Matthew 19:1-12 Part 4

For some time now, our culture and society has been enjoying living on the “faith capital” which was originally invested by our forefathers.  For two hundred years we have delighted in the prosperity and freedom and strength of our country, which has been as a result of the blessings of God being poured out upon us.  And that “favor” of God was due to the fact that He had a faith­ful and obedient people here.  Prosperity is a Covenantal promise from God to those who love and obey Him.

But for the last period of time, maybe sixty years, we have been going, more and more often, to the bank in order to withdraw and degrade the original capital investment!  Especially during the last thirty years we have squandered it like ravenous wild animals that smell “blood.”

God still has some people here, but we’re becoming an amoral society.  Our decline is so sharp (as fast as anything I can remember from modern history) that, soon, we may be deserving of the name “Babylon.”  Christianity – Biblical Christianity – is under attack now (we’re at that stage!), and “faithfulness” to Christ is being ridiculed as right-wing, radical, fundamentalist, fascist extremism!

My fear and concern is (and praise God we’re only in the ridicule stage at this point), but my fear and concern is that, 1) Christian people “cover up” their faithfulness so as not to be ridiculed, and, 2) that we have lost sight, being moved so far away, of what true faithfulness really is!  What I mean by that is this:  as the whole society moves away from anything “Christian”, the believing community also moves.  And it moves from that which is “normative” in God’s Word!  “Normative” is then seen as “radical extreme!”

It seems to me that the union and fellowship of the Covenant people, in response to the ridicule and in response to the decline of the society as a whole, has incorporated more and more of what is “acceptable” to the world; and it has forgotten much of what true faithfulness is!  So that when true faithfulness to Christ is preached and taught and lived, there is, even among the faithful themselves, a reaction of unbelief and shame and embarrassment!  In other words, there is a shift (to the left, if you will) of the “churched” community to occupy the space which the world order vacated when it fell further into the pit!

And so there is a “faith” vacuum in the spot once located by that “believing” community – a spot once filled with Christian vitality and obedience and blessings, but now occupied and remembered only by a few (much like a now-deserted East Texas oil-service community).  What has happened is that the faith and doctrine and lifestyle of believers in the past (which was so much more submissive to God’s Word) becomes anachronistic and subject to ridicule by most everyone!  The teaching and faithing of our forefathers is almost an embarrassment to most – it’s old-fashioned.  It’s too harsh.  It’s intolerant and non-compassionate.  It’s “unstylish” in today’s atmosphere.  It is said that “you can’t live in today’s world with those beliefs and practices!”

Now, there’s a great deal of Reformed Theology and worship that is put into this category (because it is the superior understanding of God’s Word!), and we could all help in listing the points.  But there is no better example than the subject matter of this text.  Marriage, divorce and sexuality. Our societies’ descent into the pit of rebellion and disobedience has led the Church (or maybe it’s the other way around) into its present “enlightened” state with regard to these issues; and there is now that vacuum in which faith and practice used to exist.  It is said that we now have a new and free world order in which people are no longer “shackled” with the old mores.  And like the Pharisees of old, we have “redefined” the law; we have released ourselves from that old, ana­chronistic “binding” of before.  And the “believing” community has moved to a Theological position which is more acceptable to the world.  The old, fascist, Calvinistic, intolerant traditions have been left behind, because they arc incompatible with modern society – they are now an embarrassment.

And the Church (in the meantime) has forgotten the Theological roots and foundations of marriage and fidelity in God’s Word.  Because most preaching is about (so-called) “practical religion,” we now have a new “situ­ational” Theology which is geared toward what is “best” for the individuals involved – what is best for women, what is best for the children, what is best for humanity, what is best for the state.  It’s called “enlightened self-interest.”

And the Church condescends in order to avoid the “warfare” which comes with opposing the trends.  And it begins to “syncretize” the faith with the opposition!  Therefore what’s best for Christ and His Kingdom becomes a third-rate consideration – if it’s a consideration at all!  But Christ’s command to, “seek first the Kingdom...” is a command with a promise.  And that promise is that, if one does the command, all these things will be added to us.  And especially when the world heaps shame and ridicule upon the Christian community – that is true!

That’s why were spending so much time on this passage laying the Biblical, doctrinal foundation for our submission to God’s Revealed Will.  This is a particularly “poignant” issue in the mind, and in the plan, and in the Word of God!  And for that reason the world order is stridently focused on it.  It wishes to “deChristianize” sex and marriage!  In the world-wide warfare for the Kingdom, there is a concentrated “death-struggle” – a pitched battle – raging.  And on the front lines is Christian marriage and sex!  And we must know what God says – and why.  And we must seek the glory of Christ and His Kingdom and not give up one inch of ground to syncretization with the world.

We began the examination of this passage four or five weeks ago with a closer look at the Pharisees and why this issue of marriage and divorce was such an important one.  We heard that the “shepherds” of Israel had been assaulting God’s Law for centuries, and they had re-written it for themselves in the Talmud and the Midrashim.  And on this trip to Jerusalem for His crucifixion and resurrection, the very first confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees had to do with divorce (indicating its importance in the mighty plan of God).  It is very significant that as soon as Jesus set foot in the region of Judea (in order to become the Sacrificial Lamb of God), the first hostility was over the issue of divorce!  And the reason it is so significant is the fact that the sanctions of God’s divorce decree were about to be executed against this nation!  The leadership of Israel had twisted and perverted the very creation-intent of God so that they, themselves, could divorce and remarry freely – satisfying their own sexual appetites!  The hypocrites actually believed their own pretensions that they were ruling for God in His Garden; but, in actuality, they were false shepherds who had led the nation into adultery and harlotry!

Then we learned that marriage and divorce are used in God’s Word as analogies of faithfulness and unfaithfulness to God; and that the supreme meaning of marriage is to image the union which now exists between Christ and the Church!  And that any sexual activity outside the marriage union is an abominable distortion of that image.

Then, lastly we heard the true meaning (not the Pharisaical interpretation), the true meaning of the Deuteronomy twenty-four passage. The Pharisees had argued (in their questions to Jesus) that Moses had commanded the people to divorce by using a writing of repudiation.  And that they could do so for many reasons!  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Moses did not command the people to divorce for many reasons by using a writing of repudiation; the passage has no intent of even addressing the reasons for divorce!  What that passage says is this: “Since so many of you, after having lived in a completely pagan environment for four hundred years, are divorced and remarried (according to Egyptian tradition); and since that terrible defiling sin is still going on among you, you shall not remarry your former wife if there has been an interim marriage!  The ‘land’ shall not be defiled by this sin, because it is an abomination to Yahveh your God.”  Having been “saved” from pagan bondage, you shall not compound your present sin by remarrying your former wife!  The union of the coming Messiah and His Church is abominably distorted by doing that!  And His New Kingdom (the land) shall not be defiled by this sin!  Now, that’s what the Deuteronomy passage is all about, and it has little to do with the reasons for dismissing one’s wife!  But the Pharisees used it for that!

And so, now we’ve seen the Pharisees and their perversions, and the coming divorcement of Israel from God, and the antagonistic questions put to Jesus in order to entrap Him.  But Jesus’ answers are in no way limited by their questions, are they?  The questions are based in fraudulence and deceit and guile and forgery of the text of God’s Law.  The presuppositions behind the questions are from sham and hypocrisy.

So Jesus’ answers address the right questions.  Rather than the first question (which appears in verse three of the text): 


“Is it permitted a man to dismiss his wife down to every cause?” 


The right question to ask the Lord of Heaven and Earth would have been, “What is marriage; and do our laws of divorce and remarriage honor God?”

And that’s the question Jesus answers – in order to destroy the presuppositions behind their question!  And He takes them right to the Word of God, as written by Moses, in Genesis chapter one, verse twenty-seven and chapter two of Genesis, verse twenty-three and following (which have been printed in your supplementary text sheets) (found at the back of this series).

Here is Jesus’ answer to the first question, verses four, five and six:  “Did you not read..,” O great leaders of Israel – elders and priests and Scribes and Pharisees – you eminent lawyers and shepherds of the sheep, blind leaders of the blind,


“…Did you not read that the One creating from the beginning, male and female He created them….” (That’s the quote from Genesis one, twenty-seven), and He said, “On account of this a man shall leave father and mother and be attached to his wife, and the two shall be in one flesh,” (that’s the quote from Genesis two, twenty-three).  And then Jesus continues, “Wherefore no longer shall they be two, but one flesh.  What therefore God did join together, let not man divide.”


As I said, Jesus doesn’t respond to the Pharisees’ distorted question, but He fully meets the real issue!  And in doing so, He shuts them up in the guilt of sacrilege and forgery and hypocrisy in their attempt at adding or taking away from the pure Word and intent of God.

Genesis one, twenty-seven is the record of the creation of man (male and female) and the purpose.  Genesis chapter two, twenty-three and following is a restatement of the same in more detail.  God made Adam.  And He took a rib from Adam’s body, closing up the wound; and He formed a woman from the rib of Adam and brought her in to him.  And Adam, inspired of God, said that she was to be called “woman” because she was taken from him and she was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh!

And the two (the one created by God and the one created from his body by God) shall, in sexual union, become one!  The man, “ish” (the one who pierces), and the woman, “isha” (the one who is pierced), are no longer two, but one flesh!  At the official sexual union, the two became one man in inviolable union!

And from that time, a man shall leave the separable union with his parents and be attached in an inviolable union with his wife.  There are duties of honor and support and family which remain between a man and his parents, but the union that was there is separated (he leaves the separable union) in order that an inseparable union might be formed – that two might become one!  They are attached in such a way that the flesh of two becomes the flesh of one – an entire man!  There are two because a part was taken from man in order to create woman.  And upon the sexual union of marriage the two again become one in integral indivisibility!  The incomplete becomes entirety and unity and wholeness; and it is indissolvable without a decomposition of the order and arrangement and disposition of the cosmos!

Any sundering (or dividing) of this union by man is therefore directed at the created order and providential sustaining of the cosmos!  Do you understand that?  The dividing of indivisible flesh is a “bursting asunder” of a man’s own body which has been joined in indivisible union.  And since the created order was designed in this manner by God Himself, non-marital sexual activity, divorce and remarriage are attacks upon the order and disposition of the created realm – the cosmos!  It is defilement.  It is decomposition of created existence!  It is chaos.  It is death!

The union of two – becoming one flesh – is the nature of the creation.  Regardless of any misappropriation of the words of Moses, the “one-flesh union of two” is not abrogated; it is not suspended; it is not changed – even a little!  Moses “suffered” the state of the people as they came out of four hundred years of pagan bondage.  He was against it and legislated, by the inspiration of the Spirit, against further defilement. (Jesus says it here.)

But you Pharisees, you have legislated for it!  You not only have freed yourselves for the purpose of your own sexual appetites, but you have set an example for the entire nation, and you have taught them to rip at the very fabric of the created order of things!  You, and they copulate freely; you join yourselves to any and all, at will – both physically and philosophically.

From the beginning it is not so.  “Two shall be in one flesh.”  Indissolvable by man.  And the image here of Christ and the Church can in no way be lost on us.  The inviolability of marriage is the image of the union between Christ and His people.

The Bridegroom came; and His bride stood waiting in white virginal clothing – eagerly anticipating the union in His body!  It was incomplete without the body of the second Adam!  And that union is inviolable, indissolvable and undefilable.  Harlotry in His body is unthinkable and against the very nature of the union!  And, as Paul said, nothing and no one can separate us from the love of Christ, for we are in union with Him and He loves His Own body – the Church.

So, any sexual activity outside the one-flesh union of a man and his wife are fornication; and divorce and remarriage are all attacks on the order of the created universe – and they bring chaos; and they are all perversions and distortions of the image of Christ and His body – the Church!

Didn’t you read this, you shepherds and teachers of Israel?  “The One creating from the beginning ‘male and female He created them.’  And He said, ‘On account of this a man shall leave father and mother and be attached to his wife, and the two shall be in one flesh?’  Wherefore no longer shall they be two, but one flesh.  What therefore God did join together, let not man divide.”  Jesus answered the question.  And the answer judged the Pharisees as adulterers, and false witnesses, and forgers of God’s Law, and blasphemers, and attackers of God’s created order.

Now, there is a baffling array of eventualities and possibilities in man’s relationships – due to the depth of the sin and degradation of man himself.  And we will get to some of those next Lord’s Day as we come to Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees’ second question concerning divorce.  And we’ll try get to as many of the texts that you have in your supplementary sheet as possible.  But we must be soberly aware of our limitations and approach the subject with great humility.  We might even despair over the situation in the human race if God did not say, “Greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world.” (First John four, four)

But let me just say a few things in closing.  Marriage is not an evolutionary development or a sociological choice, as evolutionists and social engineers and pagan anthropologists would have it.  It is not chance, nor is it by the necessity of man that it came to pass.  It is fundamental creationism.  It is intrinsic to the creation.  God made it that way.  And anything that opposes it or denigrates it is a blasphemous attack on the created order of things.

Secondly, although the creation and commandments of God are for all men everywhere and in all times, we who are covenanted to Christ are required, especially, to be given to fidelity.  The world order around us is given over to infidelity and perversions of every conceivable variety.  The “general conception” of things has moved into such distortions.  And the Church has vacated its Biblical identity with Christ to move along with the world – leaving that “vacuum” I spoke of earlier.  And now our “puritan, Calvinistic and Pauline Faith” is a shameful embarrassment to some.

But you must remember that Jesus said, “from the beginning it is not so.”  Although adultery is commonplace and without sanctions in our society; although divorce is more than often the means of achieving “enlightened self-interest,” and even though remarriage is considered “normal” and good, these are all abominable sin against God and His created order.

The “gay and lesbian rights” movement; the women’s rights movement (one and the same in essence); the entertainment industry; the public school sex-education system; the United States legal system; just the way things operate in our society violates the Creation ordinance of God!  And to many Christians it is now even an embarrassing situation to avoid all sexual contact and stimulation before the joining of two in one body!

But I tell you this morning that you must not experiment or trifle with these things….  The one-man-one-woman union in one flesh is a sexual union and is fundamental to the created universe; and it is a Biblical image of Christ and His Church.  And sexual activity outside of that union – of any kind – is “porneia”.  Experimentation with sin is dissipation, defilement; and the result is disorder, convulsion, chaos and death.

Burning with passion results in marriage – not experimentation.  It is better to pluck out your eye or cut off your hand and enter into the Kingdom one-eyed or single-handed rather than blaspheme God and enter Hades two-eyed and two-handed.

In Christ is the Power to mortify the lusts of the flesh.  In Him is faithfulness and cleanness and obedience and submission.  In Him is humiliation of self and reliance upon the grace and love of God.  In Him is forgiveness of sin and newness of life.  Be reconciled to God in Christ, and turn from the way this world operates and sees things.  Cut off all sexual sins and kill them; and enjoy the sweet wine of union and communion in His body.

Next week the Pharisee’s second question and Jesus’ response.