Second Marriage, Third Marriage: How the Law Leads to the Need for Grace

Posted: April 7, 2015 in 42-Gospel of Luke

Luke 16:16-18 — Jesus got straight to the point in v. 18 of this passage. It was a growing problem in first century Jewish society just as it is today. Jesus takes us to task right where we live. Divorce. In the previous two verses of this passage, Jesus taught about the fact that the law is not gone much as though we would like to think it is because of grace. We discussed yesterday that the moral parts of God’s law are eternal and will never go away. He uses divorce here as an example of what He meant in the previous two verses. Jesus says, “For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Wow, it doesn’t get much plainer than that. I have sinned. Many of us have sinned. Is there any hope for us who have been divorced?

According to, “In Jesus’ day some of the Pharisees themselves had become permissive, allowing men to divorce their wives on the most trivial grounds. For example, Rabbi Hillel taught that divorce could be justified by a wife spoiling her husband’s dinner. Rabbi Akiba would permit divorce if a man found someone prettier than his wife, making a mockery of the Law. Jesus reaffirms the bond of marriage in no uncertain terms.” Are we any different today? Divorce is rampant today. We treat marriage today like it is a car. When we grow tired of it, we throw it away and trade it in on a new one. Sure, there are divorces where it seems like the best thing for all involved but certainly as well there are far too many divorces for reasons that are completely selfish. I have been divorced twice and have been remarried for 5 years now. I am condemned by Jesus’ words here. Many of us have been wounded in spirit in divorces that we could not prevent. The actions of others caused our divorces. Many of us suffered through marriages that were violent or there was infidelity. Many of paid back infidelity with infidelity. Many of us maybe had second marriages where your kids vs. my kids ripped the marriage apart. All are condemned by Jesus statement. Those of us who have been divorced but yet earnestly are following Jesus are condemned by this statement. Was my second marriage adulterous? Is my current marriage adulterous? Am I now living in sin even though my wife and I have the deepest relationships with Jesus that we have ever had in our lives?

The law condemns me. It is plain and simple. Jesus is saying that the Seventh Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” is still in full force and nothing has changed and says that if you divorce and remarry you have committed adultery. We have seen church people condemned and alienated over this very issue. Even though I desire to be a full-time pastor, many, many, many churches out there will not even give me an interview because I am divorced once much less twice. Not even a sniff. Resume thrown in the trash when my resume mentions step-children. How do we reconcile our world to Jesus if Jesus says himself that divorce and remarriage is the same as adultery.

Although God grants us two reasons, and two reasons only, for divorce because we live in a fallen world. Infidelity is one and being unequally yoked with a unrepentant non-believer who purposely, wantonly, and steadfastly turns away from God. However, he hates divorce. Divorce is a sin. If divorce is a sin, maybe we should look long and hard at who we marry before we marry them but that is a devotional for another day. If divorce is a sin, we are condemned by it. What are we to do? I cannot undo either of my divorces. I am condemned by these sins. The law condemns me. I failed. I am unworthy of the kingdom of heaven on this point alone.

This is where grace comes in. Thank God for grace. Thank God for Jesus Christ as I stand condemned before the law. Jesus calls sinners to himself, forgives them, and sends them into the world washed and cleansed (1 Corinthians 6:11). Jesus, being God in the flesh, believes in the sanctity of marriage. He believes in putting forth effort to make a marriage work. He believes that marriage should be greater than the personal agendas of the two people in the marriage. He believes that we should fight for the sanctity of our marriages. He believes that marriage should be an example of His relationship with us. Love without and agenda. Love that forgives, believes, hopes, and endures. However, at the same time, Jesus puts his arms around those who have failed to keep a marriage together. He loves you and forgives you and calls you to follow him in spite of your past sin or present situation. Sometimes people treat divorce and remarriage are treated as unforgivable sins. They are not.

As says, “Remember Peter’s terrible three-fold denial that he even knew Jesus? Recall also Jesus’ three-fold restoration of the broken apostle: “Feed my lambs … Take care of my sheep … Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). Jesus forgives today, too, and restores you to ministry for him.” Even if you are divorced and have remarried, when we come to Him troubled by our sin, He will forgive us. He will restore us. He reclaims. He restores. He works all things, and I mean all things, together for the good of those who humbly seek Him (Romans 8:28). God has redeemed Elena and me. He has redeemed our marriage. He makes our marriage pure through His forgiveness. He can take your marriage even if it is a second one and sanctify it and purify it, if you are chasing after Him. He can make the murderer clean. He can make the idolator clean. He can make the thief clean. and He can make your second marriage clean and holy through His blood. He can make good on the biggest mistakes that you have ever made and a make you pure and clean. That is the beauty of grace and the need for the law. The law points out our total condemnation by just violating one of the laws just once. Grace covers our penalty deserved and restores us to purity in God’s eyes. He can do that for you second or third marriage. You must seek His forgiveness and He will restore you to purity. Thank God for grace for I am a condemned man before the law without it. Amen.

  1. Dennis says:

    I actually caught something where you wrote that God can sanctify your second or third marriage and make it clean. If so, I am heading right now to rob the nearest bank and will expect God to clean up my sin of theft as I spend the money. Clearly, God will not bind people in an act he calls adultery and will not forgive them of their sin until they end it. The sin of remarriage adultery would then be profitable and God would show no compassion or justice towards the standing first spouse. He also would create a very confusing situation as he elsewhere teaches that to repent is to produce fruit of repentance. If a man can keep a woman he steals, he may keep the fruits of any crime he commits—as long as he apologizes to God. How such a man would ever know he has apologized to God sufficiently is beyond me, particularly when he continues to enjoy the fruits he has stolen after he prays for forgiveness. Please explain to us how this could ever be the case.


    • Mark Bowling says:

      My dear friend, heaven is going to be very lonely place for you if we can only get there by your standards, none of us are worthy of heaven in any way shape or form based on mistakes made, sins committed and so on. You miss the point of grace that comes with repentance over the mess we have made of our lives. I know I am a sinner who has a sentence to hell in the absence of the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ. He can redeem even the murderer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As a sinner thankful for what Jesus has done for me, I will stand on His promises of redemption. I will pray for you as I hope you pray for me!


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