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Matthew 5:31-37

Talks for Growing Christians

Our Lord’s Views on Divorce and on the Taking of Oaths

Matthew 5:31-37

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Lesson Number 10

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Divorce is not condoned by God.
  2. Oaths are not condoned by God.

Practical Application

  1. Wait for reconciliation.

Questions

  1. Was the Lord Jesus removing or changing the Law in the Sermon on the Mount?
  2. Look back at Matthew 5:29-30. Explain why the Lord is using figurative language when He gives the command to pluck out your right eye, or cut off your right hand.
  3. How were the Jews misusing God’s Law on divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4?
  4. Was God condoning divorce in Deuteronomy?
  5. The Mosaic Law prohibited swearing falsely by the name of God. How did the Pharisees get around this law?
  6. How do God’s dealings with His people Israel give us insight into His attitude toward divorce?

Answers

  1. No, He was correcting Judaism’s wrong interpretation of the Law.
  2. The Lord is commanding people to deal seriously with the problem of lust. He is not commanding them to literally disfigure themselves, because: a. Disfigurement does not solve the problem of lust. b. Disfigurement does not affect your destiny to heaven or hell. c. The rest of scripture speaks against mutilation of the body.
  3. They were using the Law as an excuse to get a divorce for any reason that suited their purposes.
  4. No, the Law was given to regulate and put limits on the divorce that was already going on in Israel.
  5. The Pharisees swore by other things instead of God’s name. They swore in the name of heaven, by Jerusalem, and by their own heads. This was a distortion of the intent of God’s law.
  6. God’s relationship with Israel is compared to a marriage. Israel committed spiritual adultery with foreign gods, yet God did not completely sever His relationship with them. He patiently waited for reconciliation. He wants us to seek reconciliation instead of divorce as well.

Discuss/Consider

  1. Divorce is rampant in our culture today, even among Christians. Yet in Malachi 2:16, God said that He hates divorce. God has not changed His mind, or lowered His standards since then. There is only one biblical ground for divorce – not emotional stress, not incompatibility, not financial problems, not lack of romance. Divorce is allowed only in the case of sexual immorality. Discuss this possibly unpopular teaching on divorce. Do you have the “Divorce is not an option” mindset in your marriage? Remember, divorce is not commanded even in the case of sexual immorality. Reconciliation is far better, because divorce is never condoned.
  2. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day twisted and distorted God’s Law to say as long as you did not take an oath, you did not need to be as truthful in normal conversation. Are you known for integrity in your speech? Can your word be trusted, because you are a trustworthy person? Citizens of the kingdom should not have to take an oath to make their statements more truthful. Our “Yes” should mean “Yes”, and our “No”, “No.”

Challenge

  1. If you, or someone you know, are going through marital difficulties, challenge them with our practical application from Matthew 5. Reconciliation is not easy, but it can happen. Be willing to wait for reconciliation.

Key Verses

  • “Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery.” Matthew 5:32
  • “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” Matthew 5:37

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