If It Fits

Thursday, November 9, 2017, 9:54 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 1 (Quoting select vv. NASB).

OLD and NEW

The nation of Israel of Old Testament times, and before Jesus Christ’s death on a cross for our sins, was in a unique situation, to be unequalled by any other nation on this earth, including by the present-day physical nation of Israel. It was not only a self-governed physical nation, but it was also a spiritual nation comprised of the (then) people of God, who were the Jews. No other self-governed nation on this earth will be like that again. For, God’s people, his holy nation, now is not a physical nation, but solely a spiritual one. And, it is comprised ONLY of those who are followers of Jesus Christ.

So, although we can’t make exact parallels between the Israel of old, and true spiritual Israel today, there is much which can be learned from this passage of scripture and applied to the church today, but, perhaps more specifically, to locations where this type of situation now exists among God’s people, his church. So, as the saying goes, “If the shoe fits, wear it.”

This Trampling (vv. 10-15)

Hear the word of the Lord,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.
“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
“When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
“Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
“I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.

Today, the bulk of the church in America fits this scenario, I believe, only not with the literal sacrifices of burnt offerings, but with religious exercises, such as attending church services, serving in church ministry, and feeding the poor, etc. They go through the motions of Christian service, but their hearts are far from God, because they are still living like the world, engaging in the same sinful behaviors as the world, and closing their eyes and ears to God’s commands, many of them thinking they don’t have to obey God because they are now under grace. Yet, they forget that God’s grace instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

So, because they go through the motions of sacrifice to God, but they are not willing to put their own lives on the altar of sacrifice, as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is their acceptable worship of God, God is not pleased with them. But, it isn’t just that he is displeased with them, but he is indignant about their hypocrisy, much like Jesus was with the Pharisees in the New Testament (same idea), or with the money changers in the temple who were turning God’s house of prayer into a marketplace. He is tired of them bringing their sacrifices to him while they “play church” and then they “veg out” on fantasy, immorality and all kinds of wickedness, all for the sake of entertainment, thinking God’s grace now covers it all.

He sees many of their religious services as a “trampling” of his courts, and that is, indeed, what many of them are. Houses of prayer have been turned into theatres and stage productions, i.e. houses of entertainment and sensuality. He sees many of their shepherds (pastors/elders) as clowns whose goal it is to entertain the people and to coddle them, and not as men of God, holy and righteous, who are preaching repentance, holiness, and obedience as necessary parts of genuine believing faith in Jesus Christ. And, he sees many of his people, and/or those who profess to belong to him, acting all religious, when in a gathering of the church, but living not much different from the world outside of such gatherings.

Wash Yourselves (vv. 16-17)

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.

So, this is a call to those to whom “the shoe fits” to wash yourselves, and to make yourselves clean, not that any of us can do this in our own flesh, but only in the power of the Spirit of God. And yet, we must submit to the Spirit’s work in our lives, and yield to the will of God, and follow in his ways, if we are to be clean (pure, holy). And, this is not just OT. This is what the NT teaches, too (See: Jas. 4:7-10; 2 Co. 7:1; 2 Tim. 2:21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

So, how do we do this? First of all, we have to humble ourselves before God, and before others whom we have sinned against, and we must confess and repent of our sins, not just generally, but specifically, and then we must turn away from those sins and turn to follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. I know this sounds over-simplified, so let me explain it in a little more depth. If you continue to play with fire, you will get burned. You can’t walk in victory if you are still playing with temptation. If you are not willing to go the distance to cleanse your lives of your sins of adultery against God, then you most likely will keep repeating the same sins.

In other words, you will not have victory over lust if what you are taking into your mind every day is images of adultery, fornication, sensuality, seductiveness, flirtation, and what is sexually suggestive. You will not conquer your addiction to pornography, or sexual addiction of any kind, if you keep following the same old patterns you have been following, and you don’t guard your heart, and you are not willing to cut out of your life what leads you down this path. You will not lose weight if you keep stuffing your face with food every couple of hours. You will not stop gossiping if you surround yourselves with people who love to gossip or if you will not stop in mid-sentence and admit that what you were saying was not kind. If we don’t take sin seriously, we will stay on the merry-go-round and never get off!!

Let Us Reason (vv. 18-20)

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
“If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
“But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

So, let us reason together. What shall you choose? You may say you want to be free or that you are trying, but are you really? And, this is not just about cutting out of our lives what is displeasing to God, but this is also about submitting to him in obedience to his will for our lives, and choosing to walk in his ways. If all we do is cut out the bad stuff, and then we do nothing, then we are like a thief between jobs. As soon as the temptation comes our way again, it is so easy to just slip back into those old (or regular) patterns. So, we have to develop new patterns, but this is not just about behavioral modification, for if it is, it won’t last, either.

There has to be a heart change. Now, when we truly believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. We are born again of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ which are to be lived to his praise and glory, but not in our own flesh, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. But, this does not mean we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). And, this is not to say that we can’t ever drift away from our pure devotion to Christ and fall back into some of our old sin patterns (See: Rev. 2-3, for example). And, thus we will be in need of being revived (brought back to life) in the Spirit.

So many teachers of the Word today are falsely teaching that repentance and obedience are no longer required by God now that we are under grace. This has left many people still floundering in their sin, either not having ever died with Christ to sin, or feeling at liberty to return to some sins, thinking that God’s grace covers it all. And, so we have churches full of people who are still in bondage to sin in one way or another. This should not be! Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not that we should use his grace as a cop-out for sinful practices. Jesus wants us to not just be free of the punishment of sin, but of our addictions to sin, which is why he died! And, he has made the way for us to be free. We just have to take it!

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Jean Sophia Pigott

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

 

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