Sunday, March 19, 2017, 10:09 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Unless You Are Born Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 9 (Select vv. NASB).
Light and Darkness (vv. 2-7)
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian…
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, and without hope, due to the fall of Adam in the garden (See: Ro. 3:23; 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). We are under a curse, and the law says we must pay the penalty of death (for eternity) for our sin. Yet, in our flesh we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We will never be good enough. The law is powerless to save us. So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ in the likeness of sinful flesh to be our blood sacrifice to take away the sins of the world. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, God “condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (See: Ro. 8:1-14).
Jesus Christ is the Great Light which has shone and is still shining in the darkness. He died on the cross, not just to take our punishment for sin, and to free us from the punishment of sin, but to deliver us out of slavery to sin, i.e. to lift (break) that burden (yoke) of sin from our shoulders. He freed us from the control of Satan over our lives, and he freed us to now walk in his holiness and righteousness. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. For those who have believed in Jesus with God-given faith, who have died with Christ to sin, and who have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, they rejoice in their newfound freedom. God has delivered them out of darkness, and he has brought them into his wonderful light.
Pride Before a Fall (vv. 8-12)
The Lord has sent a word against Jacob,
and it will fall on Israel;
and all the people will know,
Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
who say in pride and in arrogance of heart:
“The bricks have fallen,
but we will build with dressed stones;
the sycamores have been cut down,
but we will put cedars in their place.”
But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him,
and stirs up his enemies.
The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west
devour Israel with open mouth.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.
Not everyone takes God and his Word seriously, though. Not everyone believes the truth of the gospel of our salvation. Many do not revere God and so they take matters into their own hands. If God disciplines them, for the purpose that they will turn from their sin, they, in pride, plot how they will go right back to what they were doing before. Maybe this time, though, they will do it a different way, thinking they will not get caught this time. They ignore all the warnings God gives them, and they act as though God does not see their wickedness, or as though he will do nothing about it. But, just because he hasn’t so far does not mean he won’t. He has held off, in many cases, because he is patient, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But, his Word will be fulfilled!
False Guides (vv. 13-17)
The people did not turn to him who struck them,
nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.
So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail,
palm branch and reed in one day—
the elder and honored man is the head,
and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail;
for those who guide this people have been leading them astray,
and those who are guided by them are swallowed up.
Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men,
and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows;
for everyone is godless and an evildoer,
and every mouth speaks folly.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.
There are many false guides of the people, many of whom profess to know God and who claim to be preachers of the Word of God. Yet, they have not been born again of the Spirit of God. They are still operating in the flesh, and they are leading others to follow the flesh of man, too, and to buy into the lies of Satan. They have not repented of their sins because they believe they don’t have to. They see God’s grace as a free license to continue in sin without guilt, without remorse, and absent of punishment. Yet, they don’t do this out of ignorance, or at least most of them don’t, I believe. They don’t ignore the truth because they don’t know the truth, but because the truth does not fit with their lifestyles, and with the lifestyles of the people they are hoping to gain as their followers. And, so they alter the truth to fit the flesh.
Thus we have many popular preachers today preaching a diluted half-truth gospel which appeals to the flesh, but which does not put sin to death in sinful human beings, but rather it entertains it. Some of them come close to preaching the truth, but they still make light of God’s gift of grace and mock the very reason for which Christ died, which is that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Still others are preaching a “gospel” which is hardly even recognizable as the gospel of Jesus at all. When a preacher tells you that Jesus died merely to take your punishment for sin, but he doesn’t tell you that he died that we might become the righteousness of God, then he is lying to you. If he sells God’s grace as “life insurance” against all sin, but he doesn’t tell you that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, he is lying.
God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not a get-out-of-jail-free card to anyone who merely “receives” his grace, whatever that is supposed to mean, but who thinks his grace is a free license to continue in sin without punishment. God’s grace teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. His Word teaches us that is we walk according to the flesh, even after we say we have believed in Jesus or have received his grace, we will die in our sins. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. Some people call this works-based salvation, but it is what Jesus, Paul and the other apostles taught (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).
One day we will all have to appear before God and to give an account of what we did with Jesus Christ and his gift of grace to us. If we think God’s grace gives us liberty to live however we want and still claim heaven as our eternal destiny, then we need to think again. If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). Yet, we can’t please God in our own flesh. Grace is his gift to us, as is the faith to believe in Jesus, and thus faith is God’s divine persuasion to us of his will for our lives. It is spiritual, not fleshly. So, true faith turns from wickedness and turns to follow our Lord in obedience, because the faith comes from God and not from our own flesh. Even repentance is granted to us, and we are empowered of God to obey him.
When Paul (Saul) was called of Jesus to be his servant-witness, his commission was to open blinded eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation. Believing in Jesus Christ involves surrendering our lives to him, yielding to the cross of Christ, dying with Christ to sin, and living with Christ to his righteousness – all in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit now living within those of us who have been born again from above. So, if you have not done so, please give your hearts to Jesus today, and truly make him your Savior and your Lord (owner-master).
Unless You Are Born Again
An Original Work / November 3, 2013
Based off John 3:1-21
Nicodemus came to Jesus.
He acknowledged God was with Him.
Jesus said, “You can’t see heaven
Unless you are born again.”
“How can a man be born when he’s old?
Can he enter into his mother’s womb?”
Jesus answered, “Flesh is flesh,
So of the Spirit, you must be.”
Jesus said to Nicodemus,
“You’re a teacher, and yet you don’t
Understand of what I tell you,
Because you will not believe.
“For God so loved the world that He gave
His one and His only Son for your sin.
So, whoever believes in Him
Has eternal life in heav’n.
“Light has come into the world,
But human beings love the darkness,
Because their deeds are so evil,
So in truth, they stand condemned.
“Everyone who practices evil
Fears that the Light will expose his sin.
Yet, whoever lives his life by the Light
Does so through his God.”