AUTHOR: a Kempis, Thomas
PUBLISHED ON: May 12, 2003
PUBLISHED IN: Bible Studies

                          Chapter 10

                      SOME FINAL QUESTIONS

    We  have  spent  considerable  time investigating the biblical principles 
that  relate  to  the  binding  nature of the marriage union.  Repeatedly, we
found that there is not to be divorce under any circumstances whatsoever. 
What God has joined together is not to be put asunder.  Moreover,  it someone
does become divorced for some reason, we found that it  would be a grievous
sin to  remarry while the former spouse still lives.

    We then  looked briefly  at the  implications of  these truths upon both
the husband’s  role and the wife’s role  in the marriage relationship.  We
discovered that, even if both spouses are saved, it can be very difficult  to
be the kind of husband  and wife that God desires.  But when one spouse is 
unsaved, it is certain that the other will have an exceedingly difficult life
to live.

    However, by  God’s grace it  is possible to  live victoriously even  in
such  a difficult  marriage.  But  to do so requires very careful obedience to
God’s  rules.  Wonderfully, God has  given us His  rules  and  principles  so 
that  even  in  the  most  trying circumstances we can experience the
blessings of obedience.  Those blessings include  not only the  comforting
knowledge that  we are living  in  the  will  of  God,  but  they  sometimes 
include the salvation of the unsaved spouse as well.

    But now we will look  at some other questions that often arise in
Christian  circles.  For  example, isn’t  it true  that when we become a
Christian old things have passed away and all things have become new? 
Doesn’t this imply  that if I  was divorced before I was  saved, now that I 
am saved I, as  a new creature, am free to remarry?  And  what am  I to  do if 
I become  saved after  I have already  married  a  second  time?  Let’s 
conclude  our study by examining such questions.

Divorce And The Newly Saved

    A common  assertion these  days is  the idea  that if  we were divorced
before we were saved, after becoming saved we are free to remarry.  This is
based on the contention  that as saved people we have become new creatures in
Christ.  Old things have  passed away and all  things have  become new.  But
is  this kind  of teaching biblical?

    Actually, this  teaching is quite unbiblical.  First, it does not
recognize that  God’s laws apply to all mankind.  For example, the
commandments “thou shalt  not kill” or “thou  shalt not covet” apply  to the 
unbeliever as  well as  to the  believer.  The only difference  is  in  the 
response  to  these  commands.  The true believer  earnestly  desires  to  be 
obedient  to  all  of  God’s commands,  while  the  unbeliever  pays  little
or no attention to these rules.

    The true believer knows that all of the  commands of the Bible are  to be 
obeyed.  There  is no  statment of  the Bible he would disregard.  Therefore, 
if the  Bible says  he is  not to  remarry after  divorce,  then  he  will 
remain  single.  And this is true whether he was divorced before or after he
was saved.

    Secondly,  becoming  a  new  creature  in  Christ  does  not necessarily
nullify the physical results of our sin.  For example, a murderer  is
sentenced to the electric  chair.  While waiting to be  executed,  he  becomes 
saved.  This  means  he will never be threatened with hell for murder or for
any other sin he committed.  He now stands absolutely blameless before God. 
But does this mean that now he can leave death row and avoid execution?  No,
he still must be executed for his crime, unless he receives  a very unusual
pardon from the governor.

    The same  is true  of a  drunkard.  Because  of his  continued drunkenness
he is told he is dying of liver  disease.  But then he becomes  saved.  All of
his sins, including drunkenness, have been covered by  Christ’s blood.  But
does this  also mean that he will not die of liver disease?  Not necessarily. 
Normally, the effects of his drunkenness continue with him. 

    Likewise, the man who has a  messed up life because of divorce can be
forgiven of this sin along with every other sin he has ever committed.  When
he becomes  saved he can know that he will never have to answer to God for any
of these sins.

    But much of the  impact of those sins remain  with him.  God’s laws 
concerning  marriage  and  divorce  still stand.  Even if he becomes  saved 
after  he  was  divorced,  he knows that God’s law prohibits  remarriage 
while  his  former  spouse  is  living.  Therefore, he will remain single as
God has commanded.

    This leads us into  another question.  Is it really  true that God expects 
those who  were divorced  to live  the single life in total  celibacy?  Isn’t 
that asking  too much?  Surely a loving, forgiving heavenly Father would not
expect this.

    These  questions  can  be  answered  from  two vantage points.  First of
all, let  us look at a  marriage that was broken  by God.  Consider the
example of a widow with five children, one of whom is a child with special
needs.  God has taken her husband by death.

    Biblically she  is free to remarry, and  if any family needs a husband and
a father, it is certainly this one.  But in actuality, marriage for this widow
is highly unlikely.  It would be difficult enough to expect a new husband to
become the instantaneous  father of  five  children.  But  it  is  well nigh
impossible  for a new husband to be willing  to take on the  additional
responsibilities of a child with special needs and cares.

    Now, did God leave  this poor widow in an impossible, terrible situation? 
Surely God is perfect  in His actions and His  wisdom!  Therefore, when God
took this husband by death God knew  full well that the widow could continue a
meaningful  and happy life without the presence of a husband and father for
her children.

    True, it would be a life that would be different from what the world
considers to be ideal.  She would certainly need the help of others.  And 
she  would  have  to  constantly cry out to God for wisdom and patience.  But
she would find that God’s grace is truly sufficient.  In  fact,  she  could 
experience  in  an especially dynamic way the  reality of such  promises as “I 
will never leave thee, nor forsake thss: (Hebrews 13:5).

    So, if  God’s grace  is sufficient  for those  whose marriages have been
broken  by His own action, surely we can expect that His grace  will  be 
sufficient  for  those  whose marriages have been tampered with by man’s
action of divorce.

    There is a second emphasis here that must be kept in mind.  In our 
sinful,  finite  mind  we  think  that because the intimacies enjoyed in  our
marriage were  such a seemingly  necessary part of our life, that  it would be 
nearly impossible to  live a celibate life after divorce.  “How can I be
expected to live the rest of my life without any further intimacies with the
opposite sex?  Surely a good God does not intend that for me,” we reason.

    But God is the one who has designed us.  It is God Himself who has put 
the body  chemistry within  us so  that we  can enjoy the intimacies of

    It is also God  who assures us that it is  possible for humans to  live
very happy lives without  the benefit of such intimacies.  God  declares  in 
I  Corinthians  7:27,…”Art thou loosed from a wife?  seek not a wife.”  He
adds in verses 32-34:

    But  I  would  have  you  without  carefulness.  He  that  is
    unmarried  careth for the things that  belong to the Lord, how
    he may please the Lord:

    But  he that is married careth for  the things that are of the
    world, how he may please his wife.

    There is  difference also  between a  wife and  a virgin.  The
    unmarried woman  careth for the  things of the  Lord, that she
    may be holy both in body  and spirit:  but she that is married
    careth  for the  things of  the world,  how she may please her

    These  verses  clearly  show  that  there  are  some  special advantages
that are  awailable to the unmarried.  In these verses God is not speaking to
a  certain group within the company of  the believers.  He is speaking to all
who have become children of God.
    Jesus spoke to this question in Matthew 19:12 where He taught: 

    For there  are some  eunuchs, which  were so  born from  their
    mother’s womb:  and there are  some eunuchs, which  were made
    eunuchs  of  men:  and  there  be  eunuchs,  which  have made
    themselves  eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  He that
    is able to receive it, let him receive it.

    The  strict  definition  of  a  eunuch  is  someone who is not physically 
equipped  to  perform  the  sexual  act.  But Jesus is teaching that  some
people make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the  kingdom of heaven.  But 
He is not implying  that they are to have themselves  physically altered. 
Rather, they  choose to live without  the physical  intimacy of  the marriage
relationship.  In denying  themselves this intimacy, they gain  all kinds of
new and wonderful ways to live to God’s glory.

    True, the  world in which we live has put an enormous priority on sexual
intimacy.  Listening to the advertisements, the novels, the  TV  programs, 
the  psychologists  of  our  day, we have been brainwashed  into thinking 
that if  we cannot  have this  kind of intimacy, we are being deprived of  the
greatest blessing known to man.

    But  this  is  a  lie.  God’s  Word  is the truth.  While God indicates 
there  are  certain  blessings  within  the  marriage relationship — 
particularly in the rearing  of godly children — there  are even  greater
blessings  to be  realized in  the single state.  This is what we learn from I
Corinthians 7:32-34.

    The  single person  has the  advantage of  having more time to serve the 
Lord by doing such good works as caring for the lonely, the children of 
broken homes, and  the elderly in  nursing homes.  They also have more time
for Bible study and prayer. 

    Married  people should also be  involved in denying themselves so that
their  lives might be as fruitful  as possible for Christ.  But  it is in the
lives of  the unmarried that these ideals can be realized to the highest

    And  it  is  this  spiritual  dimension  that can make the big difference
in the lives  of widows, widowers, divorced people, and those who have  never
married.  God has given this special comfort and promise to all those who are

    But  it  is  only  as  they  live  in  accordance  with  God’s principles 
that  these  added  blessings  become evident.  If the single person listens
to the advice of the world, the feeling that the single state makes a person a
deprived, pitiable, second-class citizen can be overwhelming.  This in turn
can set the stage for a fall into fornication.  Only when God’s rules are
followed can the life of the single person become even more victorious than
that of the married person.

    But  now we should face  another question.  What about someone who has 
married a  second or even a  third time  and then becomes saved?  Is he or she
to divorce these latter spouses?  What  is to be done in order to obey God?

The Second Marriage

    The  question we are  facing is a  serious one, even though it should not
be.  If the human race, led by the church, were obeying God’s laws concerning 
marriage and divorce,  there would be  very few second marriages.  But because
of the wholesale repudiation of God’s laws concerning the  sanctity of
marriage, this  problem has become  enormous.  Everywhere  we  turn  we  meet 
those who have remarried after divorce.  Therefore, we must try to find an
answer to this question.

    We  already  know  that  the  second marriage is an adulterous marriage. 
Remember, the wife  is bound to the husband  as long as he lives.  And Romans
7:3 plainly declares:

    So  then  if,  while  her  husband  liveth,  she be married to
    another man,  she shall be  called an adulteress:  but if her
    husband be  dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no
    adulteress, though she be married to another man.

    We  cannot deny  the clear  teaching set  forth in this verse.  The wife 
is an adulteress if  she is married to  a second husband while  her first 
husband is  still living.  She is an adulteress because her first marriage
has become  adulterated by her divorce, as well as because she has married a
second husband.

    We must  recognize that a number of  examples are given in the Bible of
men with multiple wives.  Jacob had four wives, David had several wives, and
Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines!  But, these were exceptions.  The
usual example that is given is  of one wife.  This was true of Adam, Noah,
Isaac, Moses, etc.

    We  also consider that  never did the  Bible instruct a man to divorce 
all  but  the  first  wife.  This  is remarkable when we remember that the
principle of one man, one wife  goes all the way back to  the beginning.  God
did  not tell Adam that  the three or four  or  several  shall  become  one 
flesh.  No.  He instructed mankind in the beginning that the  two shall be
one flesh (Genesis 2:24).  Although in Genesis 2:24 the number “two” is not
used, the verse speaks  of a man cleaving to his  wife (not wives) “and they
shall be one flesh.”

    Therefore shall  a man  leave his  father and  his mother, and
    shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh.

    Remember, Jesus  quotes this  verse in  Matthew 19:5  and Mark 10:8.  In
both  of these verses He declares that  the two shall be one flesh.

    Therefore, we might  expect that God would ask  those who have violated
this command  by taking multiple  wives to divorce  their additional wives. 
But such an admonition is not given by God.

    Thus, we must realize that even though God has willed that the proper 
marriage  is  one  husband,  one wife, nevertheless He has allowed  mankind 
to  break  this  law  by  having multiple wives.  Nowhere  in the  Bible does 
He ask  those believers with multiple wives to divorce the extra wives.

    The reason for this state of affairs probably lies in the fact that  even 
the  marriage  of  a  second wife is still a marriage.  Even  though it  is
altogether  wrong, for  some reason  God still counts it as a  marriage. 
Thus, the second wife  becomes bound to the  husband  even  as  the  first 
wife  has  become bound to the husband.  And once this binding relationship
occurs, there  cannot be a breaking of that relationship.

    True,  the  marriage  to  the  second  wife  adulterates  the pristine,
ideal character of  marriage as a one husband,  one wife relationship.  But
the second  marriage still is  a marriage, and therefore, there can be no

    When a man divorces his first  wife, she is still bound to him from God’s
vantage  point.  Therefore, when he takes a second wife while his  first wife
is  living, he has  two wives bound  to him.  The act of divorcing his  first
wife was grievous sin.  Likewise, the  act  of  marrying  a  second  wife was
grievous sin.  But the second marriage was still a marriage, and therefore, 
there cannot be divorce from  this second wife.  This is  the marriage in
which he must continue until death separates him from this wife.

    True, a  second or third marriage under these circumstances is far from
ideal.  From the standpoint  of its relationship  to the first marriage,  it
is  adulterous.  Secondly,  there still  exist responsibilities  towards  the 
first  wife.  Alimony  and  child support  are  the  most  obvious.  But 
there  are also moral and spiritual  responsibilities  and  conflicts  that 
may continue to plague  the  one  who  has  arrogantly  violated  God’s 
rules.  Unfortunately, the children frequently suffer  the most because of
these selfish parents.

    Moreover, such a husband can no longer be a  pastor, an elder, or a deacon 
within the church.  In I Timothy  3 God specifically instructs  that such an
office  bearer in the church  is to be the husband of  one wife.  Remember 
that in Romans  7:3 God speaks of the woman’s husband  still living while she
is  married to another man.  God considers her  to have two husbands, even 
though she is legally  divorced from  the first.  Likewise, from  God’s
vantage point, the man who has divorced his first wife and married another now
has  two  wives.  Therefore,  he  does  not  meet  God’s qualifications
for a pastor, an elder, or a deacon. 

    In  spite  of  the  difficulties  of  a  second marriage after divorce, it
is still a marriage.  The spouses involved are to live as if it were their
first marriage.

    Wonderfully, if they have become true believers, they can know that all of
the sins connected with the divorce and remarriage are covered by Christ’s
blood.  Christ came for sinners, not righteous people.  Regardless of  how
many  dirty, rotten  sins we may have committed, when  Jesus becomes our
Savior we  can know that He has paid for all our sins.

    This  brings  us  to  the  last  group  of  questions we shall consider in
this study.  If  a second marriage is to be  lived the same as a first
marriage with the complete assurance that the sins of divorce and  remarriage
become completely forgiven  by God, why can’t I just go  ahead into a second 
marriage and then ask  God’s forgiveness later?  Suppose I am already married
to someone, but I want to marry someone  else with whom I have fallen  in
love.  Why can’t  I go ahead and get  an unbiblical divorce and then sinfully
marry this second  person?  Cannot I  then ask God’s  forgiveness, believing
Christ’s blood  will cover these sins?  Or, suppose I am divorced; can’t I
first marry someone else before I get right with God?  That way  I can  have
my  second marriage  and Christ also.  Then I  don’t have  to live  the rest 
of my  natural life  in the single state.

    These  questions  and  observations  surely  seem  logical and attractive. 
They surely appear to solve the problem of one having his cake and eating it

    But  this  course  of  action  is  fraught  with  danger. 
Effectively, the one contemplating  this action is taking the role of an
adversary of Almighty God.  Effectively he is saying, “I can sin as deeply 
and as often as I wish, and  in my own sweet time I can become saved.  And God
must save me when I am ready  to become saved.”

    Such  a  one  is  tempting  God  like Israel tested God in the wilderness 
when  they  complained  that  God  was leading them to destruction.  God warns
in I Corinthians 10:9:

    Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and
    were destroyed of serpents.

    The specific sin God had in view in this verse  is recorded in Numbers
21:5-6 where we read:

    And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore
    have ye  brought us up out of Egypt  to die in the wilderness? 
    for there is  no bread, neither  is there  any  water; and our
    soul loatheth this light bread.

    And the Lord  sent fiery serpents  among the people,  and they
    bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

    The  nation  of  Israel  accused  God  of  being  too harsh in bringing
them  out of Egypt into the wilderness where they were to live following God’s
direction.  But their complaints  against God only brought judgment upon them. 

    So, too, those who  insist on having their own  way concerning divorce or 
remarriage after  divorce effectively  are complaining that God’s way is too
severe and too harsh.  They are insisting on having their own way.

    Ancient Israel insisted on having its own way and  as a result came under
God’s wrath.  How then  can we expect God to treat  any differently  those 
who  insist  on  having  their own way in such important matters as divorce
and remarriage?  Indeed, it is a very serious matter to contend with Almighty

    Moreover, the idea that I can  sin for as long as I like, then sometime 
in  the  future  I  can  repent at will and secure God’s grace, is entirely
faulty.  It does not recognize  nor understand the nature of God’s grace.

    We must  remember that  mankind is  not the  decision maker in salvation. 
Only Sovereign God Himself decides who is to be saved.  But He comes to  us
commanding us to believe in  Christ as Savior.  He warns, “How shall we
escape, if we neglect so  great salvation” (Hebrews  2:3)?  He 
exhorts,…”make  your  calling and election sure…”  (Peter 1:10).  And  He
instructs us  that we are to come not despise”  (Psalms 51:17).  He  also
warns that  He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. 

    With such warnings and exhortations before our  eyes how would anyone 
dare  to  deliberately  rebel  against God in something as serious as  divorce
or  remarriage after  divorce?  These  are not sins  that one slips into
incidentally or accidentally.  These are sins that require deliberate planning
and consistent action over a period of considerable time.  And if one’s heart
is rebellious and hard  enough today to  commit such a  sin, the probability
is that this person  is not saved.  Moreover, it is  evidence that God is not 
even  drawing  this  one  toward  salvation.  If God is today allowing this
person  to engage in such  rebellion, what assurance can he have that later on
God will deal kindly with him and soften his heart in order to draw him to

    We  may never presume  upon the mercies  of God.  Today is the day of
salvation.  No person has  any guarantee or promise that he will even be alive 
tomorrow.  How then can we  know that tomorrow we can be able to make our
peace with God?

    Furthermore, if we are so rebellious  today that we would dare to sin so 
deliberately, how do we  know that at some  future date our hearts will 
become broken before God so  that we can honestly and  sincerely  cry  out 
for  mercy?  Indeed,  we  have  no such assurance.

    Therefore,  to deliberately divorce  or remarry after divorce, knowing
that  such action is  contrary to God’s  will, is the most foolish  and 
dangerous  action  anyone  could  take.  The  only fulfilling way to live is
in  accordance with God’s laws.  And the best time to begin  living in this
way is right now.  May God give wisdom to those who have even played with the
idea of sinning  now and repenting later!

How Did It Happen

    But now  let’s turn our thought to wondering how it could ever have 
happened  that  the  dreadful  sin  of divorce has become so widespread in our

    The problem of unbiblical marriage  and divorce is so serious, so 
catastrophic, that  we wonder  how the  church could ever have strayed so far
from the truth.  Fifty years ago it was only in the more rebellious  elements
of the  secular world that  this sin was visible.  Because the church would
not even eountenance this  sin, the secular world did not dare to go too
deeply into sin.  It is a fact  that  the  church  is  to  some degree the
conscience of the secular world.

    But then  comes along  a dear  lady who  was married  to a man living
adulterously with other women.  The church began to wonder:  “Must this dear
wife  continue to live with that  kind of horrible husband?”  So in its
sympathy and compassion, the church restudied the question  of divorce for 
adultery and finally  decided, “Yes, the Bible  does allow divorce for
adultery.”  And so the door was opened so that not only could this dear lady
have her divorce, but also many others in the congregation could begin to 
lawfully seek divorce.  Because the church is  to some degree the conscience 
of the  secular world, the  people of the  world also began to expand their
divorce  horizons.  And so divorce began  to multiply in the world.

    At this point another kind of problem began to arise.  Another dear lady 
was deserted by  her husband and  she had to  labor all alone  in caring for
her childre.  But there was a dear Christian man who loved her and wanted to
marry her.  Surely, they reasoned, it must  be in  accordance with  God’s will 
for those children to have a Christian father to care for them!
    So  again  the  church,  in  its  pity and compassion for this woman,
appointed study committees to research the possibilities of biblical  divorce 
for  desertion  and  biblical  remarriage after divorce.    And  again 
victory  was  assured.  Indeed,  these theologians  successfully  convinced 
themselves  that  the  Bible allows divorce for desertion and remarriage after
divorce.  And so not only could this dear lady  divorce her scoundrel of a
husband, but she was free to  marry this fine Christian man who  had fallen in
love with her.

    Many  in the  church now  believe they  have God’s blessing to divorce and 
remarry.  Indeed,  even deacons  and pastors  are now freely divorcing and 
remarrying.  And the  world, taking its  cue from the church, becomes a
wasteland of broken homes.

    Simultaneously,  the church,  taking its  cue from  the world, tacitly 
gives assent to the dreadful  sin of birth control.  This not  only encourages
the  world to go  deeper into this particular sin,  but  also  opens  the 
door to increased fornication.  Where forty  years  ago  it  was  rightly 
considered to be shameful and repugnant  for unmarried individuals  of the
opposite  sex to live together,  now  it  has  become  commonplace. 
Indeed,  sexual restraints of any kind have almost disappeared.

    Along with all of  these step-by-step violations of God’s laws for the
protection of  the family unit, have come  shattered lives of men, women,  and
children whose  families have been  hopelessly broken.  The havoc is so 
widespread and of such magnitude that no words can accurately describe the
full extent of the horror story. 

    Indeed, it is  no wonder that God’s judgment  is on the church of today. 
I am afraid that the primary  blame for the destruction of the marriage
institution and the family unit must  be placed at the door of the church, for
it has  the Word of God that indicates divorce is  not to be countenanced. 
The church is the institution that  has rewritten  the rules  to accommodate 
these sins  of its members.

    But  what can  we do?  We must  do the  same thing  that must always be
done when we find sin in our lives.  We must repent!  We must  turn away  from
all  of these  rebellious rules  that permit divorce and remarriage.  We  must
cry out to God for His mercy and forgiveness.

    And we  can’t wait  for another  denomination or  even another church 
within  our  denomination  to  agree  with us that we have sinned.  I 
personally must  repent if  I have  had wrong thinking about these questions. 
And the church I belong to must repent.

    Unfortunately, few  will repent.  The sins that have developed and have
been accepted as the marriage institution has been slowly but surely destroyed
are so widespread  and so interwoven into the fabric of  our churches that
there is  little hope for that.  This is particularly  so because  we are  so
close  to the  end of  the world.  These  dreadful  sins  evidence  the 
fulfillment  of the prophecy that most men’s love will grow  cold.  May God
have mercy on us!

    Wonderfully, however,  those who truly want  to be obedient to God’s Word
can  still move in the  direction of a more  holy life.  If we discover wrong
practices or wrong doctrines in  our life, we can repent of them.  God  is
gracious.  He does forgive!  And the Bible is just as  much a guide for our
lives today  as it has ever been. 

    Could it be that there will be those who humbly will give heed to  all
that  God teaches?  Although we  cannot turn this massive destruction  of 
the  family  around,  individually we can grow in holiness by becoming more
obedient.  This is the heart’s desire of every child of God.

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