Lie Number Three: I do not have biblical grounds for divorce, therefore if I get a divorce God will remove his Spirit from my life because of my disobedience.
If I am going to be of any help to anyone I need to be honest, and so I am going to let you all in on a little secret. I used to be a legalist. I wasted most of my life trying to please God by my good works, and I expended a tremendous amount of energy trying to earn his love and favor. I imagined him up in heaven, poised with pen and clipboard in hand, just waiting to put an X in my “sins” column as he watched my every move with a critical eye. Up until recently, I did not understand why I held this false view of God, and to be honest, I didn’t know my view was false. I now know exactly where these lies came from – but let’s save that for a little later.
Back to my legalism problem. My marriage turned violent immediately after I said “I do.” It was shocking because I thought I had married my knight in shinning armor. As it turns out, I had married a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I put my nose to the grindstone and vowed to pray my way through my circumstances so that I could stay in God’s good graces. And something interesting happened. The longer I stayed in my abusive situation, the more self-righteous I became. I became very puffed up with pride because I was bearing my cross like a good Christian. I secretly judged any woman who left her marriage even though I had no idea what was going on in her home. “What a wuss,” I would say to myself as my private identity of martyr for Jesus began to take shape. I thought that my submittal to abuse in marriage was a pleasing aroma of obedience before the Lord, when in reality my religious pride was wafting to heaven as a stinking, rotten stench in the nostrils of my good God. I actually believed that there was something I could do to add to Christ’s work on the cross! What lunacy. What delusion.
Even though I had resigned myself to living in abuse for the rest of my life so that I could maintain my relationship with God through obedience, I secretly hoped that my husband would have an affair. That was marital unfaithfulness and that was my ticket out of my private hell. I could keep the law and escape my batterer all at the same time. Then came the pivotal moment of my life. My husband told me that he was going to kill me. His eyes were filled with unadulterated hatred and disdain as he spewed his threat, and I knew in that moment that he was capable of carrying through with his threat without any remorse. So I did what any reasonable legalist would do. I drafted a will, increased my life insurance policy for the sake of my kids, and I resigned myself to an untimely, violent death at the hands of the man who had vowed to love and cherish me. This may sound crazy, but I am convinced that I am not the only battered woman of faith who has stayed in her abusive marriage because of thoughts like these. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit intervened and spoke to me tenderly as I sat on my bathroom floor weeping. “This is going to happen,” said the small still voice. “It doesn’t have to. Run to me.” Thus began my journey out of the darkness. For me, my “stepping out of the boat” moment was fleeing from my abusive marriage. It was a massive step of faith for me. I let go of the law, and I let go of the false sense of security that I gained from keeping the law. Instead, I fixed my eyes on Jesus as I took one precarious step after another toward him, while walking on the raging sea to freedom. I learned some crucial things as I walked on that raging sea, and he wants me to share what I learned with you.
Newsflash: We no longer live under the law. I don’t know about you, but if my neighbors saw me breaking a pigeon’s neck and sprinkling the blood on an alter or sacrificing a bull, PETA, the Chanel Nine News Team, and the police would be at my doorstep – and with good reason. God no longer requires blood sacrifices in order to maintain an open relationship with him. Why? Let’s look at what the Apostle Paul, (speaking about Jesus), has to say: “First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:8-11) Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, and by his death and resurrection we enter into the new covenant of his blood. He has fulfilled the law and we have access to the throne room of grace because of his once and for all sacrifice. The law does does not save us. The blood of Jesus saves us. Period. So it is time to ask yourself a critical question: “Is the blood of Jesus enough?” I have learned through my journey out of the darkness that the answer to that question is yes! Praise you Lord Jesus – yes! Worthy is the lamb who was slain!
Another crucial concept to understand is the letter of the law versus the intent of the law. God gave us the ten commandments, and most everyone can agree that these rules for living are reasonable and good. Why does God tell us not to commit adultery and not to murder? Because he doesn’t want us hurting one another. He is good, remember? God’s directions for living are supposed to protect us from evil, not to allow evil to overcome our lives. If based on the letter of the law we come to the conclusion that divorce for any other reason than an extramarital affair is sin, we are in effect calling evil things righteous. If we are to be consistent in our logic then a woman must stay in her marriage even when her children are being sexually violated by their father. She must stay if she is being raped. She must stay even when her husband threatens to murder her. She must stay and endure evil and torture no matter what. Since the scripture doesn’t say anything about a husband running a meth lab out of the home or forcing his daughters into prostitution, we must conclude that these things are just fine with our perfect, loving, Heavenly Father, who is the author of all good and is completely incapable of darkness. Do you see how erroneous this logic is? Then why do so many believers- battered women or not – hold to this line of thinking?
It is time to expose the dark power responsible for luring people into legalism, religious pride, and false views of God. Allow me to introduce you to the religious spirit. This unclean spirit operated in the Pharisee’s of old, and it still operates today. Before you wrinkle your nose and decide that unclean spirits (demons) are not real, take a moment to read the gospels and you will see that Jesus encountered demons everywhere he went. On the seashore, in the synagogue, at Peter’s house – literally everywhere. In 1 Timothy 4:1-5 Paul tells us that some will even abandon the faith and follow teachings by demons. I didn’t realize that I was following the teachings of the religious spirit when I believed that I had to earn God’s love, but I was. I had no idea that this unclean spirit was operating through me when I judged other women without mercy, but it was. The religious spirit had a death grip on me – literally. By believing the lies of religious spirit, I almost chose death instead of choosing the blood of Jesus. Almost.
But I have excellent news. The religious spirit lays slain at my feet. It’s true. One of the most cunning and powerful demons in the history of the world lays slain at the feet of a five foot five inch, one hundred and eighteen pound woman! If this chicken can do it – you can too. Just strap that helmet of salvation on your beautiful head and dance for joy because you have been saved through grace. As you secure the breastplate of righteousness to your chest remember that when God looks at you he doesn’t see your sin or your failure, he sees the blood of his precious Son covering your life. Tighten the belt of truth around your waist while declaring the goodness of God and the truth of his great love for you. Get ready to share this message of hope and peace as you lace up your holy sandals. Wield the sword of the Spirit as an offensive weapon against the religious spirit and his cohorts by claiming the truth that you have been given victory over darkness because the Spirit of the risen Christ is in you. And whatever you do don’t drop the shield of faith. Even if everything around you tells you that God is not fulfilling his promises, don’t drop that shield. At the appointed time, you will come to know as I have, that God is faithful and that Jesus wins, every single time.
Is the religious spirit leading you down a dark path of despair and destruction through legalism? You have the power and authority to kick this unclean spirit out of your life for good with just a word: “Religious spirit, I declare that you have no authority over me. I command you to leave in the name of Jesus. You have no right to me and I refuse to believe your lies any longer. Jesus is my good shepherd and I hear his voice. A stranger’s voice I will not follow and in his mighty name you are defeated. Amen.”