This is from my study of Song of Song by M. Bickle. I loved this and thought it was worth sharing.
- Principle #1: God loves and blesses unbelievers
God loves unbelievers even when they rebel against Him and have no regard for Him (Mt. 5:45).
16God so loved the world that He gave His only…Son, that whoever believes… (Jn. 3:16)
8God demonstrates His own love…in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
God blesses evil people. We are not to mistake His blessings on them as His approval of them.
45“…makes His sun rise on the evil and…the good…sends rain on the just and…unjust. (Mt. 5:45)
God is angry at their rebellion and refuses to forgive those who will not repent (Esau, Saul, etc.).
22“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name…?’ 23…I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me…’” (Mt. 7:22-23)
- Principle #2: God enjoys and delights in immature believers
God loves unbelievers, yet He only enjoys believers. Jesus immediately rejoices over us at the time of our repentance. He smiles over us when we begin the growth process with sincere repentance, long before we attain spiritual maturity.
4“What man…having a hundred sheep…does not leave the ninety-nine…and go after the one…? 5…when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6…he calls together his friends…saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents…” (Lk. 15:4-7)
Jesus feels compassion over the prodigals on the day they repent. God revealed His enjoyment of the prodigal son by the father giving him the best robes (Lk. 15:22). This newly repentant, yet immature prodigal son had many areas of his life that still needed transformation.
18“…I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned…’ 20…he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 22…the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet…’” (Lk. 15:18-22)
God enjoys us even in our immaturity. He delighted in David on the day of his repentance.
19He delivered me [David] because He delighted in me… (Ps. 18:19)
Our most sincere efforts to love God are flawed. We are lovely to God even in our weakness.
5I am dark [in my heart], but lovely [to God because of Jesus]… (Song 1:5)
Jesus walked in the anointing of gladness more than any man in history. Gladness is at the center of His personality. Many think of God as being mostly mad or sad when they relate to Him.
9Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions. (Heb. 1:9)
God delights in showing us mercy. He wants us confident that He enjoys us (even in our weakness) as we walk in sincere repentance. Then we run to Him instead of from Him.
18He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. (Mic. 7:18)
24“I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment…for in these I delight.” (Jer. 9:24)
God gives a repentant believer a new beginning as a “first class citizen” each time they repent.
22Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lam. 3:22-23)
God remembers and understands our weaknesses far more than we do. He does not discipline us to the degree that we deserve, nor does He change the way He feels about us in our weaknesses.
10He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him…14For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (Ps. 103:10-14)
Summary: God smiles over our life in a general sense, while He deals with particular sins in us. Several areas of immaturity do not define our entire relationship with God. We are defined by God’s passion for us, receiving the gift of righteousness and by our heart cry to obey Jesus.
- Principle #3: God’s enjoyment is not the same as His approval
The fact that God enjoys us does not mean He overlooks the areas in us that need transformation. God’s enjoyment of a believer is not the same as His approval of all that they do. He corrects areas that He disapproves of so that He might remove all that hinders love (holiness) in us.
10…He [disciplines us] for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. (Heb. 12:10)
God has tender patience for a season with believers who do not repent. They must not confuse His patience with His approval. Jesus gave Jezebel and her disciples in Thyatira time to repent.
11Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. (Eccl. 8:11)
When we neglect to honestly and thoroughly confront sin in our heart we are not loved less by God, but we do suffer loss in several ways. We minimize our ability to experience the joy of our salvation, the spirit of revelation, godly fellowship and to receive eternal rewards.
God patiently suffers long with us in His love as He works to lead us to repentance.
4Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Rom. 2:4)
4Love suffers long and is kind…7bears all things…endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
- Principle #4: God’s discipline is not the same as His rejection of us
God’s correction is not His rejection, rather it is proof of His love. God hates the sin yet delights in the person He disciplines.
12Whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Prov. 3:12)
6Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives… (Heb. 12:6)
Jesus rebukes, yet loves believers that are in need of repentance.
19“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19)
To be disciplined means God cares and has not given up on us. It is a terrible thing to “get away with” sin long term because that means God is giving that person over to their sin. God’s discipline is proof that He has not given up on us (Rom. 1:24-28).
24God…gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts… (Rom. 1:24)
32When we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor. 11:32)
God did not give up on His people Israel when even when they were in a season of disobedience.
37For their [children of Israel] heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant. 38But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; 39for He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away… (Ps. 78:37-39)
- Principle #5: God is grieved over the persistent sin of His people
Jesus will vomit lukewarm believers out of His mouth. This does not speak of God casting them away, but of Him feeling sick at heart or grieved over their lives.
16“Because you are lukewarm…I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Rev. 3:16-17)
30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. (Eph. 4:30)
19Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thes. 5:19)
God feels the pain of those He disciplines and continues to consider them as His dearly beloved.
9In all their affliction He was afflicted…in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old. (Isa. 63:9)
7“I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies.” (Jer. 12:7)
When we neglect to thoroughly confront sin in our heart we are not loved less by God but we do suffer loss in several ways. We minimize our ability to experience the joy of our salvation, the spirit of revelation, God’s power, fellowship with God and others, and receiving eternal rewards. We can only fulfill our highest calling and destiny in this age and the age to come by walking in faithful obedience and with a history of diligently seeking God. Faithfulness does not earn our calling for us but it positions us to receive more grace that we might enter into it. The Spirit calls us to diligence that we might enter into our fullness of authority in this age and the age to come.
11We also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power… (2 Thes. 1:11)
We must be confident that God in His love for us will manifest His zeal or jealousy over us. God jealously requires that we live in wholehearted obedience. He zealously insists on that which deepens our relationship with Him and results in our greatness.
5Do you think the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit…in us yearns jealously?” (Jas. 4:5)
- Principle #6: Spiritual disciplines do not earn us God’s favor
Spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, meditation, etc.) are ordained by God as a necessary way to posture our heart to freely receive more grace. These activities do not earn us God’s favor. The power is in the “bonfire of God’s presence” not in our cold hearts that are positioned before it.
God gives to our heart on the basis of how much we hunger for relationship with Him not on how much He loves us (Mt. 5:6). God honors the value we put on the relationship by giving us more according to our spiritual hunger (Gal. 6:8) but He does not love us more. God will not enjoy an obedient believer more in a billion years than He does now (Mal. 3:6).
- Principle #7: maturity allows us to receive more (not be loved more)
God loves us all yet He entrusts a greater measure of power to the mature. He determines the measure of power that He has planned for each to walk in. This measure is different for each believer (Mt. 25:15). Our obedience positions us to walk in whatever that full measure is.
People with greater power in ministry or influence in business are not loved more by God. He will entrust more to us as we mature because it will not damage us nor others. The gifts of the Spirit are given to us by faith (Acts 3:11-12; Gal. 3:5). They are not earned by our discipline. However, our spiritual maturity provides added protection from the counterattack of Satan (Lk. 14:30-32) on those operating in the anointing. Four things increase as we experience more of the Holy Spirit’s power (God’s zeal, Satan’s rage, man’s demands, our emotional capacities).