Don’t Confuse a Sin with a Covenant! Dr. Joseph A. Webb www.cpr-ministries.org Only God can create a “one-flesh” relationship between a man and a woman. According to Genesis 2:23,24 & Malachi 2:14-16; this one flesh condition is created through the making of a vow, and according to Mark 10:6-12; it is called a covenant for life; which can be broken only by the physical death of one of the partners. (Romans 7:1-3) Any offspring of Adam who has become a part of such a covenant must understand this and realize that either partner can violate this covenant promise of fidelity repeatedly, but it is scripturally impossible to break it. (Luke 16:18) Let me share with you some rationalizations I often hear. "Yes, I know the Bible says remarriage is a sin because marriage is for life, BUT, lifelong marriages represent God’s perfect will, for perfect situations but we have to be practical and realistic about this. Logically, we know we cannot apply these unrealistic standards to life in the twenty first century. To do so would be totally impractical. This would totally eliminate grace. Grace covers all sin." Yes, we agree remarriage is a sin, but if you don’t believe God can forgive that sin of adultery, then you have found ‘another unpardonable sin.’" Have you heard that before: "The unpardonable sin"? I have had many people present that argument to me. Actually, however, there are several answers to such an argument, and you need to know about them. One man said, "I have a friend who has been remarried for 25 years to the same woman. Does the permanence of their present, long term relationship make a difference?" I said, "I’ll answer that if you will answer another question for me first." "How many other sins can you name that tend to die of old age?" Does lying? Sodomy? or Prostitution? Do any of these ever quit being sin if you do them long enough? How does the word of God say we are to classify those who persist in living with anyone other than their first marriage partner, (Even if it is for 50 years.) while their first partner is still alive? In Romans 7:1-3, Paul the apostle called it a perpetual state of "adultery?" (She shall be called an adulterous.) In Galatians 1:8 & 9, Paul, who had supernaturally been given revelation truth directly from Jesus Christ, while in the Arabian Desert; said, "though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be ACCURSED." If we are talking of any sin, the unchanging biblical requirement for forgiveness is not to let it die of old age, but to repent of it, no matter how long it has been going on. It will never change its status; it is SIN! Please know that adultery is SIN; but it is much more than sin. It is the violation of a covenant. I can repent of my sin and be totally forgiven, but repentance and saying you are sorry does not affect, stop or change a covenant. You and I must repent of it, and, if possible, re-establish our relationship through complete forgiveness, or live a celibate lifestyle. Basil the Great (A.D. 375) Basil became “Basil the Great” because of his outstanding personal integrity and holiness as well as his brilliance as a theologian and defender of the faith. When teaching about the permanence of marriage, said: 'The woman who lives with an adulterer is an adulteress the whole time." All of the earliest Church fathers were in total agreement concerning the permanence of marriage covenant. It would be very helpful to review God's attitude about the permanence of covenants. In Joshua 9, Joshua was proceeding to conquer the land promised to the nation of Israel, as God had commanded him to do. He was proceeding as directed, to kill all of the inhabitants of that land. In verse 3, when some of the Amorites, (One of the tribes inhabiting the land that God had commanded Joshua to destroy.) who lived in the city of Gibeon (called Gibeonites) heard that Joshua was coming to destroy them, the scriptures tell us that they decided to deceive Joshua with trickery. They put on old clothes, took moldy bread, old wineskins, worn out shoes, and covered themselves with much dust. Then they rode their camels over the hill to meet Joshua and told him that they had come from a far away land. They proceeded to tell him how they had heard of his great army and his God who was conquering all the nations before him. They caused Joshua to believe they had come from a very distant land to make a treaty with Israel. Please, make note of this important fact: they were lying through their teeth! In Verse 14 it says that Joshua and his men looked at, and were convinced that they were telling them the truth because of their appearance and the condition of their food and garments. The bible says they "didn’t even inquire of the Lord." Instead, vs. 15 says that Joshua and his leaders, " made a peace covenant with them." Immediately; after concluding the covenant agreement, someone found out that they were not from some far away land, but instead, they lived just over the hill. Joshua and his men then realized that they had been lied to. You would think Joshua and his men would have risen up and killed all of them for their lies, and for making them look very foolish. You would think they would have said, like many today would say, "We didn’t know what we were doing, they fooled us." But; but, vs. 18 says, "And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel." These men understood the seriousness of a verbal vow. They didn’t dare touch them. Instead, from then on Joshua not only let them live, but had to protect them from all of their enemies as he and his men had promised they would do in their deceptive covenant agreement. The next time we hear anything about this covenant with the Gibeonites, is three hundred fifty years later, in II Samuel 21:1, where it says; "Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." Evidentially, Saul was upset because there were so many of the Gibeonites working all around the tabernacle as Joshua had required of them, and Saul had many of them killed. The covenant was still in effect and the violation of it carried an enormous price. Remember now; originally, God had commanded Joshua to kill all the inhabitants of the Land. Now, 350 years later, Saul had only killed a few, and the Lord had caused a severe drought to come upon the land of Israel because of that killing spree by Saul. God said the drought was Saul’s fault because he had killed these Amorites. Why would God do that to Israel when He had originally said "kill them all?" It was the COVENANT, and God is a Covenant honoring God! God forgave Joshua's foolishness and carelessness but did not remove the requirements of the covenant. Realizing the violation was real, David asked the Lord how he could resolve the problem. He went to the Gibeonites and declared what the Lord had told him. He then asked the Gibeonites how he, as king, could honourably resolve this violation of the covenant with them, to make atonement for the ones Saul had killed. In accordance with God’s standard for Israel, (if a life be taken, a life must be taken.) the Gibeonites told David to give them seven of Saul’s sons that they might hang them. He did, and they hanged them. In II Samuel 21:14c, is a very shocking and enlightening statement: it says; "And after that (after Saul’s seven sons were hanged.) God was intreated for the land." After the covenant was vindicated, God again answered David’s prayer and ended the drought. Can you imagine how much David must have prayed and wept before the Lord during those three years with no results? What do you think the outcome would have been if David had told the Lord, "That was sin and it has been forgiven." God did nothing until David had made restitution for the violation of the covenant, which was devised in deception; but confirmed by God, because of the verbal agreement (covenant) that was spoken before God, without seeking His counsel. Once the covenant was stated in His presence, it was acknowledged, confirmed and permanently enforced by God Himself. How many times have you heard people try to get out of a promise by saying, "I didn’t know what I was saying," or "I didn’t understand the seriousness of what I was saying at that time." To that, God says; "A covenant is a covenant, is a covenant, and I am a Covenant honoring God." - Even a covenant that may have been born in deception, or through flippancy. (Read: Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21-23; Ecclesiastes 5:4-7; Matthew 5:27).
A FLIPPANT COVENANT: For another example, look at Genesis 25:29. Here we read about Jacob and Esau. Esau had just come in from the field; was very hungry, and asked his brother Jacob for some pottage he was cooking. Jacob evidently, immediately saw an opportunity to take advantage of a very unique situation. In verse 31, he said to his brother Esau, "Sell me this day thy birthright." Esau responded by saying, man, I am starving and you are worried about a birthright? "Big deal!" Jacob, wisely responded in verse 33 by saying: "Swear to me this day." (literally: vow to God that it is mine.) The same verse says; "And Esau swore to Jacob" that he could have his birthright. The end of verse 34 says, "Esau despised his birthright." Many today might say, "That was just two brothers messing around. God certainly isn’t going to get up tight about a little foolish thing like that. A lot of people say dumb things like that and don’t even think about it. I surely hope you wouldn’t try to make a doctrine out of that." They would be absolutely right about one thing: There are millions of young people today who are making vows before God and many other witnesses, during their marriage ceremonies who are later on saying, it really didn’t mean anything, we were just dumb kids and we didn’t know what life was all about. "God certainly isn’t going to hold us accountable for the promises we made in the excitement of young puppy love." Before anyone gets too comfortable with those thoughts, read Hebrews 12:14-17. Here, the writer to the Hebrews, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, spoke God breathed words, that should haunt every person who has treated past covenants lightly. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, AS ESAU, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, HE WAS REJECTED: for he found NO PLACE OF REPENTANCE, though he sought it carefully WITH TEARS." I am sure the Lord forgave Esau for his flippancy and stupidity, but it didn't change the covenant! Copyright 2003 by Dr. Joseph A. Webb. All rights reserved