The Marriage Bond: What Scripture Says About Divorce and Remarriage

 •  17 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Foreword
It is important to recognize that "Married" signifies a position taken at a definite time, and in a way that is recognized as such by the "powers that be." When a man and woman come together they become "one flesh" (1 Cor. 6:1616What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. (1 Corinthians 6:16)), but this in itself is not marriage in the Scriptural sense, (John 4:1818For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. (John 4:18)). Marriage is a legal thing, having some public recognition of the event, as in John 2:11And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: (John 2:1). The marriage relationship is the consummation of the marriage. It is fornication if a man and woman have a relationship apart from marriage (Gen. 34:1-311And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. 3And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. 4And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife. 5And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come. 6And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him. 7And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter; which thing ought not to be done. 8And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife. 9And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you. 10And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein. 11And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give. 12Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife. 13And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister: 14And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us: 15But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; 16Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. 17But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone. 18And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor's son. 19And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob's daughter: and he was more honorable than all the house of his father. 20And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, 21These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised. 23Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us. 24And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city. 25And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 26And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out. 27The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field, 29And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house. 30And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house. 31And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot? (Genesis 34:1‑31); 1 Cor. 6:15-1815Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:15‑18)). Even Cain's wife was his wife when he had a relationship with her (Gen. 4:1717And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. (Genesis 4:17)).
If a married person commits adultery, he or she becomes "one flesh" with someone else (1 Cor. 6:1616What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. (1 Corinthians 6:16)), but this in itself does not break the marriage. It is a very serious sin in the eyes of God, requiring assembly action (Gen. 39:99There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Genesis 39:9), Prov. 6:32,3332But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. 33A wound and dishonor shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. (Proverbs 6:32‑33), 1 Cor. 5:11-1311But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1 Corinthians 5:11‑13)). It is also a serious sin against one's partner because it breaks the tie between man and wife. It also brings down the solemn government of God (2 Sam. 12:1010Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. (2 Samuel 12:10)), but the marriage lawfully remains unless it is broken before the "powers that be". The question therefore, which we wish to consider in this paper is this, Does the Scripture allow it to be broken before the "powers that be", and on what ground? Does God, if the marriage is broken in a Scriptural way, allow remarriage? Prayerfully looking at the following Scriptures will show us His mind in these matters, but each case must stand on its own, and be considered before the Lord who alone can give the needed wisdom. This is what is meant by "priestly discernment" (Lev. 13:5,65And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more: 6And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean. (Leviticus 13:5‑6)), for "the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed." 1 Sam. 2:33Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. (1 Samuel 2:3).
There is perhaps one more point that should be mentioned here. It is the question as to whether the person was saved at the time of his or her divorce or remarriage. If he or she professed salvation at that time, they are looked upon as coming under the responsibility of the "house of God". 1 Peter 4:1717For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17).
It is not one's desire to put out any new teaching in regard to this subject, but since it is pressed upon us by the sad breakdown of marriage on every hand, one has sought to bring together what has been taught by men of God in the past who trembled at God's Word. One would commend it to the consciences of the saints of God, desiring that we might be "joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." 1 Cor. 1:1010Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10).
THE MARRIAGE BOND—and...Divorce and Remarriage.
One hesitates to bring in the thought of divorce and remarriage when speaking of the marriage bond, for it is much more desirable to speak of God's plan for a happy marriage. More than this it is most encouraging to know that there are many such marriages, and to them the very word "divorce" is unsavory and repulsive. Indeed we read in God's Word that "The Lord.... saith that He hateth putting away." Mal. 2:1616For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. (Malachi 2:16). We can say at the very outset of this paper that the Word of God never speaks of one being "free" to divorce, or "free" to remarry. God "allowed" it under certain circumstances but it should never be looked upon lightly.
Under the law "because of the hardness of their hearts," that is because the law was addressed to Israel as a nation, many of whom were without living faith (Heb. 4:22For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 4:2)), God allowed divorce for many reasons, (see Deut. 24:1,21When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. (Deuteronomy 24:1‑2)). Now in Christianity every believer possesses a new life, and so the standard is much higher, as we will see from the various Scriptures to be considered herein. One would like to speak first of the true meaning of marriage, for when we have this before us, we then look at marriage as established by God, and not according to the various opinions of men.
Marriage was instituted of God before sin entered the world, and this is why, when the Pharisees asked the Lord about divorce and remarriage in Matt. 19, He took them back to God's original plan when He formed Eve for Adam. This is a principle in God's ways, that He sets a pattern before us—His mind—and though He may make allowance for man's weakness (though not overlooking it) He will judge according to His original standard. And why was this original plan as to marriage so important? It was a picture of a far earlier plan in the heart of God, for we learn that it was God's eternal purpose (Eph. 3:1111According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: (Ephesians 3:11)) that Christ should have a bride, and marriage is the figure of this (Eph. 5:22-3322Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5:22‑33)). It is also used as a figure of the relationship of Jehovah to His earthly people Israel (Isa. 54:55For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. (Isaiah 54:5)).
When we see this in the Scripture it puts a new light on the subject of marriage as Eph. 5 shows us, and makes the subject of divorce more humiliating. Is Jehovah going to change all His promises to Israel? Will He not in a coming day, in spite of all their unfaithfulness, rejoice over them as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride? (Isa. 62:55For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. (Isaiah 62:5)). Will not Christ in a coming day, present His bride to Himself "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing" in spite of all her unfaithfulness? Thoughts like this humble us, but they surely put a character on marriage that we would not see or consider if we looked at it merely from man's viewpoint.
In order to have a happy marriage we need to think of the love Christ has for His church. What kind of a church does He love? Surely we have often failed to respond to His love, but His love has ever remained the same. What has He done for His church? He gave Himself for it. No sacrifice was too great to win us for Himself, and to have us as His eternal companions in glory. No doubt if we remembered this love and this self sacrifice, many difficulties in marriage would be overcome, and love for one another would deepen instead of weakening. We tend to look for love instead of showing it, to expect our partner to make sacrifices, instead of making sacrifices ourselves.
Then too, there is forgiveness, which Christ has shown to us in times of failure. The very One who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, now lives for us as our Great High Priest to help us in our infirmities, and as our Advocate to restore us when we have failed. Are we ready to forgive one another rather than consider the breakup of a marriage? We have such a perfect pattern for the marriage relationship in God's Word, and above all the power by the Holy Spirit to carry out, in our lives, all the things that are pleasing to our Lord and Savior. If anyone who reads these lines is passing through a marriage problem, I would beseech you to consider these things before the Lord, and if it seems difficult, remember that the Scripture says, "He giveth more grace," James 4:66But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6).
"For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again."
There is one more thing to be considered, unpopular as it may seem in our day, and that is the place of the man and the place of the woman in God's creation and in marriage. God has placed the man as head of the woman and calls upon the woman to submit, just as Christ is the Head of the church and the church's place is submission to Christ. (Eph. 5:22-2422Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (Ephesians 5:22‑24)). It is not that the man has assumed the place of headship, for he has been put in that place by God. He may fail and has failed in fulfilling his place, not holding it with wisdom and love, but it is his place. A wise wife will try to help her husband fill his place, and not try to take his place for herself. A wife may fail in filling her place as a help meet for her husband, but a wise husband will try to win the respect of his wife so as to make it easier for her to submit. All these things are like oil in the "machinery" to make things run smoothly. Sometimes we have to add oil too! It tends to get low under friction, and the friction will increase if the oil is not added! The oil, no doubt, is love, made operative by the Holy Spirit.
Having spoken of the secret of a happy marriage, we must now speak of what God has ordered in connection with divorce and remarriage. If the person or persons in such a case were unbelievers at the time, they were not as responsible as believers for the Scripture says "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" Luke 12:4848But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48). We know that an unbeliever does not possess a new life and is not indwelled by the Holy Spirit, so we see that while God does not lower the standard of His holiness—NEVER—He does make provision as He did in Corinth, for what those there had done, before being "washed" (1 Cor. 6:9-119Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9‑11)). Some had sad and awful records before they were saved, and then on receiving Christ as their Savior, they were not only cleansed from all sin in the precious blood of Christ (1 John 1:77But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)), but they had the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:4-74But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4‑7)). They began afresh as new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:1717Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)), and though they might have to reap many sorrows for sowing to the flesh (Gal. 6:7,87Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:7‑8)) they were received into the assembly at Corinth in a new position of responsibility, for judgment begins at the house of God. (1 Peter 4:1717For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)).
Those who have made a profession of faith in Christ come under the government of the house of God, and we read in Psa. 93:55Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever. (Psalm 93:5), "Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh Thine house, 0 Lord, forever." Then too, the reaping is more serious, for "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." Luke 12:4848But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48). God said to Israel, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Amos 3:22You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (Amos 3:2). When we look at God's standards as to divorce and remarriage, we must bear in mind that if a person enters into these positions (divorce and remarriage) as a professing believer, he is much more responsible than an unbeliever. One feels that this is a serious and important point to bear in mind in regard to the measure of guilt. The Scripture says, "That servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes, but he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." Luke 12:47,4847And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47‑48). The assembly will have to consider these things if one asks to be received at the Lord's table.
In the comments that follow one has taken up the various New Testament Scriptures that speak of divorce and remarriage, making a few simple comments as to what one believes the Word of God teaches, and how it applies to the assembly. It is important to bear in mind that if a marriage is called "adultery" according to the truth of God, then time does not change it—it subsists as such until death breaks the previous bond. How important to consider this before entering the forbidden relationship. How serious it is before God! What a loss of Christian privilege it entails!
Divorce & Remarriage
Under the law a man was permitted to give his wife a "writing of divorcement" if he wished, and to "put her away" in this manner.
The Lord Jesus said in this passage of Scripture that now if a man puts away his wife for any other reason than for fornication, he "causeth her to commit adultery." That is, he is morally responsible before God if, after he "puts her away" (except for fornication) she commits adultery. In the original Greek in which the New Testament was written, the word translated "put away" is the same Greek word as "divorce." This is very solemn, and it shows us that it is not a question of how a man "puts away" his wife (for "put away" and "divorce" are the same Greek word), if he "puts her away" for a reason other than for fornication, he is the cause if she afterward falls into sin. In that case she is responsible for committing adultery, but the Lord Jesus said that he also is guilty for "causing" it. This makes us realize the seriousness of a permanent legal separation which, if obtained as a moderated form of "putting away" could make one morally responsible before God for the sin of adultery. (see also 1 Cor. 7:55Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. (1 Corinthians 7:5)).
The Lord Jesus also said that if anyone were to marry the guilty woman, he commits adultery in such a marriage.
A man is not permitted to put away his wife for any other reason than fornication. If he does put her away for some other reason, and then remarries, he becomes guilty of adultery in such a marriage.
If anyone were to marry the one who is put away for fornication, he becomes guilty of adultery in such a marriage.
The innocent one, (i.e., not the one who broke the tie by fornication), is not forbidden to remarry. The Lord does not commend such a marriage, but said, when asked by the disciples about this situation, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." I believe the Lord was teaching that a believer might well hesitate about the wisdom of such a marriage, but it was not forbidden.
In Mark 10 we notice that the Lord speaks of either husband or wife putting away his or her partner, showing that His directions in regard to divorce apply to either man or woman. Neither of these Scriptures mention the one exception (fornication) for I believe it is important to realize that the Lord hates putting away (Mal. 2:14-1614Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. (Malachi 2:14‑16)), though the other two Scriptures previously referred to in Matthew show that He allowed it for fornication. The reason for this omission is no doubt that He would teach us never to look lightly on the marriage tie, for it is a figure of Christ and the church. As Christians we possess a new life, so that the offended partner can forgive rather than divorce. This is no doubt that "more excellent way."
These verses as they read in the J.N.D. translation rather refer to adultery while the marriage tie still exists. The subject of faithfulness in marriage is introduced here as a figure of a spiritual truth. God intended that the marriage tie should only be broken by death (or at the Lord's coming) and the question of divorce is not considered here. However the verses in Matt. 19 show us that fornication did break the bond, and therefore divorce was allowed when the bond had been broken by fornication. Divorce was then the legal procedure because "the powers that be are ordained of God," and before God, fornication had already broken the bond. Divorce in such a case was not required, but allowed. The grace of God would enable one to forgive the guilty partner rather than put away or divorce. "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Eph. 4:3232And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32).
In this passage the subject of desertion is taken up, and it is clear that the Christian is told not to leave his or her partner. If he or she did leave, such were to remain unmarried. (Verse 11). If, however, the unbelieving partner were to leave, we read, "a brother or a sister is not bound in such (cases)." (see J.N.D. translation). Not being "bound" refers to verse 39 where we read that, "the wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth." If, however, the husband or wife is willfully deserted and divorced by the unbelieving partner, such is no longer "bound" in the marriage relationship. Of course each case must be examined before the Lord as to whether every attempt was made to effect a reconciliation, and that the partner was not driven away by harsh unkind treatment, but if the unbeliever willfully deserted his or her partner and obtained the divorce, the Christian is then no longer "bound" in the marriage relationship, nor is there any command here, (as there is in the case described in verse 11) forbidding remarriage in such a case.
If the divorce (and perhaps remarriage) took place before being saved, it should be made clear to him or her (or both) that as Christians they should realize God's order as to divorce and remarriage. The past could not be entirely forgotten, for we reap what we sow (Gal. 6:77Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)). Nevertheless we see that, in the assembly at Corinth, there were many sins of their unsaved days that would call for assembly discipline if they were saved at the time, for judgment begins at the house of God. (1 Peter 4:1717For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)). They were received as they were, when saved, as new creatures in Christ, the "washing of regeneration" having taken place. Now they were to be "careful to maintain good works" (Titus 3:3-83For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (Titus 3:3‑8)), and were under the discipline of God's assembly (1 Cor. 5:1212For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? (1 Corinthians 5:12)).
It is important to see that our obedience is to be "from the heart." God desires obedience out of love for Him. A case might be technically clear according to Scripture, but there may be circumstances such as an attitude that drives the partner away, or even violence, or improper advances to another that could disrupt a home, so that a Christian might cause the unbeliever to depart, or even obtain a divorce. Priestly discernment is required in each case, like the priest in Israel discerning if leprosy was really at work when appearances were uncertain (Lev. 13:4-84If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days: 5And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more: 6And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean. 7But if the scab spread much abroad in the skin, after that he hath been seen of the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen of the priest again: 8And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy. (Leviticus 13:4‑8)), so that the holiness of God's house is maintained in every detail. "Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh Thine house, 0 Lord, forever." Psa. 93:55Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever. (Psalm 93:5).
May the Lord keep us in these last days, in the path of obedience, knowing that "a little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump" (1 Cor. 5:66Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6)), and any unjudged evil defiles the assembly who allows it to remain unjudged. The enemy would seek to destroy the Christian home and God's assembly, and we need the Word of God to direct us, the love of Christ to constrain us, and the power of God to keep us.
G.H.H
"O Lamb of God still keep us
Close to Thy pierced side;
'Tis only there in safety
And peace we can abide."
L.F. 318.
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