God's Answer to Our Family Problems

The Gospel of Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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How can we overcome our family problems? 1. Seek help from the Healer (vs. 1-2). 2. Turn away from the hardness in our hearts (vs. 3-8). 3. Let God set the standards for our homes (vs. 4-9). 4. Don't be overwhelmed by the obstacles (vs. 10). 5. Be ready to receive God's plan for your life (vs. 11-12).


God's Answer to Our Family Problems

The Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 5:27-32; Matthew 19:1-12

Sermon by Rick Crandall

(Prepared January 13, 2021)


*We have been going through a verse-by-verse study of the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, and today's Scripture in Matthew 5 covers two of the most sensitive subjects in God's Word: adultery and divorce.

*Over in Matthew 19, Jesus spoke again about divorce. There, He was responding to a question from hostile Pharisees, and that passage helps us understand why God is so passionate about these things. That's why Matthew 19:1-12 will be our main Scripture for tonight.

*But please don't tune me out if you have gone through a divorce, or you are struggling in your marriage right now. Most every family here has been affected in some way by divorce. And we all have had problems in our families.

*My dad’s mother divorced my grandfather in 1928, after he had been unfaithful to her. My dad was 8 at the time, with two younger sisters. My grandmother was left to raise 3 children by herself, the youngest around two. My dear mother was divorced around 1935 after one year of marriage. The experience was so bitter that she never spoke to us about it even once.

*My sister has been married to a very godly man for 40 years. His first marriage ended after losing a baby to sudden infant death syndrome. That tragedy tore them apart, and they couldn't put the pieces back together. Of the 7 children in our generation, every one but Mary and I have either been divorced or have married someone who was divorced.

*And let me say that Mary and I are still together after 46 years, not because we are marriage experts, but because of God's amazing grace. By His grace, we have learned some things about real love. And I give all the glory to God for His grace, and the good wife that He has given to me.

*We are not here tonight to judge divorced people. Nobody knows the pain of divorce better than those who have been through it. And God may hate divorce, but He loves divorced people, so let's all listen to what He has to say.

*But before we turn to Matthew 19, we need to look at the Lord's teaching here in Matthew 5:27-32. And this Scripture is clear: Sex outside of marriage is a sin. God's plan is one man and one woman for a lifetime.

*And in vs. 27-30 Jesus said:

27. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.'

28. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

29. And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

30. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

*Notice that Jesus again raised the standard far above Old Testament Law. But He was certainly not telling us to literally gouge out our eye or cut off our hand. That wouldn’t do any good anyway, because the problem isn't with our eyes or our hands. The problem is with our hearts. All sin starts in the heart. As Jesus said in Matthew 15:19, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, (and) blasphemies." All sin starts in the heart, and here the Lord is showing us the seriousness of sin.

*Then in vs. 31-32 Jesus said:

31. "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.'

32. But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery."

*Again, we are not here to beat-up on divorced people. God loves divorced people. But God also hates divorce. Why? -- One reason why is because God designed earthly marriage to be a model of the everlasting relationship Christ will share with His Church in Heaven. Ephesians 5 makes this truth clear.

*Another reason why God hates divorce is because it hurts so many people. Divorce hurts husbands and wives. It hurts parents, grandparents, and it especially hurts children. Nobody knows this better than divorced people. Nobody ever went through a divorce and said, "Boy that was fun. Let’s do it again."

*But the truth is that we all need help in our families. And God's Word can give us the help we need. Please think about this as we read Matthew 19:1-12.


*All families go through problems, but God wants to help us. And in this Scripture, the Lord shows us 5 things to do.


*The Healer is Jesus Christ, and we see Him in vs. 1-2:

1. Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.

2. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.

*Those people needed healing, and they did the best thing they possibly could have done: They followed Jesus. Sometimes we need healing too, and not just physical healing. We need spiritual and emotional healing. We need healing in our families. And nobody can heal like Jesus Christ! Trust in the Lord as your Healer. Trust in the help of God.

*King Duncan told about a little boy in Sunday School who learned about Jesus going to a wedding in John chapter 2. This was the time when they ran out of wine, and Jesus miraculously turned water into wine.

*After class, his dad was curious and asked, "What did you learn from that story?" The little boy thought for a moment and gave this great answer: "If you're having a wedding, make sure Jesus is there." (1)

*You will never get better advice. Sometimes our problems seem overwhelming, but the Lord can help us like no one else can. How can we overcome our family problems? Seek help from the Healer.


*The biggest problem we see in these verses is hard hearts.


*In vs. 3, "The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?'" Those Pharisees went to Jesus to test or temp Him. They weren't there to get wisdom, guidance, or help. They were there trying to trip up Jesus and embroil Him in a controversy.

*The law they asked about is found in Deuteronomy 24:1. There God's Word says, "When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house."

*It was generally easy for a Jewish man to divorce his wife. And I was surprised to learn that divorces were common among the Jews of the Bible. Wives usually couldn't initiate a divorce. But if she wanted to, a wife could very easily provoke her husband into taking the first step.

*The divorce decree itself was about 10 lines long, and it required two witnesses. Here is the three-step process:

-The husband had to write her a Bill of Divorce drawn up by some legal authority.

-The decree had to be placed in the hand of the divorced wife.

-And she had to go.

*Wow! That was it.

*Controversy arose between two schools of the Pharisees. The Shammai school held that nothing less than unchastity or adultery could justify a man divorcing his wife. Hillel and his disciples went to the other extreme. They believed divorce should be granted for the flimsiest of reasons, such as messing up supper by overcooking it or by using the wrong seasoning.

*Other valid reasons for divorcing your wife included her going out on the street with her hair loose, spinning around in the street, flirting with a man or being a noisy woman. What was a noisy woman? It was one who spoke in her own house so loudly that the neighbors could hear her. (2)

*This was the world that Jesus lived in. And this was the controversy the hard-hearted Pharisees tried to use to trip up the Lord. The Pharisees were there because their hearts were hardened against Jesus. They rejected the true Messiah and only Savior of the world.

*Our world today is full of people like those self-righteous men. And if there is even a whisper of that kind of thinking in your heart today, turn away from it!


*In vs. 4-6 Jesus responded to the Pharisees, and the Lord simply took them back to the beginning. He took them back to God's plan in the Garden of Eden.

4. And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,'

5. and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?

6. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.''

*But in vs. 7 they said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?'' And in vs. 8 Jesus replied, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so."

*What causes divorce? That's a very important question, because in 2018 there were close to a million divorces in our country, and the US divorce rate skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. (3)

*Lee Raffel and Jean Houston gave these common reasons for divorce:

-Chronic abuse -- both sexual and physical.

-Chronic substance abuse.


-Trust betrayed by deception, lies, and emotional or physical abandonment.

-Verbal brainwashing, which impairs self-worth.

-And personal safety and protection of children. (4)

*Other top reasons for divorce include money problems, poor communication, change in priorities, intimacy issues and lack of commitment. (5)

*We could list many more reasons for divorce, but Jesus boiled all of them down into one reason: A hard heart. Whenever a couple gets divorced, at least one of them is making decisions with a hard heart.

*We all need to repent and realize that God can change our hearts! He can help us see things in a brand-new way, and that's what the Lord wants to do.

*How can we overcome our family problems? Turn away from the hardness in our hearts.


*When it came to God's standards for divorce, again, Jesus took these men back to the beginning. He took them back to God's plan in the Garden of Eden. Please listen to the Lord again in vs. 4-6:

4. And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,'

5. and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?

6. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.''

*Jonathan McLeod gave this insight: "In the book of Genesis we are told that God made man, and at that time man was alone. Perhaps the Lord let Adam be alone for a long time to let him know he was missing something.

*Then Scripture says that God took a rib from Adam, and from that rib, God made a woman. In Genesis 2:18, she is called a 'help meet for him.' That means a help that was fitting for him. In other words, she was to be the other half of him. He was only half a man without her, and she was to be the other part of him." (6)

*Aaron Burgess added this: "Marriage was intended to bring humans happiness. In Genesis 2:23, we read that when Adam saw Eve he said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.'

*Someone called this the first love song. In the original language Adam is expressing a tremendous excitement, a joyous astonishment at being married to this woman.

*His statement could read more like this: 'I have finally found the one who can complete me! -- the one who takes away my loneliness, who will be as dear to me as my own flesh. She is so beautiful! She is perfectly suited to me. She is all I will ever need.'" (7)

*This was God's original plan for marriage. And Jesus pointed them back to His plan. But there was more. As the Lord often did, He raised the bar far beyond the Old Testament law.

*So in vs. 7-9:

7. They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?''

8. He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

9. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.''

*This is God's standard for marriage. And the question is: Who is going to set the standard for our lives? Tragically, a new study shows that a record low of only 6 percent of Americans hold a biblical worldview.

*The shocking findings are from the American Worldview Inventory 2020 survey conducted by veteran researcher George Barna. The Christian Post reported that "the survey asked 51 worldview questions that examined both what people believe and how they conduct their lives." (8)

*I surely hope that survey is wrong, and maybe it is because they only surveyed 2,000 people. And many Christians are reluctant to share their beliefs with a stranger on the phone, -- especially in 2020!

*Everybody needs to let God set the standards for their lives. But what if we fall short of God's standards? And we will. What are we to do? God says to confess and repent, and trust in the Lord who died for our sins.

*God is never surprised. Jesus Christ knew all about our sins when He died on the cross for us. He will certainly forgive anyone who turns to Him and trusts in Him for forgiveness and salvation. Trust in the Lord to save you. Then daily renew your commitment to live up to His standards of goodness, faithfulness, and love.

*How can we overcome our family problems? Let God set the standards for our homes.


*Life can be overwhelming. The Peanuts cartoon character, Charlie Brown once said: "I've developed a new philosophy for life. I only dread one day at a time." (9)

*Do you ever feel that way? Life can be overwhelming. In vs. 10, the Lord's disciples compared Christ's perfect standards with their own imperfections, and they were overwhelmed. So in vs. 10, "His disciples said to Him, 'If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.'"

*Have you ever been so intimidated that you wanted to give up before you even got started? The job or need or situation seemed too big to tackle. But God doesn't want us to be overwhelmed! God wants us to follow His will in faith, even when the task seems impossible. How can we overcome our family problems? Don't be overwhelmed by the obstacles.


*Again in vs. 10, the disciples were overwhelmed by God's strict standards for divorce. And they told Jesus, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry."

*Please notice the Lord's response in vs. 11-12:

11. (Jesus) said to them, "All cannot accept (or receive) this saying, but only those to whom it has been given:

12. For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.''

*This is a difficult Scripture, but there is something here for us to take home today, so let's take a look at these verses. First, we see that some people are born with serious health problems. And some people are abused by evil men.

*These things are certainly not God's perfect will or His plan. We know this because Jesus taught us to pray this way to our Heavenly Father: "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This hasn't fully happened yet. But one day those prayers will be answered to the fullest in a most glorious way!

*Until then, God has the best possible plan for our lives. You may have been born with serious health problems. But God has a great plan for your life. And you may have been abused by some evil people. But God has a great plan for your life.

*Stand on God's promise in Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

*Verse 12 also tells us that God's plan may be for us to stay single. The Apostle Paul was certainly called to be single. So was missionary Lottie Moon for another example, and countless other devoted Christians.

*Jesus said, "He who is able to accept it, let him accept it." And there is something for all of us in that word "accept" or "receive." The word picture is "making space," giving God room to work in our lives. And that's what God wants us to do. He has a plan for each of our lives, and we should trust Him to fulfill it. Be ready to receive God's plan for your life. Give God room to work.

*I love the story Bruce Howell told about a young lady's conversation with a preacher. He had come to her church to preach a revival, and they talked about her dedicating her life to the Lord. She said, "I don't dare give myself totally to the Lord. He might send me out as a missionary to China!"

*The preacher replied: "If some cold, snowy morning a little half-frozen bird came pecking at your window, seeking shelter. And the bird would let you take it in, putting itself entirely in your power. What would you do? Would you grip it in your hand and crush it? Or would you give it shelter and warmth and food and care?" A new light came into the woman's eyes and she said, "Oh, I see now. -- I can trust God."

*Two years later their paths crossed again, and she reminded the preacher about their conversation. She told him that she had completely given herself to God. Then her face lit up with a bright smile. "Guess where He's sending me?" she said, -- "To China!" (10)


*We can trust God to take care of us too! So, give God room to work in your life, and He will show you what to do. Keep trusting in the Lord. That's the best thing we can ever do to overcome the problems in our families.

*And as we bow for prayer, remember that God knows exactly what we are going through today, and Jesus loves us more than we love ourselves. Cast all your cares on Him.

(1) Sermons.com illustration from King Duncan - Topic: Marriage

(2) Adapted from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Divorce in Old Testament

(3) Sources:


-US divorce rates skyrocket amid COVID-19 pandemic - By Elizabeth Rosner - September 1, 2020 - https://nypost.com/2020/09/01/divorce-rates-skyrocket-in-u-s-amid-covid-19/

(4) From "Should I Stay or Go? How Controlled Separation Can Save Your Marriage" by Lee Raffel and Jean Houston - Source: "Fresh illustrations" by Jim Wilson - fi052901 - FreshMinistry.org

(5) Source was www.associatedcontent.com/article/35097, but link is dead

(6) SermonCentral sermon "Being Submissive in Days of Rebellion" by Jonathan McLeod - 1 Peter 2:13-3:12

(7) SermonCentral sermon "Three Essentials for a Happy Marriage" by Aaron Burgess - Ephesians 5:1-2

(8) "Record Low 6 Percent of Americans Adhere to a Biblical Worldview, New Study Shows" by Milton Quintanilla - Contributor for ChristianHeadlines.com - Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/milton-quintanilla/record-low-6-percent-of-americans-adhere-to-a-biblical-worldview-new-study-shows.html

(9) www.kevinfitzmaurice.com - Source: In Other Words - September 2009 #1 - Produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - www.iows.net

(10) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Bruce Howell

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