What all lost people have in common is the fact that their sin is keeping them separated from the God of heaven. Only the blood of Jesus can blot out their sins and reconcile them to God (Romans 5:8-10). They desperately need to hear and obey the gospel!
As we put forth an effort to teach the gospel to the lost, we encounter people who are in a wide variety of circumstances. It is extremely common today to come in contact with couples in which one or both of them have been married previously. She might share this information with us: “We have three kids: I have one child from my previous marriage, he has one child from a previous marriage, and this baby is ours.” My heart drops when I hear those words. Why? Not because it is one hundred percent certain that their relationship does not meet God’s approval, but from experience I know the odds are fairly high that they are living in an adulterous union. When the gospel encounters adulterers, my observation is that in most cases, adulterers choose to remain adulterers.
The King of kings said, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery, and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). In this statement, the words “sexual immorality” (“fornication” in the KJV) are from the Greek word “ /porneia,” which means “illicit sexual intercourse” [Thayer, word 4202 via e-Sword]. Jesus is speaking about unlawful sexual relations between two humans, meaning sleeping together when they are not married to one another.
According to the Master, if a man divorces his wife and the reason for him doing so is not because she has committed fornication, then he turns around and marries a second woman, the relationship between the man and woman number two is “adultery.” No judge, no parliament, and no religious teacher can overturn or negate what our Lord declared.
“But what about the case where one’s spouse cheated on him/her when they were married? Would the non-cheater have the right to get a divorce and at some point enter another marriage?” A divorce not due to fornication followed by a subsequent marriage equals adultery. When the “not for fornication” is missing, in other words, yes, one’s spouse did commit fornication, in such an instance it is not adultery to divorce that person and enter into another marriage.
What that means is, there are people who have been divorced and now are living with a new spouse, and they have every right to do so because their original spouse was unfaithful to them by sleeping with another human. So, yes, there are some divorced, remarried people who are not living in adultery. They should feel no sense of shame, and if they happen to be loyal members of Jesus’ church, their faithfulness is not any less than the faithfulness of others.
If one is going to become a follower of Jesus, repentance is required: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out . . .” (Acts 3:19). The old man’s lifestyle must be put off. One cannot remain in darkness and walk as a faithful child of light. Unlawful relationships must be abandoned.
One who is the co-owner of a shop which makes most of its money selling pornographic materials cannot continue as a seller of such rottenness if he wants to serve Jesus. He must abandon the relationship of being a co-owner of such an enterprise.
Because God’s plan for marriage is for a male to be married to a female (Matthew 19:4-6), same-gender sexual relations are not acceptable to Him. When a homosexual learns the gospel, if he wants to be saved from his sins, he must abandon his homosexual activity. Repentance requires such.
In the same manner, just as one must get out of an unlawful business relationship, and just as one would need to give up his practice of homosexuality, one who is in an adulterous relationship, if he wants to please the Lord, needs to abandon that relationship. An idolater cannot remain an idolater and please God. The same is true of adulterers. Neither idolaters nor adulterers will inherit the kingdom of God. The Bible says so (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). I do not have the right to alter God’s truth or to tell idolaters and adulterers that it is okay if they continue in those activities.
To make certain changes in life, it takes courage. It took courage for Saul of Tarsus to admit he was wrong, humble himself, and obey the gospel. But, he did. It could not have been easy for those who worshipped idols to give them up and turn to the true and living God. But, they did (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
It could not have been easy for Jeremiah to live a life of celibacy, but Jehovah commanded him, “You shall not take a wife” (Jeremiah 16:1,2). Since God will not allow a person to be tempted beyond what he is able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13), then it was possible for Jeremiah to live without having sex. If it was possible for Jeremiah, it is possible today as well.
Our hearts break for all the innocent people, including adults and kids, whose lives are affected by divorce. There are people living today who have learned Jesus’ truth about marriage and adultery and chosen to submit to His will. May there be multitudes of others who come forth to imitate their bravery.
— Roger D. Campbell