Have you noticed how much sin dominates the headlines today? Have you noticed how it is never called sin? Whether you turn to a news channel to hear the latest about some bombing, shooting, or beheading in the name of religion or to a website to read which celebrity is divorcing which other celebrity, you cannot escape both the prevalence of sin in the world and its acceptance in our society. This can prove to be very depressing if we dwell on it for very long. However, we often spend more time thinking about the prevalence of sin around us than we do how we ought to respond to it.
After the Jews returned from captivity to begin anew in Judea, they soon fell into some of the same problems that led to their captivity in the first place, particularly intermarrying with pagan peoples (Ezra 9:1-2). When Ezra found out, he mourned outwardly (Ezra 9:3-4) and offered a prayer on behalf of the people (Ezra 9:5-7). He knew that they enjoyed this opportunity only through the grace of God (Ezra 9:8-9) and that they were failing Him once more (Ezra 9:10-12). While the people saw only what they wanted for themselves, all Ezra could see was the sin (Ezra 9:13-14), and that caused Him to turn in humility to God in full acknowledgement of God’s righteousness despite man’s treachery (Ezra 9:15).
We read such accounts in the Bible and see them as completely normal and expected. But if we can see the quality of Ezra’s character shining through all of this, why do we not respond to sin as he did?
- We should be sad that some people never learn (Ezra 9:1-2). Watching people make the same mistake time and time again can be both disheartening and exhausting, but it is also commonplace.
- Our reaction to sin should send a clear message to everyone (Ezra 9:3-4). Rather than hiding our disapproval from sin, we should advertise it. People should be ashamed of sin—not ashamed of opposing it.
- We should feel the guilt of sin heavily (Ezra 9:5-7). Even if we are just reflecting on the sin around us, we should consider its spiritual ramifications. The guilt of sin carries a high cost (Rom. 3:23). We ought to feel it.
- We should acknowledge God’s grace always (Ezra 9:8-9). If we come to think that we deserve what we have in life, we have lost sight of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man.
- We should confess specifically (Ezra 9:10-12). God knows what sins we are committing. He needs to hear us acknowledge that they are not just mistakes but sins.
- We must recognize what we deserve (Ezra 9:13-14). Despite all of the commercials telling us how many great things we deserve, the fact is that we deserve spiritual death, and only God’s love has prevented us from already receiving it.
- We must see and seek the righteousness of God (Ezra 9:15). We must do more than just expect God to extend His hand to us when we sin; we must repent of our sin and begin reaching back to Him.