Isaiah 26:1-4 ESV
In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
We, the bride of Christ (his body, his church), who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, are this strong city, the Holy City of God. Our stronghold – our fortress – is our salvation from our slavery to sin. It is the fortification for our lives because it not only delivers us from our bondage to sin, but it empowers us to walk righteously before our God.
For, by God-given faith in Jesus Christ, via death to sin, and turning to God to follow our Lord in obedience, we are not only saved from our sins, but we enter into relationship with God Almighty and into his eternal kingdom. And, the Holy Spirit of God indwells us and empowers us to live holy lives, pleasing to God. And, in his power and strength we are then able to keep the faith, because our dependence is on God and no longer on ourselves.
Prior to us believing in Jesus Christ, we are not at peace with God. We are separate from God because of our sins. But, when Jesus died on that cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. So, when he died, he put our sins to death with him that we might die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness.
His blood, shed on a cross for our sins, purchased us back for God that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us, and in order that we might now glorify God with our lives (1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
So, when we put our hope and our trust in Jesus Christ, and in his gospel of salvation, and in his Word (the Bible), we have peace with God, and we are no longer condemned to die in our sins. But, we must know here that this is not a one-time event that takes place in our lives. Faith must be continuous, and it must be present tense, and it must endure to the end, scripture says.
So, that is why this scripture here says that it is the nation (spiritually speaking) that keeps (retains, preserves) faith which may enter into God’s eternal kingdom. For, trust in the Lord is not a religion. It is a lifestyle. For, if we truly trust Jesus Christ with our lives, we will submit to his Lordship over our lives. We will surrender our wills to him. We will walk in his ways, and we won’t live any longer to please our sinful flesh (Rom. 8:1-17).
This is not saying we will never sin. But, genuine faith in Jesus Christ no longer walks (in lifestyle, in practice) according to our sinful flesh, but it now walks (lives) according to the Spirit of God, to please God by our lives. And, this is a process of daily dying to sin and self, and by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the flesh. And, it is daily putting on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, too (Eph. 6:10-20).
And, one day, when Jesus comes back to take us home to be with him, our salvation will be complete, and we will be made perfect, for then we will have glorified bodies, not these fleshly bodies. Sin, sickness, disease, pain, sorrow, and crying will be no more. Until then, we press on in the strength of the Lord, one day at a time walking with him, doing what he says, resisting the devil, fleeing temptation, and putting on faith, hope and love.
Isaiah 26:7-9 ESV
The path of the righteous is level;
you make level the way of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
We can’t be righteous before God in our own flesh. We can never be good enough to earn or to deserve our own salvation, for our flesh is corrupted by sin and decay. No amount of “good works,” done in our flesh, will ever make us acceptable to God, nor will we be able to work our way into heaven.
Only by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, via surrender to our Lord, and allowing him to empower us to live righteously, will any of us be able to walk that path of righteousness, which is level – steady, firm, straight, narrow and unwavering – free from irregularities and twists.
But, it doesn’t just happen. We are not marionettes on a set of strings which God then pulls. We have to choose to obey the Lord. We have to choose daily to surrender to him and to his will, and to not go our own way. Daily we must put sin and self to death, by the Spirit of God. We are not forced into slavery to God and to his righteousness. We must choose it for ourselves. We must be willing servants of our Lord God (Rom. 6:1-23).
So, because we live in these flesh bodies, which are at war with the Spirit of God, this is a daily battle. Yet, it is not a “struggle” as some claim, meaning that they regularly and consistently resist the Spirit of God, and they flee the Spirit’s promptings, and they draw near to sin and the flesh, instead. And, then they say they are “struggling,” as though that makes it ok with God.
A battle is different. In a battle we are daily resisting Satan, fleeing temptation, and we are putting on the armor of God. Again, it doesn’t mean the enemy will never gain on us, or that we won’t ever fail. But, a battle is different from sin, confess, sin, confess, etc., which is more a matter of habitual sin which never is followed by true repentance and change. But it just keeps recycling the same patterns of behavior over and over again.
So, because our flesh is at war with the Spirit, and the Spirit is at war with the flesh, and we are in a daily battle (spiritual warfare), therefore our Lord causes, or he allows, or he brings about trials and tribulations to test our faith so that we will learn righteousness, holiness, submission, and humility. Through these divine disciplines we are being made holy, and we are growing in the grace and strength of the Lord and in his wisdom, too.
Isaiah 26:10-11 ESV
If favor is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.
So many people today are teaching God’s grace as though it is a free license to continue in slavery (addiction) to sin, only without guilt. They see his free gift of salvation as freedom to keep on sinning, for now everything is covered under grace, and their eternal destiny is secure, so they think. They see it, too, as “fire insurance,” that gets them out of hell, and into heaven, or so they think, as well. For, they also see faith as some kind of one-time decision for Christ, but which does not have to impact their lifestyles.
So, when this kind of “grace” is being taught, the people don’t learn righteousness, for they think it is optional, and sometimes even discouraged, as it is often regarded as “works-based salvation,” which it is not!
Is our salvation free? Yes! Is it a gift from God to us? Absolutely! But, we have to understand what that “gift” and what our “salvation” really are, for they are not freedom to live however we want while claiming heaven as our eternal destiny. That is no freedom at all! And, that certainly isn’t true grace if it leaves us still bound in our sin believing in a false hope of salvation.
God’s grace to us, his free gift of salvation, is free to us because Jesus is the one who paid the price for it on the cross. But, what he paid for is not what everyone thinks. What he paid for, what his blood bought was us back for God as his possession and us surrendered to his will for our lives, no longer living to please our sinful flesh, but living to please the Spirit of God in the power, strength and wisdom of God now living within us (1 Co. 6:20).
God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. His salvation teaches us that we are to leave our lives of sin behind us, and that we are to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin to now living for our Lord and for his righteousness (Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Our faith in Jesus Christ is not freedom to keep on sinning without guilt. It is freedom to cease from living sinful lifestyles, and it is freedom from the control of sin over our lives. And, thus it requires that we die daily with Christ to sin and self and that we live daily for God and for his righteousness. And, suffering is part of the Christian life, too, because that is what God uses to train us in righteousness and holiness. So, we need it.
An Original Work / August 29, 2018
Your bond is broken
With your Lord and Savior
And, your testimony is
Separate from Him.
Your words not matching
Your actions today.
Repent of your sin and
Bow down and pray.
Live what you testify
In truth always.
Purity’s lacking in
Your life and witness,
For you profess one thing,
But other you do.
Not moral, spiritual.
Still of the flesh.
Not living in truth to
What you confess.
Lying about it
Puts you in a mess.
Living a lie is your practice,
‘tis true of you.
Masquerade righteousness –
None of it true.
Your heart is not given
To your Lord God.
Because of how you live,
You are a fraud.
Turn from your sin and
Give your life to God.