Fighting for Marriage, Pt. 2

May 21, 2023

Fighting for Marriage, Pt. 2

Passage: Matthew 19:7-12

Preacher: Jeff Crotts

Series: Matthew

Category: Sunday Morning



Matthew 19:1-12 Fighting for Marriage (pt. 2)


[Intro] [READ Matt. 19:1-9] Text is our next text, so on topic, divorce.

  • Sobering, but X’s agenda is to fight for marriage more than answer marriage scenarios.
    • Whether married, single, divorced, remarried, or not remarried.
      • Be inspired by Jesus’ fight for marriage.
      • Fighting for marriage is fighting for truth!

[Appl] Marriage is under attack because people do not want what it represents. Commitment and accountability from God. Being married or with the threat of divorce, is one of the most personal and potentially painful subjects.

Important to diffuse pain w/clarity on what marriage is and is not.

  • Bible-Clarity on marriage, brings calm.

[Illus] Like a clear diagnosis on what’s really the matter or what’s confusing. Clarity (at least) explains what it all means.  


  • Learning @/marriage helps you see yourself in the context of God’s commitment to his bride.
    • God loves his church.
    • A perfect husband to an imperfect bride.


  • Jesus fighting for marriage is fighting for truth.
    • Join this fight.
      • Fighting for culture, witness, and reality.
      • Rewriting marriage is rewriting the beginning.
        • Rejecting God’s original design of male and female.
        • Rejecting God as the Designer.


  • This fight is for evangelism.


  • Marriage cast God’s shadow of grace onto the world.
    • Marriage, though temporary, represents covenant.
    • Temporal covenants, picture what believers have w/God.


Prop: Three reasons Jesus fights for marriage

  1. Marriage, explains God original design for “men” and “women” (vv. 1-6)

[Context] Jesus has shifted south, to Perea, north and east of Dead Sea (v. 1).

  • Healing crowds, exuding mercy (v. 2).
    • Pharisee’s wanting to expose Jesus’ moral position on divorce (v. 3).
    • Vulnerable to Herod Antipas.
      • Roman tetrarch, who executed John the B. for confronting him.
        • Antipas conspired divorce, stealing Herodias from her marriage.
        • Forcing divorce w/brother-in-law, Philip.


  • Pharisees want Jesus to suffer same fate as John the B.


  • Jesus not sparing w/them.


  • Ploy to dumb down, marriage commitment (cf. v. 3 “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”) (v. 3).


  • X [instead] goes all the way back to the beginning (vv. 4-6).
  • Jesus fights for marriage, defining it in context of creation, order, and design.


  • Marriage is the logical result of creative design!


  • Why X’s defending marriage?
    • Defends reality which offends society.
    • Society is forced to choke on or believe clear truth.   


  1. Attacking marriage is attacking Truth (vv. 1-3)


  1. Defending marriage is defending Truth (vv. 4-6)



  1. Divorce is God’s merciful concession to the original design of marriage (vv. 7-9)


[KEY] Verse 7, Pharisees rebuff Jesus’ answer, deny “Beginning!” (v. 7).

  • Pharisees return to Moses’ teaching from Deuteronomy 24.


  • Insisting case law scenario as command when it was not.
    • Never a command [literally: “to give orders”] to divorce.
    • Deuteronomy 24 was a limitation in the event of a divorce.


  • Moses’ teaching, based on inevitability that some will divorce.


  • Verse 8, Jesus explains the rational for why this case law was put into place.
    • Allowance, for man’s condition of sin:“your hardness of heart…” (v. 8).


  • Hard hearts, take the easy way out of difficult marriages.
    • Want to regain what they have lost.
    • As if no consequences.


  • We discussed Deuteronomy 24 last time.

ESV  Deuteronomy 24:1-4 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,

2 and if she goes and becomes another man's wife,

3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife,

4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. (Deu 24:1-4 ESV)

[Note] The “hardness of heart” [τὴν σκληροκαρδίαν] (v. 8) is term used to describe a medical condition.

[Illus] Autoimmune where skin of someone’s organs hardens to the point of shutting the organ down. The term means “derma of kardia” of heart.

[Appl] Sin is the ultimate spiritual disease that shuts someone’s heart down. Sin in marriage is the problem that shuts the functionality and health of a marriage down. The joy that can be found in marriage is always contested by this real combatant resident within the heart of each marriage partner.

[Appl] Important to trace the origin of hardness of heart as pertains to first marriage.

  • Diagnosing what goes wrong in marriage.


Genesis 1:27 recounts God created man and female, the first marriage but quickly in Genesis 3 we know the man and the woman fell, committing sin, injecting this inside of each of their hearts, falling under God’s curse.


  • As an axiomatic principle, sin brings consequences, and these consequences are what every man and woman face when married and not hyperbole to say, these consequences of the heart are multiplied at marriage at least by multiples of 2x.

ESV  Genesis 3:7-19 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?"

10 And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself."

11 He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?"

12 The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate."

13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

14 The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

16 To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

17 And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gen 3:7-19 ESV)


Consequences as follows in Genesis 3:7-18 all in terms of war in relationships:

Sensuality: “Then the eyes of both were opened…” (v. 7).

Shame: “…sewed fig leaves together…the man and his wife hid…” (v. 8).

Shifting: “The woman you gave to be with me…The serpent deceived me…” (vv. 12, 13).

Sobriety: “between your offspring and her offspring” (v. 15).

Suffering: “I will…multiply your pain childbearing…in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life” (vv. 16, 17).

Strife: “…Your desire shall be for you husband, and he shall rule over you” (v. 16).


[KEY] Strife between husband and wife plays out in terms of its effect on relationships.

  • The serpent to the earth, serpent to the woman, woman to childbearing, wife to her husband, husband to her wife, man to his occupation.


  • All relationships effected w/one negative cause, SIN.


[Note] Zeroing in on the relationship between a husband and wife, you need to focus on the words, “desire” and “rule over” (v. 16) which in this context “desire” is not positive.


  • Same words used in Genesis 4:7 where Cain, spirals down w/digressive pride and jealousy was homicidal towards his brother Abel.

ESV  Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." (Gen 4:7 ESV)

ESV  Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Gen 3:16 ESV)


  • Parallel in Hebrew language reveals operations inside the hearts of both husbands and wives.
    • Passive and aggressive behaviors live in each heart.
    • Husband and wife.


[Appl] Answer to sin is from changed heart.


Living the Spirit-filled life. Real love and Real respect originate from God’s work inside of our hearts (cf. Eph. 5:18).


ESV  Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, (Eph 5:18 ESV)


  • Healthy operations w/in marriage for husband and wife, flows out of this (cf. Eph. 5:22-33).


[Note] In the case of Cain’s heart, his “sin is crouching at the door” which could be a personification of a lion ready to pounce, desire being inner rebellion.


[KEY] Song of Solomon “desire” is the deep passion, positively speaking, but massively powerful.


ESV  Song of Solomon 7:10 I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me. (Sol 7:10 ESV)


  • And in the case of strife in marriage, it is equally powerful but dramatically negative.


  • To “desire …rule” over a spouse as a dominating tyrant is the effect of being fallen and under the curse of sin.


  • Men who try to fix their wife through fleshly pragmatics achieve opposite of Spirit’s work.


  • Impulses of wife being held under this kind of pressure, is to kick out from under the husband’s leadership.


  • Husbands serve w/love (as proactive as X to his church).


  • Wives follow w/respect (as proactive as X was to his LORD).


  • Origin of every version of strife is same [SIN] in the home and its cause.


[Illus] Psychologist swear that the number one cause of divorce is “contempt” built upon patterned resentment.


Measurement of pattern assessment and behavioral studies. This is a “symptom-based” analysis which can only operate on the surface of symptoms.


The Bible goes a level deeper to the heart behind the symptoms, which is sin. Resentment builds where no confession of and repentance from sin. Specifically, repenting from the sin of pride [w/Humility].


Issues going unaddressed mount in the heart and harden, either or both spouses.


ESV  Proverbs 3:34 Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. (Pro 3:34 ESV)


ESV  James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (Jam 4:6 ESV)


  • God is opposed to the proud but give grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).


[TRANS] Back to Matthew 19:8, Jesus reiterates how Moses never commanded divorce but “allowed” for this reality in the Law, to set up a new society within Canaan.


  • The issue was limiting, governance.


  • Jesus, fighting for marriage, goes back to the beginning, saying, “but from the beginning it was not so” (v. 8).


[Appl] Just because society devolves w/sinful hearts, divorce, never meant to be a default, throw away marriages on whims.


Verse 9, only one sin that gives grounds for divorce and that is “sexual immorality” (v. 9).

  • The word “sexual immorality” is “pornea” describing a variety of immoral sins.


[Appl] Word encompassing more than physical adultery.


[Illus] Described as the junk drawer of sins. Our culture is rife with this sin, but every culture of every age has been.


Pornea immediately conjures modern word, pornography. Instruments of AI are not the cause, but only magnify the condition of an unrepentant heart.


  • [Question] “When are there grounds for divorce?”
    • Must be assessed over a period of time.
      • When either spouse is hardhearted, in the relationship.
      • Evidence for grounds will surface.


  • When sin is committed and heart hardens, grounds for divorce is based on the reality that the marriage has been severed.


  • Referenced last week from Leviticus, when a spouse is caught in adultery, the guilty adulterers are both to be executed.


ESV  Leviticus 20:10 "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. (Lev 20:10 ESV)


  • Death means permanence.
    • Spouse who remains alive is free to remarry because her former spouse is dead.


  • Jesus’ teaches unrepentant adulterer is divorced from a marriage, the one who did not commit adultery is likewise free to remarry.


[Illus] Joseph’s dealings with Mary (who as alleged to unfaithfulness) or David or the woman from John 8, every case did not automatically mean execution (cf. Lev. 20:10-20, offers variety of scenarios).


  • Each case-by-case scenario, not every marriage fails because of moral failure.


  • True repentance opens the door for grace can come, and marriages can be rescued.


  • That said, when the heart hardens, being unrepentant, the offended spouse may find mercy in this text.


  • This is X’s merciful concession to what was never first intended.


  • Divorce is never sanctioned as a glib decision.


  • When someone divorces w/o biblical grounds, and marries another, he or she automatically commits adultery (v. 9).


  • Still married in the eyes of God.
  • Marriage was never truly severed.


ESV  Jeremiah 3:8-15 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.

9 Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.

10 Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD."

11 And the LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.

12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, "'Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever.

13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD.

14 Return, O faithless children, declares the LORD; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

15 "'And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jer 3:8-15 ESV)


  • Appeal and promise God extends to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.
    • If they return, this is the picture of restoration.
    • Toward a repentant spouse who’d been unfaithful.


Isaiah 50:1 is a similar picture of appeal over a 700 year period.


  • God finally had enough, permitting the Assyrians to crush and capture the Northern Kingdom.


  • A picture of divorce.


ESV  Isaiah 50:1 Thus says the LORD: "Where is your mother's certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away. (Isa 50:1 ESV)


Remember the story of Hosea?


  • First book of Minor Prophets, chronicles the fall of the Northern Kingdom (722 BC).


  • “The Death-Bed Prophet” of Israel – Last prophecy before fall of Israel.


  • God called Hosea to marry Gomer a harlot (1:2) with “children of harlotry.”


  • She gives Hosea a few children then returns to her sin.


  • God’s picture of grace to Israel is through Hosea’s pursuit.


ESV  Hosea 3:1 And the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins." (Hos 3:1 ESV)


[TRANS] One other exception written for divorce, by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7.


ESV  1 Corinthians 7:12-17 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.

16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. (1Co 7:12-17 ESV)


[KEY] This is the issue of abandonment.


  • Paul adds his inspired pastoral exception to divorce in marriage.
    • Scenario when you become a believer after already married.
      • Your spouse does not believe.
      • Chooses to leave the marriage.


[Illus] Construction Boss/Blackbelt Wife.


  • Believer, is free to let them go, not bound to stay married or believe failed.


  • To remarry is not committing adultery before the Lord.


  • Question: “How know if your spouse is an unbeliever?”


  • Giving you grounds to let them go?


  • A lack of repentance proves over time.


  • Believing spouse, staying w/Unbelieving spouse is powerful witness.
    • 1 Peter 3:1-2
    • See this at AGC!


  • Testimony of love and commitment fulfills the point of marriage.
    • [i.e. Hosea].


  • Fight for marriage bc/ each, is the temporary testimony of God’s covenant commitment to his bride which is the church!


[Appl] When you either forgive an adulterer or stay with an unbeliever or allow them to leave, these scenarios testify to truth!


Witness to the world, being so counter cultural.

Testimony to any children watching in the home.


  • Every scenario is different.
    • X’s message is not fighting for particular outcomes but fighting for marriage as God’s natural, intended deign.


  • For the males and females, he originally created, both image-bearers, both reflecting their Designer who is God.


Conclusion: “What if you have been party to a sinful divorce?”


  • What if your remarriage is in the sight of God is adultery?


  • Remember is God also forgives adultery.


  • He forgave David, he will forgive you.


  • Chastisement may come, consequences may follow, but that is not the end.


  • Adultery as an act is destructive but it is not the unpardonable sin.


Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:


“…on the basis of the gospel and in the interest of truth I am compelled to say this: Even adultery is not the unforgivable sin. It is a terrible sin, but God forbid that there should be anyone who feels that he or she has sinned himself or herself outside of the love of God or outside His kingdom because of adultery. No; if you truly repent and realize the enormity of your sin and cast yourself upon the boundless love and mercy and grace of God, you can be forgiven and I assure you of pardon. I hear the word of our bless Lord: “Go and sin no more.”


  • Fight for marriage bc/we fight for this Designer who is full of grace the truth!




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