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You can't live the New Life with the Old Wife!

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, May 28, 2021.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    Wait a second. This is not marriage counseling but an important practical theological truth.

    “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery..."

    Luke 16:14-18. This verse 18 in itself seems very clear, but what is odd - at first sight, at least - is the place we find this verse. Consider the whole context:

    14. Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.
    15. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
    16. “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
    17. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.
    18. “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.


    Does verse 18 have any connection to the previous passage? For that matter, does it have any connection to the verses that follow afterward? Either way, it seems to be an orphan; the idea of divorce and remarriage not fitting anywhere else in the context of which this verse is in the middle. Many commentators have picked up on this incongruity - and then proceeded to find some way to make the fit. A few even suggest that the verse has no place here, but was added by an unskillful later redactor.

    It is true that God's commands and restrictions concerning verse are an example of the law mentioned in verse 17, yet the incongruity and question remains: Why just single this one command out?

    Christ is here speaking spiritually - just as He did of the temple and of leaven in the previous examples. I believe that He is speaking of spiritual divorce in this passage, not a physical, personal one. A good cross-reference, I believe, is Romans 7:1-6:

    1. Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
    2. For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
    3. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
    4. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
    5. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
    6. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.


    In these last two passages, Romans and Luke, we have identical terms: Law, divorce, wife, adultery. I believe that the application is the same in both, both referring to spiritual adultery.

    Paul told the Roman Jews that they were married to the Law, and that their marriage was for life. We have been set free from the law by death. It was literally "till death do us part". That is exactly what happened; death - Christ's death on the cross - is what killed the believing Jews - and us. New life in Christ means first that the old life - as the old wife - died. That first marriage was a tough, exacting one. There was no satisfying the requirements of that marriage. Thank God that all things are new and old things are passed away!

    Now, both Jesus and Paul warn against the absolute sin of living the new life with the old wife: Law. According to Jesus every "jot and tittle" of the Law must be followed. According to Paul we are "adulteresses" if we try to live as if we were married to Christ yet still serving under the "dominion" of that old slave-driving first wife.

    But once the demands of the Law are past, through death, Hebrews 9:16-17, the new life of the New Covenant come into effect. To try to live the new life the old way is adultery - and futile. To recognize the death of all that is the key to wholeheartedly living the new life.

    There are several passages like the above, which do not seem to neatly follow from the previous context. I believe too many run too readily to commentaries and study Bibles. There is a place for these, but they should not be the first thing we consult. A better course would be to first study out the passages yourself, mixing prayer with perseverance, knowing that, just as God is one, so is His Word.

    It is in these seeming discrepancies that we often find most welcome and encouraging treasures.
     
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  2. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Hebrews 8:10. 'For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'
     
  3. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    Yes, but read the whole context. The laws He writes in their hearts is that of the New Covenant, not the obsolete Old Covenant, which with all their commandments was "fading away". New wine in new bottles. These laws are written in their hearts, not in stone, which is what the Ten Commandments was written on.
     
    #3 asterisktom, May 30, 2021
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  4. kathleenmariekg

    kathleenmariekg Active Member

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    Context is critical, and context within context within context.

    The more I learn, the less I know.
     
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  5. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    No. The difference between the Old and New Covenants is that in the New, the law of God is written on the heart rather than on tablets of stone. See Psalms 40:8.
     
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  6. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    That is one of the differences. Jesus made it clear in the Gospels that the New Covenant, the Law of Liberty, goes much deeper than the Decalogue. In fact, nine out of the Ten Commandments are significantly widened and deepened in scope. The only one not repeated in the New Testament is the Sabbath Law. That was only ever intended to last until Christ, our Sabbath rest, came.

    Every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant Law has passed away.

    For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18

    For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. - John 1:17
     
    #6 asterisktom, May 30, 2021
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  7. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    The point of this passage is that there will never be a time when the Law will operate only partially. For instance, there will never be a time when we are obligated to keep the Ten Commandments - without keeping every other lesser law (every "jot" and = "tittle"). If the Decalogue is binding on you then, to be consistent, you had better also plan to go three times down to Jerusalem. You cannot obey a part of the Law and leave the other undone.

    Yet, this is exactly what many do today. They erect a distinction between ceremonial law (for the Jews only) and the eternal law (binding on all believers).

    What is the Greek word for "ceremonial", as in "ceremonial law"? How about the Hebrew word? There is none. The very fact that there is none demonstrates that this distinction is entirely man-made, not God-ordained.
     
  8. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Christ did not come to correct His Father's law - God forbid! - but to give the proper interpretation of it. The Decalogue (all of it) was always wider and deeper than 'those of old' understood. But the Decalogue comes a a boxed set (Deuteronomy 6:22). Adherence to the ceremonial law in the absence of the Moral Law was always utterly unacceptable to God (Amos 5:21-24) and still is (Matthew 7:21-23; Galatians 5:19-21).
    And you are incorrect to say that the Lord Jesus did not give the true interpretation of the Fifth Commandment. 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is also Lord of the Sabbath' (Mark 2:27-28). He is Lord of the Sabbath, not its undertaker.
    Neither of your proof texts make any reference to the commandments passing away. And if every jot and tittle of Old Covenant law has passed away, then so have Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.

    The Lord Jesus Christ (c.f. John 10:34) used the word 'law' in more ways than one. The usage in Matthew 5:18 is shown by the following verse. 'Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.' He is speaking of the Decalogue. The kingdom of heaven is that announced and brought into being by the Lord Jesus Himself (Mark 1:15; Luke 11:20). Therefore it is the New Testament teacher who teaches the cancellation of the Decalogue who will be called least in the KOH. That this interpretation is correct is shown by the fact that the first three examples of our Lord's teaching that follow (Matthew 5:21-37) refer to the Commandments and in the rest of the chapter He gives no interpretation of the ceremonial laws.
     
  9. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    Why put words in my mouth? No one mentioned correcting the Law.
    I do not see the connection in this verse.
    Once again, there is no distinction. Law is Law. There is no separate division into ceremonial and moral when it comes to the Matt. verse in the OP. All of the Law was to stay in force until that time (long since passed) that none of it is in force. We are either under every jot and tittle or we are not under any of them.

    His being Lord of the Sabbath does not mean what you think it is. A reading of Hebrews should correct that impression.

    Look again:

    Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

    For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:17-18

    You are still missing the main point from this passage as it relates to this thread. There is no time when only part of the Law passes away.
    1. There is a time when all of the Law is in force.
    2. Then came a time when none of the Law was in force.

    There is no in-between. We are either in 1 or 2. And if you are in 1 then you have to do all the Law. Or, to use your terminology, the ceremonial as well as the moral.

    More later
     
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