement of the woman...a moral
defilement, i.e., blemishing, desecration of the sexual
communion which was sanctified by marriage, IN THE SAME
SENSE IN WHICH ADULTERY IS CALLED A DEFILEMENT in Lev 18:20
and Num 5:13-14..."
"Thus the second marriage of a divorced woman was placed implicit
upon a par with adultery, and some approach was made towards
the teaching of Christ concerning marriage Mt 5:32..."
"If the second marriage of a divorced woman was a moral
defilement, of course the wife could not marry the first
again even after the death of her second husband...because
the defilement of the wife would be thereby repeated, and
even increased, as the moral defilement which the divorced
wife acquired through the second marriage was not removed by
a divorce from the second husband, nor yet by his death."
6. Therefore, Jesus was simply making very clear what the Law
itself implied: THAT TO DIVORCE A WOMAN EXCEPT FOR SEXUAL
IMMORALITY WOULD CAUSE HER TO BE DEFILED (WHEN SHE REMARRIED)
7. This interpretation and application of the Law by Jesus is in
harmony with Paul's understanding of the Law - cf. Ro 7:1-3
a. A woman was bound by the Law to her husband as long he lived
b. If she married another while her first husband was still
living (implying a certificate of divorce was given), she
became an adulteress (i.e., defiled)
B. "WHOEVER MARRIES A DIVORCED WOMAN COMMITS ADULTERY"...
1. Jesus goes on to say that anyone who marries a person who has
been divorced (literally, "put away") also commits adultery
2. Jesus does not use the definite article in reference to one
put away, therefore He seems to refer to ANY "put away" person
a. I.e., a person who is "put away" for reasons OTHER than adultery
1) Because such would "cause them to commit adultery"
2) Or to put it in O.T. terms "becomes defiled"
b. Nor can a person "put away" for the reason of adultery
1) For such a person is an "adulteress" or "adulterer"
2) As such, that person is "defiled" and would thereby cause anyone who
married that person to commit adultery
1. In Mt 19:3-12 Jesus elaborates as to whom has the right to divorce
his spouse and be free to remarry - i.e., an innocent spouse who
divorces his guilty spouse because of fornication
2. But in this passage, Jesus teaches that the righteousness of the
a. That a man cannot divorce his wife without causing her to commit
adultery (by her subsequent marriage), unless she has already
b. That whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery
-- WHAT IS SAID ABOUT A MAN DIVORCING HIS WIFE WOULD ALSO BE TRUE
ABOUT A WOMAN DIVORCING HER HUSBAND, IN VIEW OF Mk 10:11-12
3. Therefore, I believe that a careful study of the Law concerning
a. That Jesus' teaching was really in harmony with the Law itself
b. But the "traditional interpretation and application" of the Law
had missed the mark by placing emphasis upon the mention of giving
a certificate of divorce
4. As difficult as Jesus' (and the Law's) teaching on the subject of
divorce might seem in today's permissive and immoral society, those
who respect the authority of Jesus Christ will abide by His teaching,
knowing all the while...
a. That He provides forgiveness for any failures to live by His
teachings in the past
b. That He provides whatever strength we may need to live by His
teachings in the future!
Our next study will concern Jesus' teaching on the matter of oaths...
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