The Danger of a Mixed Marriage

7 July 2024 PM – Text: Ezra 9:1-15 – Topic: Marriage, Courtship
Introduction: It ought to be mandatory for every young person, before he or she chooses a sweetheart, to have a good long talk with a Christian who is married to an unbeliever. That married person should tell the young person about the disagreements, the pain, the heartaches, and the grief that such a marriage brings. Over the years, I have known several Christians married to unbelievers. Every one of them struggled with harmony in the marriage. In some cases, the Christian weakened his stand to ease the tension. Being married to an unbeliever is a mixed marriage that will lead to untold heartache.
Transition: I want each of us to pay close attention to the message in Ezra 9 as it addresses this serious sin that is common yet today. It has a very powerful and timely message for us, especially for young people.
1.     Ezra First Identified the Crime
a.      The people had not separated themselves.
1)         Ezra had just arrived from Babylon. He barely had time to recover from the long trip when some of the godly princes of Israel informed him of a serious problem (v.1).
2)         The crime was that the people, priests, and Levites had not separated themselves from the people of the lands. They had failed to keep a proper distance between them and the world.
a)         The nations listed are the pagan nations in and around Israel.
b)         Most of these would not have existed had Joshua’s people completely wiped them out as God had commanded. However, the book of Judges clearly states that they did not obey that command.
3)         The holy seed (those who returned to Israel 80 years earlier to rebuild the temple) had taken daughters of the unbelieving nations for themselves and for their sons (v.2). The believers married the unbelievers. Why was this a sin?
a)         It was against God’s command. Read verses 11-12. See Deuteronomy 7:1-4; Judges 3:6; 1 Kings 11:4.
b)         Lack of separation and intermarriage were the primary causes of the Babylonian captivity. Read verse 7.
c)         History clearly revealed that lack of separation and intermarriage with unbelievers did ruin the morals and spiritual life of God’s people.
b.      Separation among God’s people is still needed today.
1)         The Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul use this principle to instruct Christians regarding separation and intermarriage. Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.
a)         A yoke was a collar that locked two animals together so they could work together. Paul used the yoke figuratively for a human bond.
b)         The strongest human yoke that exists is that of marriage. Living with a partner outside of the marriage yoke is not the answer. God said that to live in sexual union outside of marriage is sin (see Hebrews 13:4).
c)         To be yoked together in marriage with an unbeliever disobeys God’s command and leads to serious conflict (1 Corinthians 7:39). Harmony in the marriage of two Christians is a challenge, but it is impossible if married to an unbeliever (Amos 3:3).
2)         Paul tells us here in 2 Corinthians 6 that the believer and unbeliever have nothing spiritually in common. If you are a true believer, you are the temple of the living God. God dwells in you… (2Co 6:16).
3)         Because you are God’s temple, he commands you to separate from unbelievers (2Co 6:17-18).
4)         Since we have these promises (i.e., announcements) regarding separation, we are to obey 2Co 7:1 (read).
5)         Peer pressure among young people has always been strong, but today with social media, mobile phones, TV, and the Internet, it is at an all-time high. It is not easy to live a separated, godly life in our culture. We cannot constantly mingle with, befriend, and socialise with unbelievers without them influencing us. How can we protect ourselves? Let me give you a few suggestions.
a)         Spend quality time in the Bible and prayer every day.
b)         Do not feed your soul with the world’s music, godless TV or videos, rubbish Internet, or wicked talk.
c)         Seek God’s wisdom in choosing friends.
d)         Live your life to the glory of God including your thoughts, words, actions, and activities.
e)         Be a testimony for the Lord. Do NOT be like a fly trap. Fly traps work because their smell attracts flies. If your testimony smells like God, you will not attract the devil’s flies.
6)         Young people, never choose a sweetheart until you are old enough to marry. Having a sweetheart is not for recreation. When old enough for marriage and you look for a sweetheart, look first at their spiritual life, then at their character. Character is FAR more important than good looks (Pr 31:30). If they are not what they ought to be, never think that you will change them for the better. That seldom happens. Most of all, never ever choose a sweetheart who is not a godly Christian. If you follow these words of advice, they will help you avoid a lifetime of heartache.
2.     Ezra Next Made His Confession.
a.      News of the crime broke his heart.
1)         He tore his clothes, pulled out some of his hair and beard (v.3).
2)         He sat down astonied (i.e., appalled, stunned, horrified) (v.3).
3)         Others who trembled at God’s Word sat down with him (v.4).
b.      He poured out his heart to God.
1)         At the time of the evening sacrifice, he fell on his knees, spread out his hands unto the Lord and prayed.
2)         He expressed his shame to God (v.6).
3)         He confessed the nation’s sin (v.6).
4)         He acknowledged the problem (v.7).
5)         He credited God for his grace and little reviving (v.8-9).
6)         He rehearsed God’s command of old (v.11-12).
7)         He admitted that if they break this command after all the mercy God had shown them, God had every right to consume them (v.13-14).
8)         He committed this great burden to the Lord (v.15).
Conclusion: Ezra had identified the crime, and he made his confession. Intermarriage with unbelievers had sent the nation into captivity 150 years earlier, and now the people were intermarrying again. They were heading for big trouble.
God’s lesson for us is to parents. We must teach, train, discipline, and guide our children so that they will wait until ready for marriage to find sweethearts, keep themselves pure, and find spouses that are faithful, godly Christians.
Young people, God’s message to you is to cooperate with your parents on this, wait until ready for marriage to find a sweetheart, never give your heart to an unbelieving sweetheart, keep yourself pure until marriage, begin now to pray daily that God will keep you faithful and lead you in his perfect timing to the godly spouse he has prepared for you.
Song: Trust and Obey 261