We are to Separate From Evil, Not Order the Righteous to Live With it

Psa 1:1-2  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  (2)  but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Pro 4:14-15  Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.  (15)  Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.

The Bible is filled with commands and warnings just like these. The Lord Himself cannot look upon evil. The wicked will never stand in His presence. His holiness consumes them in an instant. And His people are to reflect this holiness in their own lives by separating themselves from the wicked.

Somehow however, I suppose due to the idolatrous status and man-made legalistic traditions in regard to marriage, the wicked are being given a pass. It is sin, so many professing Christians claim, to separate from evil if you are married to it. The marriage vows, even if given under false pretense and broken habitually without repentance, serve as a kind of diabolical grandfather clause that makes the Lord’s commands to separate from evil null and void. “Separate? Sorry, no can do. You said ‘I do’ and so you’d better “do.”

Continue reading “We are to Separate From Evil, Not Order the Righteous to Live With it”

If You Haven’t Read David Instone-Brewer’s book, You Really Should

Here are some powerful and refreshing words from David Instone-Brewer’s book on marriage and divorce in the church. This will make you want to get your hands on the book for sure. And by the way – ANY pastor or counselor or Christian who fancies that they are competent to counsel on this subject but who is still ignorant of what Instone-Brewer presents and proves here – is not competent to counsel at all. [The boldface highlighting is mine]-

We will see in later chapters that what defines a broken marriage is broken vows: the vows that marriage partners make to each other in God’s presence. We will find in chapter three that the Old Testament describes God’s relationship with Israel like a marriage that ended in divorce because cause of Israel’s adulteries. So God is a divorcee-and he hates it as much as any victim of divorce. A victim?

Yes, God is a victim of divorce, even though he actually carried it out; in the same way, many victims today are actually the ones who initiate proceedings to bring the marriage to an official end. They call in the lawyers to stop the mockery and pain of constant adultery or the anguish of abuse. But as we will see, the Bible does not regard the victim as the sinner. It is the person who is guilty of causing the marriage to break up whom Jesus addresses when he says, “Those whom God has joined, no one should separate.”

In other words, his warning is not to the person who finally tidies up the legal mess after the marriage has broken down but to those who would violate their marriage vows and, in so doing, cause the marriage to break up. Jesus says that divorce should never happen because when two people marry they are joined by God, who is a witness to the marriage vows and is there to bless the marriage. These vows should never be broken-especially especially since they are made before God. But of course people do break them, just as they break God’s other commands. Jesus never says that these vows are impossible to break-as if God ignores the reality of sin-but but he teaches that if a partner breaks the vows and is then repentant, we should forgive that person.

If the vows are continuously broken, without repentance, then the marriage will be left in shreds. Therefore although the breakup of a marriage is always due to sin, it is not the divorce vorce itself that is the sin; the sin is the breaking of the vows, which causes the divorce. In later chapters we will look at the biblical marriage vows closely We will learn that the Bible allows only the victim to initiate a divorce-that is, it allows them to decide when enough is enough and, if their partner remains unrepentant, to decide that the marriage is over.

Jesus’ main complaint was that the Jews had abandoned this principle. They allowed a man to divorce his wife even when she hadn’t broken her vows-that is, when he had no grounds for divorce. Paul similarly condemned a Greco-Roman groundless divorce. Later on in the book we will look at the Old Testament’s teaching on divorce and remarriage-which allowed divorce on the grounds of neglect or abuse-and discover that Jesus and Paul both affirmed this teaching.

David Instone-Brewer. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities (p. 18-19). Kindle Edition.

(We have added Instone-Brewer’s book to the Resources tab on the top menu bar.  There  – and here – is an Amazon affiliate link if you are interested in purchasing the book.)

Marriage and Divorce – Getting it Right: A Sermon by Jeff Crippen

We want to make you aware that Pastor Crippen’s sermon today at Christ Reformation Church is on marriage and divorce.  Using the sermon text of Matthew 19:1-12 and scripture reading from Deuteronomy 24, Pastor reminds us of the importance of rightly handling the word of truth.  And there are very few places in the Bible that have been more abused than the words of Jesus when He speaks to the issue of marriage and divorce.

We are providing a link to the PDF, video, and audio of Pastor’s sermon, Marriage and Divorce – Getting it Right, found at sermonaudio.com.

We have also added this sermon, Marriage and Divorce – Getting it Right, to our Twisted Scriptures page located on the top menu bar under Scriptures.

For those of you who would like to follow the Sunday Service at Christ Reformation Church (CRC) weekly you may go to lightfordarktimes.com where CRC’s weekly Sunday Order of Service is published and links to the video/audio of Pastor Crippen’s sermon are provided.  All are welcome to join with the congregation of CRC online!

Here is the False Teaching that Holds Abuse Victims in Bondage

Brent Detwiler is a good man. He has fought the battle fearlessly in exposing the sexual abuse and the coverups of it in the Sovereign Grace, CJ Mahaney circles. We are very thankful for his tireless work.

But Brent blew it when he recently made the following comment on facebook. I am quoting it here to reiterate to all of you that these teachings are unbiblical and harmful. I am not going to go into a long point by point refutation – what Brent says here has been refuted in other blog posts I have done already. This is, you might say, a practical exercise for all of us in identifying unbiblical notions that enable abusers and enslave victims.  Here is what Brent said. I am sure that many if not most of you have heard this stuff before. Let me say again – this is false teaching. It is wrong. We must absolutely reject it.

Continue reading “Here is the False Teaching that Holds Abuse Victims in Bondage”

Sin Destroys Relationships — And Sometimes the Destruction is Total

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did…(Joshua 7:19-20)

As many of you know, a major event in my own awakening to the nature and mentality of abuse involved the sexual abuse of a child. This grievous situation was dropped in the lap of our church through the sin of the perpetrator. I could write pages about it, including about how the Lord used that one event to lead us into the ministry of Unholy Charade. At the same time, He was moving in the lives of others – also through having abuse touch their lives – and eventually led all of us together. That is the happy stuff.  I could also write about the grief and damage done to the victim and to our church.

But what I wanted to write about today is a hard, true, fact that each of us needs to learn. I had to learn it, many of you have learned it, and others of you are still in process of learning it. That lesson is this: Sin damages and destroys relationships, and sometimes that destruction is beyond repair. When it is, we need to stop trying to rebuild it. Abuse damages and destroys a marriage, and usually that destruction is total. Let me show you how I learned this lesson in the case in our church I mentioned above.

When myself and our elders were trying to sort out what justice and love and mercy and wisdom would look like in this scenario, we came to a conclusion.  It took some time because none of us had experienced something like this before. Our church was small and close – what looked like a family. And then this test came. When we concluded that there was no way we could provide a safe, healing church environment for the victim and at the same time permit the perpetrator to continue to attend our church, I remember telling the congregation that sin destroys relationships. Even when there is real repentance and real forgiveness, some sins are so grievous that the destroyed relationship simply cannot be put back together again – nor should it be.

Now, the response from a couple of people went something like this – “but we are all sinners. And we have all been forgiven by Christ. How can you say that sin destroys relationships when grace and mercy and love are able to overcome any sin? We don’t believe what you are saying. We think everyone should forgive one another and love one another and the relationship will be restored and everything can be like it was.”

That kind of talk is unbiblical, false, exceedingly selfish, and very damaging to the victim and everyone else. The fact is that some sins are so grievous, so destructive, and so harmful that any relationship between the perpetrator and the victim is fully and finally over. That destruction is the perpetrator’s doing. Abuse not only harms a marriage, unrepented of (which is the normal case) it destroys the marriage irrevocably.

Abuse, as we define it on this blog, especially the kind perpetrated by a pseudo-Christian, fully and finally reduces the husband-wife relationship to ashes, never to be rebuilt. (In many cases the relationship was a mere facade from the very beginning!)

I am afraid that many professing Christians are radically ignorant of this hard fact. Namely, that certain sins are so evil that to begin to beat the drums of “forgiveness and reconciliation” is sheer madness. I am afraid that there are Christians, for example, who would actually propose that the Lord would have a madman who had walked into a church service and slaughtered a host of people, welcomed into that church with a great big hugfest carried out to the tune of “Only a Sinner, Saved by Grace.”

But the Lord Jesus Christ calls this foolishness, not love. He calls us – no, He commands us – to put the wicked one out from our midst. He shows us in case after case in His Word that there are indeed limits to His mercy. Did you hear that? God’s mercy and grace are not infinite. That is why there is a hell. He tells us that there are lines which, if crossed, there is no returning to Him. Esau (see Hebrews 6) is a prime example. And the infamous Achan of Jericho fame is another example.

Did you read the verses above? Listen to them again-

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did…(Joshua 7:19-20)

How does that sound to you? It sounds like a script worked up to introduce a happy ending, right? “Truly I have sinned against the Lord…this is what I did….”.  Yay! Achan repented! Everything is ok, right? Nope –

And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor. (Joshua 7:24-26)

Achan, you recall, had by his sin caused the death of over 30 of his fellows. Achan had crossed the line.

Sin damages and destroys relationships, and sometimes that destruction is total so that rebuilding of the relationship is impossible and even wrong. Remember that the next time you sense the tempter at your door. And let us all remember this when working with the victims of grievous evil, and when we must deal out real justice to their oppressors.

Because with some sins, the sinner gets no second chance at the relationship. Molest a child and your relationship with that child and the child’s family is over, no matter how close you were. Abuse your wife and, well, do not tell us that you deserve another shot at the marriage. Betray the trust of an entire church congregation over whom the Lord placed you as shepherd – understand that such betrayal may well totally and fully and irrevocably destroy your relationship with those people.

We close with one more account of two people who crossed that line, and there was no going back –

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. (Acts 5:1-11)

The Devil is in the Details: To Reveal Abusers and Their Allies You Must ask the Right Questions

Quite a long time ago I wrote a review of Voddie Baucham’s “sermon” on the permanence doctrine (i.e., divorce is never ever permitted by God. Period. No discussion.) Baucham thinks that remarriage is only permitted when a former spouse has died. If any member of his church comes to him or his elders and says they want to divorce or that they have serious marriage problems of ANY kind, Baucham tells everyone his reply will be “YOU are the problem. Go back to your marriage.”

Baucham, incidentally, was actually “preaching” straight out of a book by Jim Elliff called Divorce and Remarriage: A Permanence View (terrible, terrible book). But Baucham gave the plain impression he was preaching Scripture and thus speaking by the Lord’s authority. I think the prophet Jeremiah has some words for such people who would presume to speak for the Lord when in fact the Lord has not sent them.

Many of Baucham’s followers have vehemently protested that we would be so critical of him. Recently a reader submitted the following comment in response to my critique of Baucham’s teaching. Here is what she said (and I have not edited her comment even though it appears a little confusing, probably just an auto-correct typo thingy):

I had the privilege of speaking to Voddie Baucham in February when he was just outside of Atlanta. I asked him about a specific issue since of my family members are going through. A divorce occurred in order to keep the wife safe because her life was in danger and because of marital unfaithfullness on the unbelieving husbands part. Mr Voddie gave me great advice to pass along to her. He also said that unfortunately, sometimes there are severe situations where divorce is unavoidable.

Our commenter sounds satisfied with Baucham’s response, does she not? Perhaps implying that we have been too hard on the man or at least have misunderstood him. Nope. We haven’t. But what HAS happened is that she made a common mistake we have all made when dealing with such people — she failed to ask him the right questions.

What should she have asked him?

  • In these “severe situations” should a divorce take place?  Are both parties guilty of sin before God? That is to say, is any divorce a sin? I am not asking if the Lord will forgive a person who files for divorce, but specifically I want to know if you are saying that it is always a sin to file for divorce?
  • In these “severe situations,” does God allow for remarriage?
  • And incidentally, just what are some examples of these “severe situations” you speak of?

It takes these kind of pointed questions, asked very pointedly so that there is no room for shifting, to get down to the heart of the matter. In this case, Baucham would have to answer (if he were being straightforward and honest) that he believes every divorce is a sin, that filing divorce papers is always a sin, that God never allows any divorced person to remarry if their ex is still alive, and that these “severe situations” are limited to severe physical abuse.

Mr Baucham’s advice on this subject is never “great advice.” This lady may think it was, but we say once more, she failed to ask the right questions — and Baucham, like so many of these kinds of people who lord their private opinions over Christ’s people, conveniently avoided the details.

As is often said and is always true, the devil is in the details

The Mercy of God and the Right Handling of His Word

Jon 1:1-2  Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  (2)  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

Jon 3:4-5  Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  (5)  And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

Many of the churches that we have dealt with in regard to their cruel treatment of domestic abuse victims proudly include in their doctrinal statements an unbending confession of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. I fully concur with that doctrine. The Bible is the very Word of God and is the rule for our faith and practice.

However, it is not enough for us to confess the Bible to be the Word of God. We must also interpret and apply it as the Lord intends for His Word to be understood and applied. The Pharisees, as you know, were very conservative in doctrine and held to the letter of Scripture. And yet they were so, so very wrong in how they used it. Grievously and mercilessly wrong.

Continue reading “The Mercy of God and the Right Handling of His Word”