When we experience sorrow over sin, is it worldly sorrow or godly sorrow? And what do we have in common with lions, greyhounds, goats, and kings?
The Wine of False Religion
Drunk on Religion & Prosperity
Verse 3 says, “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
Just as wine can entice and weaken the resolve of the one drinking it and can blind one to the truth, the wine of false religion can blind, as well. It can be legalism (believing that rules and sacraments can save you), new age spirituality, today’s version of religious tolerance (believing that all roads somehow lead to God), or any kind of religious fanaticism.
Whether a person is fanatically religious in a pseudo-Christian way, fanatically atheistic, fanatically pro-abortion or pro-gay, or a fanatical Muslim or white supremacist, it has an appeal that can be intoxicating. This helps explain why men and women are willing to fly airplanes into buildings, strap on suicide vests or turn a gun on strangers and co-workers alike.
And just as religious idolatry can make a person drunk, so too, wealth, abundance and a focus on material things can drug a person into a materialistic stupor, “the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
Eventually the world’s false systems of religion and economics will come to an end, but we must guard against any vestige of them in our lives even now.
Ephesians 5 says:
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
God does not want us to be drunk with wine or religion or any earthly thing, but rather to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit. When we do, just as drunkenness affects a person’s walk and life, the filling of the Spirit will affect the way we walk and live.
Today’s Other Readings:
Broken and repentant or just sorry?
Verse 7.5 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests. ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?’”
Fasting was a sign of repentance and humility and recognition of sin. God was asking the people if their fasting was merely a religious exercise or done because they were broken over their sin and rebellion against Him.
Oftentimes, we express outward sorrow and regret over our sin, but we must ask ourselves, are we sorry because we don’t like the consequences of our sin? Are we more like children who are about to be punished for some misdeed, crying, “I’m sorry; I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!” Or are we truly broken and repentant?
The second is godly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to changes in our actions, not just outward expressions of sorrow.
It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death (2 Cor. 7.9b-10 NLT).
How can we tell the difference?
How can we tell if we are broken and repentant or just sorry? Worldly sorrow is usually focused us ourselves. Often with thoughts like, “I can’t believe I did that,” or “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” or “Why is God allowing this.” It usually involves self-pity and may even be accompanied by statements like, “I just can’t forgive myself.”
Godly sorrow is focused on God. It is brokenness over our rebellion against Him. It leads to humility and a recognition of our sinful condition and God’s mercy toward us. The fruit will be a desire to please God and live in faithful obedience out of our love and gratitude for all He has done.
A People Near to Him
And He has exalted the horn of His people,
The praise of all His saints—
Of the children of Israel,
A people near to Him.
Praise the LORD! (v. 14).
When we are tender and broken, we will stay “near to Him.”
Lions, Greyhounds, Goats, and Kings
Four things are mentioned in this passage: a lion, a greyhound, a male goat, and a king with his army. What can we learn from each of them?
Like the lion we are to be bold, but not in our own strength or ability. We’re to be bold because we’re the righteousness of God and as His righteous people we can be bold as a lion (Prov. 28.1), knowing that God is on our side (Rom. 8.31).
A greyhound is fit and ready for the race ahead. We, too, need to prepare for the race that is set before us (Heb. 12.1), so that, like Paul, we will be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4.7).
A male goat leads the rest of the flock. We, too, should want others to follow us as we follow Christ.
Of course, Christ is the King of kings, and He is the one who should fill our hearts with awe, but like a king with his army, we are surrounded by an army of other believers, which should encourage us to press forward in the battles that we face. Hebrews 12 says:
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Getting ready for 2017
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