Married to the law: Married to grace  – Femi Aribisala
By Femi Aribisala
Jesus says to a woman by the well of Jacob: “You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband.” (John 4:18). This statement is intriguing. How can a woman marry five husbands? Did they all die one after the other? How can the husband she is now married to not be her husband? Did she marry someone else’s husband?
Who then is the woman’s true husband?
Jesus’ words are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63). The true husband of the woman is Jesus himself: “For your maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; he is called the God of the whole earth.” (Isaiah 54:5).
Accordingly, most Christians get married three times. The first marriage is to the devil. The second marriage is to a husband or a wife. The third marriage is to Christ. Others even get married four, five times or more. But the real marriage is to Christ. Every other marriage is a shadow of that substance. As Paul says to every Christian: “I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
This redemptive reality prescribes the following counsels. Don’t get married unless you are first married to Christ. Don’t get married to anyone who is not married to Christ. Don’t be in any relationship that does not have Christ at its centre.
Gospel of marriage
Marriage is at the centre of the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about a husband who gave himself for his wife, and about a wife espoused to one husband. Therefore, the opening salvo of Jesus’ long retinue of miracles was fired first at a wedding in Cana of Galilee.
John the Baptist says: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. (John 3:28-31).
This principle applies to everybody, including boyfriends, girlfriends, fiancés, fiancées, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, friends and acquaintances. They are not and cannot be the bridegroom. The bridegroom is Christ. Believers collectively are the bride of Christ.
Therefore, be careful not to interfere in the relationship between Jesus, the bridegroom, and his bride: the believer. The believer should know that her bridegroom is highly-prone to jealousy: “For the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14). He will not tolerate the slightest hint of unfaithfulness. Jesus must increase and everybody else must decrease. The relationship that comes from heaven must be exalted above all earthly relationships.
Marriage to the law
“Do you not know, brothers – for I am speaking to men who know the law – that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.” (Romans 7:1-2).
So, let me tell you the parable of a woman called Abigail. She was legally married to a devil called Nabal. This marriage was burdensome to her. Nabal was for her an impossible husband. Nothing she did ever seemed to please him. He complained of this, that and everything. He beat her black and blue at the slightest provocation. This ensured Abigail was in constant turmoil.
And then there was the issue of divorce. She had nightmares about that. She was afraid that she would wake up one day and discover that Nabal has divorced her. Nabal made her to understand that he could do this at any time for any cause; and then where would she be since she did not have a job or any money of her own.
Act of God
But thank God, one day Nabal died. She did not have to kill him: he just fell down and died.
He picked a quarrel with David. Yes, the very David said to have killed Goliath? David would not take this lying down and decided to kill him. But on the way to settle the score, he met Abigail who pleaded for Nabal.
She told David she knew he would one day be the king of Israel, and that of his kingdom, there would be no end. She said her husband Nabal, on the other hand, would surely come to no good. “He is a scoundrel. His name means folly, and folly is with him. But you my Lord David, you fight the battles of the Lord, and evil is not found in you throughout your days. The Lord will certainly do all the good he has promised concerning you and make you ruler over Israel. When he has done so, please remember me.”
Later, Abigail told Nabal all that happened, and how near he came to death. She told him the person he insulted was that David who is said to have killed Goliath. She also told him that David had come with his men to kill him and would have done so if she had not pleaded for him.
Suddenly, Nabal became so frightened, he had a heart attack there and then. Ten days later, he died; just like that. I supposed that is what they call an act of God.
Released from the law
What can we learn from Abigail? Although she was married under the law of Moses, when she met David, she started to behave like a single lady. She had no qualms about bad-mouthing her husband. She started calling David “Lord;” the same way Sarah addressed Abraham.
You could tell that she secretly wished she could find a way to be released from Nabal and be married to David. So you can imagine how glad she was when Nabal had a heart attack and died. She did not even attend his funeral. Immediately he died, David proposed to her and she readily accepted.
“So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. (Romans 7:3).
Even so, the believer is released from the marriage under the law and is now married into the House of David. In that new marriage, we are anxious for nothing. In that new marriage, there is no strife. In that new marriage, we have peace that flows like a river. In that new marriage there is no divorce.
Jesus says: “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 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.” (Matthew 19:8-9).