Jarrod Jacobs: The Proper Response to Sin
While Ezra 10 will be the focus of this writing, we need to look at Ezra nine for a moment because this tells us what sin the people had committed. Ezra nine tells us that God’s people had married foreign women (Ezra 9:1-2). When Ezra heard this, he bowed, prayed, and asked God for forgiveness (Ezra 9:6-15). All the people witnessed this, and Ezra 10:1-8 details the three-fold response the people had to sin and shows us how we should respond to sin as well (Rom. 15:4). What did the people do?
First, they confessed that they had done wrong (Ezra 10:2). They admitted that “we have trespassed against our God.” They had “taken strange wives of the people of the land.” Confessing this took courage.
Confession of sin is not demanded of one who initially wishes to be saved (Mk. 16:16). Instead, this person must confess his faith in Christ (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:10). It is necessary, though, for a Christian to confess sin when in error (I Jn. 1:9). When Christians do this, we, like the Israelites of old, have the opportunity for forgiveness (Jas. 5:16).
Confessing just to be confessing can turn into bragging if we are not careful! Therefore, the next thing necessary for forgiveness after confessing sin is to repent of sin. To repent means literally, “about face, forward march!” Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of life. Their repentance would be seen when they put away (divorced) those unscriptural mates. Some may wonder why their response was so “extreme.” Please remember that unscriptural marriage was the sin in question (Ezra 9:1-2). If they are going to stop sinning, what would be necessary? Can they just say “sorry” and return to their unscriptural mates? Or must they leave those sinful relationships and strive to be in the right relationship?
It is the same today when men and women are in unscriptural marriages. We can’t just tell them to say “I’m sorry” and return to their unscriptural relationships. Things have to change! Sometimes, people balk at this and deny repentance requires leaving that relationship. To them, I ask, if someone had stolen money and then wanted to correct things, must he give the money back, or can he keep it? If someone had stolen a car and wanted to make that right with God and man, what must he do, give the vehicle back or keep it? I think we all know the answers to these questions. In like manner, if a man stole another man’s wife (or a woman stole a woman’s husband), and this person wanted to repent, can these two still stay in that sinful relationship, or do they need to get out of it? Ezra 10 and the definition of repentance teach us what to do!
Finally, there was a clear consequence for not repenting (Ezra 10:8). Those folks had a choice to make, and they were expected to make it in a timely manner, specifically in three days, in this case! Please continue reading Ezra 10 and see that in three days, they did the right thing (Ezra 10:9-17). They submitted to the Lord so He would once again accept them.
It is the same today. When I yield my stubborn will to His will (I Pet. 4:11; Col. 3:17), I will be blessed. There may be many things I surrender to be right with God. Still, I can assure you that any sacrifice we make will be nothing compared to the blessings we receive for being forgiven and having the opportunity to see Heaven one day (Rom. 8:18; II Cor. 4:17-18)!
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