Isaiah 40:3-5 ESV
“A voice cries:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken’.”
A Voice Cries
What are you passionate about? What angers or excites you? What gets your “blood boiling,” and what fills you with joy and wonder? When you are with your friends, what do you talk about the most? When you are on social media, if you are, what do you share with others?
What is inside of you, in your heart and mind, that you just can’t hold inside but that you have to give out? What news must you tell others? What just bubbles up inside of you until it spills out? When you are with other Christians, what do your conversations revolve around?
As followers of Jesus, we are to be passionate about him and about his gospel to the point that we are crying it out to other people. We can’t hold it inside. And we are to be passionate about godliness, holiness, purity, and honesty and against lies, adulteries, faithlessness, and impurity.
We should hate the things that God hates and love the things that he loves. We should prefer what he prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, honest, pure, and upright. And we should hate lies and deception, especially deception that alters the gospel to make it more appealing to the flesh.
Prepare the Way
The way of the Lord is the way of holiness and righteousness, purity and honesty, faithfulness and commitment, and obedience and loyalty to God. It is the way of suffering, of dying with Christ to sin, and of living to Christ and to his righteousness, all in the power of God living within us.
So, how do we prepare the way of the Lord? We do it first of all through our own surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ in dying with him to sin and in living to him and to his righteousness. And then we do it through prayer, through the study of God’s word (in context), and through obedience.
And then we share with others what we are learning from our times of study of God’s word, and in sharing how the Lord has spoken to us, and in sharing practical ways in which we can apply the truths of Scripture to our daily lives, but particularly in the sharing of the gospel of our salvation.
But we need to make sure that the gospel we are sharing is the gospel of the Scriptures, and the one taught by Jesus and by his New Testament apostles. For, the gospel is being attacked and adulterated, and it is being altered to fit with the desires of human flesh.
And this is why it is critical that we get our truth from the Scriptures and that we test everything we hear and read against the Scriptures to make sure that what we are hearing or reading is indeed the truth. For, many false teachings abound, and they are often rooted in Scriptures taught outside their context, and thus made to say something they are not saying.
So, when we test what we hear, we need to read the Scriptures in their context, and not pull Scriptures out of context, and thus make them to say what they are not saying. So, if we are being given a specific verse in the Bible and we are being told what it means, read that whole book of the Bible so that you get what it means in the whole context.
For example, Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In context, it is talking about Jesus setting us free from our slavery to sin so we can become slaves of his righteousness, and how sin is to no longer have dominion over us.
It says we are not to continue in sin, that we died to sin, if we believed in Jesus with genuine faith, so we should not let sin reign in our bodies so that we obey its passions. For, we are slaves to whomever we obey, and if it be sin, it will end in death, but if obedience, it leads to righteousness.
So, we are to present ourselves (our bodies) as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification, and its end is eternal life. For, the wages (the payment, the fruit) of sin (living in sin, being slaves of sin) is death. But the free gift of God (deliverance from slavery to sin and empowerment to be slaves of righteousness) is eternal life.
So, this is not saying that if you “believe” in Jesus your sins are forgiven and now you have eternal life guaranteed you when you die and that nothing can take it away. It is saying that if you remain slaves to sin, it ends in death, but if you die to sin and live to righteousness (the gift of God), you will have eternal life with God (cf. Rom 8:1-17; Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8).
The Uneven Ground
I see this “uneven ground” as this false gospel that is being spread far and wide which teaches that a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ guarantees us heaven when we die regardless of how we live our lives while we are still on the earth.
And I see this leveling of this uneven ground as this proclaiming of the truth of the gospel, and this exposing the lies, so that hopefully people will reject the lies in favor of the truth, and so that they will walk in the ways of righteousness and holiness, and so they will not continue on a sinful path.
For the straight way is not a crooked way. It is not the way of continuing in deliberate and habitual sin while claiming Jesus as Savior and heaven as one’s eternal destiny. The straight way is the way of dying with Christ to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness as our life course.
So, if we are going to prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight the highway of our God, and level the uneven ground, and reveal the glory of the Lord, then we need to be exposing Satan’s lies, and all the deceptions, and we need to be sharing the unadulterated gospel that Jesus taught.
In a nutshell, the gospel message is that we must die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. We must forsake our lives of living for sin and self and turn to God and follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his ways, which are the ways of righteousness. And we must honor Jesus as Lord of our lives by submitting our lives to his will and purpose.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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