And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 21, Number
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The word “except” (ĕan, also translated “unless” and “if”) is a conditional particle. It presents a condition which must be met to bring about its explicitly stated or necessarily implied effect. If the condition is met, then the result occurs. For example, Jesus said, “For I say to you, that unless (ĕan, except, ASV) your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). Therefore, we conclude that if our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, we will enter the kingdom of heaven. Otherwise, we will not.
Seems simple enough, right? When the exception is present, its result is realized. Let’s make some applications.
1. Entering the kingdom of God. “Unless (ĕan) one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jno. 3:5). Therefore, without being born of water and the Spirit (baptized by the direction of the Spirit’s word) a person does not enter the kingdom (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:26). He has not been born again, and is lost in sin (Jno. 3:3).
2. Repentance. “I tell you, no; but unless (ĕan) you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). One remains lost in sin unless he repents.
3. Forgiveness. “For if (ĕan) you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if (ĕan) you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14–15). When we forgive, we will be forgiven. When we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven.
4. Marriage is for life, but death frees one to remarry. “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if (ĕan) the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if (ĕan), while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if (ĕan) her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man” (Rom. 7:2–3). The lifelong nature of law is illustrated by marriage (Rom. 7:1, 4-6). If one dies, then the survivor is “released from the law of the husband” and is free to remarry without sin. But, to marry another person while one’s spouse lives is adultery. This should impress everyone with the seriousness of carefully choosing one’s marriage partner. Marriage is a lifelong commitment in which each one is accountable to God.
5. Approved remarriage. “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except (ĕan) for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9). When one does not divorce a spouse “for sexual immorality” (the cause of “fornication,” ASV) and marries another person, he commits adultery. When one divorces a spouse for the cause of fornication, then he (or she) is free to remarry without committing adultery in the remarriage. One person has the right to remarry. No remarriage is allowed when the marriage does not end for the cause of fornication.
Jesus affirmed God’s rule for marriage “from the beginning of the creation” as one man and one woman for life (Mk. 10:6; Matt. 19:4-6). When pressed that Moses commanded divorce, He explained that Moses permitted it (the contingencies were given in the Law of Moses, Deut. 24:1-4), but “from the beginning” God’s purpose was not for men to put away their wives (Matt. 19:7-8). Having dealt with Moses, Jesus then pronounced His authoritative will on the matter (Matt. 19:9).
Some brethren do not wish to apply Christ’s restriction on divorce and remarriage today. They say He was teaching Jews the Law of Moses. But, the context of Matthew 19:3-12 makes it clear that was not the case. He pronounced His will on the matter after correcting a mistaken impression about Moses. What Jesus taught is now binding on all whom God joins together in marriage.
A few people would nullify the exception clause of Matthew 19:9 because it is not found in Mark and Luke (Mk. 10:11-12; Lk. 16:18). They would tell all divorced people, including those who have followed the exception in Matthew 19:9, that they must separate. But, truth spoken once, is true. The synoptic gospels often supply more information as well as pass over certain details found in the others. That the exception is not in all three gospels does not negate its credibility.
Christ’s exception does not contradict or invalidate Romans 7:2-3. Jesus Himself said marriage is for life (Matt. 19:3-6; 1 Cor. 7:10-11). He gave one exception that allows one party in a marriage to divorce and marry another without committing adultery (Matt. 19:9). That condition, “for fornication,” stands today. To remove it is to bind where God has not bound.
We must neither refuse the Christ-given exception for divorce and remarriage, nor broaden it to include other reasons for ending a marriage. We must be careful not to go beyond the doctrine of Christ, as well as not preventing souls from fully applying revealed truth. We do this by respecting God’s exceptions and not inserting our own.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Warned not to be deceived by those who predict the end of the age, Matt. 24:3-8, 11 (14)
I. WHAT IS THE RAPTURE?
A. “A secret catching away of the church, both resurrected and living saints, who are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.”
II. RUPTURING THE RAPTURE DOCTRINE.
A. Rapture Errors
III. THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE.
A. Prophesied, Dan.
IV. WHEN CHRIST RETURNS.
A. Personal, Visible
Return, Acts 1:11.
Comforts and urges Christians to live diligent, holy lives, 1 Thess. 4:18; 2 Pet. 3:11, 14.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
This week’s news reports contained a flurry of high-profile investigative reports, federal indictments, and the dismissal of one celebrity’s felony charges. From the Mueller Report, to the Jussie Smollett dismissal, to the Varsity Blues and Michael Avenatti indictments, it seems there are always temptations to rush to judgment, to cling to decisions in spite of the evidence (or lack thereof), and to discredit valid judgments legally rendered. It is not easy to execute justice. Sometimes, when it comes to human justice systems, we end up with more questions than answers. Sadly, and to our shame, justice is not always blind.
The word of God teaches us to be just in our judgments. This requires objectivity (Jno. 7:24). This demands impartiality (Deut. 1:17; Prov. 24:23-26). This necessitates hearing all sides of a matter before drawing a conclusion (Prov. 18:13, 17). We must not be hasty to condemn or approve, but deliberately consider all the evidence at our disposal when rendering judgments (1 Tim. 5:19-22).
We are warned against judging hypocritically in Matthew 7:1-5: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Use the same standard of judgment on ourselves that we use on others.
Fair and just judgments come from hearing all parties and getting all the available facts. With objectivity, guided by truth and impartiality, let us avoid injustice toward others. Loving your neighbor as yourself demands nothing less (Matt. 22:39).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/31/2019
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA