Divorce and Tempting God

Today I am preparing for a Bible Study on the sixth commandment. I am looking at our Heidelberg Catechism, question 105:

105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?

That I do not revile, hate, insult or kill my neighbor either in thought, word, or gesture, much less in deed, whether by myself or by another, but lay aside all desire of revenge; moreover, that I do not harm myself, nor willfully run into any danger. Wherefore also to restrain murder the magistrate is armed with the sword.

I am specifically thinking about that phrase, “nor willfully run into any danger.” The footnote refers us to Matthew 4:7. To understand my point here, I would like to look at the whole context, and then see what Jesus is teaching us.

5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,
6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:`He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and,`In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again,`You shall not tempt the LORD your God.‘”
(Matt. 4:5-7 NKJ – emphasis mine)

Jesus answers the devil’s temptation by referring to scripture. The devil sought to convince Jesus to throw himself down. “Doesn’t the bible say that God will give his angels charge over you? Doesn’t the bible say that God will not allow any harm to come to you? Prove it. Throw yourself down. Be reckless. Put God to the test.”

And Jesus answered “Thou shalt not put the Lord God to the test.” (This is what “tempt the Lord your God” means).

By willfully putting himself in danger, demanding that God protect him, Jesus would be acting sinfully, just like Israel did in the wilderness.

And yet, this is the counsel that thousands and thousands of pastors and counselors give to women and children living in dangerous conditions.

I heard again today of a woman who has lost her Christian friends and her Church because she fled her abusive husband and filed for divorce. He is in prison for his horrible sins towards her and her children. He threatened her. She believed him. She told her counselor. He told her to return to her husband, that it might be necessary to “suffer a season”. But by her “meek and quiet spirit” she will redeem her husband.

The violence is not under question. So many men are in prison for their violence towards their wives and children, but the wives end up driven from the church anyway. They were commanded to put God to the test and refused to do so, and were punished for it.

When you hear this counsel, have the courage to say what Jesus said, “It is written, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

Wisdom dictates that a fool returns to his folly as a dog to his vomit. A violent man remains violent. A promiscuous man remains promiscuous. A murderer remains a murderer.

Can God grant new birth and new life? Of course he can. But thou shalt not put him to the test. Can God use suffering for our good? Of course he can, but thou shalt not put him to the test. Can God protect us from evil men? Of course he can. But thou shalt not put him to the test.

Repentance and faith are free gifts given from God’s mercy alone. They don’t come on demand. You must not willfully put yourself into danger and put God to the test.

When you tell someone to put themselves into danger in order to uphold your idolatry of marriage, you are violating the 6th commandment.

God despises murder of every kind. Your life is valuable to him. He is not cruel and is not capricious. He will not have you killed to uphold another man’s desire to build a kingdom for himself.

If you are in danger, please seek help. If you are in a place where you are commanded to put God to the test, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Such counsel does not come from the Holy One.

Domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233

8 Comments

Filed under Abuse, Divorce, Marriage

8 responses to “Divorce and Tempting God

  1. emmellkaycee

    Excellent. 👍🏻👍🏻

  2. Leanne

    Excellent point – thank you!!!

  3. Cecilia K

    Wow, this is so beautiful and such a refreshing perspective, Pastor Powell! I’ve *Never* thought of it this way before and never *Heard* it taught this way. Thank you! This makes so. much. sense!

  4. Amy

    Thank you for taking the time to write this excellent post. Will be sharing.

  5. A big amen, Sam! Well said.

  6. sue

    Dear Sam Powell, thank You so much for calling the wickeds on their rubbish. Yeah i know that the Lord hates divorce … Lord hates liars, revilers, strikers… but the pulpiteers don’t want to preach on those Scriptures;/ Funny how that works, eh. Once again, thankyou.

  7. H

    This is such critical teaching that the Lord also taught me. Thank you so much for communicating this truth, and I pray that many people hear it and follow our blessed Lord and Savior!

  8. Anu Riley

    Pastor, thank you SO much for this. One thing I love about your writing is that you tend to bring out an “angle” about Scripture, or within Scripture—-that I’ve never heard or even considered.

    And I think you’re the FIRST pastor who has ever put a hotline number in a post and likely in your sermon. When I read secular articles about suicide, they almost always offer the suicide prevention hotline at the end. Secular help is NOT sinful to ask for and receive. For many, it’s their only lifeline.

    Christianity as it is commonly described (but NOT commonly practiced by all who profess Christ)—-can be incredibly contradictory.

    We rightly ask that we cherish life in the womb, but for the lives that are OUT of the womb—so often they are treated with careless contempt. Ask anyone who has dared to admit they were victimized. What happened to the mantra cherishing and prizing the value of life—-that narrative is just as valid once a human being leaves the womb.

    Then we are rightly told to fight for the oppressed: the fatherless, widow and the poor. Defend them. But the abused are in a different category. They’re not being oppressed. They’re being “tested” by God and must endure.

    You shall not murder. Of course! But He gives AND takes away. One command from Him and huge numbers of people died. And then He creates more life! So stop holding onto your life (or the lives of others) so tightly. Your life is a flash in the pan and it’s over before you know it, so why complain about abuse and fearing for your life?

    Plus, if you DIE, you’ll be with God! Isn’t that what we all want? And IF you die, you’ll give glory to Him—you stayed in the marriage and stuck it out. We’ll be praising God at your funeral and will uphold your example to all.

    “God despises murder of every kind. Your life is valuable to him. He is not cruel and is not capricious.”

    When anyone who professes Christ tries to uphold those awful, wicked narratives I described—-they are painting the Lord as if He is the exact opposite of how Pastor rightly describes Him. Here is what they are saying:

    God is indifferent about murder in all its horrible ways. God sees life as a revolving door—life comes in and it goes out in the blink of an eye. God shrugs His shoulders and is only slightly moved at the suffering of His creation. He has seen it all from the beginning, so He is desensitized and insensitive by this point. That is His attitude, and that is our attitude.

    Now be quiet, stop whining bout wanting more out of life than nonstop fear of your husband. Go home to him, even if you go home to Him as a a result.

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