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High Standards, Abundant GraceHigh Standards, Abundant Grace
by Jim Clark

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    Earlier this month a man sent me an e-mail, asking my views on marriage and divorce. He knows a couple who are in a second marriage and who are now walking with the Lord. They are now struggling with these words of Jesus:

Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32)

    Some minister has convinced this couple that they’re living in sin and thus must get divorced.

    As I struggled about what to tell this man, I came across this tremendous quote from Philip Yancey:

For years I had thought of the Sermon on the Mount as a blueprint for human behavior that no one could possibly follow. Reading it again, I found that Jesus gave these words not to cumber us, but to tell us what God is like... If an earthly father gives his son bread or fish, how much more will the Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him...

Jesus did not proclaim the Sermon on the Mount so that we would... furrow our brows in despair over our failure to achieve perfection. He gave it to impart to us God’s Ideal toward which we should never stop striving, but also to show that none of us will ever reach that Ideal....

The worst tragedy would be to turn the Sermon on the Mount into another form of legalism; it should rather put an end to all legalism.... Thunderously, inarguably, the Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murderers and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves and coveters. We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace. (Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, pp. 143-144)

We must look at this struggle in light of the covenant of grace.
    I say a strong amen to Yancey’s words. I’m not saying that we should take divorce lightly. If you’ve been touched at all by a marital split, you know why God hates divorce. Yet I insist that we must look at this struggle in light of the covenant of grace. As God’s word clearly says, All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24) How desperately all of us need His grace — whether we’re married, divorced, remarried or single! May we all be found in the safety net of God’s grace as we trust in Christ and Christ alone for our redemption. And as we live trusting in Christ, let’s remember the high standards to which he calls us, and the abundant grace by which we find life in Him.

Are you presently experiencing a new life? God’s word says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” This new life is a free gift of God through faith Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about this life that only Jesus can give you, sign up for one of our Bible courses. Wherever you are in life, whatever you’ve done, you can begin again. You may also contact Jim Clark at jimclark@abilene.com if you have questions about becoming a new creation.

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      © 2002, Herald of Truth and Jim Clark, Hope for Life. Used by permission.

      Title: "High Standards, Abundant Grace"
      Author: Jim Clark
      Publication Date: October 15, 2002

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Jim ClarkJim Clark is Response Minister with Herald of Truth and Hope for Life. For more details, click here. You’re welcome to email Jim directly with your prayer needs. His email address is jimclark@abilene.com.


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