If we would take the basics of the Christian faith seriously, then we must begin with what Jesus actually said.
Of Faithful Marriage

Jesus said: "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." (John 8:11).

Jesus spoke these words to a woman taken in adultery, caught in the act of sin. When the leaders of the people confronted Jesus with her they sought to tempt Jesus. For the law said that such a person ought to be stoned to death. Jesus turned the tables on them and said to them, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her." (John 8:37)

The reality is that everyone has this sin rooted in his or her heart. Jesus had said in His preaching, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28) From the root of this sin no one is free, "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) This is no less true of the sin of adultery. Jesus came to "call sinners to repentance" and to grant the forgiveness of sins. He as judge forgave the woman taken in adultery.

But that is not the end of the matter. Forgiveness never means that we are now free to continue in sin or to return to it. Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery, "Go, and sin no more." (John 8:11) The grace of forgiveness works its way through the life of the forgiven in a sincere repentance for and forsaking of the sin.

This has much to say concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Jesus teaches, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:6) Divorce, as we have seen, is sin in Jesus' eyes. The only exception in which Jesus permits divorce is when adultery has already corrupted the marriage.

Moreover Jesus condemns all remarriage after divorce as adultery. Nor does He speak of remarriage as a one-time act of adultery, but of the ongoing relationship as adultery. True repentance requires a forsaking of these sins and a breaking off of them that we should, "Go, and sin no more." (John 8:11) Jesus calls men to true faithfulness to that lifelong bond of marriage under all circumstances.

Marriage is a privilege, a good gift of God. Man by his sins so corrupts it that it is possible to lose the privilege altogether. A believer may well be called to dwell in single life, to be a eunuch "for the kingdom of heaven's sake." (Matthew 19:12) Even of the victim of divorce Jesus says, "The believer has but one calling, "let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband." (I Corinthians 7:11)

This doctrine is Jesus' doctrine. The Bible never teaches another. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) But that means, as Jesus said, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23) Jesus said of His doctrine of marriage, "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given." (Matthew 19:11) A faithful marriage is impossible in man's strength. Promise-keeping concerning one's vows in marriage is by grace alone. To trust in one's own ability to keep the promised vows of marriage is a form of living out of salvation by one's own strength and works. In God's grace in Christ alone it is possible to walk in faithful marriage.

Do you know that all-sufficient grace? Do you walk in it in your calling in marriage?

By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor

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