I Divorced and Remarried — How Can I Get Right With God?

By David J. Stewart

       A woman recently wrote to me, saying she had sinfully divorced her first husband and then remarried.  Now she feels guilty, knowing that she sinned by divorcing her first husband.  She said she wants to leave her present husband and go back to her her former husband, but admits she's confused.  She wants to be right with God but doesn't know what to do... Should she stay with her present husband? ...or go back to her first husband which she wronged by divorcing him?

Biblically, she needs to be faithful and loyal to her present husband... "Let not the wife depart from her husband" (1st Corinthians 7:10).  When a woman remarries, the former marriage ends. 

It is important to differentiate between a believer who repents of their sin, and then the sin itself.  2nd Corinthians 5:10 says... "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."  Thus, we all have to give account to God for the good and bad we do in life.  So, although believers can certainly get right with God now by confessing of our sin (1st John 1:9)—the damage and pain caused to others by our sin must be dealt with in Heaven at the Judgment Seat of Christ

Biblically, the woman who wrote to me needs to move on—placing her sins of the past under the sin-cleansing blood of Jesus Christ—doing her best with God's help to make the best of her new marriage.

I explained to her that it's best for her not to have contact with her former husband, as it may cause conflict and temptation within her present marriage.  Here is part of what I told her...

This is a delicate matter.  I would place the situation into God's hands, as there isn't much else you can do.  Your present husband would be devastated if you left him, and it would be a horrible sin.  Two wrongs never make a right.  Howbeit, your former husband is suffering from your sin of divorce, and there is nothing you can do to make amends.  An apology won't suffice, because the only reconciliation most men will accept is a renewal of the marriage.  I certainly wouldn't blame him if he refused to accept an apology, and he is not Biblically obligated to accept one.  Wrongs must be righted, but some wrongs can only be righted by God.  So you cannot win either way.  This is where sin takes us, and I am as guilty as anyone else of being a sinner.  I share your grief. 

Sometimes a convicted criminal in court will ask the parents of a murdered child for forgiveness.  Do they have to forgive?  In this situation, God must resolve the matter.  No parent would be expected by God to accept an apology from one who killed their child, because that child cannot be brought back.  A life has been destroyed.  Now, the parents should forgive the criminal in their hearts, so they don't become hateful themselves; BUT, they don't need to tell the criminal, nor do they have to express any forgiveness, nor should they.  A crime has been committed.  The last word a victim (or the family of the victim) wants to hear is the word "forgiveness." 

All I am saying is that sometimes we must place a matter into God's hands, trusting His wisdom and justice to make amends in eternity.  What else can we do?  Your situation is not uncommon.  What about a mother who aborts her baby... murder?  If she later repents and realizes she committed a horrible sin, she still cannot bring her baby back.  All she can do is make things right with God, and move on, knowing that the sin itself must be accounted for on Judgment Day (Romans 14:12). 

You should claim the promise of Jesus' sin-cleansing blood whenever you feel guilty, "...and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin...." (1st John 1:7).  Yet, you know that you messed up horribly and God must make things right in Heaven, because there is nothing you can do to make things right with your former husband.  God doesn't expect you to do the impossible.  It would be unfair for you to expect him to accept an apology.  You destroyed his life.  If you do attempt to apologize, you need to make clear that you realize that no apology can undo the damage that has been done, and that you realize you will be judged by God for destroying his life.

Love your new husband.  You remarried and need to honor your new vows which supercede the old.

Also, I'd recommend moving to another city if your former husband is still in your area.  You need a fresh start and the peace of mind of knowing you won't bump into him at the shopping mail.  It is sometimes good to burn your bridges.  Of course, this all depends on what your present husband desires, for he is the head of the house.

There's a difference between guilt and having to live with what we've done.  The sinful guilt of a believer's sin needs to be placed under the sin-cleansing blood of Jesus, because that's why Christ came into this world—to save sinners (1st Timothy 1:15).  However, it is normal for us to feel bad about our mistakes, sins and failures we've made in life.  Any tender-hearted person should feel bad about the people they've hurt.  All we can do is place it into God's hands and ask Him to make things right.  Sometimes we can go to the person we wronged and make things right, but sometimes (such as in the case of divorce) we cannot.  Divorce is a sin that perpetuates for a lifetime, i.e., the ill-feelings, emotional scars and many adverse consequences of it.  It's not something that can be resolved by a mere apology.  God must make it right.

Divorce is a Sin!

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