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Confessing and Forsaking Sin

(Ezra 9:1-3; 10:9-14)

Lesson 10 -- fourth quarter 1997
November 9, 1997

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications

Our choice to follow God must not be built on the shifting sands of emotions. Nor do we dare construct on the fractured foundation of human reason. To do so may seem sensible at first, but eventually the realities of life in the eye of the storm will bring the structure crashing down. Our decision to choose God needs to both blossom from and grow into a love commitment to obey.

One wonderful aspect of such a relationship to Jesus is seen in a complete freedom from the need to understand and to feel. This does not mean that at the foot of the cross we must forfeit all further use of our intellect and emotions. But it most certainly does mean that on those occasions when we cannot understand God's ways or when our emotions protest those ways, we are free to obey in full assurance that God's ways are best. Knowing the facts, we can obey regardless of understanding or emotion.

For an example take the heart-splitting, reason-straining complexities found in so many divorce-and-remarriage situations. These disasters have so become the norm that your generation will need to deal with these much more than mine has had to. So you just as well start thinking about it now. Consider this not-so-imaginary scenario: five children aged three months through nine years; one or both parents with a divorced and remarried background; happy parents and happy family; parents only recently converted. "How can you possibly say that this happy, stable, secure family should be divided?! The poor children! The poor parents!" Can you turn to Scripture to show that even this wonderful social structure must be at least partially dismantled? The couple clearly recognizes and repents of the sin of divorce and remarriage, but doesn't the presence of children somehow mitigate the need for separation?

I believe today's account contains a compelling answer: obedience first. "Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law" (Ezra 10:3). The emotions cannot be denied, naturally, but neither can obedience. The submitted will humbly, through the tears and sorrow, declare: Thy way is the best way, though I cannot see.

Does it seem fair that I, who am not in such circumstances, should give such counsel? Of course not! But this is not just my own counsel. Reread Ezra 10:3 above and note what this was done according to. Two more lessons to glean here: (1) Stand on the Word, and (2) apply it to your own life. The advice I speak and the opinions I give should not be the mere products of my own head or gut. The commitment I encourage of others should be obviously evident in my life as well.

I think we have room for one more quick lesson: Avoid the tangles! Separate yourself from the people of the land. Don't mingle yourself with them. Be it attitudes, values, perspectives or purposes; be it close friendships, dating or fellowship--keep yourself separate from the world! "Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves"--this is so much easier to do before you get yourself all tangled up in the first place.

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