Getting Smart about Remarriage - 1 Corinthians 7 - Skip Heitzig
Start building the home of your future today, Smart Home.
Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7? We're in a series, as you know, called the Smart Home. And we've covered a lot of ground. We've talked about being single, talked about dating, talked about newlyweds, the physical relationship in marriage, conflict resolution, a number of topics, including divorce last time, and today, remarriage.
Now, I will say that some of the topics, including this one, are topics that many a preacher shy away from. But we feel that given the kind of culture we live in and the kind of questions that were prevalent in New Testament times as well as in modern times that we owe it to God's people to give clear answers on these subjects.
So we're in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7. As we begin, I want to tell you a story about a man named Charles Steinmetz. You may have not heard of Charles Steinmetz. He was crippled. He was a dwarf. But what he lacked physically, he made up for intellectually.
He was regarded as a genius. Such a genius that Henry Ford hired him in the building of those large generators and turbines that ran Ford Motor Company when it first opened in Dearborn, Michigan. Charles Steinmetz developed those.
The company was underway. Production was good. Profits were good. Things were rolling along at Ford Motor Company for months till one day, operations came to a screeching halt. Ford Motor Company went dark. Nothing was working.
So they brought in different experts, engineers, electricians to fix what was wrong. They couldn't find the problem. They couldn't fix the problem.
Finally, they called in the brains behind it all, Charles Steinmetz, who immediately got to work on the problem. And he tinkered with this. And he tinkered with that. And he pushed a few buttons and messed with a few wires. Then he threw the switch and, voila, it all worked again, like it was designed to work.
And Henry Ford was thrilled until he got Steinmetz's bill for $10,000. Now, that's a big bill on any day, but back in the day, that's enormous, right? So Henry Ford bristled and wrote Steinmetz back and said, all right, why $10,000? So Steinmetz rewrote the bill with these words. For tinkering around on the motors, $10. For knowing where to tinker, $9,990.
Isn't it amazing how the Holy Spirit knows just where to tinker in our lives? And we have also discovered that our lives can run pretty smoothly. Our marriage can run smoothly. But then, for some, it can all come to a screeching halt. There's a problem.
But how thankful we are that we have a God, not only who invented marriage-- He came up with the brainstorm of the idea of how relationships work and built families-- but He knows how to fix things when they malfunction. He knows just where to tinker.
We are talking about a very delicate subject, last week was, on divorce. And this week on remarriage is also perhaps. But I remember when I was a kid and my dad moved us to an acre and a half property in California. And one of the first things he decided to do is build a fence, 6 foot high around the property. And he used us to do it, his boys. So we helped build this fence.
And I hated it, not because I had to just help him do it, but that fence to me represented a prison. It's like he's trying to keep us in.
Well, I looked at that fence differently as I grew up. As I grew up and my dad passed away, my mom was left alone in that house. Now, we boys didn't look at that fence as a prison walls to keep us in, but as a protection to keep bad people out from my mom.
Think of God's word that way. Think of God's principles, not as prohibitions to make your life miserable and to make you stuck, but rather protection to keep what God invented and designed for your benefit to stay beneficial.
With that in mind, we look at 1 Corinthians. And 1 Corinthians is a book that Paul wrote for two reasons-- to address problems, number one, problems in the church and, number two, to answer questions that they had.
Now, why were there problems in that Church? Easy answer because the Church was in a place called Corinth? If you know anything about the New Testament city of Corinth, you know that they had a reputation of being vile, wicked, debauched, corrupt. There was even a word that was coined in the Greek language. And the word was korinthiazesthai.
It's a hard long word, but it was a word that in Greek meant to live like or to play the Corinthian, to live like a Corinthian. It was one of those words, you know, like we have words today that really aren't words, but enough young people say them. And over time, it becomes a word in the dictionary. That word korinthiazesthai was such a word.
Whenever you would call somebody that, you called them a Corinthian, you refer to somebody as being vile and corrupt in a low life. In fact, did you know that in the Greek plays, when anybody portrayed a Corinthian, they usually portrayed them as a drunk. So they had that reputation.
Well, men and women were getting saved in the city of Corinth. To live a Christian life in such a city was a hard balancing act. And so they had questions.
They had questions about being single. They had questions about being married, about divorcing, and about remarriage. And Paul answers them.
Look at 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7, Verse 1. "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me." So they had pelted him with questions, and he writes back to answer some of those questions that they had.
Now just another insight, an early historian by the name of Tertullian said that pagan husbands were getting angry with their newly converted Christian wives. So there's tension he writes about. And these Christian wives want to embrace other Christian people, bring them into the home, go visit the establishments of the poor and help them out. And it just created tension.
Now, as we begin looking at this topic in this chapter, I want to bring something out on the table and then dismiss it. Some people, believe it or not, over time in the past, even to this day, actually believe that a Christian who has been divorced under no circumstances should ever be remarried. I just want to say that's flat wrong. And there are reasons that they can be remarried, which we want to look at.
But let me just bring you down to verse 27 where Paul says summing up some of his thoughts. Are you bound to a wife? That is, are you married in the bonds of matrimony? Do not seek to be loose. Don't try to get out of it.
If you are loosed, are you loosed from a wife? Don't seek a wife. But-- now watch this-- even if you do marry, who's he writing to? People who are loose from their wives or husbands. They're divorced. If you do marry, you have not sinned. And if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. So he basically says it's OK to do so. In fact, by the time he writes 1 Timothy, he commands young women, young widows to remarry. So obviously, it's not wrong because Paul tells them to do it.
I want to give you a guideline-- or a principle and then for guidelines. Here's the principle. All those properly divorced can get remarried. Again, all those properly divorced can get remarried. That's the New Testament principle.
A proper divorce, or you might say under biblical grounds, a divorce would also with it bring a permission for a biblical remarriage. So all those properly divorced may remarry.
Now, I'm going to give you four guidelines. When a divorce occurs for the following reasons remarriage is legitimate. Let's begin reading, first of all, before I give you those four. We're going to begin in verse 8.
"But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, it is good for them if they remain even as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, let the marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. Now to the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, a wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife."
"But to the rest, I, not the Lord, say if any brother has a wife who does not believe and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife. And the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy."
"But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, oh, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?"
Now, I'm going to bring you back to where we started in verse 8. And notice what he says. He speaks to two groups first of all here. Now, he speaks to a lot of groups in this chapter. I'm giving you two in this verse.
"But I say to the unmarried"-- and then he says, and to the what? Widows. So I'm going to start with the second, widows. And I'm starting with them because they're the easiest.
So when a spouse dies, called here a widow, when a spouse dies, it is absolutely fine to get remarried. A widow is pretty self-explanatory. She was once married, but now separated from her husband by death.
Now, you know, when couples get married, they say vows to each other. And what do they say at the end of their vows? Do you remember? Till death do us part. But once death has occurred and they are parted, then they are free to get remarried.
Look down a verse 39. He elaborates. "A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives. But if her husband dies, she is at liberty"-- absolutely free-- "to be married to whom she wishes." But there's a caveat. What does it say? Only in the Lord. So if you're a Christian and your spouse dies, you can get married again, but make sure that you marry a believer, one who follows-- or only do it in the Lord.
In the Old Testament there was a couple that's pretty famous, Abraham and his wife. What was her name? Sarah. So they were both pretty old, right, when they had Isaac. And Sarah dies in her old age. Abraham is even older, but he survives the death of his wife Sarah.
Now, you might think, well, once you're over 100 years old, you're done, right? It's like this isn't going to happen again. But not old Abe. He's ready to go again.
So in Genesis 25, we read, "And Abraham again took a wife and married a girl by the name of Keturah." Now get this, we don't know how old Keturah is. He's over 100. I'll tell you how in a minute. But though we don't know her age, she's young enough to produce six more children for Abraham.
Now, anybody reading that would say, what on earth would a young woman be attracted to a man who's 137 years old? My answer is I have no clue. Although I do know that Abraham is pretty wealthy, and that could have something to do with it. But in the book of 1 Chronicles, Chapter 1, it identifies Keturah as Abraham's concubine. So she went from concubine status to full wife status.
The bottom line is he loved her. And she loved him. And that can happen at any age.
The need to love and be loved does not diminish with age. And so he got remarried. And it was fine to do so.
Now, we would always caution somebody who gets remarried after the death of a spouse don't do it too quickly. Don't let it be a rebound marriage. All sorts of problems come up when you do it too quickly. You don't know what you're getting into. But everyone wants to be loved by someone and wants to give love. And especially those who are believers, they long to have another believer that they can share that grace of life with.
I got a letter some time ago from a Christian woman who said, "Tomorrow I will be married for six years, but it's not a happy occasion because I'm going through a divorce. I met my husband in a Bible study. We would study the scriptures together, pray together, go to Christian activities, but then we got married and things changed. If this divorce goes through, I probably will not marry again for the kids sake and also to follow the Lord's way."
"But I'll be honest, deep down in my heart, I wish I could find a good man who loved the Lord and lived as the Lord commands. I really yearn for companionship, even if it's just friendship." And then she concludes, "I've been married three times and had to support them all."
Certainly Sarah's death made it legit for Abraham to get remarried. And he does. He marries Keturah. Paul brings this up to widows, he calls them.
So when a spouse dies, number one. Number two, when a divorce occurs prior to salvation. Now, I mentioned that Paul is writing to different groups who have asked different questions. But look at a word in Verse 8, he says, "But I say to the unmarried and to the widow"-- so to different groups.
Now look at that word unmarried. Unmarried is also pretty self-explanatory. Anybody who's not married is unmarried. It could mean somebody who's single, never been married.
But get this, the word is agomas in the Greek language. And agomas literally means without a marriage-- without a marriage. It is a word that is mentioned only four times in the entire New Testament and all four times are in this chapter. So this chapter provides the contextual meaning for that word agomas.
Yes, it could mean somebody who's never been married. But notice something in verse 10. And I think it's specific to that.
He says, "To the married, I command, yet not I, the Lord, a wife is not to depart or divorce her husband. But if she does depart"-- xorizo, cut it off by a divorce-- "let her remain" what? Unmarried. There's the word agomas, remain unmarried. And it's used that way a few times in this chapter.
So it seems to refer to those who were previously married who are now divorced. He's not speaking of widows. That was one group he talked about. I don't necessarily think that he's speaking about somebody very young who has never been married, though they would be included, but for this reason. He uses the word virgin a lot in this chapter. He use it like six times. And he specifically uses the word to refer to somebody who is young and unmarried.
But when he says unmarried, it seems that the context is married and divorced before they came to Christ, and they're wondering, gee, could I ever remarry? And Paul answers them, yes, when marriage and divorce happens prior to salvation, you can remarry.
Why? Because until we know God, we don't know God's will or God's plan for our lives. And whatever is in your past, when you come to Christ, you are new. Is that right? 2 Corinthians, 5:17. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold all things have become new." He uses the word new twice. Kainos is the word. It means fresh. It's the word Jesus used to describe the new covenant under His shed blood.
So even if your past is all messed up, you've botched things up, you made mistakes, big mistakes, know that God can redeem that and make the mess into a masterpiece. I'm going to tell you a little story about that.
Years ago in Scotland at a seaside in a group of fishermen were hanging out. They were having lunch and tea. And the waitress came over with a pot of tea.
Well, one of the Scotsman was gesticulating, moving his arms a little too much. He was speaking in his brogue. And he's telling his story, and he moves his arms, and it hits the tray. And the teapot flies and hits a whitewashed wall and stains it brown from the tea.
The owner says, man, it's a lost cause. We're going to have to repaint the whole wall.
Well, a stranger who saw and heard this whole exchange said perhaps not. Let me give it a try. And he pulls out his paint box, his art box with pencils and paints and brushes. And the owner thought, well, I've got nothing to lose, have at it.
So this guy starts working on the wall. And after a period of time emerges this beautiful painting of this big brown stag with an enormous rack of antlers and mountains and streams and landscape around it. And he managed to blend that into the body of that animal so well, at the end he signed his name on it, paid the bill, and he walked out.
Well, that was none other than Sir Edwin Lanseer, one of the most famous animal landscape artists from Great Britain. He did indeed that. He turned the mess, he turned a mistake into a masterpiece.
That's what God does. All things can work together for good to those who love God. He takes your past, all the disjointed blotches, and He makes them an expression of His love.
You come to Christ, you're like a brand new baby, man. You're fresh. You have no past, only a future.
So when a spouse dies, when a divorce occurs prior to a salvation. Number three, when the unbeliever in a mixed marriage deserts the marriage. So you get a Christian married to a non-Christian. The non-Christian says I'm out of here. The Christian is free.
Verse 10, "Now to the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, a wife is not to depart from her husband. If she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. But to the rest, I, not the Lord, say if any brother has a wife who does not believe, if she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife. And the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy."
OK, not all the Corinthians fit in category number one or category number two. They weren't widows. They weren't married and divorced prior to salvation. They're married at this point, but they are married to an unbeliever. Why? Because they got saved. Their spouse did not.
So now they wake up one day and they realize I'm unequally yoked. What should I do? Should I dump him and find a nice looking believer? Should I remain single? What am I to do?
Now, the initial response for this question and perhaps inclination to leave the marriage relationship was based on something that Paul will say in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, "Be not unequally yoked together with an unbeliever." So they thought, so am I now? And what should I do about it?
Now, I want to clear something up. I'm going to clear up verse 10 and verse 12. Notice he says, "To the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord." And then in verse 12, "But to the rest, I, not the Lord, say." I don't want you to misunderstand that. Some have.
Some think Paul says, well, now what I say here, that's inspired. But what I'm saying now is my uninspired opinion. I'm just making this stuff up.
That is not what he's saying. When he says, I'm going to tell you something, but it's not me, it's the Lord, what he means is the Lord has already spoken on this. Jesus has already dealt with this issue before. But then in verse 12 he is saying Jesus didn't directly teach on this particular case. So here is further revelation on this issue.
It seems then that there were unsaved spouses who were upset that their partners have come to Christ. Can some of you relate to that? When I first came to Christ, I thought my parents are going to be thrilled because now I'm not doing drugs and I'm not doing this. I'm saved. They were not excited that I was saved. They wanted me mildly religious, but not an on fire Christian. He's reading his Bible all the time. He's going to church all the-- he's nuts.
Well, this is happening in a marriage context. And so some wanted out of the marriage. Some unbelievers wanted out of the marriage. Paul says, let them go. Don't you leave. Let them leave.
In Romans 12, we get a principle. Paul says if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live at peace with all men. Don't be a troublemaker. Don't stir things up. Don't drive people away. Don't be divisive. As much as you can in any relationship you have, be a peacemaker. Live at peace with all men.
But I'm glad he put it this way-- if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live at peace with all men. Sometimes it's not possible. You do all that you can, but they go, uh, uh, want nothing to do with you and your religious weirdness. I'm out of here.
And that's to be expected. Right? Didn't Jesus say that just the Gospel itself would divide people? Matthew 10, Jesus said, "Don't imagine that I came to bring peace on the Earth. No, I came to bring a sword. I have come to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household."
That's the natural effect of the gospel penetrating any group. Some believe. Some don't. And the ones who don't aren't excited about the ones that have. And there's a natural division, an animosity that occurs.
Now, a word of caution here. Knowing what I just said is true might make some who are married to an unbeliever sort of strategize this way. Well, I won't leave, but I can make life in the home so miserable they'll want to leave. Then I can technically say I am free to remarry because he dumped me. Be very careful that you live at peace with all men and you don't push them out.
Now, what does verse 14 mean, when he says the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband? It does not mean they are automatically saved because they're married to you, a believing spouse. It means that you, as the believer, are the influence for salvation. You are a saving influence in that home.
Verse 14, in the New Living Translation is rendered thus, "For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage. And the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not have a godly influence. But now they are set apart from him."
Just one saved person in a home can start a chain reaction. The Gospel has now penetrated that household. And others come to Christ.
I found that to be true on a lot of occasions. I love it when I'm standing in the baptismal pool in warmer weather, [LAUGHTER] and a family will come in and they'll all want to be baptized together. So I say, so tell me your story. You're a whole family. You want to get baptized together. Did you all come to Christ at one time?
Here's usually the story. Oh, no, she received Jesus Christ. I thought she was a wing nut. I wanted nothing to do with her or her God or her religion or her weirdness. But the Lord softened my heart. I gave my heart to Christ. Our marriage got better. My children saw that they, gave their lives to Christ. And now we're a family wanting to be baptized and declare that together. That's a frequent testimony that I see, and I have over the years.
Now, let me give you this principle from the Old Testament. It's the same principle, but it's seen a little different.
You will recall that God and Abraham had a very interesting conversation about Sodom. Remember when God says, you know, Abraham I'm going to go check out Sodom, and I think I'm just going to destroy it? And Abraham goes, [GASPS] destroy it? Well, what if there there's 50 righteous people in that town? God says, I'll spare the town if there's 50 righteous people. Produce the 50.
Well, he couldn't. There weren't 50 righteous people in Sodom. Abraham knew it, so he in classic fashion goes, would you do it for 40? God says, sure, I'll work the deal, 40. You give me 40 righteous people, good to go.
Abraham, you know, started going lower and lower, said, hey, since I'm on a roll, would you do it for 30? God said, sure, 30. How about 20? Yeah, OK.
And then finally he gets down to 10 people. If we can find 10 righteous people in Sodom, will you spare the city for 10? God said, yes, I will spare the city from destruction for 10 righteous people.
Now, you think about that. If 10 righteous people could have been produced, thousands of wicked people's lives would be spared by the sanctifying influence of just 10 people. That's the same principle here.
So the best thing for an unbeliever is to have a believing spouse as an influence. It's a hard gig for the believer to put up with the weirdness of an unbelieving spouse and all the pressure that comes with that. And unbeliever saying my wife's weird, she's a Christian. I got to tell you something. It's not easy living with you, buddy. But she would say it's worth it if the pressure, the pain, the months of being put off and marginalized and hurt and slandered, if the Gospel penetrates your heart.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush said at the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test or not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal, but you will regret the time that you did not spend with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent. If you have children, they must come first. Our successes in this society depend not on what happens in the White House, but what happens inside your house.
Think of the potential of a sanctified home, sanctified by one Christian in that home. That's the idea that Paul is writing about. I can just speak from sort of personal experience.
My father-in-law who comes to church here every Sunday morning at 8 o'clock, sits in the front row, Rod, was an atheist, didn't believe in God, was very smart, very intellectual. He was a doctor and a lawyer. So very advanced in education. Wanted had nothing to do with God.
Short story, he has a radical conversion, gives his life to Christ. His family thinks his much learning has made him mad. But his salvation brought his wife to Christ, brought his daughter Lenya, my wife, to Christ. That's the sanctifying influence of just one believer in one home.
So when a spouse dies, when a divorce happens prior to salvation, when an unbeliever deserts the marriage, and fourth, one we covered last time and we'll just be brief on today, when sexual immorality has prevailed in our relationship, the injured party is free to divorce and remarry, if there's unrepentant sexual activity, that is sexual immorality. So look at verse 10, and you'll kind of get this.
"Now to the married, I command, yet not I, but the Lord, a wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife."
So there again, he goes, this is what I command, yet not I, but the Lord. In other words, I'm just repeating what the Lord already said, how He already dealt with it. Don't divorce your spouse.
Well, when did he say that? We looked at it last week, Matthew 19. They came to Jesus and they said, look, can we dump our wives? Well, they said divorce. Can we divorce our wives for just any reason? What was Jesus' answer? No.
And He went all the way back to the beginning of Genesis and showed them God's intention for marriage. He said the only reason you can is if there is sexual immorality in your relationship with your wife that you're married to. Unrepentant sexual immorality, that's the exception clause that makes divorce and then remarriage permissible.
Now, I told you that that came with that question because there was a rabbi named Rabbi Hillel who widened out getting a divorce from your wife for any reason. So that there was rampant, no fault divorce in the first century. All right? We said that.
And that's why it's so applicable to our generation because in the United States of America, every single state in the Union, except South Dakota, has no fault divorce laws. And that means you don't have to have anybody's fault to get a divorce. You just say, look, I don't like her anymore. I don't like him anymore. We have irreconcilable differences. Let's just part.
So, today, like in that day, you have people saying, I'm going to divorce my husband or wife for any reason. And you may be surprised some of the reasons people come up with. Maybe not. I am surprised.
One man in Hazard, Kentucky, divorced his wife, because she, he said, beat him whenever he removed onions from his hamburger without asking for permission. Now I don't quite understand that. She's a little legalistic with her hamburgers. But that happened.
A deaf man in Bennettsville, South Carolina, filed to divorce his wife because his wife was always nagging him in sign language. Easy fix. Go to the next room.
A woman in Canon City, Colorado, divorced her husband because he forced her to duck under the dashboard whenever they drove past his girlfriend's house. Now that's pretty low.
A woman in Hardwick, Georgia, divorced her husband on the grounds that he stayed home too much and was much too affectionate. Now, come on, women want affection and would love their husbands to stay home a little more. She divorced her husband because of. I don't quite understand it.
So Paul writes, and he goes, look, I'm saying this, are you married? Stay married. Work it out. Work out the problems. And in so doing, provide the world an example, showing them that God's standard for relationships work. Let that be your testimony. Show the world that God's plan works. The only exception that Jesus spoke about-- and that's what he said, look, Jesus said stay together-- the only exception was for sexual immorality.
Now, let's say, a couple says, so what? I don't care. It says sexual morality. I'm going to divorce my husband or my wife. Well, Paul writes that. He says, even-- verse 12-- if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.
OK, so things didn't work out. It wasn't sexual immorality. But you dumped him or dumped her. Now what? Two options. He said, stay unmarried or at some point when the smoke clears, reconcile with your husband or your wife. So those are the options.
And let me say of those two options, God's heart, God's highest is reconciliation. It's reconciliation. Even when sin prevails, I believe God's highest heart is reconciliation over remarriage.
So you say, well, it's easy for you to say. Ask that to Hosea. Hosea was a prophet in the Old Testament who married a prostitute named Gomer. You're right, you laugh at Gomer. I mean, you marry a girl named Gomer, you know you're going to have problems in the marriage. This is my wife Gomer.
No, they did have problems, not because her name was Gomer. They had problems because she left the marriage and went and turned tricks out in the street as a whore, as a prostitute again and again and again. And God said to him, Hosea, go find her and support her. Go feed her. Go clothe her. And she will come back when she is done. And when she comes back, you receive her and reconcile with her.
I would not like Hosea's job or calling? Why did God do that? Because God said that is an example of what I'm doing to my nation who has gone out on me and committed spiritual adultery time and time again. Last week on our subject of divorce, we quoted to you that text in Jeremiah or the Lord said, I am divorcing my wife Israel. I'm putting her away. Here's a bill of divorcement. Now, in Hosea, God says, I'll take her back and I'll reconcile the relationship.
Now, as we close, what if you are here and you're thinking, first of all, gosh, it's a week before Christmas and this is such a bummer message for me to hear? Couldn't you bring a little goodwill the men and peace on Earth? A little Christmas Cheer? Help a guy or a girl out.
What if you're here and you realize perhaps for the first time that you're involved in a sinful relationship or you've had an unbiblical divorce and you're kind of feeling very bad about that? Well, I want you to know what we're dealing with here. We're dealing with the Gospel here.
What does Gospel mean? Good news. The good news that God sent His son from heaven to Earth to pay for our sins on a cross and wipe that slate clean through the shed blood of Christ.
Listen to the words of David in Psalm 108. Why David? I'm quoting him because David violated his marriage vows, right? I mean he was not any kind of paragon of marital virtue. But he wrote these words and they're to your heart this morning.
"The Lord is merciful and gracious. He is slow to get angry. He is full of unfailing love. He has not punished us for all of our sins. Nor does He deal with us as we deserve. For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heaven above the Earth. He has removed our rebellious acts far away from us as the East is from the West."
That's the Gospel. That's the good news.
So what do I do? I've figured out I've done some bad things. 1 John, Chapter 1, Verse 9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us some of our sins--
All of our sins.
See I misquoted. Thank you for catching that deliberate mistake. No, it says, if we confess your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us most of our sins--
All of our sins.
You see, I misquoted it again for effect. He is faithful. He is just to forgive us-- how many?
All our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So everything in the past is the past. And maybe precisely this is where the Holy Spirit is tinkering with you in your life, to get you to accept His grace and His forgiveness and move forward, and to forgive others who have hurt you and move forward.
I spoke to a woman some time back. And she said, just thinking of my ex-husband, I just-- and she got all red. And she said, you know, I can't think of them. I can't pray for him. I can't love him. She said, he's an enemy.
I said, well, Jesus did say love your enemies. So you can't really get out of it. You have to show love, some form of love to your ex-husband. Love your enemies. Do good to those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Do that.
Oh, God would never give you a command without giving you the available power to carry that command forth. Step out and decide, as married couples, we're going to work this out. Decide that we're just going to honor God. Decide that from this day forward we're going to follow His commands.
You can do it. He'll enable you to do it.
Father, as we conclude, we just thank You for the Gospel. We thank You for what it means. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Even Paul said that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom He was the chief. So how thankful we are that You are faithful and You are just to forgive all of our sins, cleanses from all of our own righteousness. Do that work of grace in our hearts, as we have failed some of us relationally. We have made poor choices. We have made hard choices. We have made impulsive choices.
Lord, some of us have long marriages. Others do not. But by grace, we are all Your forgiven children, and You are our Heavenly Father. And so I pray that You would enable us all to love each other, as well as be forgiven and loved by You in Jesus' name. Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life. Let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/gift. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.