Summary: The Gospel According to Hosea That Vicious Cycle, part 4
The Gospel According to Hosea
That Vicious Cycle, part 4
We are back in our summer series, The Gospel According to Hosea, looking at God's faithful love for an unfaithful people. Today I want to describe a cycle that our lives follow and that Hosea follows. This is the pattern: God's Grace, Our Disgrace, God's Discipline, and God's Amazing Grace. Our spiritual lives start with God's grace. God finds us and brings us into the family even though we do not deserve it! Then comes our disgrace. Even though God lavishes us with love that we don't deserve, we constantly spit in his face and wander from him. Next is God's discipline. Because the Lord never stops loving us, even when we resist him, he brings circumstances into our lives to induce us to return to him. Last comes God's amazing grace. God cannot wait for us to come back to him and warmly receives us with open arms, no strings attached. That is the cycle or story line of my life and your life.
1. God's Grace (vs. 1)
No one is ever treated as their sins deserve in this life. If we have come to faith in Christ then God ups the ante and we are never treated as our sins deserve, period. We get a permanent get out of jail free card like you get in Monopoly. All that we deserve, God's judgement for our sin, was put on Christ when he died on the cross. That is no small matter. But if you have not come to faith in Christ you will be treated as your sins deserve. You will be judged by God for your sin and experience God's wrath for all eternity. It is inescapable. Do not misinterpret his mercy in your life as leniency on his part. Hosea starts out this section identifying the nation as the children of Israel, reminding them of God's grace in choosing them as his people. God chose Israel out of all the nations of the world, as a display of his love for them in particular. They did not earn it nor did they deserve it; it was shear grace. He chose them, knowing they would be problem children yet he did it anyway. What makes their whoredom so offensive is that it is an affront to God's sovereign, electing love. And that is the same love God has toward his new covenant people, the church, you and me.
2. Our Disgrace (vs. 1-2; 6; 10)
God accuses Israel of three things: no faithfulness, no steadfast love, and no knowledge of God. No faithfulness, means they are not reliable in fulfilling their part of the covenant, obeying God. Similarly, no steadfast love, is a lack of loyalty to the covenant. And last, no knowledge of God, is a rejecting of God and his authority in their lives. God expected Israel to be faithful to him just as any spouse would expect from their partner. The list of sins in verse two shows that Israel was pursing other lovers; that characterized their history from the beginning to this day.
We make up all kinds of reasons for disobedience; I know I hear them all the time! “I can't do it, it is too hard, I am emotionally broken, I am free to do what I want, grace covers me, etc. It boils down to choosing your lover. Will you choose to believe and embrace God and his grace or some other lover. Is God making that accusation to you today– there is no faithfulness, nor steadfast love, nor the knowledge of God in your life? You are pursuing other lover(s), living in unrepentant and unconfessed sin. Do not make the mistake of interpreting God's mercy as leniency toward your sin. There are always consequences to sin and rebellion. There are natural consequences to sin, the worst of which is that you become like that which you love and worship. If you worship God, trust him and obey his commands, you are shaped into his image but if you worship idols, trust and obey them, you are shaped into their image. Fortunately God does not abandon you to your sin. As any loving father does, he disciplines us to bring us back to himself.
3. God's Discipline (vs. 3a; 4-5; 6-7; 9-10)
God disciplined Israel in a number of ways during their history. He brought prophets to rebuke them, he brought sickness and death, he brought calamities, and he even defeated them at the hands of their enemies. He did it because he loved them and sought to bring them back to himself. God employs two kinds of discipline as a means of his grace in our lives, corrective and formative. Corrective discipline is when God spanks us for living with unconfessed or unrepentant sin. You will never get spanked for being a sinner but you will get spanked for refusing to turn from your sin to God. The second form of discipline is formative. Formative discipline is when God molds and shapes us through the circumstances of life not because we have sinned but so that we will be formed into the image of Christ. God loves you so much that he will bring whatever it takes, circumstances, difficulties, pain, or suffering, into your life to form you into the character of Christ. God's discipline is a means of his grace, a channel of his love for you. Here is where the challenge comes. In those moments when life is difficult, we are tempted to think that the pain is evidence that God has given up on you, has forsaken you, or does not love you when it is just the opposite. It is because he loves you and has not given up on you, he will never give up on you, that he brings suffering, pain, and difficulties into our lives. God is saying, 'I love you so much I am going to do whatever it takes to bring you back to me and to make you like Christ. Pain and suffering are signs that God still loves you and is there for you and is seeking to keep you near and tender. This pain may come in the form of a rebuke from a friend, a hard conversation, an intervention, this sermon, praying with someone, the loss of a job, a difficult marriage, even the death of a loved one. And the last leg of the cycle is God's amazing grace.