A New Year–A New Beginning with God

A new year often provides new opportunities and new beginnings. And like many of the biblical characters, Christians often need a new beginning of obedience with God.

Second Samuel 11 records a sad and sordid story in the life of David. While his army was off at war, David was back in Jerusalem with time on his hands. One night while gazing down on Jerusalem from the roof of his palace, he saw a woman bathing. Although it was dark, David could see by the light of the night sky that she was a beautiful woman. Instead of turning from this temptation, David yielded to his own lust.

He inquired about the woman and learned that her name was Bathsheba and that her husband, Uriah, served in his army. It was not too late for David to say “No” to sin and turn from his temptation. But instead, he invited Bathsheba to his palace and had sexual relations with her. Later, when David learned that Bathsheba was pregnant, he attempted to cover up his sin. When this failed, he had his faithful soldier, Uriah, killed on the battlefield. He then married Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba.

God was not pleased with what David had done. 2 Samuel 12 records how David was confronted and convicted about his sin. This chapter illustrates five steps to a new beginning with God.

Commission (2 Sam. 12:1)

The first step in David’s new beginning with God took place when God raised up and commissioned the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin. God frequently uses another believer to help us get back on the right path when we have fallen into sin. When a brother or sister is struggling with sin and being deceived by the Devil, we must be willing to be God’s instrument to encourage revival and restoration.

Confrontation (2 Sam. 12:2-8)

The second step in David’s new beginning with God was when Nathan confronted David with his sin. Nathan lived in an oriental culture where a face to face confrontation would have been difficult. And so Nathan used an indirect approach. Nathan told the story of a rich man who had many flocks and herds, but he took the lamb of a very poor man and slaughtered it to feed his guest. David was quick to recognize that a great injustice had been done! When Nathan applied the parable to David, the king realized that he was the one who had done a grave injustice to Uriah and Bathsheba. David had complained that the rich man in the story had shown no compassion. In reality, David was the one who had shown no compassion on Uriah!

Commandment (2 Sam. 12:9-10)

In the third step of David’s fresh start with God was when Nathan pointed out how David’s actions had violated the Word of God. David was guilty of coveting, adultery and murder. In bringing the Word of God before David, the Lord provides a good pattern for those situations in which we must confront others. It doesn’t matter what we think about a person’s actions. What matters is what God says about them.

 Consequences (2 Sam. 12:11)

The fourth step in David’s new beginning of obedience was to recognize the awful consequences of his sin. Nathan’s predictions of the consequences of David’s sin were literally fulfilled in years that followed David’s sin with Bathsheba. David’s two sons, Amnon (13:38-39) and Absalom (18:15), died violent deaths. Tamar, David’s daughter, was raped by her brother, Amnon (13:1-14). Absalom rebelled against his father and publicly appropriated David’s royal concubines (16:22). David experienced a biblical principle known as “the law of the harvest.” David sowed the seeds of sin and immorality, and he reaped a harvest of sin and immorality in his own family.

Confession (2 Sam. 12:12:13)

Although David sinned in a grievous way against the Lord, his heart was sensitive to Nathan’s rebuke. David immediately confessed his sin. Confession of sin is the fifth step in beginning again with God. David confessed his sin and God immediately forgave him. The more complete, poetic version may be found in Ps. 51. David’s confession of his sin resulted in God’s forgiveness. And this led to a restoration of his spiritual vitality.

A new beginning of obedience in our relationship with God is called “revival.” And the essence of revival is a revitalized walk with God. Spiritual revival reestablishes the believer’s highest priority–our relationship with God. The beginning of a new year is a great time for new beginnings—especially a new beginning with God!

A Biblical View of Marriage and Divorce

Answers to Questions About Remarriage and Divorce
by the author of The Divorce Myth

The History of the Issue

All the church fathers except one (Ambrosiaster) agreed that remarriage after divorce, whatever the cause, constitutes adultery. Even in the case of adultery, the faithful spouse did not have permission to remarry. This remained the standard in the church until the 16th century when Erasmus suggested that the “innocent” spouse not only had a right to divorce an unfaithful spouse, but could also contract a new marriage. This view was accepted by the Reformers and is the standard Protestant evangelical position on divorce and remarriage today.

The Crucial Questions

1. Does the exception in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 allow for remarriage after divorce in the case of porneia? No. There are three possible places the exception clause could appear: at the beginning of Jesus’s statement (making separation mandatory in the case of porneia), in the middle (allowing divorce only) and at the end (sanctioning both divorce and remarriage). If the exception clause in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 applies both to divorce and remarriage, these are the only two places in the New Testament where such an exception appears in the middle of the sentence and modifies both the preceding and following verbs.

2. What is the meaning of porneia in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9? Many evangelicals have mistakenly equated porneia with “adultery.” But there is another word (moicheia) which Jesus would have used if He had intended to allow for divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery. It has been argued that porneia refers to (1) any kind of sexual misconduct, (2) unfaithfulness during betrothal, or (3) incestuous marriage as forbidden in Leviticus 18:6-18. Each of these views is possible. Which would best fit in a Jewish context in a Jewish gospel? Since porneia does refer to incest in the New Testament (1 Cor. 5:1; Acts 15:20, cf. Lev. 17:8-18:16), and was a serious problem in the lives of the Herods (Archelaus, Antipas and Agrippa II), it is quite possible that Jesus was arguing the permanence of marriage except in the case of an illicit or illegal (ie. incestuous) marriage. John the Baptist had recently lost his life due to his condemning the incestuous marriage of Antipas to his brother’s wife who was also his niece. The questioning of Jesus by the Pharisees was probably motivated by a desire to see Jesus get into similar trouble. See The Divorce Myth, pp. 71-78, for complete argumentation.

3. Why was no exception recorded in Mark 10:1-12 and Luke 16:18? In Jesus’ teaching as recorded in the other Synoptic Gospels no exception to the permanence of marriage is given. There is no “exception” clause. Divorce and remarriage is said to constitute adultery in every circumstance. It has been suggested that Mark is a summary of the more complete record of what is found in Matthew, thus he leaves out the exception. But take a close look. Mark gives us details which are not found in Matthew. Mark’s account is actually the fuller or more complete account. Because the laws of Leviticus 18:6-18 did not apply to Gentiles, Mark saw no need to include the exception in his gospel to Roman readers. The exception is not found in Mark or Luke because it had no application to Romans or Greek Gentiles.

4. How did Paul understand the teaching of Jesus regarding marriage and divorce? Paul definitely regarded marriage as permanent (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39). According to Paul, death and death alone could end a marriage. He has a word from Jesus that divorce is not allowed (1 Cor. 7:10-11). Paul, a first century theologian and Greek scholar, interprets the words of Jesus as not allowing for divorce or remarriage. Only two alternatives are presented those who have been divorced: (1) reconciliation to one’s spouse, or (2) the single life. One who has been divorced should seek reconciliation or actively pursue the single life. A new marriage is simply not an option which Paul recognizes.

5. What is the meaning of Paul’s words, “not under bondage” (1 Cor. 7:15)? While many have interpreted these words as allowing for remarriage in the case of desertion, Paul doesn’t mention remarriage in this verse at all. He knows of the concept of remarriage, but sees it as applying only to widows (1 Cor. 7:39). It is quite unlikely that Paul would prohibit divorce and remarriage in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 and then allow it in 7:15. The words “not under bondage” mean “not enslaved.” A deserted believer is not so bound to preserve the union that he or she must follow the deserter around like a slave seeking to maintain the marriage. Being enslaved is contrasted with being at peace. Rather than being a slave to an unwilling spouse, the believer can be at peace in the midst of a difficult situation.

6. What is the meaning of the words, “but if you marry, you have not sinned” (1 cor. 7:28). The key to any verse is its context. Paul is speaking about engaged virgins in 1 Corinthians 7:25-38. He has been arguing the advantages of the single life. Some people who had plans to marry were wondering if it was s sin to go ahead with the marriage. Paul is simply saying that those engaged virgins (parthenoi) who are in a state of marital freedom (lelusai, v. 27) commit no sin should they go ahead and marry.


Marriage was designed by God to be a permanent relationship (Gen. 2:24, “cleave” implies a permanent bonding). Divorce is a sin that God hates (Mal. 2:16). While divorce was regulated in the Old Testament (Deut. 24:1-4), it did not originate with God and never meets with His approval. Both Jesus and Paul forbade divorce (“What God has brought together let no man put asunder,” [Matt. 19:6] and “But to the married I give instruction . . .that the wife should not leave her husband . . . and that the husband should not send his wife away” [1 Cor. 7:10-11]). Why should Christians evangelicals approve what Scripture disapproves? To approve divorce and remarriage may well in fact to encourage it for it allows people to anticipate a way out of an unhappy relationship. If there were no loop-holes most people would commit themselves to making their marriage work.

Marriage is a picture of the believer’s relationship with Christ (Eph. 5:31-33). Is our relationship with Christ temporary or permanent? Can a true believer ever be separated from Christ (Rom. 8:35-39; Jn. 10:28)? If marriage were a dissoluble relationship, it would be a less than accurate representation of the indissoluble relationship between Christ and His church.

For further study see my book, The Divorce Myth (Bethany House 1981).

About Carl

J. Carl Laney

Family Background

I  was born in the state of Georgia, the first child of Carl and Clyde Laney. When I was two years old our family moved west and I grew up in Eugene, Oregon. It was there at the University of Oregon that I met the love of my life, Nancy Lilly.  We were married a year after graduating from college  and have four grown children and six  grandchildren.

Spiritual Experience

I was raised in a Christian home and expressed my faith in Jesus as a child. But it was not until my student days at the University of Oregon that I entered into a more personal with God. This was due in large part to the influence a fraternity brother, Bill Hansell, who was active with the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. It was the late sixties and a time of radical student activism which included protest marches, demonstrations  and sit-ins.  Everyone was seeking a worthy cause to which to devote their lives.  After much thought and reflection I concluded that the only cause
worthy of lifetime commitment was helping others find peace with God through the Good News of the Bible. It was during my college years that I became a serious minded follower of Jesus. During my junior year at the U. of Oregon I began to sense God’s leading to Christian service and enrolled at Western Seminary after graduating from the University of Oregon.

Personal Interests

Lots of fun catching brook trout in a mountain lake

I enjoy outdoor activities including camping, hiking, fishing, skiing, gardening and canoeing. On a Saturday afternoon you may find me in my garage working on my WWII military jeeps–a 1944 Ford and a 1942 Willys.


Nancy and I graduating from the U. of Oregon (1970)

Educational Background

After graduating from the University of Oregon (B. S. in Public Administration), I enrolled at Western Seminary where I earned my Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Theology (Th.M) degrees.  From Western, I went to Dallas Theological Seminary where I earned my Doctorate of Theology (Th.D).



Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon

I have been a Bible teacher at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon since 1977.   I have also served as interim-pastor in a dozen different churches including a Bayview Baptist church on the island of Guam.

I have been privileged to author a number of books, many of which are out of print, but can still be found on Amazon.com or in used book stores. My articles have been published in theological journals and Christian magazines. Some of them can be found on this web site.

My favorite traveling partner, my wife Nancy

My travels have taken me to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. I have spent many summers in Israel studying, teaching and participating in archaeological excavations. I enjoy teaching the Bible classes and specialize in courses dealing with the historical, geographical and cultural backgrounds of the Bible.

Teaching my students in Israel

Home Page

Are you looking for a holiday gift?
Check out my two new books–Biblical
Wisdom and Essential Bible

I am happy to introduce my new book, Essential Bible Background! This is a project I have been working on for most of my career as a teacher. The book contains an introduction to each of the sixty-six books of the Bible including author, date, historical setting, theme, purpose and theology.

In addition to the introduction to each book, there are appendices which include articles on How to Study the Bible, Essential Dates in the Bible, Whose Who in the Bible, and Definitions of key biblical and theological Words. There is even a section on humor in the Bible.

The book is available on Amazon.com for $19.95. Just click on the link below. I hope you find this to be a helpful resource



Everyone enjoyed the Cinnamon Bear Cruise on the Portland Spirit, but Ilan didn’t care for the Cinnamon Bear!
Ultra Runner David Laney took 1st place in
the Lithia Loop Marathon (11/4/2017)
through the hills around Ashland, Oregon,
with a time of 2:51:26.











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