Sanctified IN my Gracious Lord’s Evaluation – 1 John 1:9
God is faithful to forgive me and purify me. When I confess my sins to God and ask for His forgiveness, I am clean is His sight. He wipes the slate clean. That is difficult to understand because of the grudges that people continue to hold against each other. It is even more complex when I think of how hard it is for me to exonerate myself. One of the worst decisions that I ever made was to get married, and I have carried the guilt of divorce with me for nearly ten years. So, for my sake and all of the other Christian divorcees, I needed to see what God says about divorce, so that I could finally put my guilt and shame, which is no way brought on by God, to rest. Last Thursday, in Part 1, I talked about the Old Testament's view of divorce. Today, I will look at the New Testament and give my thoughts on what all of this means.
The New Testament is a little more hopeful than the Old Testament…emphasis on “little”
Matthew 5:31-32 – "Remember the Scripture that says, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights'? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are 'legal.' Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you're responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you're automatically an adulterer yourself. You can't use legal cover to mask a moral failure…” Bad news: Before Jesus died, I was considered an adulteress.
Matthew 19: 4-9 – He answered, "Haven't you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart." They shot back in rebuttal, "If that's so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?" Jesus said, "Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God's original plan. I'm holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery." Good news: Though divorce was not in the original plan, God made an exception is cases of adultery.
What does all of this mean? Does God really forgive me? If I believe the Bible, and I do, God absolutely forgives me. God is not fickle as we humans can be. God does not want us to wallow in guilt. He wants us to learn from our mistakes, and follow His path. He shows this throughout the Bible.
Psalm 103:6-18 (The Message) says, "God makes everything come out right; He puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel. God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he's rich in love. He doesn't endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him. He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we're made of mud. Men and women don't live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, but a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here. God's love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, making everything right for them and their children as they follow His Covenant ways and remember to do whatever He said."
1 John 1:8-10 (The Message) says, "If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God."
The Woman at the Well (John 4:7-26) is one of the greatest examples for women of how God just wants our hearts. This woman would be known as the town whore in most settings, but Jesus didn’t ignore her. She tried to hide her transgressions from Him, but He did not throw her lies in her face and walk away. Jesus took the time to help this woman understand who He is and to show her the true meaning of worship. He forgave her sins and used her to spread the gospel. So, if God can forgive and use a woman who had five husbands and a live-in boyfriend and use her in His ministry, then He is faithful to forgive me for getting divorced and for any other sin that I confess to Him. When God examines me, He sees me through the blood that Jesus shed on the cross, and I am sanctified in Him.
So, is my singleness my punishment for getting divorced? Well, Psalm 103:10 says, He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. When we commit sins, God looks for opportunities to teach us to do better. He does not seek out revenge or retribution; that is a human trait. I now believe my singleness to be yet another blessing from God despite my past sins. At this moment it is not my heart’s desire to be single forever, but I am able to see things more clearly as a contented singleton than I was when I was chasing the ever-elusive perfect relationship. For one thing, I know that the only perfect relationship is the one that I have with Christ. Ms. EV