A Strong City
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.”
The strong city is the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, the church, i.e., those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. By faith in Jesus we have died with Christ to sin, and we are now living to Christ and to his righteousness, by God’s grace. Sin is no longer our master, but Jesus Christ is our only Lord (owner-master).
This strong city is not a physical city with physical walls, but it is a spiritual city, and its walls (protections, defenses) are our salvation from sin. But this salvation is not merely forgiveness of sins so that we can go to heaven when we die, but this salvation is deliverance from our bondage of sin so that we can now be slaves (bond-servants) of Christ and of his righteousness.
Jesus Christ is the only gate into this city. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to God the Father except through him. And only those who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, who have been cleansed of their sins by the power of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, and who have turned to follow Jesus Christ with their lives enter in.
For, the church is not a building, or a human institution, or a civic organization, or a social club, or a business, or a corporation of the state, or a church denomination, but it is us who are following Jesus Christ with our lives. And the only way we become members of this church is through dying with Christ to sin and turning to God to follow Jesus with our lives.
Our faith in Jesus is not a one-time decision to believe in Jesus and then we are good to go until Jesus takes us home. Our minds need to be stayed on Jesus. We must walk in the light as he is in the light, and we must walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. We must not make sin our practice, but righteousness is to be what we practice.
The Path of the Righteous
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.”
When we believe in Jesus with God-given faith in him, we don’t just become positionally righteous and therefore we can now live however we want. For, the Scriptures teach that the righteous are those who are making righteousness their practice. They are walking in righteousness in the power and strength of the Lord.
And this is why the path of the righteous is level (straight), not crooked, but honest, upright, godly, holy, and trustworthy, unmixed with the world of sin. It is because they are walking righteously, by God’s grace, and they are following Jesus in obedience to his commands, and they are resisting the devil and they are fleeing temptation and they are drawing near to God.
As followers of Jesus we don’t take God lightly or for granted. We don’t have this idea that our salvation is all about us and what God can do for us and that we are now free to live however we want without guilt or punishment. Our souls yearn for our Lord, even in the watches of the night. We earnestly seek him, because we love him, and we desire to do his will.
If Favor is Shown
Isaiah 26:9-11 ESV
“For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness
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.”
Difficult times in our lives have a way of either pushing us away from God or of drawing us close to him, depending upon how we choose to respond to the difficulties of our lives. Many of us who have gone through many trials and tribulations in this life have turned to the Lord and we have learned righteousness through the things which we suffered.
But when times are good, and life is not hard, many don’t look to the Lord, but they continue in their own way. And if a “cheap grace” is what is being taught the inhabitants of the earth, they don’t learn righteousness, but they take God’s grace for granted, or they consider God’s grace free license to continue living in their sin without guilt or punishment.
The adulterous bride of Christ (church) today is spreading this cheap grace gospel message far and wide. It is permeating the gatherings of the church, and people are flocking to these “feel good” messages because they don’t confront them in their sin, but they coddle them in their sin, and they tell them that they don’t have to stop sinning since they are “forgiven”.
This cheap grace gospel message, which is of the flesh of humans, cuts to the heart of God’s true gospel of grace, for the intention is to put the gospel of Jesus Christ to death and to replace it with this cheap grace, because it does not tell people that they must die to sin and live to righteousness, but it gives them the freedom to keep on in their sins without guilt.
And so many who are professing faith in Jesus Christ are not learning righteousness, but they are continuing in their unrighteousness while claiming Jesus as their Lord, and forgiveness of sins, and eternal life with God. And so they continue in their lies, their adulteries, their cheating, and their mistreatment of others while putting on a display of righteousness.
And the church appears to be largely apathetic about what is going on with the gospel and how it is being cut to the heart, and how the lies of Satan are destroying people’s souls, for the cheap grace does not put sin to death but it allows it to survive and to thrive. And so those who follow the cheap grace are still dead in their sins and headed to hell.
So, the Lord is calling out to the people of the world to repent of their sins and to turn and follow him in obedience to his ways, for this is the only way to salvation from sin and eternal life with God, for this is what God-given faith brings about in the life of the true believer in Jesus. We leave our lives of sin behind us, and we now walk in purity of devotion to our Lord.
Here I Am, Lord
By Daniel L. Schutte
I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them –
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart
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[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]