In writing on the topic of the will of God R. C. Sproul made two points that this writer finds of great interest for the born-again who are bound by marriage to someone who has not experienced the new birth in Christ Jesus.
R. C. Sproul’s First Point Regarding the Will of God
First, Sproul said that God has three distinct wills: God’s sovereign decretive will—all that God has decreed since before the foundation of the world. God’s preceptive will—all that God has commanded His children do and what to not do. Finally, God’s will of disposition—that which pleases God.
Insight into these three distinct wills is seen in 1 Timothy 2:4 where Paul explained to Timothy that it is God’s desire for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” It is God’s will of disposition that desires all men to be saved—God takes no pleasure in sending men to their eternal torment. Yet God’s sovereign decretive will has determined that the road to destruction will be much broader than the road to salvation, and we know not why as God has not chosen to tell us the reason. Men harden their hearts against the mercy and grace offered to them. The unregenerate are pleased to practice lawlessness rather than to submit to God’s preceptive will, which commands all men to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ.
R.C. Sproul’s Second Point Regarding the Will of God
Dr. Sproul’s first point on the three distinct wills of God is foundational for proper knowledge and understanding of the second: “God’s sovereign ‘permission’ of human sin is not His moral approval.” Apply this to the discussion of unequally yoked marriages. God has commanded through His preceptive will against all unequally yoked relationships including and especially marriages. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that God is very displeased when His children yoke themselves to unbelievers. The life and death of Jehoshaphat is an excellent example of God’s heart and mind on the faithful joining themselves to or with the godless. A prophet of God asked Jehoshaphat (an eminently godly king of Judah who married off his son to the godless daughter of Ahab and Jezebel), “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord” (2 Chron. 19:2)? This was a rhetorical question—the answer is an emphatic “BY NO MEANS, MAY IT NEVER BE!”
Therefore every regenerate man or woman of God who is married to an unbeliever can be assured that they are outside of God’s preceptive will for He has prohibited unequally yoked marriages scores of times in His word. They are also outside of God’s will of disposition—God is not pleased as bad company always corrupts good morals. It is true that they are in God’s sovereign decretive will (as is every single living being), which is to say that God has allowed them to sin in this godless marriage, but as R. C. Sproul said, “God’s sovereign ‘permission’ of human sin is not His moral approval”.
Most today fail to recognize unequally yoked marriages as godless marriages because the church, in a monumental failure to understand God’s heart and mind on this subject, concocted a man-made doctrine for marriage that defies reason. The pernicious nature of this doctrine is concealed by its Roman Catholic name “holy matrimony”. The church concedes the biblical teaching that unequally yoked marriages are outside of God’s preceptive and dispositional will. Yet inexplicably the church has granted “holy matrimony” the power to sanctify unequally yoked marriages. Does the reader understand what “holy matrimony” has done to God’s prohibition, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers”? The man-made doctrine of “holy matrimony” essentially states that divinely forbidden marriages are mystically transubstantiated into marriages that suddenly earn God’s moral approval. This is like the serpent telling Eve “You certainly shall not die”. It is entirely illogical, utter nonsense. Why the church failed to follow the godly examples of Ezra and Nehemiah who entered into covenants with God to have all the people divorce their godless spouses will forever be a sad chapter for Christ’s church. The church desperately needs to discover its error and correct their doctrine on divorce for the unequally yoked.
It is awful when God’s children fall into sin, but it is infinitely worse for them to continue practicing the sin. Disobedience demands repentance. God never gives His moral approval to a sinful path simply because men stubbornly refuse to turn around. God’s children must always walk in the ways of the Lord. God has made it abundantly clear that marriage between two believers is the way of the Lord. Making a covenant with God to divorce your godless spouse is the biblical and reasonable course for those living in an unequally yoked marriage. Remaining single or remarriage to a genuine believer are both biblically depicted as getting back in line with the will and ways of God.
Believers who choose to remain unequally yoked are only in God’s will by way of His sovereign decrees, which mercifully provides an allowance for their sin. However, they are disobeying God’s command (Preceptive will) against such unions, and all godless unions fall short of the mark of pleasing God (Will of disposition). It is an undeniable truth that those who remain unequally yoked are outside of the will of God. This does not mean that these are unregenerate as they would not be unequally yoked if they were not saved by grace, but they are living in disobedience to the will of God by being unequally yoked in marriage. Christ said, “If you love me, then you will obey my commandments.” How much has their unbelieving spouse thwarted this obedience? Since bad company corrupts good morals, is is unthinkable to believe the regenerate spouse has not been greatly obstructed in their obedience of faith.
For the unequally yoked believer divorce brings God’s child into compliance with God’s preceptive will while, at the same time, allowing them to be more pleasing to God (His will of disposition). Divorce in such cases would also be part of God’s sovereign decretive will; so then, divorce places the unequally yoked believer fully inside of the will of God—all three distinct wills. Finally, God’s prodigal child is back under the Father’s preceptive will and His dispositional will—a joyful place to be, and the place where all of God’s children belong.
THE SWORD OF CHRSIT: Separated From All That Is In the World–No Exceptions
“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” Luke 18:29.
Marriage was given for man, not man for marriage. Remaining unequally yoked, by following the church’s man-made doctrinal teaching that the marriage covenant supersedes God’s commandment against being unequally yoked, extends the years lived with nothing more than God’s permission to sin. And as we have discovered: “God’s sovereign ‘permission’ of human sin is not His moral approval” The path of remaining an unequally yoked child of God remains morally reprehensible to God. Precious Lord Jesus, open the eyes of your church on earth to see the errors of their ways, and show them the path to both corporate and personal repentance.
Biblical view on divorce