Isaiah 29:13-14 ESV
“And the Lord said:
‘Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.’”
Professers of Faith
Many people today are professing faith in Jesus Christ. Some of them “prayed a prayer to receive Christ into their hearts,” and others merely acknowledged the existence of Jesus and of his sacrifice for sins, while others merely acknowledged his grace and accepted what they heard.
But a large number of these people have bought into a cheapened form of God’s grace and of his provision of salvation via his death on a cross. They have bought into a grace and a faith and a salvation which requires nothing of them other than to “believe,” but even that belief is not biblical faith.
Thus, they do draw near to God with their mouths, and they do give lip service to God, but their hearts are far from God/Jesus Christ, because they refuse to submit to his Lordship over their lives, for they believe they don’t have to obey him, and they are not willing to forsake their sinful practices.
And this is because they are following “commandments” taught by human beings (not of God), i.e., they are following man-made religion and a man-made gospel which is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it is a diluted, altered, and adulterated version of God’s true gospel of grace.
For, they are teaching that a mere confession of Christ as Savior is enough to secure them heaven when they die regardless of how they live their lives while they are still on the face of the earth. It is surface level only faith which does nothing to change the heart or to deliver from slavery to sin.
For, no change is required. It is sometimes suggested or recommended, but there are no consequences to the “believer” if he/she does not change.
Change is Required
But the true gospel of grace teaches that we must be crucified with Christ in death to sin, not just once, but daily, that we must then be resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, and that we must then walk (in practice, in conduct) no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Tit 2:11-14; Lu 9:23-26).
It teaches that Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and that we might live to him and to his righteousness. It teaches that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life for us. And it teaches that Jesus bought us back for God so that we will honor God with our lives (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15, 21; 1 Co 6:19-20).
It also teaches that if we deliberately continue living in sin, making sin our practice (habit, addiction, slavery), that we will not inherit eternal life, but that we will die in our sins (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10).
And it teaches that our salvation is not a one-time deal that secures heaven for us regardless of how we live our lives on this earth. For, it teaches that we are saved (past), we are being saved (present) and that we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns, PROVIDED that we continue in him to the end (Rom 8:24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; Heb 3:6-15).
This is not a gospel of perfection, though. Lightning does not strike us if we sin against God. For Jesus died for us to pay the penalty for our sin and to free us from our slavery to sin so that we will be slaves of God. But we are not condemned every time we sin (1 Jn 2:1-2). But if we deliberately continue making sin our practice, then we are condemned (Gal 5:16-21).
Isaiah 29:15-16 ESV
“Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel,
whose deeds are in the dark,
and who say, ‘Who sees us? Who knows us?’
You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
‘He did not make me’;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
‘He has no understanding’?”
Some people today who profess faith in Jesus Christ have no conscience about sinning against God at all, so they do so out in the open, because they are convinced that God’s grace is free license to continue living in sin. So, they blatantly declare that they can keep sinning as much as they want.
Other people who profess faith in Jesus Christ may not have a conscience about sinning, either, and they are also continuing in sin, but they have a desire to be approved by other Christians who believe sinning against God is wrong, or that certain sins are wrong, and so they hide their sins.
So, outwardly they may have the appearance of righteousness, and they may be able to quote Scriptures or teach the Scriptures, and they may even be pastors of churches, but they are living a lie, for they are living a secret life of sin, often times in sexual immorality, which they want hidden.
They have this false sense of security that no one can see them sinning and so they are safe. But they are “closet” cheap grace gospel Christians. They may give the outward appearance of believing the true gospel, but by their lifestyles they reveal that they are true believers in cheap grace.
They are really denying the Lordship of Christ over their lives, for they have taken God’s control away and they have made themselves masters of their own lives. They may honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from God, for they, too, are following a gospel of men (of humans).
So, the Lord is calling out through his word and through his servants to those professing faith in Jesus Christ, but in lip service only, to humble themselves and to repent of all known sins and to now follow him in obedience to his will and to his ways, for that is the only way to God.
In the Hour of Trial
Lyrics by James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Music by Spencer Lane (1843-1903)
In the hour of trial, Jesus, pray for me,
Lest by base denial, I depart from Thee;
When Thou seest me waver, with a look recall,
Nor for fear or favor suffer me to fall.
With its witching pleasures, would this vain world charm
Or its sordid treasures spread to work me harm,
Bring to my remembrance sad Gethsemane
Or, in darker semblance, cross-crowned Calvary.
If with sore affliction, Thou in love chastise,
Pour Thy benediction on the sacrifice.
Then upon Thine altar, freely offered up,
Though the flesh may falter, faith shall drink the cup.
When in dust and ashes, to the grave I sink,
While heaven’s glory flashes o’er the shelving brink,
On Thy truth relying, through that mortal strife,
Lord, receive me, dying, to eternal life.
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