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Marriage and the Bible VI

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Question #1:

[Troubled by internet teaching that second marriage is considered a continuing state of adultery]

Response #1:

Good to make your acquaintance. This is a very common question, and let me start right away by advising you not to seek a divorce from your present spouse. As you correctly conclude, that would be terribly unfair and damaging to your husband and child, not to mention yourself.

People who say that being "wrongly married" is "living in adultery" have no true scriptural basis for doing so. What they have is misplaced guilt. Misplaced guilt is one of the devil's favorite weapons and he and those under his sway use it like a hammer on anyone whose faith is at all wobbly on any point of truth.

We live in a fairly libertine society, so it is very easy for anyone to indulge and engage in any manner of sinful activities as well as to make all manner of bad decisions which weren't even possible a few hundred years ago. So we have all done "dumb things" and most of us have done "bad things"; therefore we all have things we might easily be made to feel guilty about. But here is what I read in scripture:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:9 NKJV

So if we have sinned, when we repent (true biblical repentance which simply means recognizing in our hearts that we were wrong and turning our backs on that wrong behavior) and then confess to the Lord in a simple prayer (no "penance" because that would be us working for it instead of acknowledging that Christ paid for it), then in each and every case He forgives us our sin AND cleanses us "from all unrighteousness". So if we are fretting or worrying about anything we may have done in the past, confessing it to the Lord and moving on results in that "whatever" being forgiven by Him and with us being cleansed by Him.

There are times when it will be possible and even advisable for us to make amends for things we have done in the past. But marriage is a special case because it is a legal commitment as well as a moral one. God designed marriage for the entire human race, not just for believers, and everyone in any country I know of has to abide by the legal requirements of marriage particular to that country. A marriage is a marriage and a divorce is a divorce. Adultery is having relations with a third party a person is not married to at the time it is NOT having relations with one's legal spouse (which is mandatory in fact according to scripture: 1Cor.7:3-5). What our Lord actually said was that if a person "marries" without the right to remarry, that ACT of "marriage" is an act of adultery not that said person is thereafter in a "constant state of adultery": there is no such thing and such a thing is impossible; adultery is an act, not a state. So as well as being ridiculous on the face of it, this is not what the Greek says in any of the passages where this comes up in scripture.

It is true that some people get married when they should not have done so. That is a sin. But Christians, even very good ones, sin all the time. We should not do so, of course, but we are human beings; we have sin natures, and we will never be perfect and sinless this side of heaven in these corrupt bodies. Some sins are worse than others having more profound consequences than others, but Jesus Christ had to die for every single sin, no matter how small, no matter how large, for any of us to be saved. And what is the solution to sin for a believer who has been cleansed by the work of Christ on the cross? It is confession. What is not a solution? Wracking oneself with guilt over a past sin that cannot be undone. Trying to "do something" to "fix" some past sin is an offense to the Lord who has already paid for it. Past sins cannot be fixed, and feeling guilty about them is completely counterproductive because they are done, in the past, and can't be changed and Christ has already died for them, more to the point.

So irrespective of whether or not you should have divorced or not because of the abuse, should have left earlier or not, should have gone back or not, should have gotten remarried or not, the point is that now you are married. And the Bible is very clear about the fact that if at all possible a believer who is married should stay married. Period. Is your present marriage a happy one? All the more reason to stay in it. It is not possible for me nor would it be right for me to weigh in on the past circumstances you report, as to whether or not you had a "legitimate right to divorce and a legitimate right to remarry". Only the person in question knows enough about all the details to have a chance of analyzing things exactly right. I will say that it is pointless to do so in any case. Yes, there are circumstances where it is legitimate to leave, legitimate to divorce, and legitimate to remarry. But none of that really matters AFTER the fact. If a person is convinced that he/she should not have gotten married (first time, second time, whichever time), then the best thing to do is to confess and then forget and move on, not try to "fix the past" because we are living in the present and not the past. No sin can be atoned for other than through the cross, and believers in Jesus Christ have already received blanket forgiveness so as to be saved. When we err after salvation as we all do, we don't need another salvation "bath"; we only need to have "our feet washed" (i.e., we only need to confess our sin to be forgiven: Jn.13:10).

In my opinion, those who preach this false "state of adultery" hogwash have a lot to answer for. Doesn't the Bible say "if you marry, you have not sinned" (1Cor.7:28)? Doesn't the Bible say "let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (1Cor.7:2)? Doesn't the Bible proclaim the love of God, the forgiveness of God, the grace of God? Everywhere. Doesn't the Bible condemn divorce (Mal.2:16)? How, then, could anyone have the unmitigated gall to counsel a happily married couple with children to divorce? Out of some esoteric (and erroneous) interpretation of a verse of two, which interpretation runs counter to everything else scripture has to say? As Paul says, "their condemnation is [well] deserved" (Rom.3:8).

My advice would be to put this out of your head and out of your heart. Thank the Lord for the blessings He has given you a good husband and child and make the most of your marriage and your family. The fact that He gave you these blessings after the terrible, earlier suffering you endured, shows His true character: mercy and love and grace NOT actuarial, legalistic vengefulness our dear Lord Jesus is not like that at all. The fact that these "individuals" who preach this dangerous false doctrine don't see this only shows that they don't really know Him . . . at all.

Finally, one other thing I always feel the need to point out is that spiritual growth is the answer to all such problems of heart, both in providing the armor of truth against false teaching directly but also in providing the spiritual common sense every believer needs to navigate the devil's world and fend off his attacks. I would strongly urge you to find a place where you can grow through the actual truth of the scriptures taught in depth in a responsible and orthodox way. That type of teaching is, admittedly, relatively hard to find here in the waning days of Laodicea, but if you seek it, you will find it and you are certainly welcome here at Ichthys (I also recommend online: Bible Academy at the link).

And here are some other links at Ichthys (which will lead to many more):

Marriage and the Bible V

Marriage and the Bible IV

Marriage and the Bible III

Marriage and the Bible II

Marriage and the Bible I

What constitutes marriage?

Marriage is a civil institution

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:

[Troubled by being told that having relations with present husband is adultery]

Response #2:

Trust me, this is not something you need to worry about.

1) Adultery in the Bible means the same as the word we use in common modern English: a married person having relations with a person OTHER than their spouse, that is, with a person they are NOT married to NOT with the person they ARE married to.

2) As mentioned before, "a marriage is a marriage". We have laws to tell us who is married and who is not and that is the standard the Bible and the Lord use as well. If two people are legally married, it is impossible for them to commit adultery unless they have relations with someone else outside of their legal marriage. Divorce ends all marriages legally and thus ends a marriage biblically speaking as well.

3) It is not only NOT wrong for married couples to have relations (clearly), but it actually IS wrong for them to deprive one another (for whatever reason):

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1st Corinthians 7:3-5 NASB

There is all manner of nonsense out there in cyberspace nowadays and not a little in the "churches" too. But the scriptures are very clear if approached correctly without inordinate guilt on the one hand or a desire to use them for nefarious purposes on the other.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

[Troubled by being told that continuing in the marriage and having married relations will result in going to hell]

Response #3:

Let me assure you that all believers are saved (and thus "get to heaven"); only unbelievers are not saved (and thus "go to hell"). You believe in Jesus Christ. Therefore you are a believer. Therefore you are saved. Therefore the Lord has a place for you in heaven just as He has for all of us who believe in Him (Jn.14:1-4).

I would not want to be in the shoes of someone who is falsely telling you lies as if they were biblical truths.

As to divorce, as mentioned before, there are times when marrying or divorcing can be the wrong thing to do. But while these are indeed important matters, and do have consequences, confession of any sin assuming that there is a sin (there are also valid reasons to divorce and valid reasons to marry) results in that sin being forgiven. If I thought I had married "wrongly" I would confess that to the Lord and move on; same goes with a divorce. In these matters scripture supports cleaving to the status quo as far as it is possible to do so, that is, to stay married if married (and if that is possible severe abuse or the unwillingness of the other party are two common things which make it impossible), and to stay single if single (but not if this will result in falling into sexual sin from incontinence: 1Cor.7:1-2).

Scripture NEVER tells us to go out and do something crazy to "fix" the past. The past cannot be "fixed". Jesus died for all of our sins. That is the only way anything has been "fixed", and we appropriate the grace of His sacrifice by believing in Him. This you have done, and so you are forgiven and so you are saved. If you made some mistakes (I'm not weighing in on that at all), then you were forgiven when you confessed them. We all make mistakes in life in many areas and in many things. I dare say there is not an adult Christian alive who is not living with the consequences of any number of past mistakes. None of these can be changed. But they are all forgiven at salvation for life eternal and they are all forgiven as we move forward in our Christian life for the restoration of our fellowship with Jesus Christ just as soon as we confess them. After we confess, in marriage, divorce and also in countless other matters, there is no point in trying to go backwards. What we are to do is to move forward in Christ:

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.
1st Corinthians 7:17 NIV

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned;
1st Corinthians 7:27-28a NKJV

Since you are married, the Bible's advice is clear: stay married. There is no biblical justification for getting divorced because of these sorts of issues.

There is a lot more about all of this all amounting to the same conclusions at Ichthys:

Marriage and the Bible V

Marriage and the Bible IV

Marriage and the Bible III

Marriage and the Bible II

Marriage and the Bible I

What constitutes marriage?

Marriage is a civil institution

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

[Trouble by competing email correspondence threatening hell unless divorced.]

Response #4:

I think you know by now that I consider all that other fellow told you a bunch of hogwash. No Christian should pay attention in any important spiritual matter to someone who is admittedly not a Christian in any case. After all, there are enough false teachers who claim to be Christian.

God promises to forgive us our sins when we confess so you can rely on that promise 100%. God only tells us the truth and He is absolutely faithful.

And, clearly, it would be nuts (to use the technical term) to ruin your life, your husband's life, and your child's life to satisfy the rantings of some crazy false teacher (even if the devil is good at making us feel so wrongly guilty that we consider such awful things). God has called us to peace (1Cor.7:15), and that is what I wish for you. I am sure it is no accident that God gave you a good husband, a good marriage, and a wonderful child. How anyone could ever have the nerve to threaten that is beyond me as I say I wouldn't want to be in such a person's shoes. Since God has blessed you, please have peace and happiness in that blessing. As I always want to ask horrible people who upset good Christians with such evil counsel, "so you are actually counseling for someone to get a divorce? !" that is clearly the hypocritical opposite of what they claim to be the basis of their position, that is, the sanctity of marriage.

As to hell, I wouldn't worry about it. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have nothing to worry about on that score. Only unbelievers are going to hell (the lake of fire after condemnation at the last judgment) and they are going to "hell" because of their refusal to cede their will to Christ in believing on Him and accepting salvation from Him. Most people, oddly enough to me, would rather rule their own will for a few short years without deigning to honor God by accepting His Gift of Christ than live with Him in paradise forever. But that is the way God worked things out so that those who want no part of Him will have no part of Him, while we who are grateful to accept salvation will live with Him forever (for more see the link: "The Last Judgment").

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

[Troubled by guilt about the supposed need to tell spouse about all past life details]

Response #5:

I think it is very much ill-advised to do so. We are not required to confess our sins to any human being, even our closest loved ones. It is the Lord to whom we are to confess and Him alone. What we tell others is a matter of judgment. In many cases we will not be helping them AT ALL by telling them certain things. We may be assuaging our own feelings of guilt, but that is a false motivation and the consequences of indulging it are sometimes quite negative. And there is a big difference between what we are doing "today" while in a marriage and what happened "yesterday" when we were not in this marriage. Most people have "baggage" in fact I personally don't know anyone who does not. The best place for the past is in the past. Dredging it up is never profitable and it is not biblically recommended. I know there are a lot of human-viewpoint programs and organizations which recommend this (psychoanalysis, AA, etc.) but it is really a very bad idea. Christians are supposed to live one day at a time, anticipating Christ's return tomorrow, and forgetting about the past. You can't change the past. You can, however, mess up the present by dwelling on the past. Here is what Paul says about this subject:

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus. (15) So as many as are [spiritually] mature, let us have this attitude (i.e., of focusing on our spiritual advance and reward and not getting hung up on what lies behind: vv.13-14), and if in any matter your attitude is off-center, God will reveal that to you (i.e., assuming you are mature and are advancing as you should). (16) But with respect to the progress you have made, keep on advancing in the same way!
Philippians 3:12-16

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

[Still troubled by the prospect of hell for not divorcing present spouse]

Response #6:

As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have no reason to be afraid whatsoever. Ironically, those who do not believe in Him and who are not concerned are the ones who ought to be.

Please remember, God is not looking for ways to punish us. After all, He sent His one and only dear Son into the world to rescue us, precisely that we might not be condemned.

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
John 3:17 NKJV

And the price He had to pay in condemning Jesus, and the price our Lord had to pay in being judged for every single one of our sins, is beyond imagination it is bigger than any number of universes that could ever be conceived, and more terrible than all the suffering of every human being from Eden to the end in its smallest part. What is needed is not fear or any sort of guilt about the past or any works that we might think to do because Christ did the "work" on the cross, covering our sins with His blood (spiritually speaking; see the link and cf. Eph.2:8-9). So . . .

So what shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over for our sake, how will He not also graciously give us everything [we need] along with [that gift of] Him? Who will [dare to] bring charges against God's elect? God is the One who is pronouncing [us] justified. Who is he that condemns [us]? Christ Jesus is the One who died [condemned in our place], and the One, moreover, who was raised from the dead [for us], who is [seated] at the right hand of God, who is also making petitions on our behalf. What will separate us from Christ's love? Tribulation? Or privation? Or persecution? Or hunger? Or destitution? Or danger? Or violence? As it is written, "For your sake we are being put to death all day long. We were accounted as sheep for slaughter". But in all such things we are decisively victorious through Him who loved us [enough to do what He did for us]. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angelic nor human authorities, neither things present nor things to come, neither heavenly powers, be they the highest [of the elect] or the lowest [of the fallen], nor any other created thing [on this earth] will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39

I urge you to have faith that you are a child of God and dearly beloved by the Savior who bought you out of sin and death. He would no sooner let you be lost than you would disown the child you love. The only thing that separates a person from the Lord is the bitter sin of unbelief. Don't give into fear but instead have faith! The Spirit within testifies to you that you belong to Him forever, and the New Jerusalem is your eternal destiny.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

[Troubled by internet hogwash counseling no relations with spouse or divorce]

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/divorce-remarriage-a-position-paper.

Response #7:

Since God hates divorce, how could counseling you to get a divorce be a godly thing? In fact, such advice is 100% contrary to scripture. When our Lord castigates the Pharisees for divorcing their old wives just because they want someone new, notice that He does not tell them to now divorce their new wives and take back the old. Once an egg is broken, it can't be put back together again. And once a marriage is made, it is made. After getting married, however one came to it, the biblical advice is to stay married because it is godly to maintain the status quo in this regard whereas changing it (either through marriage or divorce) can be problematic in the first instance and wrong in the second:

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
1st Corinthians 9:27 NKJV

Since you are married, the Bible says you should stay married, because "the Lord hates divorce" (Mal.2:16).

I realize that some false teachers want to say that being married isn't being married. That is ridiculous on the face of it. Marriage is marriage. Not being married is not being married. We all know who is married and who is not because the state licenses marriage. That has been more or less the case from the beginning, that is, the definition of a legal marriage has always been the province of the state. God sets up secular authority for the benefit of us all so that we may live peaceful lives of service to Him (Rom.13:1-7). One of the functions of secular authority is the recognition and defense of marriage. Marriage is something God invented for all human beings, not just believers. If a person is living in a state where divorce is not legal, then it would be impossible for a person to get remarried because the first marriage could not be broken. That, however, is a rare circumstance historically. Where divorce is legally allowed and it is allowed in the Law of Moses too legal divorce ends a legal marriage. Period. That is the way God has seen to this issue. There is no such thing as a "Christian marriage" which is in any way any different in terms of legal status from any other marriage in the state in question, at least not according to the Bible. And for a false teacher to proclaim that two married people, legally married people, are "not married in God's eyes" or some such hogwash, is to contradict the scripture and rewrite God's words for Him nothing could be more dangerous. As Paul says of such sorts, "their destruction is assured", but it is also very dangerous for any believer to listen to such false teaching, especially out of misplaced guilt the devil's ace trump because it makes said person all the more vulnerable to believing a lie.

Here is the bottom line: if you are legally married, then you ARE married in God's eyes. As such, the last thing He desires is for you to get a divorce. Doing so when you don't want to in order to satisfy the perverse preaching of someone who is probably not even saved himself is about the most dangerous thing I can imagine. Not only would you be harming yourself but also your husband and of course also you child and for no biblical reason . . . and you would have to answer for all that. There is no scripture which says a marriage is not a marriage. These people never produce such a scripture because it doesn't exist. So, if a person gets divorced when they should not have or is not sure whether or not they should have and then gets remarried when they should not have or is not sure whether or not they should have none of that makes any difference whatsoever AFTER being legally re-married. Because NOW the person is married legally, and the standard biblical rule for married Christians is what now applies: don't get divorced. "Wrongful" previous actions do not change the fact of being legally married NOW (regardless of the nature of the past "wrongfulness" involved).

We all make mistakes. We all sin (e.g., Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2). When we do, we are disciplined for it and need to confess it. When we do, we are forgiven and restored to fellowship with the Lord. The last thing a believer should do at that point is look backward. The Christian life is about going forward, not backward. Even if we have done things we regret, that cannot be changed. There is no work or making of amends that can ever be done which can change what has happened in the past because the past cannot be changed. So the only thing that will happen if we allow ourselves to be so consumed by guilt to the degree that we look back and try to "make it better" will be that we will "make it worse" and often much worse. Are you married? Stay married. And, having confessed anything you may think needed to be confessed, forget it and move forward.

This brings me to your other email. Let me assure you . . . again . . . that God is not looking to punish you or anyone else. He sent Christ to die for all. As believers, if we are disciplined, it is by a loving Father who is teaching us for our own good and out of love (Heb.12:1ff.). But in terms of when this life is over, we believers are going to be with the Lord who loves us and paid the price for all of our sins. No one is going to hell for sinning. That is not at all how the last judgment works. Why not? Because Christ has already paid the price for every single sin. The only people going to hell (and there are plenty of them) are those who refuse to put their faith/trust in Jesus Christ, His Person and His work, for salvation. You are a believer; all believers are saved; only unbelievers are not saved. It's not about sin. It's all about faith or lack thereof in the One who died for our sins.

Finally, I want to encourage you to begin moving forward with spiritual growth. Guilt and negative emotions are hard enough to deal with when a believer is recovering from spiritual malaise. If a believer is not, however, moving forward spiritually, there will be no way to get past the guilt and other troubles of the heart. Spiritual growth is the cure for all such problems. As I hope this and other emails show, there are all manner of doctrines and truths which have application to any problem a believer may have. So the only way that a believer can be "thoroughly equipped" (2Tim.3:16-17) for any situation is to grow spiritually through attention to the truth in general (rather than only ever researching specific points of personal interest). If I want to get into good physical shape, I'll have to do more than only ever exercising my left big toe. There is an abundance of material designed for this purpose at Ichthys. One good place to start is the Peter series (see the link). Of course it doesn't have to be Ichthys (I also highly recommend "Bible Academy" for example at the link), but without spiritual nutrition these sorts of problems are less likely to be resolved.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

[rallying against false teaching]

Response #8:

You're very welcome.

Keep moving forward spiritually and "consider the source" in regard to those who are not really interested in the truth.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

[two correspondents who counsel divorce and/or no relations with spouse compared

Response #9:

What they both have in common are: 1) being dead wrong; 2) not having your best interests at heart.

But the Lord DOES have your best interests at heart.

He has blessed you. I'm sure that means something more than the false words of false teachers for certain.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

[Thanks]

Response #10:

You're very welcome!

Keep fighting the good fight of faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #11:

[Troubled by false counsel to divorce and return to first abusive husband]

Response #11:

Yes, this demand seems to me to be directly in contrast to the guidance under the Law an interesting thing for hyper-legalistic people to push: ". . . then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again . . ." (Deut.24:4 NIV). As far as people following this absurd counsel, I can only guess that many who do so are really only looking for an excuse to back out of their new commitment. Anyone who gives up a good marriage because of the "advice" of false teachers is making the worst possible bargain and is not without culpability before the Lord for violating their vows and for harming others terribly when it was completely unnecessary. All I can say about that is I would shudder to be in the shoes either of those who give this evil advice or of those who are foolish and willful enough to take it.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

[Troubled by more internet hogwash threatening hell]

http://byhisspirit.info/problems-with-todays-divorce-and-remarriage-exception-clauses/

Response #12:

As a believer in Jesus Christ, you are NOT going to hell, I assure you (Jn.3:18, e.g.).

Please do NOT divorce your husband you wouldn't be going to hell for that either but I would be surprised if such an action did not result in very severe and long lasting divine discipline, especially since you know very well now that it would be wrong (not to mention also the source of a great deal of misery and unhappiness).

Let me give you some advice: stop reading these articles. You know they are lies. Why torture yourself? Believe me I have seen this before, namely, believers who have an "itch" over something like this and just can't stop scratching with the result that it gets infected worse and worse. Please stop scratching.

I can tell you the truth over and over, but it won't do you any good unless and until you believe it. Please believe the truth. Please believe the Lord. Doesn't He say He forgives you? Yes He does (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:5-6). Isn't He a loving and merciful and gracious God? You know He is. Didn't Jesus die for all of your sins and mine? That is how we are saved. Please understand the character of the Person with whom we have to do: He wants your good, spiritually and every other way. He is not trying to trap you, trick you or destroy you. That is the devil's job, and the devil is good at it. The evil one will be happy to confirm all of your worst fears, using guilt in particular. But "we are not unaware of his schemes" (2Cor.2:11). Being forewarned is being forearmed. You KNOW this stuff is nonsense. So please "consider the source" and deliberately turn away from it. Be grateful for all the good things the Lord has done for you.

One more thing. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but the only way to get to the point of having peace in all things and having good spiritual "balance" so as not to be tripped up by every little thing that comes your way is to grow spiritually. And that requires giving attention, serious attention, to all areas of biblical truth, not only reading your Bible consistently and daily on your own, but also spending time learning from a good teaching ministry . . . and believing the truth you are taught. That is the only way to "put on the whole armor of God" with which the Lord intends for you to fight this spiritual warfare in which we are involved (Eph.6:11ff.). Ichthys is one place which offers this freely and anonymously (I recommend beginning with the Peter series at the link), but there are other good places as well (I also recommend Bible Academy at the link). If a person is physically malnourished, talking about food won't help eventually the person has to start eating to be helped, and good nutritious food at that.

I did look over the link. It is chock full of incorrect exegesis and faulty argumentation. It plays to guilt just like the devil does. And most significantly it does not give any convincing evidence that a Christian must divorce under any circumstances and that, after all, is the only critical point here (not reasons for divorcing or rightness or wrongness of remarrying which is all beside the point once a new marriage is made). The Bible never advocates that, so Blogger puts up a huge prior barrage (of inapplicable nonsense) before getting to the main issue. Blogger then gives three examples he says support this horrendous, horrific and highly hypocritical advice to get divorced these are the same ones that these false teachers always advance, and none of them hold the least bit of water:

1) John the baptist and Herod marrying his sister (in law). OK, if you marry a close relative, an animal, or a person of the same sex, I'd be willing to go along with "divorce after marriage" not being a bad idea an annulment, really, because these things don't constitute a true man-woman marriage: incest, bestiality, homosexuality, these are sins regardless; having relations with your spouse, however, is not a sin, in fact refraining is a sin (1Cor.7:2-5). And John did NOT tell Herod to get a divorce. He said "It is not lawful for you to 'have' her" (Matt.14:4), meaning just what I said, namely, that incest is incest regardless, and this is a case of incest according to the Law under which Herod and John were living (Lev.18:16).

2) Ezra. Ezra is a historical book. It relates what people did. It doesn't say what they did was good, bad or in between. Like the book of Acts, its correct reports are therefore not prescriptive in the same manner as Jesus' teachings in the gospels or the apostles in the epistles. Did they decide that Jewish men who had married non-Jewish non-believers should divorce? Yes they did. But there is NO indication that there had been a "prior marriage" or any of the things that false teachers like this say make a divorce necessary. The divorces were done for RACIAL reasons only. So . . . here we have believers getting divorced from a FIRST marriage where there is no "exception clause" to get them out, and doing so for the very purpose of RE-MARRYING to provide all Jewish offspring. As I say, this is what happened God didn't tell them to do it. But, to the extent that people want to take guidance from this, what this event tells us is that under some circumstance it is prudent to divorce from a FIRST marriage in spite of no clear biblical grounds to do so and contract a SECOND marriage for other purposes. So this incident tells us the exact opposite of what false teachers want to say. It says "remarriage is OK". So I've always found it odd that these people use this passage and also that it can upset remarried folks just shows you the power of guilt to blind a person to the truth.

3) David and Bathsheba. This one takes the cake. Blogger says "he married Bathsheba after she was a widow"!!! So if we want to be "right before the Lord" we should do what David did and murder our divorced partner's spouse?! Anyone who has the cheek to make this argument is not to be paid the time of day, in my view. As I've said before, "their condemnation is deserved" (Rom.3:8).

Please note that there is NO scripture which EVER even suggests that a believer must divorce even if remarried or married to an unbeliever or in any circumstances whatsoever. That is powerfully odd for such a drastic situation, isn't it? I mean if it really were what God wanted. Think about it, if a person were "going to hell" (of course believers don't "go to hell" no matter what) for being wrongly married, wouldn't there be at least ONE verse which said that, or suggested it? But there is not even a verse which hints that such an action is even acceptable, let alone required, let alone endangering salvation if not done. Our Lord told the Pharisees that by divorcing their first wives and marrying others out of lust and cruelty they had in so doing, that is, in the act of divorce and remarriage, "committed adultery". But our Lord does NOT tell them that now they must divorce #2 and go back to #1; nor does He tell them to stop having relations with #2; nor does He tell them that they are going to hell for their actions. Most of them did, no doubt, "go to hell" because they were unbelievers and would not even deign to accept the Son of God Himself or turn to Him . . . instead they saw to it that He was crucified.

As I say, you can find this sort of drivel you link to anywhere. Truth is a little harder to come by as is always the case. But I do encourage you to have peace on this. Whatever happened with you in the past and I am NOT weighing in on that you are married NOW and God has clearly blessed that marriage. He would not do so if it were something He wanted you to end. Divorce is to be avoided if at all possible (Mal.2:16). A second divorce doesn't take away the first one, obviously. It only makes matters far worse, injures innocent people for no good, and throws God's blessings back into His face. That is what a person ought to be afraid of, not the rantings of self-righteous servants of the lie who apparently get a kick out of torturing innocent people.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

[Troubled about reading the Bible because of fear it will condemn the marriage as currently living in sin]

Response #13:

The Bible won't tell you that because you aren't. There is no verse in the Bible that can be taken to mean that a married person is "living in sin" for being married. So please have no fear of reading your Bible! It is only going to encourage you as you read all of the wonderful things the Lord has "prepared for those who love Him" (1Cor.2:9).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

[Determined not to leave husband, child and marriage but feeling ill about supposedly going to hell]

Response #14:

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:18 NKJV

Question #15:

https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2010/11/03/a-sermon-on-divorce-and-remarriage/

[According to this relations with husband = adultery]

Response #15:

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1st Corinthians 7:3-5 NKJV

Question #16:

[Troubled over same issue]

Response #16:

I've been trying to help. I can tell you the truth. I can give you scriptures which clearly lay out the truth. But ultimately it's up to you to believe the truth. The things you have been sharing with me from these false-teaching websites are lies. I have shown you why in great detail. If you have specific questions I can help with that. But now is the time to spit out the lies and embrace the truth. Only truth you believe can help you. Don't believe lies. Believe the truth.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

[Troubled by the same issue]

Response #17:

The only married people I've ever been aware of who did not "do what all married people do" have been those whose relationship was totally "on the rocks" . . . or headed there (for whatever reason). As the quote I gave you (1Cor.7:3-5) makes very clear, it is wrong for a Christian to deprive his/her spouse that is a sin for sure; that is in the Bible. That is why I believe it it is in the Bible. But this crazy "constant adultery" theory you are allowing to trouble you is not anywhere in the Bible. It is a perverse invention being foisted upon innocent parties like yourself for all manner of cultish reasons. One of the things any cult or false teacher will always do first when they have a "nibble" is to do all in their power to isolate the new victim from his/her friends, families and past life. That is because when the new convert has divorced him/herself from everything else and everyone else, he/she has nowhere left to turn except the new cult / false teacher. In other words, the new convert is now a complete slave with no recourse but to accept everything being told to them as "true" and to put up with all manner of abuse and exploitation because they have nothing else left. This is classic cult behavior. Please stay away from all such persons, groups and teachings, and pay them no mind. People are always misusing the Bible to further their own ends but you are free to read it for yourself.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

[Trying but "what if they say is true?"; worried about hell]

Response #18:

Christ called us to peace, not to fear (Jn.16:33; 1Jn.4:18). If there were anything to fear, He would have told us. As it is, the only thing to fear is loss of faith in Him. As long as we keep faith with Him, keep believing in Him, nothing can "separate us from the love of Christ" (Rom.8:35).

He loves you. He died for you. He knows your heart.

It's your job to trust Him, to believe Him, to take refuge in Him.

Don't give into your fears. And please remember my advice: spiritual growth is what will put all this to rest over time, but it does require effort (Bible reading, prayer, and most important of all daily access and attention to a good teaching ministry).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

[What if God is trying to say "not forgiven"?; what if "those people" are right?]

Response #19:

It's very important to remember that our feelings especially guilt feelings are frequently out of sync with what the Bible actually teaches. I can't debate your feelings with you. But I can tell you that the Bible says very clearly that you are saved and have no need to worry about your salvation; that you have been forgiven when you confessed whatever sin you may have committed; that it would be wrong of you to divorce your spouse without reason (that would be a sin of great consequence); and that the false teachings which are troubling you are just that: false.

I would certainly be happy to address or re-address specific points on this question, but please understand that when the Lord is trying to get our attention on some point of truth He is specific not general misplaced guilt is general, not specific, especially when it is being stoked by the evil one and those who do his bidding.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

[Questions if I am a pastor; still haunted about hell and what "that man" said]

Response #20:

You can see my qualifications at the link: "Current C.V.".

Please believe me when I tell you that if you look hard enough on the internet you can find someone who will teach the opposite of each principle of truth found in the scripture. As Peter says:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
2nd Peter 2:1

The Spirit will lead you to a good teacher if you are willing to be led. Over time, through attention to good teaching, your fears and worries will melt away as you gain confidence in the actual truth. But this is a process. As I have said before, you can't just attack the symptoms (worry over one issue / concentration on one issue). Spiritual growth requires giving one's attention to everything the Bible has to say, and believing the truth one is taught about all areas of doctrine.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

[Making progress but false teachers say others are "soothsayers and just telling" what is wanted to be heard; hopes all will be OK]

Response #21:

Good for you! It will be "OK". Like all tragedies of the past, this too will fade if you let it do so. And if you commit to a course of spiritual growth in general, you will find that with each passing day you have more and more spiritual resources to cope with the assaults of the evil one.

It's all about faith . . . in the Lord, His gracious and loving Person, and in His truth.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Savior, the One who died for all of our sins that we might be saved.

Bob L.

Question #22:

[Asks why these false teachers call opponents "soothsayers"; Asks if ex's cheating was a biblical reason for a divorce and remarriage]

Response #22:

I've never heard this particular insult before, so this leads me to believe that you stumbled into a den of uniquely perverse vipers. I would imagine that they use this term because they feel it impugns the veracity and motivation of the people who disagree with them on the deepest of levels. "Soothsayers" are spiritists, people who consult demons. There's nothing worse a genuine Christian can be called than an agent of the devil. So that's what agents of the devil always call those who oppose them in order that they themselves may be better able to deceive the sheep of Christ (they did this to our Lord, you may recall: Jn.10:20).

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
2nd Corinthians 11:13-15 NKJV

Yes, it takes an unbelievable amount of gall to represent oneself as Simon pure and sinless and decree that anyone else who's every had a complication in their life in this area you ask about now must ruin their life and those of others in order to adjust to these false teachers' view of things. But if we put their lives under a microscope, we would find things in their past too. One thing we know for certain is that they are going to be judged for their false teaching (Jas.3:1; cf. 2Pet.2:1) before this life is over, if they really are even believers in Christ.

As to your last question, as you have read at Ichthys, the exception our Lord gives for allowing divorce under the Law of Moses (and we are NOT under the Law of Moses) is porneia on the part of the spouse and cheating is most definitely that. Further, divorced individuals did get remarried under the Law and there is no indication that there was any injunction against it (e.g., there are exceptions where a person may not marry if divorced such as to a priest, meaning that in general it was allowable).

But again, I would wish to stay away from such legal niceties (we are under grace, not Law: Rom.6:14). The point is, it is always better to remain single if single, and it is always a rule that one ought to stay married if married. But if a single person gets married, while they will have trouble as all married people do (1Cor.7:28), it is better to marry than to fall into sin (1Cor.7:9), and so it is no sin to get married (1Cor.7:28). And if a person does get divorced for whatever reason, then it is better thereafter to stay single, but if that is not possible without incontinence, then it is better to marry than to fall into sin (1Cor.7:9), and so it is no sin to get married (1Cor.7:28) . . . etc. If a person is "settled down" into a situation that works, that is a blessing not to be taken for granted, especially in this day and age when being married (or being single) is so difficult because of the particulars of our culture. You have been greatly blessed with a good marriage and a family. I consider it criminal for someone to upset you with false teaching and threaten thereby the good things God has given and they have clearly come from Him, haven't they? If that is the case (and you know that it is), then how can destroying His gifts be a godly thing? It is certainly not a biblical thing as demonstrated many times now.

Again, let me encourage you to set yourself to a program of daily spiritual growth. It doesn't have to be through this ministry (although of course I am enthusiastic about it), but spiritual growth through attention to and belief in the truth taught but a good, solid teaching ministry is the only way to gain the spiritual resources necessary to fend off these sorts of attacks on the one hand, and progress in your walk with Jesus Christ so as to earn eternal rewards on the other.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

[Troubled by whether or not there were "biblical grounds" for prior divorce]

Response #23:

I think it's a mistake to get involved in legalistic discussions about the whys and wherefores on this issue. That is because the Bible does not approach the issue that way and that is why there is so much rancor when people try to lay out the "rules and regulations" on this issue. The rule is love. The rule is forgiveness. The rule is maintain the status quo and then repent, confess and move on if for some reason you are unable to do so. The rule is it's better to stay single. But the rule also is that it's important not to stray into sexual sin so it's better to marry than to do that. The rule is that it's no sin to marry. And the rule is that if married, better to stay married if at all possible. We all sin. And we are all cleansed of our sin by the blood of Christ and forgiven when we confess. My advice to you is to rejoice in the good marriage and family that God has given you and bury the past. It makes absolutely no difference at this point whether or not and to what degree there were "grounds" or what might have been possible "if" or what you should have done instead of "doing what you did". There is no point in such endless post mortems of something like this. It only leads to dredging things back up again things which at this point cannot be changed (except to make things worse NOW). Forget and move on and be grateful for what you have. As a believer, you are safe in the everlasting arms of the Lord, and as long as you remain a believer in Jesus Christ have nothing whatsoever to worry about in regard to your eternal future with Him. The challenge as a believer in Christ is to grow spiritually, progress in your walk with the Lord and then help others do the same. That is how the crowns of eternal reward are won (see the link). All that preoccupation with this issue is doing is distracting you from spiritual growth and spiritual growth is the only thing that can lead to the consistent peace of resting in faith.

So, again, I urge you to move on, confident in the knowledge that as someone who has placed their trust in Him you belong to Jesus Christ, and that it is good and right for you to remain in the situation you are in, making it your priority from here on in to live for Him.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

[Preoccupied with thoughts of hell]

Response #24:

The Christian way of life after a person gets the point of spiritual maturity in particular is very much about holding onto the "mental high ground". That is to say, our walk with Jesus is to a large degree continuing to "believe what we believe" or "act on what we believe". We say we trust Him, but do we act like it? We say we love Him, but are we doing what He wants us to do in growing, progressing and producing for Him? We are bombarded from without by satanic tests and the negative and evil influence of the culture in which we and our lives are awash, and from within by our sin nature which tempts us, and also by our own negative thoughts from wrong things we have done, thought, seen etc. in the past. Sanctifying Christ in our hearts, thinking about "the things above", is no easy matter. It takes practice. It takes perseverance. But most of all it takes continued spiritual growth.

I am confident that in your heart of hearts you know very well that you are going to heaven and that you are most definitely not "going to hell". Hell is for unbelievers, for those who refuse to acknowledge and put their faith in Jesus Christ, and most definitely not for believers:

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:18 NKJV

So what's the problem? The problem is faith. The problem is trusting Him. The problem is functioning (or actually not functioning) on the things we believe instead of reacting to what we are feeling at the moment or to what is happening around us. Instead of walking through a dark and angry sea with wind and lightning all around, we are actually on a rainbow bridge that leads straight to the other side and to the glory of God. But we have to see that bridge with the eyes of faith it's not visible to our fleshly eyes. They tell us one thing. They tell us the worldly thing. Peace only comes when we commit ourselves not just to believing the truth in principle but to believing it so thoroughly and deeply that it actually bleeds through into what we think, say and do. That takes time. That takes practice. That takes spiritual growth. That takes commitment and a determination to trust Jesus Christ no matter what. He is greater than all of our fears and failures. And remember, He has already died for all of our sins.

Here are some links on this which would be helpful to read:

Maintaining a Sound Christian Offense in our Spiritual Warfare

Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions?

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.

Struggling with sinful thoughts

Only you can control what you think and how you feel but it is a fight, and you have to commit to fighting the fight.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:

[Troubled by being told to go back to first abusive spouse or suffer hell]

Response #25:

I don't know the specific "why" of why people tell lies and teach what is false. The general answer is that they are being influenced by the devil.

I strongly advise you not to have further contact with this person.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:

[They claim to be Christians]

Response #26:

This passage says it all:

For men of this sort are false apostles, workers of guile, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. So it comes as no surprise that his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be according to their deeds.
2nd Corinthians 11:13-15

In Jesus who is the truth,

Bob L.

Question #27:

[Individual is thought to be a pastor of a church of Christ

Response #27:

Then he has all the more to answer for.

Question #28:

[Seems like they believe it; where do they get the idea if not true?]

Response #28:

If you will read over our long email stream, you will see that we have discussed the supposed passages where this false doctrine is supposed to be taught. People use the Bible all the time to support false positions, and even actual Christians get things wrong sometimes. This, however, is "a big one". Anyone who would counsel a happily married couple with children to divorce over a very tenuous and derivative interpretation of passages which clearly don't say anything of the sort on the face of it is looking for trouble from the Lord. Self-righteousness is a powerful force for evil. As our Lord says, "by their fruit you will recognize them" (Matt.7:16-20). If the fruit is definitely bad (as in this case), one should have no more to do with the tree.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:

[Thank you; life is now good after a physically abusive childhood and a similar first marriage]

Response #29:

You are most welcome. You have been through a lot and you deserve much better from supposed ministers of Christ than reproaches for being a good wife and a good mother. I will say it again: God has clearly blessed you and would not have done so if He were displeased with your situation and wanted you to change it. Don't give into unfounded guilt. Accept the blessings you have been given in Jesus Christ and be pleased to embrace His peace (spiritual growth helps with that very much).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30:

[Still troubled by the prospect of hell for "not following the Law of God"]

Response #30:

I think I've assured you many times now that as a believer in Jesus Christ you are not "going to hell"; hell is for those who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

"Following the law of God" sounds like a good thing, but what is "the law of God"? If this person means "the Law of Moses", well, scripture is very clear about the fact that we are no longer under that Law (e.g., Heb.7:12); and I know for a fact that he is not appearing in Jerusalem three times a year to offer sacrifice at the temple or about 90% of the other things that the Law of Moses commands. If he means "the Bible" generally, well, that is what we have been discussing all along, and the Bible NEVER ever tells anyone to get divorced. True, in Nehemiah many men did get divorced from non-believing pagan wives . . . for the very purpose of remarrying to produce all-Israelite offspring: again, they were not in second marriages but in first marriages and they divorced in order to contract second marriages, even though their first wives were willing to live with them (contrary to 1Cor.7:12-13) for the purpose of Jewish racial purity. So that very unique situation does not apply today at all and if it did it would give a motivation to remarry a believer to produce "godly offspring" (Mal.2:15).

When it comes to being married to another believer, God "hates divorce" (Mal.2:16) so how is it that a person who says we should "follow the law of God" can tell someone who is married to a believer to "get divorced"?

True, John the baptist told Herod that it was "against the Law of Moses" for Herod to have his brother's wife but 1) we are not under the Law of Moses, 2) we are not married to our brother's wife (incest) and that was the problem with Herod's situation, it being against the Law of Moses to be married to one's brother's wife (Lev.20:21).

John in the example above says nothing about divorce, moreover, and even our Lord Jesus does not say "get divorced" when He tells us that putting away a fellow Israelite wife to marry someone younger is sinful He merely affirms that it is a sin even though the Pharisees were covering it up with false interpretations of the Law of Moses. That is very interesting because our Lord is otherwise absolutely straight-forward here. So why doesn't he say what this person wants Him to have said, namely, "so divorce the new wife and be reconciled to the old one"? Because two wrongs don't make a right, and because divorce is never the preferred solution, that's why.

I know of nowhere in scripture where anyone is told by God to "get a divorce" even in Nehemiah this is only what "they did" as a practical solution to a unique problem (a tiny community in danger of being ethnically swamped by this behavior), not something that is specified to do in the Law (far from it), and not something that God told them to do through a prophecy.

So there are no Bible verses that ever say "get a divorce" if your marriage doesn't fill out some checklist which this legalistic, self-righteous person has concocted not even close; in fact, just the opposite:

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released.
1st Corinthians 7:27a NASB

"Following the law of God", if it means anything (where is that particular phrase in the Bible exactly, so that we may examine its context?) ought to mean learning and following the truth He gives us in the Bible. That is what you have been doing and what I have been encouraging you to continue to do.

We all live our own lives and are responsible to God for doing so. We are not here to live other people's lives, and if we hand over our free will to someone else nothing good will come of it. That is especially true if the person we are talking about is counseling us to do evil things.

I have no earthly idea why you should be the least bit upset because you refuse to do something evil and that is surely what destroying a Christian marriage and a Christian family would be, regardless of the motive or method in so doing. Is God going to punish you for refusing to do something evil? Something which is commanded nowhere in the Bible? Because some fool tells you that you must? You decide.

I will say it again. Only unbelievers go to hell. Anyone who teaches that a believer goes to hell for whatever reason (through action or inaction or what have you) does not understand the first thing about the cross (Jesus died for all of our sins) or grace (God does the work and we accept it by faith) or salvation not at all! Which leads me to wonder about the salvation of someone who seems to have not a clue about it in the first place.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31:

[Troubled to the point of illness out of fear of hell for not following false teaching advice]

Response #31:

As a child of God, God loves you.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us.
1st John 4:16a NKJV

He is not looking to destroy us but to save us.

. . . who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1st Timothy 3:4 NKJV

Because Jesus died for us all.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 NKJV

So if you believe in Jesus you are saved, no ifs, ands or buts, because all believers are saved; only unbelievers "go to hell".

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:16 NKJV

So you have eternal life, which means you are going to be in heaven with the Lord for all eternity.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
1st John 5:13 NKJV

As for these people who are upsetting you, here is also something very important I read in the Bible:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1st John 4:1 NKJV

Just because someone tells you they are speaking for God does not make it true. Even the devil does that (2Cor.11:13-15). It's up to you to "test the spirits", not by communing with your fears but by reading the Bible. In the end, it's up to you to read the truth and believe the truth. There is no verse in the Bible that says anything like a believer has to get a divorce. But there are many verses (read the above again) which assure you that you belong to Jesus Christ because you believe in Him and so you will be with Him forever.

You have to learn to trust Him by trusting what He says, not what other people say.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #32:

[Still troubled: "please read this article"]

Response #32:

A Christian does not need to read any further than the first paragraph to see that the person he/she is dealing with is probably not a Christian. When he says "be baptized for the remission of their sins . . . That is the only way they will ever obtain salvation", it is clear that he does not accept Jesus as Savior; that is because he believes in water-baptism for salvation. But salvation is entirely a matter of grace, "not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph.2:9 NKJV). Water-baptism is in fact not even legitimate today. It was a ritual for Israel to prepare for the coming of the Messiah (John's baptism) and the Messiah has already come, suffered, been resurrected, and ascended to heaven. Muslims will also tell you that you are going to hell . . . for not worshiping Mohamed; Roman Catholics will also tell you that you are going to hell . . . unless you join the RC church; Mormons will also tell you that you are going to hell . . . unless you practice plural marriage. One could go on. If you are looking for some liar to tell you unpleasant things, well, I suppose that is what the internet is for. As for me, I would never even give someone who is obviously not even straight about salvation and therefore a dubious Christian at best the time of day when it comes to any important issue. Remember what our Lord said, "by their fruit you shall know them" (Matt.7:15-20). The test of a good teacher should not be someone who is able to upset you with lies that have no basis in the Bible that is to the contrary the mark of a false teacher whom you should scrupulously avoid (including not allowing yourself to be upset by what he says).

Other points: "The only God-given reason for a divorce is adultery": Correspondent immediately misquotes his own verse! Our Lord says porneia which c's translation renders as "sexual immorality"; that is not a bad translation but porneia covers an even wider swath. We also need to remember that this the situation under the Mosaic Law, and that we believers are not under the Mosaic Law. Why is that important? The Law was the legal as well as the moral/religious code of the day. So when our Lord weighed in He was criticizing the violation of the laws of marriage in that time and place. Marriage is for everyone and we are obliged to follow the law in our native land. It is not "illegal" to marry if divorced in this country; it was technically so in Israel in that day but the Pharisees had found a "loophole" or so they thought. Our Lord points out that it was improper. But He does not tell them to get a divorce. Nor does He tell them that they are going to hell for their marital state (no doubt most of them did go to hell but because they refused to believe in Him). And He actually states as I've pointed out before that the act of getting married under the Law in a wrongful way was an act of adultery not that having relations with the woman now the spouse after marriage was "constant adultery", and He does not tell them to stop have relations. Paul says that would be wrong (1Cor.7:3-5).

Everything else about this email written to you is also wrong.

1) We are forgiven when we repent and confess we are not "only forgiven" when we make some sort of amends. That is works and actually negates the confession.

2) Baptism with water is also works and wrong to do under any circumstances; when it is tied to salvation or forgiveness it is a horrible legalistic sin. As I say, I doubt anyone in the grips of such false doctrine could actually be saved.

3) Esau was never a believer and never desired to be saved that is the difference.

4) "God only approves of the marriage He binds regardless of the number of civil relationships that person might have in the future (John 4:17-18)": God bequeathed marriage to all mankind and that is the point of our Lord's words on the subject in taking things back to Genesis chapter two. There is no distinction here in God's eyes: a marriage is a marriage and all know what a marriage is. That is also the point of the passage this person quotes! It demonstrates that the Samaritan woman's subsequent marriages were in fact marriages, and that the live-in situation she is now in without a marriage is not a marriage because now she has not bothered to marry the person: a marriage is a marriage.

5) "It would be better for him . . . etc.". We must assume that this person has never sinned at least not after being saved. In fact, he probably is not saved. All of us sin all of the time. While it is true that some sins have more drastic consequences (cf. 1Cor.6:18), it is not true that some sins are benign: Christ had to die for every single sin, but the good news is that He did, and we are forgiven everything for salvation when we first believe and everything else thereafter whenever we confess (1Jn.1:9).

This is not a question of rules and regulations. If a person gets married, there are two possibilities: 1) it involved no mistake; or 2) it was in one way or another a mistake. If there was a sin involved, then sin is forgiven for believers when we confess. Please understand, getting divorced cannot possibly erase any sin, even if there was one! All divorce can do is to add a very large wrong to the situation. I have no idea if you were "rightfully or wrongfully" married. To me, the issue is complicated in general and your personal situation as you have shared some of it is also complicated. But that only goes to my overall point: this is not a question of "the Mosaic Law". We are not under the Law any longer. So if you feel "convicted" of having done something wrong, by all means confess and the move on with your life in the absolute assurance that God does not lie: He says He forgives when we confess and so He does.

But that is not the problem, is it? You are worried about your eternal salvation. I can tell you that all believers are saved. That is what the Bible says and that is a point I have attempted to drive home with you many times now. I can tell you that this person who is upsetting you does not believe that which is why I doubt his salvation. He is a follower of a new Law largely of his own making, involving water and emotion and all manner of behavioral tests. That is not grace. And only grace saves.

If he is a believer, I would not want to be in that person's shoes when the Lord gets around to taking notice.

At some point you have to start believing the Bible and not false teachers who are very practiced at producing guilt feelings in people who have not lived perfect lives (which includes us all, even them, and most particularly them).

As mentioned before, for true peace in this world, spiritual growth is essential. It can't be achieved by merely churning over one issue that is of importance to the person in question. It requires giving attention to all of the teaching of the Bible. I strongly encourage you to set yourself on that path. That is the way to recover the joy of your salvation and put all these groundless doubts to rest. Here are some links on that:

Spiritual Growth

Spiritual Growth II

Spiritual Growth III

Encouragement, Spiritual Testing and Spiritual Growth

Encouragement, Spiritual Testing and Spiritual Growth II

Encouragement, Spiritual Testing and Spiritual Growth III

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #33:

[Thanks. This is helping. Still scared because one false teacher is a "Dr."]

Response #33:

I went to a lot a trouble to get an actual Ph.D. in Greek/Latin (and an M.A. too and an MABS in Hebrew studies) not only because I wanted the preparation but also because I thought it was fair for future readers like yourself to have some reason to be confident I had some idea what I was talking about. Nowadays in most seminaries, however, people get "Dr." pretty easily as in "Dr. of Ministry" where they don't have to know anything about the Bible or the original languages, only do a lot of "pastoral counseling" and the like. I looked this guy you are worried about up he has a B.A. and that's it. The degree is not even from a school anyone ever heard of and it doesn't say what he majored in. So I would gladly put my five degrees in history, Hebrew and Classics (Greek and Latin) and fifteen years of higher education and my twenty seven year career in Classics being involved in issues of history and exegesis in Greek on the scale with his four years and one degree in who knows what.

But, actually, it is all about the Bible and the Bible is very clear. It never tells anyone to divorce. Think about it. David murdered a trusted subordinate using his power as king to do so, having committed adultery with the man's wife, then married her. If the Lord were going to tell anyone to divorce or go to hell it would have been David in that horrible circumstance. But David married her and so was married to her. Another wrong wouldn't make a right. The child born of the adultery died, but Bathsheba then had Solomon, who became king after David and in the direct line of the Messiah. The Lord did punish David, but as He always does, as a loving parent correcting bad behavior. David repented of his sin (Ps.51:1ff; cf. Ps.32:1ff.) but he did not divorce her nor stop having relations with her. God clearly forgave him (2Sam.12:13; and see the referenced Psalms). David never stopped being joyful in the Lord, and he never divorced Bathsheba.

Wherever one looks in the Bible one finds God's mercy and God's grace. He always forgives us when we confess to Him in truth. Where these legalistic people get these despicable ideas is beyond me, but they do not get them from the Bible.

What will give you comfort is growing faith. You have to come to a better understanding of who God really is. Once you begin to realize how truly good and loving the Lord is, these sorts of concerns will melt away. You will realize that He is for us and not against us. That He loves us more than can be understood this side of heaven. Once you understand what it took for the Lord to go to the cross and die for all of our sins more than all the suffering of this life by all who have ever lived in its smallest part you will begin to get an idea of the wonderful love He has for you. He does want us to live sanctified lives and so we should. We do all fail from time to time, however, and He does level appropriate discipline to correct us, but He is not trying to destroy us and neither does He expect us to destroy ourselves and others in a vain and foolish attempt to change the past. The past cannot be changed. Even if you did follow the crazy advice you've been given it would not take away any supposed sin. I'm not convinced there was/is one, but even if there was/is, it is absurd and blasphemous to think that what we do can take away sin. Christ took away sin on the cross and most Christians today apparently have little enough understanding of the magnitude of that event upon which all history and creation is founded. He loved us enough to do that. We ought to love Him enough to trust Him.

He says He forgives you (Ps.32:1ff; Ps.51ff.; 1Jn.1:9, e.g.).

Trust Him.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #34:

[Thanks. Will you look up ___ who says "constant state of adultery"? Refuse to go back to physical abuse or abandon husband and child]

Response #34:

Good for you!

This was the person I wrote about last time so I did look him up no credentials to speak of; and nothing he says is biblical (you can see that for yourself).

Our God is a God of love (1Jn.4:8). He sent Jesus to die for our sins out of love (Jn.3:16). He is not trying to destroy but to save all willing to be saved (2Pet.3:9). And all it takes to be saved is to believe in Christ (Acts 16:31) because Jesus has already paid the entire price of salvation. That is what grace truly is not our works as this fellow and so many other false teachers proclaim (Eph.2:8-9).

God loves you. The best thing for you to do is to love Him back (Matt.22:36-37), appreciating all He has done for you (Phil.4:6).

I was speaking to you of David. Read his psalms. In spite of the things he did, he was forgiven and lived his life in earnest gratefulness to the One worthy of all our love.

Trust Him. Hope in Him. Love Him.

I'm sorry for your past life of horrific suffering. I am grateful to and give praise to the Lord for the blessing He has showered on you in these latter days and I am very relieved to hear that you will not be throwing it back in His face by doing something foolish recommended to you by a false teacher.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #35:

[Please read these three articles and comment]

Response #35:

#1: The fallacy here is the proposition that having relations with one's spouse is "illegitimate" if the marriage was "illegitimate". That is nowhere in the Bible. If you marry someone, you are married to them. That is true whether or not getting married was a good idea or allowable under the Mosaic Law. If you are married to someone, then you are in fact married and married relations are the only allowable ones, with denying one's partner being a sin (not the other way around).

This one is saying that it is wrong to draw conclusions from calling a marriage a "covenant" and then extrapolating from that. OK. I don't see how this one makes any difference one way or the other.

Correspondent says that "penance" is necessary for someone "wrongly married". There are marriages that should not be made, obviously. People marry the wrong person all the time out of all manner of bad motivations. Also, believers are not allowed to marry unbelievers. But what if a believer goes ahead and does so anyway? Does he/she have a "right to divorce" or "need to divorce". Absolutely not, as 1st Corinthians 7:12-15 makes very clear. That is because a marriage is a marriage. Divorce whether "rightful" or "wrongful" ends a marriage it is different from separation wherein there could be reconciliation. And a marriage whether "rightful" or "wrongful" is a marriage. Married Christians should stay married, regardless of prior circumstances so that these pejorative words are pointless. Here's the only question needing to be asked: "Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife." (1Cor.7:27 NKJV) and the same principle applies to women (obviously).

Married people should stay married and fulfill all marital obligations; single people should stay single, but marrying "is not a sin" (1Cor.7:28). And even if there was something wrong with getting married and even if there was disregard for God's will in getting married, real or imagined in guilt after the fact, that like any other sin (and we all sin all the time), is forgiven when confessed to the Lord. It doesn't demand a divorce which would indeed be not just a horrible sin but even worse an abnegation of responsibility and solemn commitment; such an eventuality only requires a heartfelt prayer of confession to the Lord (as with all other sin).

I'm not going to belabor the details in this long PDF file because this person is a Roman Catholic bishop! I hope I don't have to explain that Roman Catholicism is a religion which actually has nothing to do with believers. It is a religion of works so that it is no surprise that this person says "penance" is necessary. This person is not a believe nor are the vast majority of those in that religion. They believe they are going to heaven because they are members of that church and most have little regard for or understanding of who Jesus Christ is and what He did for us. I have known many R.C. folks in my life and the vast majority of them are fine, upstanding people but they are not believers (any more than Mormons are who are also often wonderful people, but not saved). Salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph.2:8-9) and it is "not of works" but this is a "works religion"; and penance is a form of works. The idea that "doing something" could remove sin spits in Christ's face He died for that sin, whatever it is/was, and only by His dying for it could a person be saved/forgiven. Suggesting that we do something instead is the most repugnant possible thing to the Father.

Here's the main point on all this. Don't get fixated on "was this marriage right or wrong?" That is the wrong question to ask AFTER being married. Once married, it makes no difference because NOW you are married and your job as a Christian spouse is to be the best spouse you can be to the glory of Jesus Christ. You are not to "seek a divorce" (1Cor.7:27) the very opposite of what all these false teachers say. You are to make a good marriage if possible. That is why I try never to get into the weeds about the situation before marriage. For one thing, there is so much we cannot really know, whether the previously married person was oneself of one's new spouse. We can't really know for certain what went on in their hearts, minds and bodies previously, let alone those of their prior spouse; and the same thing goes for us. What the Lord says is that under the Mosaic Law divorcing a woman without cause is wrong unless there has been porneia, and that a person who does so in order to marry someone else is guilty of committing adultery by the act of marriage not in having relations after marriage (something that must not be denied to the new partner); nor does our Lord tell these hard-hearted men that they have to get divorced. Indeed, the whole thrust of what He says and what the Bible says elsewhere is anti-divorce. So here is what I always say one more time based upon what the Bible actually teaches (as opposed to what false teachers assume):

1) Are you single? Best to stay single.

2) Did you get married (to whomever for whatever reason)? Best to stay married.

3) Did you get divorced (for whatever reason)? Best to remain single.

4) Did you remarry? Best to stay married (regardless of the prior circumstances).

People who claim that marriage is not marriage have no biblical grounds to do so. The Bible very clearly presents marriage as marriage regardless of the circumstances preceding the marriage.

People who counsel divorce or abstinence for those who want to stay married are giving the exact opposite of the biblical advice.

People who listen to people who teach things that are not in the Bible and in fact run counter to the Bible are only going to get themselves into serious trouble spiritually by so doing.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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