Today’s reading: Ezra 9:1–10:44, 1 John 4:7–12, Ps 107:23–43
Today’s Themes: Zealous Purity, Covenant of Love
The foundation of all of God’s covenants is love. This is why someone who is not in a loving covenant relationship with God cannot truly enjoy the benefits of the covenant, because they are all founded on love and relationship, not just rules as with cold business transactions. Recognise the covenant of love and rejoice in it today. The temptations which seek to draw us away will only rob us and will leave us without love because the devil uses bondage and trickery, never love.
Divorcing from Compromise
Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. Ezra 10:3 (ESV)
The people had fallen into compromise by marrying the people of the land which God had commanded against. This would lead them into sin and result in them being judged and disciplined for falling away.
Ezra cries out to God as he intercedes for the people. In response, Shecaniah has a plan of action. He proposes that the people renew their covenant with God by divorcing these foreign women. It should be noted that these marriages were not truly legal in accordance with Jewish law.
We learn from this that we must not compromise with the world. Any compromises that we have established, should be put away and broken off. We must reject compromise otherwise it will break our covenant relationship with God. James 4:4
Decide today to divorce compromise and the children of compromise, which include sin and indifference. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
We should be married to the Lord in our hearts. Ephesians 5:27
We will only have this resolve if we “tremble at the commandments of our God”. We must have a high view of God’s word and seek to live in accordance with it. 2 Timothy 3:16
And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. Now then make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” Ezra 10:10–11 (ESV)
Ezra calls for covenant renewal between God and the people, by them confessing their sin, turning in repentance and separating themselves as holy to the Lord.
God calls us to the same renewal of covenant today. If we have broken faith with God, there is still hope, God can restore if we humble ourselves in repentance. 1 Peter 5:5
Before there can be any renewal of our broken covenant relationship with God, confession of our shortcomings, compromise and sin must be made. Like “The Way of The Master” we need to confront ourselves with the law of God that we have transgressed, acknowledge it and then consciously turn in repentance back to God. 1 John 1:9
James encourages us to look into God’s perfect law (the Bible), as a mirror and act on what we see, in James 1:25 “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
1 John 4:7–12
Love as Fruit
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 (ESV)
Love is the fruit and evidence that we have truly been born again. True love for one another as a church community, is not something that can be counterfeited by the flesh, which is naturally selfish.
Love for one another is evidence that we come from God and know God. Knowledge is not evidence that we know God, love is. This shuts the door to the cold position of just knowing about God without having a relationship with Him on His terms.
We should be grateful that the indicator of our relationship with God is based on love.
Our lives should show the evidence of love, as defined by God, not the world.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 1 John 4:8–9 (ESV)
Where John says God is love, he is not saying that love is God. Love is not the essence of who God is but one of God’s many attributes and in context, John is saying God is loving and shows His love.
God demonstrated His love by sending Jesus into the world, to make the payment for our sin and open the door to eternal life for us.
This is love defined, God sent his son. The gospel contains the very definition of love. The best and highest working definition of love is the gospel. God gave His son.
Many take the statement “God is love” to justify all types of sin, this is because it is read out of context. When a person takes this out of context to excuse sins, read them the full context and point them to the gospel, the very definition of love.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11 (ESV)
We are called to show love like God did and in response to the love that God showed us, when we did not love Him.
Love is not a feeling, it is very much an act of the will, we choose to love and are commanded to love, so we need to make a firm decision to love today.
God’s love is perfected in us as we walk in love, practically showing love in response to God’s love for us.
Love without action is not love.
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29 (ESV)
This is said of God and as we know, Jesus stilled the storms on the lake of Galilee, Jesus is God.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition 1 John 4