Today’s blog is a little late. I have been traveling all day and I am now on my way home after a very successful time in Portugal and Spain. Thank you to all of you who have supported me in my commission of bringing New Covenant life and Grace to the body of Christ given to my commission in Christ. I am now looking forward to a couple of days home.
I have been dealing with the questions of marriage and divorce; part of some tough questions for the church. I have heard some teach on marriage and divorce using the words of Paul to justify their legalistic view of who is qualified to be a leader and who is not. When Paul talked about marriage and divorce in Romans chapter 7, he wasn’t talking about the marriage of a husband and a wife. He was talking about law and grace. He was using the law to compel those who were bound to the legalistic understanding of the law to embrace a relationship with God and the power of His grace. He was using their understanding of divorce, death, and remarriage to inspire them to embrace the covenant of God’s grace being offered to them in Christ.
Romans 7:1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
If you use those verses to teach on marriage you are using Scripture out of context. Paul was talking to people who were bound to the law and he was speaking to them in the language of law. In the language of law, they knew if a wife dies a husband can remarry. Paul’s words to them were not words of bondage, but words for true liberty. Paul was telling them law had been their covenant partner, but law in Christ has been fulfilled. Thus, law has died. Law died and it is time to enter into the liberty of a marriage with grace. If law died and you don’t marry grace you are stuck in a relationship with something that is dead. If you hold on to a covenant relationship with one that is dead, you yourself will be dead to the path of life.
Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”
In these verses, Jesus reveals the end of the law and prophets for those who embrace the kingdom of God in their hearts. The law and the prophets were until John, but since John the kingdom of God was being preached. People were pressing into it and people of every kingdom can press into it from that time forth. A personal relationship with God from the human heart is being preached. People are pressing into the place of knowing God in their hearts. Before this they could not have it. They had the law they had the prophets, but now something different has come. Jesus said it would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest measure of the law to change. For the believing Jew, heaven was a measure of the law and the earth was a temple society that expressed that law. Their whole lives were built upon being a Torah / Temple society. The word of heaven to them, what administrated their lives, was the law and the prophets. An adherence to the administration of Law and a compliance of living as a Temple society was the testimony of the kingdom of Israel. Jesus said not the tiniest part of that can be changed for those who choose to adhere to it. The law had to die for the believer, so the believer could press into an administration of life and peace in Christ. Jesus went on to say that if a man marries another while his first wife is alive, he commits adultery.
Luke 16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”
The Jews tried to hold on to the Law. They refused to let the law be dead. They refused to embrace a higher law of God’s love in their hearts. Only Christ in them could be the hope of Glory. Jesus was saying that if you hold on to the law and you try to marry grace you will commit adultery. It was true for the Jew first as the kingdom of God came to make the kingdom of Israel a kingdom of their Lord and Christ. It is true for every kingdom thereafter, as the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of their Lord and Christ. We cannot hold on to some form of law as the administration of our lives and some form of grace. These are two different covenants. One controls us, while the other has the power to transform our lives.
Jesus was saying if you hold on to the law and you try to marry grace you will commit adultery. This is what Paul was talking about in Romans, chapter 7. If we try to apply the rules of divorce and remarriage according to the law, we will miss the miracle of an administration of grace.
In a day of grace, we cannot seek to hold on to some form of legalistic law. If we hold on to law, not one little measure of that will change and we ourselves will be judged by that same law. We can’t have both law and grace as intimate partners for a fruitful life. One brings a judgment that kills and the other brings a judgment of mercy that offers life. How do we deal with divorce, remarriage, people living together, homosexuality, or any other thing that is less than perfection in life? Grace is the only power that can bring liberty and life. That liberty and life is not the liberty of sin, it is the liberty and life that comes by the transforming power of God’s grace.
Ted J. Hanson
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Thank You So Much – Ted J. Hanson