The Demonstration of a Devout Life
The Demonstration of a Devout Life
Responsive Reading: 1 John 4.7-21
Text: Zechariah 7.7-14 – “Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother…”
· A very important issue providentially comes up.
· Important spiritual issues come to the forefront that cannot be ignored if you are to continue in this Christian walk.
· The issue that arises is a Question of Fasting – (Verse 3) “Should I weep in the 5th month and fast as I have done for so many years?”
· The 5th Month Fast was a Fast mourning the burning of the Temple, considered the saddest day of the Jewish year.
· However, the question is not really about fasting. The Question of Devotion – King James better translates it “separating” which means to abstain (from food and drink, from impurity); specifically to set apart (to sacred purposes), to consecrate or devote myself.
· The fundamental idea of their question was should we continue devoting ourselves in this religious activity of the fifth fast?
· The Lord does not answer the question directly, but in a series of four answers. The first response got to the very heart of the whole issue: “Did you do it for Me? – for Me?” This is the fundamental difference between religious devotion and Godly Devotion. Religious devotion is done unto man and Godly Devotion is done unto God.
· Godly Devotion is a life that is lived in every aspect unto God. It is a life that subjugated to the will of the Lord. That means he considers God in everything, he serves God in everything, every aspect of his common life is unto the Lord and to His glory. Every desire, wish, will and passion is brought under the will of the Father.
· He gives them a Simple test as to whether they are practicing Godly Devotion or Religious Devotion. He asks them – What were you doing before and what were you doing after this devout religious act?
The Lord Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” His reply: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” This is Godly Devotion. But He continued, “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This brings us to the second response of God to this question of fasting. The first answer in the form of a question in verse 5 dealt with the love for God. The second answer, which begins in verse 8, deals with love for your neighbor. “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
The Lord asked them two questions the first, in verse 5, dealt with the heart: Did you do it for me? The second, in verse 6, begins to ask for proof that the heart has been affected. What did you do after the fast or this devout act? Last time I spoke to you under the topic “The Nature of Godly Devotion.” I want to speak to you today under the topic, The Demonstration of a Devote Life.
If a man is truly devout with a Godly devotion, then his devotion to God will be manifest. The primary and crucial manifestation of Godly Devotion is his demonstration of divine and holy affections.
I want to consider two things concerning the Display of Godly affections in a Devout Man. First, I wish to prove that Godly devotion must be manifested to be real. Second, I want see what we are to do in order to demonstrate this devotion.
I. Godly Devotion Must be Manifested
Verse 7 – “Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed?”
- First, we know that true Godly devotion must be manifested because God requires it. In verse 7, the Lord states it clearly for us, “Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaim?” If what you live is a Godly devotion, it will be manifested by obedience to God’s commands.
- The Lord Jesus strongly reiterates this in two respects: “They shall know that you are My disciples if, (John 8.31) you keep My commandments and (John 13.35) you have love one for another.”
- The word of the Lord that comes to you came to your fathers. It is the same word. Nothing has changed in it. This is not an opinion or a philosophy of a man. It is the word of the Lord of hosts.
- He sends it as always by the Holy Spirit. What marks the Bible as authoritative and true is its author. People question the Bible. “Isn’t it a book written by men?” Were it simply a collection of a bunch of men’s teachings or philosophies, it would be a conglomerated mess.
- It comes “through prophets.” One man of God can stand up against an entire nation or majority only because the word of God came through him.
- The Word is unchanging. The truth is unchanging. The climate, the times, the people make no difference. The Word of God remains constant and definite. Because it is the word of God and unchanging, it should be obeyed. Obedience is a manifestation of Godly devotion.
E. The apostle John clearly states that a declaration of devotion to God must be manifested. 1 John 4.7
We know that true Godly devotion is to be manifested. What are we to do to display this Devotion?
II. What are we to do to Display this Devotion?
Galatians 5.14 – “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
A. Verse 9 – The Lord says, “Execute true justice and show mercy and compassion.” Be Just and Merciful! It is a persistent command.
Hosea 12.6 – “Observe mercy and justice…”
Micah 6.8 – “What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Matthew 23.23 – “(you) have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith…”
B. But justice and mercy seem to be opposites:
Justice – strict and absolute. When we think of justice, we often think of someone who is unbending with no compassion or leniency.
Mercy – sympathetic and tolerant and we are apt to think of someone who ignores what is right and just in order to give leniency.
However, this is a gross ignorance, especially in the command of God.
You see this kind of ignorance poignantly displayed in politics. Who is the party who is believed generally to be tough on crime? Republicans. Who is the party who is thought to be most compassionate? The Democrates.
- In the religious flesh it is impossible for justice and mercy to meet. Even one is not meet properly. Matthew 23.23 The Pharisee can try to enact strict and exacting justice and doesn’t do that well because it isn’t “true justice,” but most certainly, there is no mercy or compassion shown. John 18.38-19.6
The Religious can give such a show of emotions as compassion, but it is more than not, anything goes! Our Professor of Counseling in Seminary – “Do not use the Bible or the name of Jesus in a counseling session.” Proverbs 12.10 – “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
- Notice we are to give “true” justice. Didn’t we just hear a sermon from John 7, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” What did the apostle say concerning love? “Love does not envy, is not provoked, thinks no evil, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Judgment is not just for the magistrate.
Sin is not ignored but lovingly confronted. How much more loving is it to go to your brother when he has sinned against you? Every effort is made to restore that brother.
- We are also to show mercy and compassion. “Love suffers long and is kind; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love never fails.”
- But, is this too much to ask? Can Justice and Mercy come together?
· The Lord requires that they do. But is this too much to ask? In the flesh, justice and mercy cannot meet. In contrast to the world, what the Lord requires is Supernatural.
· To restrain ourselves from manifesting our devotion is to suppress the very life of God in us. John began, “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
- But, Justice and Mercy have met! Psalm 85.9-13. Mercy and peace are on one side and truth and righteousness are on the other. Truth requires righteousness and mercy pleads for peace. Ultimately, they come together … on the cross of Jesus where a holy and righteous God administered “true justice” on His only Son all the while having compassion on us, loving us while we were yet sinners showed mercy. Truth got her righteousness and mercy gained her peace all on the cross of Jesus.