Divorce and Remarriage-Part Six
God's Mercy and Forgiveness
We have shared some hard words in regards to divorce and remarriage. We have made it clear that the New Testament does not give much room for divorce. We have shown that marriage is meant to be a life long commitment. So what about Christians who have gotten unbiblical divorces and have even gotten remarried after an unbiblical divorce. Is divorce the unpardonable sin?
Of course we all know that divorce is not the unpardonable sin. But there are Christian believers and leaders that treat it as if this was the case. Many put condemnation and guilt about those who have been divorced and who have remarried. Because the church has erred in being lackadaisical in regards to divorce and remarriage, others become judgmental, condemning, and self-righteous. This is not the character of God.
Some refuse to allow a divorced man who has remarried to be an elder in a church-regardless of the reason for the divorce, even if there are signs of repentance in his life. However, some would allow an ex-drug addict, ex-embezzler, ex-rapist, or repentant murderer become an elder. All because they misunderstand the following verse:
"An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach," 1 Tim. 3:2
They argue the divorced man has had more than one wife so he is disqualified. However, if his first wife had died, they would allow him to be an elder. Either it means one wife during his life or it doesn't. It does not say one wife unless the first wife died. What Apostle Paul was dealing with is those who had been in paganism and practicing polygamy. He was not talking about divorced men. If a drug addict repents of his lifestyle and can be an elder, then a divorced man who remarries can repent also and be an elder.
There are those who have gotten an unbiblical divorce not knowing that there were not biblical grounds for the divorce. There are those who have gotten remarried not knowing the scripture teaching on remarriage. Scripture states that there are times that God overlooks our ignorance:
"Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent," Acts 17:30
Once a person becomes aware they have sinned, they need to repent of their sin. True repentance means the person will not justify their sin. This means if you have gotten divorced or remarried unbiblically do not give reasons why you divorced or remarried and why it was a good idea. Because something is a 'good idea' does not mean it was God's will. Many times people do something that is against God's will and then say He blessed it. God never blesses sin, but He does show mercy to sinners.
God's mercy covers a multitude of sin, including divorce and remarriage. We need to extend the mercy of God to others and help them receive forgiveness. We do not need to put heavy burdens and unnecessary guilt on them. Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. He forgave her and told her not to sin no more. By the way, where was the man who sinned with her? According to the law he was to be stoned also. Sounds like a set up to me.
Here is a warning to those who have read these nuggets and are considering divorce or remarriage. Don't think because of God's mercy that you can have an unbiblical divorce or remarriage and then ask God to forgive you afterwards. We should never sin, thinking that we can always ask God for forgiveness afterwards. Yes, He will always forgive us, but there are consequences for our sin, especially if we have knowingly sinned. Some say His grace covers our wrong motives. Grace is unmerited favor to give us victory over sin, not to give us license to sin.
There are times a person has had an unbiblical divorce and then has become engaged to someone. They may have not known the scripture teaching on divorce. It may be appropriate for the couple to be married if the divorced person publicly repents of their divorce, and have repented (and there is change in their life) of what may have caused their divorce (addictions, abusive, selfish, etc.).
For those of you who have been reading these nuggets and may have experienced guilt because you have violated God's principles, please know that Jesus is more than able to cover your sins with His blood.
In our final nugget I will share my own testimony. Just like many of you, I have been challenged by this study.
Copyright @ 2001 Richard D. Dover. All rights reserved.
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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations used are from the New American Standard Version (NAS)