Luke 16:14-18, Mark 10:1-12, Matthew 5:31-32, 19:1-9
What does the word covenant-breaker mean to you? Maybe if I’m a Christian and I willfully sin and continue in sin, I become not only unfaithful, but also a covenant-breaker. The Gospel is a better covenant than the first because it is built on better promises and a better hope. God sent His beloved Son into this world to do what we couldn’t do ourselves: to die on the cross and shed His precious blood so that we could be called His children if we follow after Him. He was perfect, while we are not. His blood could offer atonement, while ours cannot. His blood purchased our pardon and makes us free in Him.
But that is not the context of the word covenant-breaker I want to study today. When we recognize that marriage was divinely instituted and sanctioned by God, we also recognize that He is the author of all that is inside of marriage. That is, the saying of “I do” and the attitude that should permeate inside that relationship between one man and one woman. God is the one who joins man and woman together to be husband and wife. There is no other party that is involved in the putting together of two to make one flesh. In marriage God has made two hearts and minds become one, and that is a lifelong covenant (commitment).
Many times this divinely originated institution starts breaking down from the very beginning. There are many possible reasons for this. Maybe husband and wife weren’t that committed to each other to begin with. Or maybe they were already acting like husband and wife before God joined them together. Hmmm. Marriage is only special for the long haul because of its Author. It must be done His way. There can be repentance in the case of mess-ups and sinful actions, but the ideal beginning is with two faithful Christians that are pure in both body and in thought.
The world today is far removed from the simplicity of God’s Word, and marriage and the family are suffering terribly. There are many who want nothing to do with the Gospel and even if they do, they put themselves first in every way. The focus is not their spouse, much less God. When a married person puts themselves first, the marriage suffers. So does their relationship with God. If divorce starts entering their mind, they are on dangerous ground. Whether or not a person is a Christian, the mindset that includes “putting away a spouse” jeopardizes one’s soul.
It surprises me how the book of Romans, the first chapter, keys in so much on marriage without the word marriage even being used. From the 16th verse and on, one can recognize the importance of the Gospel and also the downfall of those who oppose the Gospel. Just read through and see how many attitudes, such as ungodliness and the unrighteousness of men, have dealt treacherously with marriage. I beg you to read Romans 1:18- 32 and look at the similarities between the unholiness of today’s marriages and the abominations of the Gentiles’ perverted lifestyles. (Rom. 2:1 shows us that the Jews had the same problems.)
When I read verses 28-32, one word sticks out: covenant-breakers. Simply, a covenant-breaker is one that breaks covenants. When one entertains the idea of divorce that is exactly what they are thinking of doing. In Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9, Christ goes back to the beginning to show the purpose of this wonderful and beautiful commitment. A promise between one man and one woman, two separate individuals that in holy matrimony God joins together to be one flesh until death separates them. Christ states, “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” Man cannot separate what God has joined together! If man decides marriage isn’t working out for him and decides to get out, he is a covenant-breaker and a sinner. And to add to the fire of condemnation, if he decides to get married to another he commits adultery and makes another an adulteress.
Paul gives attention to the fact that they may separate in 1 Corinthians 7, and that they may remain separate or reconcile, but until they reconcile they are covenant-breakers. He also informs them not to marry another. This also clarifies the situation in which one desires to be a covenant-breaker, but the other spouse doesn’t. The one wants to remain in their marriage, but they are forced to separate (abandonment) by the other. Paul says it is best if they do not marry another. This is where the guilty (of leaving) can make the spouse an adulterer – Matthew 5:32 That whosoever putteth away his wife… causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. (Or vice-versa.) Those are scary words.
There is sin and eternal consequences in every divorce. There may be sin many times by both parties, especially if they both want the divorce for selfish reasons. They become covenant-breakers (Romans 1:31). And if they remarry another they become adulterers. If one wants with all their might to stay in the marriage, yet has no choice because of the actions of the spouse, the “innocent party” must not marry another. One can come up with many scenarios concerning divorce and remarriage, but God’s Word is very simple concerning marriage. Stay married!! Remain faithful to God and your spouse!! Because anything else is sin and you are breaking a covenant with God and spouse, therefore you are a covenant-breaker! This word is only used once in the New Testament, but that one time carries a lot of weight.