The Rebellious and Defiled
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 speaks today to the rebellious and adulterous church who has turned away from her pure devotion to the Lord to follow after other humans and the ways of the world and of the flesh. God is speaking to her, but she is not listening, and so she continues to go on in her sin.
She is rebellious because she knows the ways of the Lord. She knows what the Scriptures teach. She knows right from wrong, and yet she continues to do wrong and not right. For, she continues in her adulteries, her lies, and her excuses for why she is still where she is.
Not only is she doing what she knows is wrong, but she is oppressing those who are doing right and who are living by faith according to the Scriptures and according to the Spirit of God. For, she has accepted a cheapened gospel of grace which denies Jesus as Lord of her life.
She has accepted this half-truth false gospel message, and she has incorporated it into the life of the church. And it is what she is proclaiming in place of the true gospel of grace. So, she is rejecting the true gospel and its messengers, and she is opposing the truth strongly.
She is putting her hope and trust in other humans to save her from what ails her rather than to put her hope and trust in God, and in God alone. Thus, she has turned away from the Lord to follow after “other gods.” And they are what she worships rather than her worshipping God/Christ alone.
Her Officials are Roaring Lions
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.”
Who are her officials? They are certainly her pastors, elders, and deacons, and they are denominational leaders at district levels all the way to the top of denominational headquarters. But in the USA, if the church is incorporated under the state, her officials are also government officials.
And this is one of the big ways in which she rebelled against God, too, by joining with the US government in an unequally yoked relationship, and thus also uniting with the world of big business. Thus, she turned God’s house into a marketplace which she is marketing to the world.
But many of these officials are indeed “roaring lions” out to conquer and to snare and to besiege the church and to bring her under their authority and rule and not under the authority and rule of the Lord Jesus. For, there are many charlatans and wolves in sheep’s clothing in these “churches.”
This is no small thing, either, nor did it just happen by circumstance, but this is a plot of Satan to kill and to destroy the church. It is a coordinated effort of people in high up positions within denominations and within the government who have convinced the church to “play along,” too.
So now the gatherings of the church largely have become Christianized versions of what the world is offering in the way of entertainment and motivational speaking and games and activities meant for the people to have fun and to laugh and to have a “good time.”
And the gospel has then been diluted to accommodate the world and the flesh of humans to make it more palatable and acceptable. But it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ they are teaching, but a very twisted gospel which is of Satan who is out to destroy Jesus, his gospel, and us.
So, they are teaching we can “believe” in Jesus and that heaven is guaranteed us when we die, but that God requires nothing of us in the way of repentance, obedience, or submission to him as Lord. Some of them make this optional or recommended, while others discourage it altogether.
But the Lord continues to speak truth to her through his word and through his servants who are still sharing the gospel which Jesus taught. And some people are listening, but many are still not. For the cheap grace gospel gives them free license to continue living in their sin without guilt.
Since they believe that heaven is guaranteed them when they die, no matter how they live their lives on this earth, they have no motivation or desire to live for the Lord and to forsake their sins, and so they continue, convinced that God is going to let them into his heaven.
The Lord Has Taken Away…
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.’”
But there is hope! The Lord Jesus has made a way for us out from underneath the control and weight of sin and death. He died on that cross for us so that we could be rescued from the power of sin over our lives, and so that we would be delivered from our bondage to sin (Rom 6:1-23).
But we don’t have this freedom from sin and this deliverance from our slavery to sin, and from the punishment of sin, based on words we say. For, faith in Jesus Christ is divine persuasion as to God’s will and purpose for our lives. So, if we are persuaded of God, we will surrender to his purposes.
We will die with him to sin and we will live to him and to his righteousness in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit alive and at work within our hearts and lives in conforming us to the likeness of Christ. And we will walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh (Rom 8:1-17).
For, Jesus Christ said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, and we must take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and self), and we must follow (walk in obedience to) him. For, if we hold on to our lives of sin, we will lose them for eternity, but if we die with Christ to sin, we will have eternal life with God (Luke 9:23-26; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-17).
So, please take this to heart. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (death). But if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. We are all going to be judged one day by what we did, not by what we said.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
The following is a secular song, but these words express God’s words to us, that we would let him be our freedom, that we would let him shelter us and be our light, and that we would find our hope, and our peace and safety in him and not in the things of this dark world. All he asks of us is that we love him, which means we submit to him as Lord, and we obey his commands.
All I Ask of You
by Andrew Lloyd Webber
No more talk of darkness,
Forget these wide-eyed fears;
I’m here, nothing can harm you,
My words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom,
Let daylight dry your tears;
I’m here, with you, beside you,
To guard you and to guide you.
Let me be your shelter,
Let me be your light…
Love me, that’s all I ask of you.
Caution: This link may contain ads