Do we as true Christians allow ourselves at times to get to “far away” from God in our thinking and not know it? (We are in a time frame of slumbering and lukewarm-ness—see Matt.25:1-13 & Rev.3:14-21) Some today kid themselves into thinking they have no fault, or else their need to repent is far less than all others, which is the same mindset as “having need of nothing”! Do we let down in our relationship with Christ to the point of breaking a commitment or even commandments of God? What about in marriage, where God is supposed to be the third party and all the vows you made there also were with God? Can broken vows in marriage be taken so lightly that we are putting our relationship with God at risk as well? God hates divorce, but also knows that sometimes a divorce is the only way to salvage the individuals Spiritually and there are certain occasions when God does not bind a marriage in the first place.
We have an article here on this same page titled “Why failure” which is dealing with marriages ending in divorce and some reasons why they happen. That article of course does not cover everything, nor will this one; just some things in the hope of helping those with these kinds of problems. This question is asked in the article; “Why is there failure in anything, especially marriage relations—and by failure, I mean coming to the conclusion that your present path is leading the wrong way and cannot succeed, as it is. There has to be a change of direction and mindset. (It is God who grants repentance to the sincere—which is the “change” needed.)”
So this article is titled “Broken vows” in relation to that article on why failure and hopefully will help those who need to see that the very first thing, breaking of vows, has to be repented of, if any have done so. The commitment we have made with God has to be considered above all human feelings and resentment toward a mate, especially if we are a called out one. Scripture says that we cannot serve two masters (Matt.6:24 & Luke 16:13) and certainly that is an analogy or concept that would also apply in marriage. When two people commit to each other in marriage, especially the converted, the only one that can be considered the “master” over both is God, then the husband over the wife. There is no Scripture that places the woman as the “master” of the house. This is a Biblical fact. (See 1Cor.11:3) So when it comes to the question of who is the over-all director of the home and family, it is the Husband, in God’s eyes. However, if man or woman is unconverted and abusive or shows hostility—that is a totally different matter that would bring in other Scriptural accounts, which this article does not deal with.
With these broken vows being acknowledged and repented of before God and mate, the marriage can perhaps be salvaged and not end in divorce as so many so often do, even in the COG today. God is the one who grants repentance, and that is found in 2Tim.2:25-26. However, the harshness of heart and words hurled back and forth in a bitter division, along with the broken vows, can be very hard to repair and will take effort from both parties in the marriage. Sometimes this happens in the COG, as people allow Satan to have an influence in their minds without even realizing what is happening at the time. Sometimes one or the other will insist the “other party” is the real fault, regardless of what they themselves say and do. This can generate a lot of hurt feelings and a great deal of damage can be done very quickly to that marriage relationship. Now you may think; “how can that happen” if two people are truly converted? If you recall, it says in Rom.8:14 that it is those who are LED by the spirit that are sons of God.
God’s Spirit does not lead into hostility and division but it does happen far more than many realize today because of neglect to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, even if they each have it in them. This applies even to COG splits and wrong motivations there as well. Satan is right there to come in and severe relationships; to cause a breaking of covenants or vows, when we let down. He wants nothing more than to destroy relationships in the COG. When we let our guard down a little, this can happen very quickly. Once Satan gets a grip on the mind, it is very hard for that mind to then see how what it is now thinking and doing is wrong. This is how Satan was able to get to Eve. Note this in 2 Cor 11:3 “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, (subtly, in the KJV) so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Satan is hard at work to keep that mind thinking it is right in what it now thinks, having nothing to repent of because it is all the “other person or party” who is at fault, and that will destroy the marriage or relationship. As humans, we all have some flaws, but Satan is the “father of lies” as Christ said and will deceive if possible even the elect with those lies. (Matt.24:24-25) However, others can see the change toward complacency, then negativity and even hostility in you and want to get away from it, especially a mate of several years who also is being led by the Spirit. That attitude can only come from Satan the devil, because it does not come from God nor is it led by the Holy Spirit.
We are told in Scripture to put on the whole armor of God. Note this in Eph 6:11-12 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (We are to ward them off, resist these “methods of Satan” in the mind before they take root and grow. Wiles mean methods of trickery, deceitful and cunning ways to deceive.) V.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, (Ehp.2:2) against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (HWA said in my hearing more than once that demons can be detected by their childish actions at times and this shows up in human conduct when demons are present. Something to give some thought to.) The active Holy Spirit in our minds helps us become very keenly aware of Satan’s workings, even in ourselves if we are being watchful for it. Those wiles or methods have to be resisted. However, subtlety or deceit complicates problems in a marriage if one party becomes bent on destruction, under the influence of Satan. This introduces the possibility of another situation or mindset that may have existed undetected before, until something triggers it to come out. Any number of things can bring this to the surface and God may even allow certain things to bring this to light, for our own good.
A recent Blog/FAQ’s from a COG site dealing with Biblical reasons for Divorce and remarriage had this to say, emphasis mine; “The final acceptable reason for divorce and remarriage is a marriage that took place under deceptive or fraudulent circumstances. Marriage is the most intimate of relationships and must be based on trust, openness and honesty. Prior to marriage, both should know each other’s personal history and pertinent information so that nothing is hidden or misrepresented that would change the decision to marry. Obviously husbands and wives become better acquainted after they are married and learn much more about each other. This principle deals with intentional deception on major issues that are hidden or misrepresented which would affect the relationship.”
Certainly this can and does apply to men & women and is in agreement with what is brought out in the article titled “Why Failure,” previously mentioned. And of course sometimes this kind of intended deception does not show up right away. It stays under the surface, perhaps for years, especially while the deceiving party is still getting what it wants or needs from the marriage. (Vows can also be broken in the mind of either party long before they surface and even after marriage. This kind of reasoning has led many into adultery.) Some marriages operate this way thru-out until the end, because one will not break their vows, even though they suffer abuse from the other. However, if something happens and the gratification begins to wane or stop coming to one who is not sincere with their vows—then the mind of that person can become disinterested in the relationship very quickly and will seek some other sources of self-gratification. This is where some people are quick to trade one relationship for another, regardless of vows.
That person may all of a sudden begin to express all kinds of shortcomings in their mate that they have been “tolerating” for sometime. The carnal nature kicks in and Satan is always right there to fuel those feelings, especially if fraud was involved in the beginning. The apostle Paul spoke of this behavior to those in Corinth, if you will turn in your Bible to 1 Cor 3:1-3, where Paul says; “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” and of course he means like the unconverted! Now this was not specifically dealing with marriage, but still applies in principle of that kind of unconverted behavior.
Something is also written in Heb 5:11-14 that indicates the convert may be letting down when vows get broken. It says, and I am reading this from the RSV and cutting into the context; but it says “About this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God's word. You need milk, not solid food;
13 for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. (There has to constantly be daily studying on certain subjects, along with prayer and not just occasionally or only Bible readings. We have to actively in-gage the Holy Spirit in the mind to lead us into all truth. (John 16:13) We do that by thinking on different ways the Scriptures might be applied and reading other material from COG writers help to stimulate this kind of study.) So we come to V.14, where we read; “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.”
So if we have our minds attuned to constantly being on guard for the “wiles” of Satan, we can recognize them, however and by whomever they come. We will recognize things that could break our vows to a mate and our covenant with God, in our marriage. When both parties communicate their minds and thoughts openly and honestly to each other, before and after marriage, bringing their focus back to Matt.6:33 and then apply James 4:7-10, which says; “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.--10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” A true Christian cannot allow Satan to grip the mind with hostility to break our vows or even think to do so. This requires open and honest communication! Paul tells us if we keep on guard, we will not be quick to break our covenant with God nor the vows we have made to Him and our mates. Sometimes other family members can be the most manipulative and deceitful because they want to have things their way, which puts pressure on us to compromise with what we know is the right thing to do, simply because we love them too.
So in conclusion, turn with me to Rom 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If honesty was not there at the beginning, it may never be there and broken vows do not mean anything. (Causing a divorce or at least a separation.) However, if we are constantly going to God in prayer for guidance to strengthen our marriages, struggling to keep or renew those vows we have made, then the vow “until death do us part” will also never be broken, not even in the mind. If it has been, that is the first thing that needs to be repented of and made right, if still possible. (Feel free to download and read the article on REPENTANCE and another on Salvation issues, which may be helpful to some.)
(Written by the Editor for mtCOGsm)