With All Your Heart!

Zephaniah 3:1-2 ESV

“Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
the oppressing city!
She listens to no voice;
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord;
she does not draw near to her God.”

This “woe” is a declaration of some type of judgment against those who are rebellious against Almighty God, who are defiled (corrupted) by their sinful thoughts and practices, and who willfully cause harm to others by their sins.

Certainly, this includes the many ways in which God executes judgments on people during their lifetimes on the earth. But this also includes the warning of the fires of hell, for he who walks in the flesh will die in his sins. He will not have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21).

They are those who commit adultery, who murder, who steal from others, who slander others, and who take advantage of others weaker than themselves to fulfill the lusts of their own flesh, as a matter of practice.

And, some or many of them are those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and who claim heaven as their eternal destiny, for this is about the Holy City which is now the church. They claim God as their God, and yet they do not listen to him, and they accept no correction from him. And, that is because they do not genuinely believe in him, for they do not draw near to him, but they continue on their sinful course without shame and without guilt.

Zephaniah 3:3-5 ESV

“Her officials within her
are roaring lions;
her judges are evening wolves
that leave nothing till the morning.
Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men;
her priests profane what is holy;
they do violence to the law.
The Lord within her is righteous;
he does no injustice;
every morning he shows forth his justice;
each dawn he does not fail;
but the unjust knows no shame.”

Part of the reason why she, the church at large, but not the whole, is in this condition is the leadership within the church. So many of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing and false shepherds who care nothing for the people. For, they are more interested in building their earthly kingdoms than they are in building up the body of Christ to maturity in Christ.

So, rather than confront the people with their sins, these leaders entertain them, and they pacify them in their sins, probably because the leaders themselves are living in sin. And, they are more interested in the people liking them and in having their own following than they are in people being in love with God and following Jesus Christ with their lives.

So, rather than teach the people the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which can save souls from hell and deliver people out of their slavery to sin, they teach a diluted half-truth gospel of men in their deceitful scheming. They teach (or they imply) that we can be saved from our sins, bound for heaven, and that we can still live in sin, and that we do not have to obey God. So, they give them free license to continue in their wickedness.

But, the Lord is righteous and he is just, which is why he died on the cross for our sins to deliver us out of our bondage to sin and to empower us to walk in his holiness and righteousness free from the control of sin. His grace does not just forgive us our sins, but his grace frees us from the power of sin over our lives so that we now become slaves of righteousness, instead.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 ESV

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
‘Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.’”

Once liberated from our slavery to sin, and brought into God’s eternal kingdom, we can now rejoice that Jesus set us free! But, we are not free if all we do is acknowledge Jesus and what he did for us, or if we just accept his forgiveness, but we don’t ever repent of our sins and turn from them and to God to follow Jesus in obedience to his commands (Rom. 6:1-23).

For, freedom in Christ is not merely freedom from punishment of sin or just freedom from hell. But it is freedom from the chains which bind us which keep us living in sin and doing what our evil hearts desire.

For our enemy is not just hell or just our sinful state from birth, but it is the entrapment of sin in our lives. It is that which keeps us walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit, and which continually leads us to commit adultery and to lie about it as a cover-up, and to cheat, and to steal, and to lust.

So, when the Lord Jesus cleared away our enemies so that we should no longer fear evil, he put sin to death on that cross and he conquered sin, Satan, death and hell in both his death and in his resurrection. And, this is so that we could be crucified with him in death to sin, and so that we might be resurrected with him to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-26).

And, this is much cause for rejoicing!! For sin truly is no longer our master! Jesus is our only Lord!! We yield to him as a matter of life course, not to sin. And, therein lies true peace, true joy, and true freedom that can only come by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ.

But this faith is not an experience or a thought or a feeling. It is of God and therefore it submits to God, and it walks in obedience to his commands. For, Jesus said that his sheep listen to him, not just with their ears, but with their hearts, and that they follow (obey) him. And, they are the ones who cannot be snatched out of God’s hands (Jn. 10:27-30; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).

He Gave Me a Song

Songwriter: Alton Howard

He took my burdens all away, up to a brighter day…
Brighter the way grows ev’ry day, walking the heav’nly way…
I am redeemed no more to die, never to say goodbye…
And some of these days in that fair land, sing with the chorus grand…

He gave me a song, to sing about
He lifted me from sin and doubt
O, praise His name, He is my King
A wonderful song He is to me

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