(I encourage you to re-read Part One on this subject before reading this article.)
Is it true, as one preacher said to one lady, “You have been married too many times to be saved”? Ours is a troubled world, yet not wholly unusual when you consider the situation in which Christianity began. Another lady I spoke with recently said that she “had been through two divorces and one annulment… She said further, that she would not want to be a part of a church that was harsh on those who had been through divorce.” Now, in all honesty, today it is not hard to change churches when one gets upset or disagrees. The idea is not to hunt and pick for a church that agrees with you. It’s nice to find of course, but the real concern should be to find a group of believers who understand how grace works with sin.
Regarding the key passage in this subject… many have made the mistake of changing what the actual sin in Matthew 19:9 is. Instead of accepting what the text says, that adultery is committed in the two acts of putting away and marrying another. Instead they say that “adultery” is the sex act and is committed repeatedly in the subsequent marriage and therefore is a sin not repented of. Jesus was specific, in saying, a man who (1) puts away his wife, except for fornication, and (2) marries another, “commits adultery”.
The change originated historically with the Roman Catholic Council of Trent (16th century). They ruled that marriage is a “sacrament” and is UNBREAKABLE. Thus the divorced person is still married to the first spouse (in the eyes of God) and the next marriage is “an adulterous relationship.” This contradicts the Bible text. Matthew 19:6b says significantly, “LET NOT” not “CANNOT”. This is not pointed out to make excuses for people, or encourage sin… God forbid! It is simply what the Bible says. (Familiar passages need to be studied again more carefully.)
It is important to understand… man’s theories, opinions and councils cannot over rule the word of God. The facts stand as the Bible states them. Jesus says, adultery occurs when a man is unfaithful or disloyal in putting away his innocent wife and marries another. In Mark 10:11, Jesus says that man who does this “commits adultery against her.” So He was talking about a sin committed AGAINST the wife put away, not a sin committed WITH the next wife.
Asking if adultery can be STOPPED, is not the same as asking “Can the adultery be UNDONE?” No, it cannot be undone. Yes it can be stopped. Any sin can be and should be repented of … forgiven… and not repeated in the future. The only answer to it is repentance and a change of behavior. Forgiveness is by God’s grace. When God said “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and lawless deed I will remember no more,” and then His word gives examples where this particular sin was forgiven in that way, there is no reason to have any more questions or doubts about the matter. Adultery is a forgivable sin.
If one who was divorced, has now become one who is committed to one mate for life and is penitent about his former sins, that person has come from the wrong way… to God’s way. Such a person can rest assured that God will keep His promise to forgive. Understand, there will NOT be anyone in hell whom God has forgiven.
For those outside Christ, who come to Jesus by faith, repenting of sins, and are immersed into Christ (Acts 2:38-39), are forgiven of every sin (by grace). Christians, who sin, must repent and pray, and rest in His grace.
There is no evidence in the New Testament, that people were required to DIVORCE AGAIN to show proof of repentance. Grow in his grace.