Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 10:1-44; 1 Corinthians 6:1-20; Psalm 31:9-18; Proverbs 21:3
The prayer that Ezra prayed yesterday was heard by many people who recognize that Ezra’s words were true – they had sinned against God (Ezra 10:1-2). All of us need to be spiritually rehabilitated. The first step towards that is conviction – realizing and admitting our sin. If you are not in a church where the pastor’s teaching is convicting you – in a good way – then you are in the wrong church.
The next step is to take action to remove sin from our lives which is what the Israelites do next. Their plan is to divorce their pagan wives and send them away along with their children (Ezra 10:3). While divorce is not God’s plan for us, in this case it was the lesser of two evils. Staying married to non-believers would have brought many problems in the future. So divorce was the only solution to cleanse the community. Of course, the pagan wives could give up their gods, but God was not going to force them to do that.
Just like today, it was recognized that children should stay with their mothers when marriages fall apart (Ezra 3:10).
The people confess their sin in Ezra 10:11-12. Confession is an important part of repentance. We should confess our sins to the ones we have sinned against. In this case the people had sinned against God so they confessed to Him.
Notice that the leaders didn’t blindly remove the wives from society. They conducted interviews with each man who had married a pagan presumably to find out where the married couple was at spiritually (Ezra 10:14,17-17). If the wife had abandoned her pagan god in exchange for the true God, then divorce would not be necessary.
This entire process took several months but is indicative of how God works. God is not hasty in judging us. He patiently tries to get each of us to see our own sin and come to repentance.
Paul addresses more issues with the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6. Some believers had taken other believers to court where the matter would be judged by non-believers. This made no sense to Paul (1 Corinthians 6:1).
Believers are fully qualified to judge their own matters and, in fact, someday we will judge the world, including angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
But even having such disputes with one another is wrong (1 Corinthians 6:7). Paul advises the Corinthians to just accept the fact that there is injustice in this world – even within the church – since none of us are perfect. Doing so brings glory to God because it leaves the matter in His hands.
In a society where we are so quick to sue because our so-called “rights” have been denied, this is a strange and radical teaching. But we are called upon to give up our earthly “rights” in order to display God’s forgiveness to an unbelieving world.
Having addressed the party who had been wronged, Paul then addresses the one who did the wrong in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Those who continually do wrong will forfeit eternity. Paul is not saying we can lose our salvation by sinning. He is questioning whether someone who indulges in sin (keeps on sinning with no appearance of regret) is actually saved in the first place.
1 Corinthians 6:9 tells us that homosexuality is a sin. Homosexuality was openly rampant in the ancient world at this time. Many Roman emperors openly practiced homosexuality including Nero, who was emperor when this letter was written. Many gay advocates claim that the Bible was written during a time of homophobia but history shows that this was not the case. In fact, compared to today, homosexuality was much more widely accepted and practiced in ancient Rome (I’m not saying that is a good thing – just pointing it out).
Homosexuality should not be excused by the church today. It is a sin. Yet God is able to take anyone who is addicted to sin and cleanse them (1 Corinthians 6:11). I personally know of one man who, although having a same-sex attraction, is now married to a woman with whom he has children.
Having a thought may not be controllable. But our actions are. Just because our minds have a thought doesn’t mean we have to act upon that thought. Just like we don’t have to eat simply because we are hungry (1 Corinthians 6:13).
Our bodies were made to serve God (1 Corinthians 6:13, 15). Sexual sin – not just the sexual act, but pornography, etc – is unique in that it is committed against ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:18). It is so problematic that we should simply flee from it like Joseph did (Genesis 39). It is much too strong for us.
When a person is saved the Holy Spirit takes up residence in that person’s physical body. So using our body for sin is unacceptable (1 Corinthians 6:19). Since God paid such a high price for us (dying on a cross and enduring hell for 3 days) we must use our body to honor Him rather than using it for selfish purposes.
David looks at his circumstances and sees nothing good (Psalm 31:9-13). Yet he has faith in God to bring him through (Psalm 31:14-18). Our circumstances don’t need to bring us down, as bad as they might be. We can choose to trust God and keep our eyes on Him.
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