by Glenn Young
The fact that I am a preacher of the gospel has involved me in many discussions about various biblical issues. While working with a particular congregation, I conducted a radio program designed to allow callers to ask Bible questions. On one occasion, a caller questioned us about a marriage situation involving divorce and re-marriage among non-Christians. It seemed they were advocating that as long as the divorce and remarriage occurred before one obeyed the gospel, they could have multiple marriages and keep the present spouse once obeying the gospel.
This introduced the question, “Are non-Christians amenable to God’s laws?” One should not think that such a question would need to be asked, but when emotions become involved in our thinking, all logic ceases. As we did then, let us now consider this important question. Let us do so with a true desire to understand and know the Truth.
The first point to consider is whether or not God has established laws to govern mankind in general. The answer is a resounding, "Yes!" In the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, God had a law for Adam and Eve. Don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-2). God then gave a written law to the Israelites through Moses (Deuteronomy 4:44). Today, men are bound to keep the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). The obvious point is that God has always had a law by which He expected men to live.
Our second point is whether or not the law of Christ applies to non-Christians. I can hear some saying, “Ah, yes, but aren’t these laws given to those who follow God?” Surely, we all know that to please God (and that is what righteous people want to do), one must live according to His laws. However, to say that obedience to these laws is only required of those who would follow God is not a true statement.
To understand this, we need only to consider what it is that makes us sinners in the first place. A person becomes a sinner by breaking one of God’s laws. Hear what John says, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (I John 3:4). Men become sinners when they transgress or break one of the laws of Christ. Men are not born guilty of sin. Mankind is born innocent and pure in the sight of God.
Now, Paul tells us in Romans 4:15, “For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.” If the non-Christian is not amenable to the law of Christ, then the non-Christian cannot be guilty of transgression or lawlessness. Therefore, being that sin is lawlessness, the non-Christian cannot commit sin. Who can believe it, especially when Paul says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)? The non-Christian has sinned and he sinned because he transgressed or broke the law of Christ.
What makes lying wrong? Christ’s law. What makes stealing wrong? Christ’s law. What makes murder wrong? Christ’s law. What makes divorce and remarriage for any cause wrong? Christ’s law. If the law of Christ doesn’t apply to the non-Christian, then he could lie, steal, murder, or enter into a thousand marriages without committing sin.
Who believes this false doctrine? It is those who don’t love the truth on divorce and re-marriage. It is those who are trying to justify a bad marriage. It is those who are deceived and believe a lie.