Romans 7:1-3

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

January 27, 1999


We have seen Paul present the case that man is not made right before God through his own deeds or the keeping of the law, but simply through faith. Our salvation is not a matter of something we’ve earned, it is a "grace", a free, undeserved, gift from God. All we do is trust Him to receive it.

We’ve been looking at the subject of our sin nature and how we are to learn to "reckon" ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God. We "reckon" ourselves dead to sin because we have "died" with Christ.

:1-6 Death to the Law

:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

know ye notagnoeo – to be ignorant, not to know; not to understand, unknown

Are you ignorant brethren?

them that know the law – he could be talking to just Jewish believers here, but the Gentiles may have also been aware of the Law as well.

hath dominionkurieuo – to be lord of, to rule, have dominion over

This is the same word used back in 6:14 –

(Rom 6:14 KJV) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

as long as he liveth – or, "as far as time he is living"

:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

which hath an husbandhupandros – under i.e. subject to a man: married

is bounddeo – to bind, tie, fasten

is loosedkatargeo – to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative

We saw this word used in:

Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Our crucifixion with Christ rendered our sin nature ineffective, inoperative.

When a woman’s husband dies, the law binding her to her husband becomes ineffective or inoperative.

:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress

she shall be calledchrematizo – to transact business; to be divinely commanded or instructed; to assume or take to one's self a name from one's public business; to receive a name or title, be called

The person in town who was a baker became known as "Mr. Baker". Here, the woman who commits adultery is known as "Ms. Adulterer".

Paul is saying that if a woman leaves her husband while he’s still alive, and marries another man, she becomes an adulteress.


Don’t miss the forest for the trees.

The point in this verse is not to teach on divorce and remarriage. The point here is to teach on being released from a marriage through death.

If you want to look at divorce and remarriage, you need to look at Scripture as a whole.

We believe there are two acceptable, Biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage.


Reason #1 - Unfaithfulness

(Mat 19:1-12 KJV) And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; {2} And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. {3} The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

The Pharisees were testing Jesus. There was a prominent teaching at the time that said if you found anything displeasing in your wife, you were allowed to divorce her. It sounds a lot like today’s "irreconcilable differences".

{4} And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, {5} And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? {6} Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Jesus takes His authority on marriage back beyond Moses. God never intended for people to divorce once they were married. God’s original intentions were that a man and a woman stay married their entire lives. When a man and a woman enter into the bond of marriage, you are no longer dealing with two individuals but a single, organic unity.

{7} They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

They are referring to Moses’ instructions on divorce which said:

(Deu 24:1-2 KJV) When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. {2} And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.

{8} He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Moses’ command came only as a concession to the hardness of a person’s heart. Even in the case of marital infidelity, divorce isn’t necessarily the proper answer. God, in his "marriage" to His people has often taken us back after we’ve been unfaithful to Him. But sometimes there comes a point in a spouse’s life when their heart becomes so cold that they can’t take it any more. And God understands that. God allows divorce in this instance, when there has been infidelity and the victim’s heart has become hardened to the point where they can no longer stay with the other spouse.

{9} And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Jesus clarifies His exception to divorce.

"Fornication" (pornea) – sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage.

{10} His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. {11} But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. {12} For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

When the disciples heard Jesus’ reason for allowing divorce, it seemed an awfully hard pill to swallow. They thought that it would be better then not to even get married!

Jesus warned them that not everyone has the ability to stay unmarried.


Work it out.

The whole point is that we need to learn to work it out with our spouse when we’re having difficulties. We are too prone to just leave things when it gets difficult. We quit our job when it gets hard, we get a new car when the old one acts up, we get new friends when the old ones become cranky, we get a new spouse when it gets tough.

We will never grow to be what God wants us to be if we don’t learn to stick it out. Learn the lessons. Learn what you need to learn to get along with the other person. There’s a good chance that at least half of the problem is you. You can’t change the other person, but you can certainly be a part of changing you.

Back to reasons for divorce …


Reason #2 - Abandonment

I have to preface this with saying that not all people accept this as a valid reason for divorce. I do. I believe most Calvary Chapels do. But then again, there are even people who don’t allow infidelity as a reason for divorce.

(1 Cor 7:10-16 KJV) And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: {11} But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

Paul is talking about separation here. In the case of a separation for any reason other than one acceptable for divorce, the idea is to be reconciled, get it worked out. In my experience, separation is a last ditch effort and ought to be done only for a short time. In my experience, the longer the separation, the worse the chance for reconciliation. It becomes too tempting to just quit on the marriage:

(1 Cor 7:5 KJV) Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

{12} 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. {13} And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. {14} 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.

If you are living with an unbelieving spouse, you need to stay with them as long as they want you to. Being "unequally yoked" is not something you want to get into when you marry, but once you’re married it is not a reason to dissolve the marriage. There is a sense in which you bring a measure of protection and holiness to your family as the believer in the house.

{15} 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.

Here is the possible reason for divorce. If the unbeliever wants out of the marriage, you may allow them to leave. But you shouldn’t be the one pushing them out the door.

bondagedouloo – to make a slave of, reduce to bondage

Not being "under bondage" might just mean that you can allow them to leave, but it seems to me the point is not being bound to the person any more, you are free to remarry.

Technically, the situation described is between a believer and an unbeliever. I have heard some pastors teach that even a Christian husband, when he wants out of a marriage, is acting like an unbeliever, and when he leaves, the wife can allow him to. You need to let God speak to you on that. I don’t endorse or stand against it, I only mention it. You need to be careful to do what God is leading you.

{16} For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

This could be taken two ways. It might be a reason to stay as in, "You better not leave the unbelieving husband because you just might be the one who gets him saved!" It also could be just the opposite as in, "You don’t know whether or not you will be the one who saves him, in fact you might be the one in the way, so don’t hold on to him if he’s wanting out of the marriage"