Kingdom RelationshipsFebruary 11, 2024 | Brandon Cooper
The passage discusses how Jesus teaches that true righteousness comes from examining one’s heart rather than outward actions alone. He warns against lust and prioritizing one’s desires over honoring others. Jesus emphasizes dealing drastically with sin through discipline and community support. He also teaches that marriage is meant to reflect Christ’s love for the church, calling believers to prioritize forgiveness and reconciliation over selfishness. Remembering Jesus’ perfect love and sacrifice through the gospel empowers Christians to love others selflessly.
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Go ahead grab your Bibles open up the Matthew chapter five, we’ll be starting in verse 27. This morning, Matthew 5:27. As you’re turning there, if you were prepping this week reading the passage in advance, you may have noticed our subject matter is a little bit more adult themed. So just a quick word to parents, just be aware of the fact that we’re going to be having some these conversations today, your kids may hear some words they asked you about later. And we are so okay with that, we just need you to know that we’re okay with that. Because we want you to be having those conversations with your kids would so much rather than hear it in church, and then are able to talk to you about it, rather that they’re learning it on the playground, or wherever else. So that’s my warning to you. So Matthew 5 27, just as you’re turning there, let’s imagine you’re walking into the waiting room at the doctor’s office, you see two people waiting for the doctor, they’re in the waiting room. Well, one is obviously sick, you know, he’s pale, his eyes are sunken. He’s, you know, wheezing, and sniffing and coughing and all the rest, and you sit on the other side of the room, of course, next to the other guy who looks perfectly well, at this point, you assume he’s just there for his well visit something like that. But of course, you know that doctors are going to check some of the stuff that’s happening on the inside, not just the symptoms, and those can be really different symptoms don’t always tell you what’s really going on inside that first guy who’s coughing and all the rest, you know, maybe that’s just a sinus infection. And if he’s got a nice Doctor Who will give him a Z pack or something like that, he’s gonna be good. And two days. The other guy is the one where the doctor as he starts looking at the test results and stuff, he kind of goes, Huh, a bunch of times in a row starts recommending some specialist visits, and this guy looks good on the inside. But within you know, two months, he’s gonna be showing symptoms and by within two years, he’ll be gone completely. What’s going on in the inside? Right? That’s that’s the more important question. And that’s what Jesus keeps teaching us here. Right? We need to look on the inside, not just the symptoms, what are our actions, but what’s the state of our hearts? And does the state of our hearts actually match our actions, especially when it comes to what we talked about this morning, romantic, sexual relationships. You have somebody who could appear healthy, holy, no, married, devoted to spouse, kids, all that kind of stuff. But you know, inside is just this raging cauldron of lust, and fantasies. And that’s what Jesus is going to talk to us about this morning. These second and third illustrations that He’s given us. Just a quick reminder, if you weren’t here, in Jesus gave us the thesis statement for the Sermon on the Mount back in verses 17 to 20. The main idea is that we have to have a righteousness, a way of life that exceeds that of the Pharisees and the teachers the law. And what does that mean? He gives us these six illustrations to kind of show us what exactly that means what that greater righteousness is. And we keep seeing, we’re gonna keep seeing today that it is a heart level righteousness, it’s on the inside, because that’s what it means to be whole. But as all the parts are working together, your you know, your will, your thoughts, your emotions, your actions. These two illustrations that he gives us today, they’re they’re deeply connected, because they do deal with relationships. And so we’ve got a problem as humans, when it comes to relationships are kind of innate selfishness leads us to us, rather than Love and Honor other people. We will use people to satisfy our own longings and desires and all sorts of ways we use them so that we feel attractive or so that we feel significant and worthy and lovable. So that’s our innate tendency to use rather than honor and love people. But all that changes when we meet Jesus, as we’ll see. Because of what he offers, we have no need to keep taking for our selves. So that’s our big idea this morning, what we’re going to talk about this morning, the big idea, let the gospel shape your relationships with the opposite sex. Let the gospel shape your relationships with the opposite sex because Kingdom people the sorts of people that Jesus is describing in this sermon, kingdom, people are going to pursue gospel shaped relationships. That’s the thread that’s running throughout these verses. So we’re gonna get that in three topics. We’re gonna desire, discipline and divorce. And in each case, we’re gonna have a lesson to learn that’ll be that fill in the blank that you’ve got on your notes page. So let’s dive in. First of all, the topic of desire. Let me read Matthew chapter five verses 27 and 28. You’ve heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery, but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So let’s just remember the pattern before we go too far here. This is a pattern we see in all of these illustrations that Jesus gives us. It begins by him saying, you have ever heard that it was said or something like that. And he’s dealing there not with Old Testament law, but with the interpretation of that law, the tradition that has grown up around the perfect law of God. And then Jesus will follow it up by saying, but I tell you, and there he goes, he’s not contradicting the Old Testament, but he’s offering the right interpretation of it. Because he knows the danger of tradition as a danger we face even still today, right is to slowly and steadily sideline the Word of God in order to follow really a religion of our own making. And that’s what we get. That’s what we get here. Even in these verses, what is the quote, exactly? It’s the seventh commandment, Thou shalt not commit adultery. This is a good one still, in fact, laws not bad, right? So the problem was not the command. The problem was the tendency to reduce the command to the most illegal terms to make it easy for us to obey it. As long as I don’t physically commit adultery, well, then I’m not sinning. And as you can imagine, that allows for all sorts of loopholes. In fact, you might even have that now, you might have been reading this passage thinking, Oh, good, it doesn’t apply to me. Because it’s talking about a guy looking at a woman lustfully. So if you’re a woman, you’re off the hook. Or if you’re a single guy, because you can’t commit adultery, then fornication, it doesn’t say you’re committing fornication in your heart. No, that’s the kind of legal loopholes that we want to avoid, right? When we got the expansive obedience that we’re looking at here. So that was the the Pharisee mindset though, let’s, let’s find like lawyers, let’s find the loophole in the law so that we can kind of get around all that it’s asking of us. This mentality is still true today. By the way, I was listening to a podcast a couple weeks back, and they played a clip of an interview with Dennis Prager. I don’t remember when the interview took place. I mean, I have to remember who was interviewing him. But he was being asked about pornography. Specifically, Dennis Prager is Jewish if you didn’t know that. And so he was as a Jew, he was saying, Look, we don’t have anything like Matthew five, this passage is what he referenced. We don’t have anything like that. It’s not there in the Old Testament. So when it comes to pornography, for me, it’s not a big deal. And he kind of said, you just got to ask yourself some questions basically, does the pornography. Is it like, you know, a little bonus a little extra in your marriage? Or is it leading you away from your spouse? If it’s leading you away from your spouse? It’s a problem. And if not, it’s not. You’re sitting there thinking that’s ridiculous. Of course, it leads you away from your spouse, how else would that work? But there’s that loophole, mentality, it doesn’t say, don’t look at porn. So I guess I’m okay. Against that mindset. Jesus says, no, no lust, what’s going on in your heart, that’s a form of adultery. Also, to go back to the illustration we keep using it’s the first stop on the train line, but it is the same train line. The final, you know, stop is adultery. Yes,
your heart is in the wrong place. And that is, of course, the danger. Because once you’re on the train, it’s a little bit harder to get off the train. We know that desire precedes deeds. And so we want to make sure we check it at the point of desire. Look at King David with Bathsheba, for example, may never mind the fact that he shouldn’t have been there in the first place. But once he sees Bathsheba, that desire kind of blossoms within him, and then he ends up committing adultery and actually murder as well. Desire precedes deeds. But even if it stays inward, at the point of desire, it’s still wrong. Why? Because the desire itself is wicked, because in essence, you’re saying that God’s way, isn’t good enough. What God asks of you, isn’t good enough, I need more than what he was getting, which is the preposterous thing to say to God. And yet, that’s what we do when we have sinful desires. Interestingly, of course, in that scenario, you’re actually still breaking one of the 10 commandments. The 10th commandment says You shall not covet and lists your neighbor’s wife as one of the things you shouldn’t covet. But that’s the mentality right to covet is to think that God has somehow cheated you that he hasn’t given you all that you deserve. And if God has cheated you, then you’re free to cheat and other, even if it’s just in your imagination. And it was that idea, interestingly, that brought Paul to the point of conviction as part of his gospel story. Remember, we talked about this two weeks ago? Paul’s view of himself was when it comes to the law I was faultless, I kept all the the out word law. And then he says in Romans seven until he read that last commandment You shall not covet. And he wants Oh, wait, that’s inward. That one’s harder to just check a quick box. I didn’t do this one thing like that we’re dealing with desire. And he examined his desires, not his deeds, and it took him to a very different place. God wants us to examine our desires to you can’t be whole, like we keep talking. I can’t be pure in heart by avoiding just the act, because then you’re not hold your, your your divided, your hearts divided. You’re double minded. St. Matthias reminds us it’s not the fruit of adultery that God commands us to cast out, but it’s seed, where it comes from the desire. And so even to look at a woman lustfully is evidence of sin. Jesus says. So what does it mean to look lustfully? I’m guessing I don’t actually need to define this. I think most people know the difference between looking and leering. But there are always these questions. A lot of people will talk about it being the second look, which I understand the first look, you know, perhaps didn’t even know what you were looking at the time and then did you go back for more? But of course you see the danger and making a second look is that’s not what Jesus says here. All of a sudden, we got another legal loophole that as long as I don’t look a second time, I’m good. And that first case will kind of, you know, your eyes are in the back of your head at this point. Or if we were to say, okay, so you can linger with your gaze. So what did that mean? Two seconds. One sec. Okay, let’s say it’s one second. If it were one second, our legalistic hearts would very quickly learn to feel what point nine seconds feels like more than we would know our own heartbeat. You see the danger. attractive people will enter your range of vision that will happen that’s not sin. The question is, how do you respond? I like the way AB Bruce old Scottish pastor put it he says the look is not casual but persistent. And the desire not involuntary or momentary. Because you may notice somebody is attracted, that happens, that’s fine. Okay. I mean, notice that the desire is not involuntary or momentary, but cherished. Cherished, as that good word we talked about last week in Psalm 66, five cherished sin in my heart, God would not have heard me, that’s the that’s the desire. That’s the the holding to it. Cherished, by the way, because we foolishly believe life would be better if we had it. Of course, that applies to all of us in all sorts of areas. Again, coveting is very wide range here. But you see how this work? Why, why, for example, is porn, so deadly and so dangerous, because over time, what happens is the guy starts to think with my wife looked like that, or acted like that life would be better. And that will destroy a marriage from the inside out those unreasonable expectations that come about. But of course, it’s not just porn. And it’s not just men that struggle with that. It could be something else entirely. It could be if my husband, led our family spiritually like that, or pursued my heart like that, or provided for us like that. And it’s that same poison coursing through our veins. And not to imply by the way that women don’t struggle with sexual desire. I think it’s really important that we acknowledge that piece too, and just own that. So it’s the kind of thing we can talk about here. give you just one really clear proof. One of the best selling books not that long ago was 50 Shades of Grey. It was marketed towards women. And it is all about sexual desire elicit sexual desire. So it’s clearly there’s something in there, right? Let’s just agree both genders are sinful. Okay, we can all look at our hearts together here. We don’t have to decide who’s worse. But what do we do with this and with this acknowledgment when it comes to desire? Here’s the fill-in-the-blank when it comes to desire. Check your heart, check your heart, like what’s really going on inside of you. Even if you don’t act on it. What’s your intent, even in so called innocent acts, you can be jogging on the prairie path in the summer, because you want to get in shape, take care of yourself, all that kind of stuff. You could be jogging on the prairie path in the summer because you’re hoping the girls are gonna run by you in short shorts and sports bras. And only you know which one of those is true. Or maybe there’s a certain way you always walk in your office when you’re going to the coffee machine or something because you can walk by that one person who’s not trespassing, you keep hoping to see. You get the idea, right, check your heart, when you check your heart because that’s what God is examining anyway. And you are not fooling him. The old pastor who put it this way, he said, You know, God examines the heart and Alas, what sin is not committed there. And that humbles us, doesn’t it? So what what Jesus is doing here and these verses, he’s simultaneously raising the bar right, giving us that greater righteousness that we are called to, and then exposing just how far short of it we fall. What does that do for us? I think I’ve said it every sermon so far, I’m gonna keep saying it takes us back to where it all began. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Right? I’m not good enough in myself. And so I come empty, to receive the fullness that Jesus offers. You check your heart, but then you got to deal with it at the same time. Like we can’t just lament Oh, wretched man that I am. As Paul says, in Romans seven, you got to do something with it by Romans eight, Paul saying put your sin to death. And that’s where Jesus goes next as well. So let’s keep looking second topic discipline, verses 29 and 30. I’ll read it for us. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away, it’s better for you to lose one part of your body and for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away, it is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Now, this is the practical application of that last point. All right, don’t last is the command. So Jesus is here saying do whatever it takes to make lust impossible for you? Of course, that won’t ever happen. But we’re we’re doing all we can to make it impossible for us. And this is strong language. And the question of course, we’re all asking at this point is like literally, do I literally have to gouge out my eye? If I lost? I think the answer is certainly not only it was meant to be literal, for one very simple reason. And that’s that it wouldn’t work anyway, he goes out, you’re right, I guess we’re gonna be lost. And now you’re left I don’t even know how you lost with just one of your eyes, guys are both your eyes, you can still have illicit sexual desire going on in your brain, of course. So I know, I don’t think this is meant literally. But that certainly doesn’t let us off the hook either. But the point is clear, I’ll give you your fill-in-the-blank nice and early in this one, take bold steps, deal drastically with the sin in your life act. Act on it to take care of it. Let’s look at the image here because it is the perfect analogy. Doctors don’t amputate. Unless they have good reason to do it. You probably have joked you got kids at some point, you know, your kid stubbed a toe or something like that. And they’re crying excessively more than they probably need to based on the pain they’re experiencing. And so what do you say as parents, we’ve all done this. We should probably just cut it off then, right? And then you kind of get the point, right? Like no, no, that would be excessive. Exactly right. Doctors don’t amputate unless they’ve got good reason. But if keeping the limb will kill you, because it’s gangrene or something like that, then they cut it off. That’s what we have to understand about sin. Sin is killing you. Sin is killing you. So cut it out ruthlessly. There’s John Owen put it in his classic one that everyone should read. It’s not easy by any means was written in the 17th century but mortification of sin, he says, Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you. Those are the only two options. Nothing in between be killing sin or sin will be killing you. It is better to lose your leg than to lose your life we would all agree on that amputation is not good. But better that than losing my life altogether, well better to lose an eye than to perish spiritually. So count the cost and count it carefully. We need to record this image is pointing us in this direction, right? We need to reckon with just how heinous sin is. I don’t think we get it. You know, it’s kind of what’s the big deal here. Everybody’s doing it. But that’s not how God sees it. God does not look at it and say, What’s the big deal? You want to understand how heinous sin is. You need to look at Jesus. You need to look at Jesus. Sin is so bad and corrupts us so completely, that God Himself had to come, clothe himself in flesh, and then do what no one else had ever done because no one else could do which is actually keep the law perfectly. Live that whole life no wrong desires, no wrong thoughts, no wrong words, no wrong actions. And then having lived the perfect life he received the punishment that we sinners deserve. And well and I broke him. That’s the other part you want to do heinous? It is look at Jesus in Gethsemane. As he’s being crushed under the weight of our sin, like olives under an olive press the oil draining out of me. He’s bleeding as he’s praying, it’s crushed him so entirely. That’s how awful sin is. And then he goes to receive the punishment of torture and mockery and death, and hardest of all, the wrath of God. That’s what your sin and my sin does. We don’t always see it that way. We look at sin, and we think sin is bad because we fear the consequences. Not because we fear offending a holy and oftentimes justly wrathful God. In fact, we often get upset with God for His judgment. He reads him the story, the Old Testament. You go, what’s the deal here? The deal is, that’s how bad our sin is. But look how sin corrupts and perverts us. I mean, something so small, as a second glance, has the power to rupture a covenant made before God and destroy a family. Just a good reminder, by the way, sin never shows you the price tag. Ever. Your younger days, you know, you go on a date or something, you go to a fancy restaurant and you’re trying to like act older than you are, and then you got a higher salary than you do and stuff. And the menu doesn’t even have the prices in it. And you just think, Oh, no. Oh, no. Like we’re gonna have two cups of water to go that’s it. Thank you. But that sin, that sin, right it just look at the pictures a year and what that dessert cart to come on buy, you don’t know what it’s going to cost you. But even if you resist even if there isn’t that action on it, there’s no adultery I still think we got to ask the question, why did we desire it in the first place? Desire leads us away from God, you want to know part of the price tag is that? That simple desire hardens our heart toward God’s beauty and goodness, we desire what God would not have asked desire, we are saying to him, You are not enough. Jesus, you are not enough for me. I need this. And also the other stuff that you told me I can’t have seen in that light, we start to understand the strong language. Don’t try to tame sin. Kill it, put it to death. You know, imagine you’re looking out in your backyard. You got kids, you know, like calamari, that kind of age you’re playing on the swing set or something like that. And you see a rabid coyote come into the backyard. What’s your thought they’re here, doggy, doggy. You know, make sure you stay outside. We don’t want you in the master bedroom kind of thing. No, like, you’re gonna go all Atticus Finch on that thing. If you’re packing your own animal control, whether it be or shoot that thing, why? Because of the damage it could do to you to the people you love, you kill it. That’s what Jesus says we should do with our sin put sin to death. The fancy word for it is mortification. mortifies and kill it, take whatever steps you need to take so that sin becomes increasingly impossible in your life. Maybe that means deleting social media, or getting rid of your smartphone, or stop watching a series that you really liked. But you just know you are too attracted to the main character. Maybe it means you don’t take your kids to the pool or to the beach, because you don’t need to see that. Or you got to invest in some workout equipment at home because you shouldn’t be at the gym. And the two points to make coming out of that list that I just gave you. First of all, I can’t give you a specific list. And by the way, if I did give you a specific list, you know where you’d go. Legalism. I’m good because I now have a gym membership anymore. So I must not be sinning. Okay, so that’s one problem. But the other reason I can’t give you a specific list is because people are different. Like some of those things I just said you’re like, what? Like people struggle with that. Okay, fine. That’s not you. You don’t need to cut that part of your body off but some of us do. Second thing to say about that list. It involves real cost. Look at the imagery. Jesus doesn’t say if you got sinned, put a bandaid on it. He says cut your hand off. That is cost. Will it be inconvenient for you not to have a smartphone anymore. Donald gets a fancy camera. I can’t use Google map I have to Mapquest things again and like print it out and put on my front seat. Are you kidding me? Yeah, you know why? Because it’s inconvenient. But it’s sure is a lot better than bringing your smartphone with you to hell. That’s why deal with your sin. The cost also might include people. And that one’s really hard to say. Actually, it’s interesting. There’s some overlap in the language here in this passage and later in Matthew 18. When Jesus is talking about excommunication, because what is excommunication? When you have to remove somebody from the membership of the church? Why? Because the danger is that their sin is going to work itself through the congregation like yeast through dough. But even if it’s not an excommunication issue, it may just be there’s some friends you got to lose because you know, they lead you away from Jesus is that hard? Yes. But you need to take bold steps, whatever steps you need to take, actually like it is right there in the text, isn’t it? Jesus says if your hand causes you to sin, he didn’t say we know you hadn’t causes you to sit know if, okay, is this about you or not? What do you need to do? Let me say one more thing about this before we move on to the last point, though, is, you have help as you do this. And that’s such good news, kids, teenagers. This is why God gave you parents. I would hope that in your saner moments spiritually, when you’re praying before God, you would stop and thank God, that you have parents who give you restrictions. Because they don’t want you to fall and it’s like they’re cutting the hand off before it even becomes a problem for you. But parents, of course, that means you have a role. Right? It is your job. As your kids are growing and maturing. They’re not there yet you help protect your kids. You take those steps for them. Can we agree that it’s probably a really, really bad idea to give your kids unrestricted access to the internet? Like a middle school? Boy, what could go wrong there? Nothing’s ever happened with girls and social media. We got no evidence about that. Right? What about smartphones just in general, like I can’t even see the value here. So if you’re doing these things, don’t even think about it. Whatever. Like, here’s ways to sin on a silver platter. Can
I tell you I love you enough to say that so foolish? using that word very advisedly, because we talked about it last week. There’s a time and a place to say no, I love you. That’s why I’m calling you a fool. Don’t do it. Take the steps you need to take as parents. So family is one place where we get to help churches another place where we get help. This is why we need community. Well, you need to be in community groups and journey groups. And you think Well, no, I just graduated from my journey group. I doubt that very much. I’m in my eighth year of Journey group at this point, because I keep leaving the groups but you know what I find every summer when I’m not meeting anymore, I’m like, Man, I miss my guys. Like I need that regular input in my life. We need that help. So meet whatever it looks like get together with people who know you well enough that you can be honest about your sin with them. And they can help you you can help each other most important help that we have those the Spirit of God. Thank You, Lord, that we have your spirit. How does Paul say it Romans 813. if by the Spirit, you put to death, Misty to the body, you will live? What beautiful balance, you put to death the misdeeds of your body by the Spirit. He’s the one who empowers your obedience, he would never do it in your flesh. And he is the one who is constantly reminding us of God’s love for us that we are his adopted children if we come to Him in Christ, because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. And that reminder of his love, reminder, the Gospel like that’s what unties sins cords that are wrapped around us where we go, No, that’s what I want. That’s what I’m actually after. So take bold steps, put sin to death. We’ve got one more topic and talking about lost in adultery needs leads very naturally to this next topic, and that is divorce. So let me keep reading verses 31 and 32. It has been said anyone who divorces his wife, let’s give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. So this is the next illustration. We know it’s another topic because it begins with that whole It has been said. And here we are dealing with the issue of divorce. And can I say I just read recently that at least one study have shown that about eight out of 10 of us are touched in some way by divorce. And so you can imagine like this is personal. Some of the things I’m going to say here are going to sting. Of course, I would rather not deal with it. But we have to, and yes, It’ll sting but the Sermon on the Mount, I mean, this is a surgeon’s scalpel. Like what Jesus is saying here. It cuts US Open, we cannot hide from it. We need to face it squarely we do. But what does he say? What did they hear? The quote here is from Deuteronomy 24. It’s actually not a precise quote. So every already we see that things have gotten modified a little bit. Because here’s how Deuteronomy 24 Verse one actually begins if a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to Him, because He finds something indecent about her. And then it goes on to say, and he divorces her and gives her a certificate of divorce. So it doesn’t say, you know, anyone who divorces his wife must give her her a certificate that’s just assumed there at this point. Now Jesus tells us in Mark 10, that this passage here this this law is given because of the hardness of our hearts Here’s what I mean by that this is not God’s good design, not by any means. This is God protecting women in particular in that culture by saying, Look, if you’re going to divorce her, when I know some of you are going to because the hardness of your hearts, well, then we need to make sure that she’s taken care of, she got to have a certificate of divorce in that culture, women were not gonna be able to earn a living on their own, they’re going to need to remarry. So you need to have proof that you could re marry. In other words, this is not a license to divorce your spouse because you got tired of her. This is just Moses, God saying through Moses, don’t compound your error. We know how this works. Again, think about parenting illustration here, you’re gonna kid going to a party or something like that. And you’re like, look, make good choices. Now a whole bunch of good choices make there and then you grab them and you kind of know where their sin tendencies are. And you say, Look, if you drink too much, just stay there. Okay, just stay overnight. Why? Because what do you say? If you’re dumb enough to get drunk, at least don’t be so dumb as to risk tragedy, driving home while drunk. Now when you say that as a parent, are you saying it’s cool if you get drunk? No, not by any means. You’re just saying, Don’t compound the error. That’s what God is saying here. But the hardness of our hearts leads us very quickly to that external focus. What boxes do I need to check? And so the big debate in this culture was what does that phrase something indecent mean? Right, my wife displeases me because of something indecent. And they were talking about things like well, she gained a little more weight than I thought she was going to after she had kids. Or she burned my breakfast. She keeps burning my breakfast. She didn’t buy the right toast either. I like this is a problem. I’m not even joking. Like this is where the rabbinic debates were at this point. And so you see that lamentable concession to the hardness of our hearts all of a sudden becomes that legal loophole. The Rabbi’s are debating grounds for divorce, rather than the meaning of marriage. That’s a problem. So Jesus rightly interprets Moses, Deuteronomy 24, but Genesis one also, when God creates marriage, what is Jesus’s point what he says here, basically no fault divorce, doesn’t break the covenant in God’s eyes. You are still married before God, no matter what the state thinks about it. You are married in God’s eyes. So if you divorce a woman because she displeases you, Jesus says you cause her to commit adultery. Remember, she’s gonna have to remarry at that time, in order to be taken care of. And so now, covenant still there, you’ve made her commit adultery, which is on you, you like the way it translates it, actually, it says, you make her the victim of adultery. Exactly. Now, it’s different today, actually, women initiate divorce more often than men do. In our culture, men are much more likely to be unfaithful. So again, both genders not good. Okay, like a lot of sin between us, we understand that. But the point is remarriage, is adultery. Because you’re still married in God’s eyes. Except for the one exception that’s listed here because of sexual immorality, because of adultery, Paul adds another exception abandonment. In other words, there are certain things you can do that rupture the covenant already. And then divorce is a little bit different at that point. But otherwise, if it’s just, you know, irreconcilable differences, then the covenant is still in effect in God’s eyes. This is a strong teaching. This is a word desperately needed today. But his marriage is so thoroughly despised in our culture. Divorce rates are down, actually. But that’s only because people aren’t bothering to get married in the first place. More and more common. I actually overheard this conversation this week, was like standing in line somewhere or something. And this lady was talking to her friend, and she was saying, Why would I get married again? As a single mom, the benefits are better if I stay single. But then what’s the point of the piece of paper if it doesn’t go? Well, and you know, most marriages end in divorce, she said, it’s not even true, by the way, but they say that so most marriages end in divorce, so just makes it that much harder for me to kick them out of the house when it’s over. Like that’s the view of marriage so often today, in fact, you’ll hear this people will change their vows just a little bit, you know, it’s for as long as we both shall love. Why don’t let people write their own vows here, like if I’m your pastor, we’re not doing your own vows. Okay, just be aware of that now. Okay. Sorry. But what are you saying there? I will stick with you as long as you keep making me feel the way I want to feel about my self. And so now we see the heart issue behind this. It’s not a legal discussion of the grounds of divorce. It is all about choosing a really flimsy definite And of happiness over the holiness that God calls us to and make no mistake, God’s holiness is where we will be happiest. But it doesn’t always feel that way at first. And so especially given what divorce does, except in in the extreme cases, and there are times there are exceptions are times when divorce is not only permissible, but maybe even Prudential. But except in those extreme cases. You’re committed, you’re staying, why? Because you’re choosing to love and serve others, over just pleasing your self. Of course, that’s gospel life in a nutshell, right? That’s what Jesus did for us. So that’s what we do. I mean, that was the pulse devotional this week about parking, we park by thinking of others, above our cells. And gospel shaped marriage means that you see what’s displeasing in your spouse. And there will be lots. And they see lots on YouTube, by the way. So you open eyes, see what’s displeasing in your spouse. And then you steal yourself for the long haul. And gospel shaped marriage is a tough minded commitment, to love well, to die to self to pursue holiness together, to work out differences, seek help as needed and pray.
The exceptions that Jesus offers remind us it doesn’t always work. Again times when divorce is permissible times even when divorce is Prudential. But even then, it’s a concession, not a command. Jesus never says when this happens, you divorce your spouse will always have the possibility if God can raise Jesus from the dead, he can reconcile to sinners in marriage, we always have the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation, John Stott and otherwise, as pastors in the last century, he said, he won’t speak to anyone about divorce, until he’s spoken to them about marriage and reconciliation. And that’s right. That’s how it should be, of course, because we’re kingdom, people were the sorts of people described in the Beatitudes. And those sorts of people would seek that, especially in light of the fact that Christ reconciled you to God, you know that it’s possible. Here’s the way church father, John Chrysostom, put it centuries ago. He says, For he that is meek, and a peacemaker, and poor in spirit and merciful. How shall He cast out his wife? He that is used by God to reconcile others? How shall he be at variance with her? That is his own? Good question. So we can draw now the heart of this illustration, like what’s going on, there was not just a real narrow focus on divorce. Now, what’s the the fill in the blank here is put others first. Think of others, your spouse, especially more highly, yourself. Now just think of your wants and your needs. But how in this situation, can I love my spouse? love my kids, love my neighbor, and love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength? And you say, Well, what does that have to do with loving my neighbor or loving God? Well, because marriage is not first and foremost about your pleasure, but about your proclamation. Our marriage has a purpose, what is marriage meant to say? Here’s Paul in Ephesians, 531 and 32. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, the two will become one flesh. That’s Genesis one, or that’s the purpose of marriage right there. But then he says, this is the profound mystery, but I’m talking about Christ and the church. He says, Don’t you get it? You’re one flesh union in marriage is just meant to be a living parable of the union we have with Christ. It’s not about you, it’s about Jesus. And that changes how we think about marriage. If it is a parable, then because what would it say for me to abandon my wife, who will proclaim to the world Jesus might stop loving you? And we know that’s not true. So it’s about not just our pleasure, but our proclamation and that raises the bar infinitely, right Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and you’re like, No, I have not done that. I know, I haven’t raised the bar infinitely. But also that reminds us of the Gospel we need so right there as you’re struggling in marriage going I’m not as good as Christ you’re remembering but my marriage pictures how Christ loves us. And so there’s this like bowing of the head and lifting of it that happens at the same time. And that’s good. There’s a really good chance that you’re feeling guilty. Right now. Maybe even ashamed. Some point in this sermon. Something hit you might be lost might be laziness and dealing with sin might might be divorce. What would Jesus say to you and your guilt and in your shame? How would that gospel reminder motivate us to pursue obedience differently. Let’s remember Jesus is the perfect husband. He did not think of himself when he came to wet us. But only thought of his people. Do you think he saw anything displeasing or indecent in us? Yeah, what did Romans five eight say? God demonstrates His own love for us in this While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. When we were at our unloveliest. Christ died for us. So it’s a little bit like Hosea buying Gomer back. Right? Remember he he is commanded by God to marry this immoral woman and she abandons him, she goes back to her old way of living, and he has to buy back his own wife from her pimps. And why does God have to do that so that we would know what we do to God that is us? Exactly. And it cost Christ to buy us back. Not just some silver or some gold, it cost him his very life. Jesus never used us, never exploited us never took from us, but actually allowed himself to be used and abused and exploited for our sakes. One last thing about Jesus to Jesus looked at us lustfully that word doesn’t just refer to sexual desire. Of course, it’s just strong desire, great desire. Did Jesus look at us with great desire? Absolutely. It was a pure and holy desire. When he looked at us who were going to be his bride. He looked, desiring our sanctification. Ken, what does Paul say in Ephesians? Five Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. How did Christ loved the church, Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleanse cleansing her with a washing with water through the Word and presented himself as a radiant church without stain, or wrinkle or any other blemish but holy and blameless. When we remember how perfectly Jesus loved and loves us, we have no need to use others for our own gain anymore. Again, whatever we’re getting out of that relationship. feeling beautiful, feeling worthy feeling whatever it is, we are already granted it in Christ. He loves us. He loves us perfectly, we can experience perfect intimacy with Him. And that frees us then to love selflessly, just like he did his kingdom people pursuing gospel shaped relationships, because that’s the point. Right? Let the gospel shape your relationships with the opposite sex, and really all your relationships. How do we do that we check our hearts. We take bold steps to modify sin and marinate in the gospel. We put others first just like Jesus did. Let’s pray. Lord, we know we can only love because you first loved us. We only know how to treat others, how to pursue marriage relationships, because you loved us, loved us enough to send your son who came to redeem us so that we could be wed to you again, experience the perfect intimacy for what You created us. Well, we pray that that truth, the goodness of the gospel, that it would shape our hearts even now, so that we love selflessly, and purely and never selfishly and sinfully as you remake us to be like Christ, in His name, we prayAmen.