Many, many, many Christians are terribly confused, frustrated, and beat down over various teachings on the subject of divorce and re-marriage. My recent personal testimony about my own divorce and re-marriage has sparked a great deal of questions and comments on various YouTube videos I posted. In this post I wish primarily to address the legalists who are tormenting many God fearing Christians who have gone through divorce and who have suggested that I am twisting Scripture to accommodate my life choices. As you will see in this story below, I have no need to defend myself personally. My Father has spoken clearly on my behalf and has honored me more than I deserve. However, not all growing Christians are able to defend themselves on this overwhelming subject and they are begging for help.
As a defender of the defenseless, I wish to share a story that will shut the mouths of the stiff necked, ignorant of the Spirit, "Pharisees" that hurt so many Christians making them feel shame, guilt and condemnation. If any legalistic minister or individual wishes to debate this topic with me because they are so clever and so knowledgeable about doctrine, they should be prepared to answer the following two questions from me before I will discuss the first issue of doctrine. Psalm 148:15 teaches us that God is near to all who call upon him in truth. When a person calls upon God in error, in disobedience, or not from their heart, the Father will not be near them. Is God near you?
Victims of false teaching and legalism can only have a relationship with the Bible, doctrine, church, and Christianity (none of which can save you or grant you the abundant life), but they will not and cannot have a relationship with the living Jesus Christ. I wish to illustrate the power of this teaching of Jesus by showing you the reverse of Jesus' teaching in John 14:21-23. I have added the "does not" phrases for the purposes of showing the gravity of this teaching.
21 Whoever does not have my commands and does not keep them is the one who does not love me. The one who does not love me will not be loved by my Father, and I too will not love them and will not show myself to them.” 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. My Father will not love them, and we will not come to them and we will not make our home with them.
So, according to Jesus, if I, Michael Chriswell, am deceived and not obeying His teachings (including his teaching on divorce) then he will not show himself to me by His divine providence and His working hand and power in my life. He will also not make his home with me by His Holy Spirit. I will have no sense of His close presence in my life and no experiential relationship with him in spite of his promise in John 7:17 and his statement that the disciples knew the truth through experience in John 17:7. This also means I will not have life to the full in Christ (John 10:10).
What about you Mr. or Mrs. Legalist? Do you have the commands of Christ and are you obeying them? If I quiz you, can you tell me more than 25 of the 113 actionable commands of Jesus Christ? You call yourself a Christ follower, so what did Christ teach? Are you obeying His teachings intentionally and diligently from your heart and out of your love for him? Will your righteousness surpass that of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law (Mat 5:20). Jesus said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." Do you have them? Are you obeying them? If you answered yes, then you will certainly know Jesus through experience like I do and you will certainly be walking in the abundant life as described below and you won't dismiss the acts of God's providence in my life as delusion or simply say, "I've never seen God do that, so it must not be true." You've never seen a burning bush, or a talking donkey, or a hand appear and write on the walls, or water come from a rock, or an ax head float to the surface of the water, or the oil in a jar never run out, someone walking on water, or someone being healed from another person's shadow, the sound of God's voice coming from the heavens, so they must all not be true either. George Muller prayed in nearly $100,000,000 pounds for taking care of 10,000 orphans without ever asking or hinting to another man for a dollar, but since you've not had that experience it must not be true and especially since it's not in the Bible.
So you are very proud of how much Bible doctrine you have mastered and you are certainly glad that you are not like us divorced Christians, but let me ask you. What does the fruit in your life and heart look like and who can I talk to in your life that will testify to it? Jesus said, that I can know your tree by it's fruit. Tell me dear clever legalist, "Do you have life to the full in Christ in your heart or do you simply have a head full of doctrine?" Do you have divine provision and no worry in your life? (Mat 6:31-34). Do you have rest for your weary soul or are you restless? (Mat 11:28-30) Do you have contentment and no thirst and hunger for the things in the world or do you still love the things in the world? (John 4:13-14) Do you have freedom from sin? Have you overcome your temper, your lust, your addictions, your love of money, your need for control, your own will, etc? (John 8:31-36) Do you have a peace that surpasses all understanding even when the bottom falls out? (John 14:27) Do you have an abundance of answered prayers and fruit that lasts in your life? Are you fruitful for Christ? Is God using you to change the lives of those around you, for Christ? (John 15:5-8) Is your joy complete? (John 15:9-11). As with every truly obedient Christian, I am able to answer yes to all of those promises and there are no shortage of people in my inner circle who can testify to it. I am not testifying on my own behalf alone. You are clever, but are you free?
Maybe your circumstances are pretty comfy in your life today. What if God took away everything you had tomorrow? Would you still have the seven promises that come with the abundant life in Christ? I lost everything and I know a joy and peace that is unexplainable with words. As Peter said, it is an inexpressible glorious joy. But how can this be since I'm a sinful and deceived divorced Christian who twisted God's word so I could accommodate my sinful flesh and remarry. I challenge you to read the story below Mr. Legalist and see if you can still hold on to your stones by the time you finish.
Sample Comments on my YouTube Divorce Videos and My Responses:
Agape Love: I am very judgmental of re-marriages while spouses are still alive because of Romans 7:1-4. And I do everything according to what is WRITTEN in Gods holy word so I ask for Scriptures that say clearly that we can remarry. I know you shared first Corinthians 715 to me before but I have not heard from God as to letting me know that that is the scripture that tells us we can remarry. Plus you talked about how you married your first wife in the flesh. Well first Peter chapter 3 talks about an unequally yoked marriage so obviously they were both equally yoked in the world before the wife got saved. But because we become Christians first, God says to marry a believing spouse. I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say here!!
Joey Brown: Michael, you are interpreting the Bible through your personal experience. You wrest the scriptures to fit your situation.
+Agape Love Hello Agape. I'd like to try to help you if I can. Legalistic thinking is one of the hardest chains to break, but with God all things are possible, and the Lord has given me a story that shuts the mouth of the devil and the legalists. I'd like you consider two things. 1. The same old covenant where God says "He hates divorce" (Malachi 2) is the same old covenant where the largest divorce in human history is ordered by the same God (Ezra 10). Now supposing I read the Old Covenant and said, "God hates divorce and there is NEVER a good time for divorce or a time where God would approve of it." I would be absolutely wrong because I was absolutely ignorant of the "also written's" (like what Jesus said to Satan). Truth in the Bible is like a bird. A bird cannot fly without two wings or it will fly in circles. The same is true for Scripture. You have to look for the "also written's" and with the help of the Holy Spirit gain the understanding to reconcile them together to see the whole truth.
2. Imagine after the following experience I have now walked through with God, someone still trying to tell me that I have sinned against Him by remarrying as a divorced Christian.
After the Father gave me specific instructions not to resist my ex-wife divorcing me (Mat 5:39) and to let the unbelieving spouse leave (1 Cor 7:15), to fire my attorney and put my whole future in his hands by trusting Him alone in the divorce battle. He told me that if I trusted Him for my defense, He would do this in a highly unusual way that would bring him much glory.
Then imagine him showing me the #666 over 150 times (click on post image at the very top for a large sample view) throughout the divorce warning me of each and every attack, to the point where even unbelievers saw it so often and finally said they could no longer deny God was speaking to me this way. He warned me every single time my ex or her attorney struck, just as he did Paul (Acts 20:23) . Then imagine Him showing me 777 over 100 times behind the 666's because I feared and obeyed Him and he was giving me guidance in my affliction (Psalm 25:12, Job 36:15). Then imagine my ex spending nearly $80k to destroy me in divorce court and my family thinking I'm certain to end up in jail since I fired my attorney and because I won't be able to pay all the money ($4,500/month) they are demanding from me.
Then imagine my divorce ending on the 777th day with a MIRACULOUS deliverance and an order for me to pay my ex $1/month in alimony and not being ordered to pay a single penny in child support more than I was already paying (even though I want to pay even than the court had ordered). Have you ever heard of such a thing in your entire life, where God tells someone in advance the EXACT DAY their divorce would miraculously end with a spectacular and impossible deliverance? No you have not and nothing like this is even in the Bible, so therefore it must not be true. I'm as the atheists say, suffering from my god delusion. Have you ever heard of a court ordering $1/mo for life in alimony? Then imagine after the Holy Spirit had told me to "count the days" so that I would see He ended it on the 777th day and then the night I'm on my knees in tears thanking Him for this miracle, He tells me to read page 777 in my bible and reading what I read. Click on the picture above to read it yourself. This is directly from my NIV Study Bible. But since you've never seen anything like this in your church, your life, or your Bible training, it certainly must not be true, right?
What's even more amazing? God knew I was going to need this limited edition 10th Anniversary Study Bible with this exact information on page 777, 13 years earlier. This Bible was given to me by my Judas, the man who would ultimately betray me shortly after kissing me on the cheek (literally) and telling me how proud of me he was that I was trying so hard to get along with his stubborn daughter. The same man who gave me this Bible and who wrote these words on the inside cover, would soon turn against me and spend nearly $80k when it was all done to try to destroy me. The same man who now repeatedly tells my children I am the devil and that they will grow up to be a loser just like me (But of course because I trusted God, the children know these are lies and Grandpa is an angry man who is not a true Christian). However, that man's betrayal has become the most incredible blessing in my life. It led me to my crucifixion of my old life and then to my resurrection (a new nature and filled with the Holy Spirit). Praise God for my enemy! Without Judas, we would have no crucifixion or resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Then imagine that God commands me to start telling the divorce story and building a video long before I knew the final outcome. Once the end was written I put the story on the internet in a few places and God started using it to save people's lives, saves their souls, strengthen their faith in Christ, cause people to surrender and obey Jesus Christ and give their life fully to Him. Take all of that and then say, "But, Michael has sinned...Michael has displeased the Lord...Michael is a divorced deceived Christian who twisted Scripture so he could remarry...He will surely face judgment."
Then try to imagine that same "deceived" divorced sinner (me), crying out to God asking if I can ever marry again. Then God gave me a miraculous providential sign 5.5 years ago that I would be loved and married again. But that had to be just a delusion because God never allows Christians to divorce and he certainly would never tell them they could marry again. But nevertheless, I say no to dozens of opportunities to date and to the pressure from others to remarry over those years because I was committed to waiting for God's timing and God's BEST. People thought I was crazy, but I trusted my Father.
Then imagine Him showing me the number 212 hundreds of times in those 3.5 years as a reference to Psalm 21:2, letting me know that He had granted me the desire of my heart and had not withheld the request of my lips. Then imagine after waiting exactly 40 months (40 is a time of completion throughout the Bible) God brings the promised woman into my life who He has chosen to be my wife. He chose her from all the way across the world, in a country of 1.3 Billion people. I didn't have to make this happen or try to manipulate my circumstances. I didn't have to go looking for her, get on a dating site, ask people for help, or find a matchmaker, etc. NO, All I had to do was obey my Father and wait until He acted on my behalf (Isa 64:4). But since you've never seen God do supernatural things in your life and act in your behalf, my experience must be a a deception so surely all this will not come to fruition. This is just a delusional figment of my warped imagination. Keep reading just to humor yourself Mr. Legalist.
Then imagine that the woman God picked matches the 16 point list I had made 3 years earlier in my ideal wife by 100%. Then imagine 36 barriers and obstacles between Michael and his new wife to be that could NEVER be overcome unless God truly had done this and unless He would help them.
One such obstacle was that the Indian government would not allow us to register for the marriage unless I was present and I was obviously not. The problem was that I could only be in India for 28 days on a visa and the government requires a 30 day advance notice of the registration before they will actually conduct the required ceremony and register it. This did not give me enough time to fly there, sign the notice, and then wait 30 days to do the ceremony and get it registered. If I flew there and couldn't marry her because of this requirement, the trip would be a disaster. Nonetheless, God told me to move forward on February 12, 2016. That is 212, but surely that was just a coincidence right? I mean there's no way God talks to people like this and besides I not only didn't yet have the resources to fly to India and stay for a month, but I also had no way around the Indian Government's requirement, so I must not have heard from God. But, in my delusional schizophrenic state, I decided to obey the crazy voices in my head and trust this delusion I was calling the God of the Bible.
In faith, I put my toe in the water and the waters immediately receded from flood stage (Joshua 3:15). Within 24 hours I was provided (without asking a single human being) all the money I needed for a wedding ring set, plane tickets, and accommodations to India. But surely that was just a lucky break...pure coincidence ya know, because God doesn't still do miracles or get this involved in his children's lives. He's just a distant, grumpy old tyrant who's watching to make sure you look down your nose at all the people who aren't following the law. He's not a God we can even really please or enjoy as you already know. Instead, we just have to keep following all those laws and rules and hope we make it without any real assurance or any personal relationship with our Loving Heavenly FATHER, right Mr. Legalist?
Even though we got lucky and the delusion worked out, we still had another major obstacle. What are we going to do if I fly to India and we can't get married. We would never be able to start the visa process and the entire trip would be a disaster. Once again, we decided to trust the delusional voice (we call Him the Holy Spirit). He told us to keep moving forward and He would deliver us. But how could God get around the Indian Government who had already told my wife no, six times on six separate visits? He asked us to go one more time and on the 7th visit by my wife, God changed the heart of the man we call "Pharaoh" and be broke the Indian Government rules without us having to pay a bribe or do anything else. The number of days between the purchase of the plane tickets and the date of arrival was also 40 days, but as you already know Mr. Legalist, this is just pure coincidence. God doesn't do these kinds of things, especially for divorced Christians, those dirty dogs! He doesn't help with the other 35 obstacles that we had to overcome either and that we are preparing to write in a book because they are so amazing.
So again, just imagine me making over 600 recordings (personal sermons) for people who email me over the 3.5 years from around the world. Then imagine that the MOST GODLY one of all of them happens to be the wife he has chose for me. Are you starting to get the picture...this is ALL just a delusion of my sinful and warped mind. I have twisted the Scriptures and created my own God, who happens to be able to work miracle after miracle on my behalf and tell me things that will happen before they actually do (John 14:29).
Setting all sarcasm aside now, Agape Love can you honestly still say God is displeased with me and I'm condemned? Maybe you can, but the fruit of Christ in my heart and life cannot. I have EVERYTHING Jesus promised me in the abundant life. How many Christians do you see (even never divorced one's) that can say they truly possess life to the full in their hearts (provision, rest, contentment, freedom from sin, peace, fruitfulness, answered prayers, and their joy made complete). The Letter KILLS, but the Spirit brings life sister (2 Cor 3:6). The letter is killing your soul right now. You will NEVER know the peace and joy that has NOTHING to do with your circumstances until you get out of this legalistic thinking sister. Ask God to help you see the whole truth. What was more important to God, my STAYING MARRIED to a stiff necked woman who resisted the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) in her life and mine, or the THOUSANDS of his children that are now being touched and the HUNDREDS of people lives that are literally being changed as a result of MY DIVORCE? To believe what you believe, I would have to believe God would have rather that I stayed in the dead marriage (not like I even had a choice since she divorced me) and rob Him of all the GLORY that he is now receiving all over the world. Think of just the suicide prevention alone that have resulted from my telling the story. Would God rather those people be dead and in hell, so that I could still be in my first dead marriage and NOT DIVORCED.
Does God hate divorce more in my life than he does the devil's destruction in hundreds of other's people's lives I'm connecting with? No, God doesn't want people to get divorced, and NO God doesn't want people leaving marriages for the ridiculous reasons people ended marriages in the Bible days. I don't either. But don't you see that God is more interested in preserving HIS GLORY through one of the partners who follows him than He is in preserving an unequally yoked bad marriage that prevents the obedient spouse from bringing him glory. If a Christian is taking the Lord serious and following hard after Christ, and if the marriage is getting in the way of His glory, you shouldn't be surprised if God runs off the unbelieving spouse just as he did mine. God is NOT a legalist, and God is not afraid to remove people that are getting in the way of his plans. He removed Lot's wife, Abigail's husband, Abraham's Hagar and Ishmael, Tamar's husband, Ananias from Saphira, etc. Remember Jesus said he came to bring a sword NOT peace. He came to divide and a man's enemies will now be the members of his own house (Mat 10:34-39). It is divided between those that truly follow Him and those that don't. A house divided against itself CANNOT STAND (Mark 3:25). Jesus said, "Whoever is not with me is against me; whoever does not gather, scatters."
I wonder how many people stay in DEAD marriages that God didn't put together or that He doesn't even consider a marriage in his eyes? How many of those people are being held back from the purpose of God in their life, by an evil spouse who (is not actually WILLING to live with them in such a way as to give the believing spouse the full freedom to follow Christ) and who would experience a breakthrough and revival in their heart and life if they finally and fully obeyed Christ. I know what you are thinking, "If two people got married then God put them together and it is His will that they honor their commitment and stay together." If I went and started a business tomorrow, and was bankrupt and out of cash in three years, would that be God's will? No, because I have clear instruction from the Lord on what His plans for my life are and they do not involve starting a business. But suppose I couldn't hear him like I can and I thought for sure if everything just so happened to work out with starting the business, then I would know "God did this." But then I run it into the ground because he allowed me to experience the consequences of my foolish choice to act apart from his will. Would God say to me, "Even though you made this commitment to be in business apart from my will, you can never stop being a business persona and you have to stay in this failed business forever? No, the man would admit his mistake, repent of his sinful and foolish choice and God would eventually lead him out of the mess, making sure he never forgot the lessons of his poor and foolish choice. I'm tell you, marriage is no different. Just because two people fell in love, walked down the isle, bought a house, had children, doesn't mean than ANY of it was God's will. Many Christians like me were immature or deceived and they put their marriages together against God's will and of course He allowed it to happen just like he would allow me to start a business tomorrow if I insisted and then eventually because he would allow me to experience the painful consequences (Heb 12:5-11).
If a Christian who has made this marriage mistake would repent and fully follow the Lord, surrendering their entire life to Him, I'm telling you that God would either change the other spouse, or DIVIDE THAT HOUSE and the marriage would fall. The believing spouse would then be free to fulfill the purpose of God in their life, just like I am now doing. God knows I didn't know Him or have light on his truth when I put together my first marriage at a godless 21 years of age. And do you think God is going to punish me (not allowing me to remarry) when my unbelieving spouse leaves? Is that really the heart of my Father, to punish ME for the sins of my ex-wife and for her stubborn unbelief. Will God say, "Michael, yes she divorced you and yes I know she hated me, but now you cannot ever remarry because it's a sin? No, the Bible says I am no longer bound (1 Cor 7:15).
Any spouse who calls them-self a believer and then leaves for reasons other than abuse (See Malachi 2 in the NIV where God sees harming a spouse that we are to protect, as unfaithfulness), or adultery, is not a true believer (See Titus 1:16). Abandonment of the marriage is unfaithfulness! God says if your spouse dies you can remarry. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART IS RIGHT HERE MY FRIEND: God considers unbelievers as DEAD, and that is why the believing spouse can also remarry! See Matthew 8:22, Mat 22:32, Mat 23:27, Rom 11:15, Eph 2:1, Eph 2:5, Eph 5:14, Col 2:13, 1 Tim 5:6, Jam 2:26, Rev 3:1 (Read each of these Scriptures slowly) Yes, the legalistic lifeless and heartless Pharisees want to stone me, but God has chosen to love and honor me. Praise be to Him!!! Obey his teachings and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:31-32. May the Lord fill you with all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may know him and his peace more and more and He will be glorified in YOUR life too! There is no place in heaven for legalism (Mat 5:20) or for Christians who know only the Bible or doctrine, but who do not know Him (Mat 7:21-27)!