“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Eze. 36:26)
One of the reasons why God is able to give us the victory and keep us from falling is because He has given us another nature empowered by the Holy Spirit that we can choose to live by.
It is only because of this new man living inside of us that we can determine right from wrong and have the strength to live according to the principles of the Kingdom of God.
Matthew chapter five verses 31 and 32 instructs us,
“It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matt. 5:31-32)
These Scriptures give us the parameters concerning divorce. However, as it is with all the words of Jesus, there is the apparent meaning and there is the deeper meaning.
One of the things we must realize concerning the principles of the Kingdom of God is that the Lord is talking about living according to the abilities of a new and righteous heart.
He is talking about always living in peace and forgiveness.
In the Gospel of Mark chapter ten and verse five,
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.” (Mark 10:5)
We who have been born again and filled with the Holy Ghost have been delivered from a hard heart. The Lord says,
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26)
We as Christians have been given a new heart.
The psalmist cries out in Psalms 51 verse ten,
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
As believers in a Christian marriage, God gives us no excuse to head towards divorce. We do not have a hard heart but we have a softened heart. We are able to work things out.
We can come to the peace that God wants us to come to if we are willing to change and forgive.
However, for unbelievers sometimes such is not the case.
In First Corinthians chapter seven verses ten through 17 we read the Apostle Paul’s instructions concerning marriage as given through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:” (1Cor. 7:10)
“But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” (1Cor. 7:11)
“But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.” (1Cor. 7:12)
“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.” (1Cor. 7:13)
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” (1Cor. 7:14)
“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” (1Cor. 7:15)
“For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1Cor. 7:16)
“But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.” (1Cor. 7:17)
In verses ten and 11 the Lord through Paul is talking to husbands and wives who are both believers and married in the Lord. He says to “Let them not depart.”
In verses 12 through 16, the Apostle Paul says “but to the rest speak I, not the Lord”. Here he is referring to believers who find themselves married to unbelieving spouses that are not part of the body of Christ.
In verse 14 the Bible says that the unbeliever is sanctified, meaning set apart, by the believer. They are sanctified unto salvation. In God’s eyes that saved individual’s unbelieving husband, wife, or children are set apart from the rest of the world.
It is true that all individuals have to come to a personal acceptance of Christ for their salvation, but when God says they are sanctified it means that He has set them apart for a concentrated ministration of the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin and bring them to Christ.
By living with a changed, born again individual on a daily basis, 24 hours a day seven days a week, the unsaved spouse or children will witness firsthand the reality of God and His ability to transform a life through the power of a new heart and a new spirit.
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (Greek: behavior) of the wives;” (1Peter 3:1)
God has not only promised to save us but He is has also promised to save our household.
“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)
These Scriptures go on to say, “But if the unbelieving depart let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases.” (1Cor. 7:15) Not under bondage means they have been set at liberty.
First and foremost, God has called us to peace.
The key for a believer to continue in marriage to a non-believer are the verses which declare “be pleased to dwell”,
“But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.”
“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.” (1Cor. 7:14-15)
The unbelieving spouse must accept and be pleased with the changes in the spouse who has become a believer.
In no way does God condone abuse. The Scripture says, “God hath called us to peace.”
There are many men and women of God who have been anointed and called to preach, but because of an unbelieving spouse that has chosen to leave and divorce them, certain religious institutions have forbidden and hindered them from fulfilling their place in the body of Christ.
There are religious organizations and leaders who say “you can’t do this” or “you can’t do that”, ignoring the fact that it is God who has forgiven and God who has justified, and it is God who calls and anoints.
God says, “A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.”
Rest assured that if a believer has been divorced from an unbelieving spouse God has not withdrawn his call or anointing because of that divorce. The Bible says that the gifts and the calling of God are unchangeable.
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Rom. 11:29)
Matthew chapter five verses 33 through 37 instruct us concerning the assurance of our words,
“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:”
“But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:”
“Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.”
“Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.”
“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matt. 5:33-37)
The apparent interpretation of these Scriptures is that God is dealing with swearing and oaths, but the deeper interpretation is that God is dealing with the attitude of pride.
When someone swears an oath such as “I swear on my mother’s grave”, or “I swear to God”, or any other such proclamation, they are really swearing that something “shall be” or “is so” regardless of the circumstances.
By doing such a thing, they are expressing their total dependence upon themselves to make it happen.
This is pride.
We should be saying, “If it is the Lord’s will.”
“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (James 4:15)
The Lord says not to swear by anything, but let your words be simply “yes” or “no”.
In other words, there should be no need to convince anyone by swearing that what we are saying is the truth. As a Christian, our character alone should be all that is necessary for someone to know that what we have said is “yea” or “nay”.
James chapter five and verse 12 tells us,
“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12)
In this verse of Scripture the Apostle James says, “above all things.” This is a tremendous significance to put upon the words that come out of our mouths, especially concerning whether we are “swearing by” something or not.
Why would the Scriptures put such significance on this?
“For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matt. 12:37)
The condemnation that is being spoken of here is the condemnation of the devil. We read in First Timothy chapter three and verse six,
“Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1Tim. 3:6)
The Bible says that God resists the proud.
Pride brings condemnation upon us before the throne of God.
Boastful words come forth from a prideful heart. A non-repentant prideful heart is not walking after the Spirit. We only escape condemnation when we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1)
Revelation chapter 12 and verse ten says,
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Rev. 12:10)
The devil wants to accuse you. The devil wants to condemn you. The devil wants to hinder your prayers.
When we swear or do anything else to reinforce what we have declared, it is an outward manifestation of the pride of self-determination that is in our hearts.
James chapter four verses 13 through 17 declares,
“Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:”
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
“But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.”
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17)
God is beholding and listening to our conversation, for the Bible says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matt. 12:34).
The words we speak are an indicator to us and others of what is really in our hearts.
Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter five verses 38 and 39,
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Mat 5:38-39)
In these verses of Scripture, Jesus is not contradicting the law of the land.
The Law of Moses had said “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
People who committed injury or crimes against another were to be brought before the proper authorities and punishment was to be issued by the appropriate judges in their judicial system.
However, during the times of Jesus many people had taken it upon themselves to avenge their wrongs and they were using the Word of God to justify it.
This is what the Lord is talking about in these verses.
Jesus here is talking to individuals who would later become Christians. They were going to know God as their Heavenly Father.
He tells them to resist not evil. He says that if someone slaps you on one side of your face, then offer them the other also. In other words, forgive them and give them another chance.
Jesus goes on to say in Matthew chapter five verses 40 through 42,
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Matt. 5:40-42)
Jesus is teaching us that instead of avenging ourselves, we should go out of our way to demonstrate to those who would misuse us that, by the Grace of God, we have been changed from someone who would be angry and resist or retaliate.
We have been given a new heart and a new spirit made in the image of His heart and His Spirit. As God’s children, we should act as our Heavenly Father would act.
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4)
In Matthew chapter five verses 43 through 48 Jesus says,
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.” (Matt. 5:43)
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matt. 5:44)
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45)
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matt. 5:46)
“And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” (Matt. 5:47)
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)
Verse 43 is one example of what Jesus called the “vain traditions” of the Pharisees.
They had taken two unrelated Scriptures out of the Old Testament and had put them together to form a tradition.
Leviticus chapter 19 and verse18 says,
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:18)
The unrelated verse which they combined to the verse in Leviticus and formed the proverb “Love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy” is found in Deuteronomy chapter 23 and verse six.
“Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days forever.” (Deut. 23:6)
The Pharisees’ great desire was to appear righteous before men but they had no concern as to how they appeared before God, so they would take Scriptures out of context to vindicate their positions.
Over time these “vindications” became traditions which they lived and taught by. Jesus said that in doing so they made the Word of God of “none effect”.
“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:13)
Another example of this can be found in Matthew chapter 15 verses four through six.
“For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” (Matt. 15:4-6)
The Pharisees had created a tradition that promoted retaliation or hate against their enemies. Retaliation is nothing but fear. It is the attitude of “I have to stop them before they hurt me.” It is an attitude of fear.
However, Jesus said to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”
He went on to say, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
The Bible says in First John chapter four and verse 18,
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1John 4:18)
Charity or love is the doorway to perfection, and the “perfect love” that the Scripture is talking about in First John chapter four and verse 18 is the love that many people call the “agape” kind of love.
This is the “God kind of love” which loves someone even when they may be against us. This is what God did when He sent Jesus. This is what God did when He loved us before we loved Him.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” (1John 4:19)
Colossians chapter three and verses 12 through 14 says,
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” (Col. 3:12-14)
As Jesus said in Matthew,
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
The Bible says that charity is the “joint tie” or bond of perfectness. The Greek words that are translated “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 and “perfectness” in Colossians 3:14 are the words that mean “complete” or “completeness”.
It is only through charity, or “agape” love, by which we can achieve completeness, or full maturity, in Christ.
There are 3 different Greek words which are translated “love” in the New Testament.
The first type of love the Bible talks about is the Greek word “philio”. This love is the type of love that an individual has with his or her spouse or children. This is a familial love or love for family.
The next Greek word translated “love” in the Bible is “agapao”. This is a moral type of love. This is a general type of love or love for all mankind. This is the type of love that creates a willingness to give. It doesn’t mean that you have given but it means that you have a willingness to give.
This is the love that God had when he “so loved (agapao) the world.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
He loved the world with “agapao” love but then He did something about it.
God’s general love for all mankind was transformed into perfect personal love when He gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.
This is “agape” love.
It is created by and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is manifested in us when we walk in the Spirit and do the works of God, when we give.
This is perfect love.
The Bible says we are to put on charity. (Col. 3:14)
So many times people pray, “Lord give me agape love. Give me charity.”
God has already given us the love, the willingness, the desire to give, when he gave us a new heart. When we add works birthed out of that love then it is a fruit of the Spirit for all to enjoy.
Faith without works is dead. Love without doing is not charity.
God gave his Son because He loved, and when He did it His love became agape love.
First Corinthians chapter 13 verses four through seven is the definition that the Word of God gives us for charity.
As we read these verses of Scripture we should substitute our name in place of the word “charity” and let it be a gauge to see if we truly are walking in agape love.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (1Cor. 13:4-7)
When we substitute our name in the place of the word charity, is it a true statement? By the time we come to the end of the verses, we can truthfully answer as to whether we walk in charity or not. This is an inward look at our own heart as we come face-to-face with ourselves.
If we have answered truthfully after taking this little test, we can each admit that we all have a lot of work to do in our own lives concerning agape love.