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.’”
This strong city is not a physical city with physical walls but it is a spiritual city, the people of God, the church of Jesus Christ, his body, his called out ones who are called out from the world to be holy (separate) unto God. Our walls (protection, defense, safeguard, fortification) is our salvation from sin. By faith in Jesus Christ we are delivered from our slavery to sin so that we can now walk in holiness and righteousness in the power of God.
While it is true that in our flesh there is nothing we can do to earn or to deserve our own salvation, it is not true that works are not part of our salvation, for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. And we are not righteous in God’s sight merely by making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but it is whoever practices righteousness who is righteous.
So, keeping faith is not just professing faith in Jesus Christ. It is a walk of faith. It has to do with what we practice. It has to do with our mindset and with our conduct, too. Our minds need to be stayed on the Lord and no longer on the flesh so that we don’t gratify the flesh. We are to no longer walk in sin, for Jesus delivered us from our slavery to sin, but now, by God’s grace, we are to walk in purity of devotion to our Lord in obedience to his ways.
Isaiah 26:5-6 ESV
“For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.”
Inhabitants of the height are the prideful, those who are self-reliant, who think they can do things in their own power and strength. They think they know better than anyone, including God, and oftentimes they end up making up their own god while they call him God. They make up their own version of faith, too, so that they can continue to live however they want, but God has a day when he will humble them in their pride and he will lay them low.
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.”
The path (way) of the righteous is level (straight, upright, honest, law-abiding, trustworthy, unadulterated). We are not righteous by profession only, but we are righteous who live righteously, who walk in the ways of the Lord, and who honor him as Lord (Owner-Master) and who do what he says. So, the righteous are not those who are still living in deliberate and habitual sin. They may not be perfect, but they are walking in obedience to Christ.
The righteous are those who love Jesus, and whose desire is for him, to go where he sends them, and to do as he commands. They are those who walk by faith and not by sight, who trust the Lord to provide for all they need, and who will take steps of faith that others might consider abnormal because the others are relying on their own thinking and reasoning and not on the leading of the Holy Spirit of God. The people of God take steps of faith.
The righteous are also those who take God’s word seriously and who endeavor to follow the Lord in obedience, in his power and strength. So, the righteous may appear odd to those who have a more casual approach to Christianity, for whom their faith is more of a tradition or ritual that they go through, which is not a walk of faith in purity and in obedience and in surrender of their lives to the Lord Jesus and to his will for their lives.
Isaiah 26:9-12 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.
O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.”
There are many people professing faith in Jesus Christ who are going through the motions of religious practice, who make a show of righteousness in front of others, but who are living in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord. Some of them are pastors of churches or they are training to be ministers of the gospel. In their pride, though, they do not submit to God, but they continue in their wickedness in secret so no one knows.
They are living a double life, pretending one thing on the outside while they are someone different on the inside. And they are part of that lofty city, Babylon, which God will bring down in his timing. For they are mixing with both the body of Christ and with institutional religion, and they are also acting as though they are living righteously while they are still living in sin. And they are truly on the broad road leading to destruction not the narrow road leading to eternal life, although they believe their broad road takes them to heaven.
They are the dishonest, immoral, corrupt, wicked, and vile who do not learn righteousness because favor has been shown to them and so they have not yet had to suffer the consequences of their wrong choices. They are those who take advantage of the weak and vulnerable who trust them, and they are the manipulative and abusive who use others for their own advantage. But one day they will be judged by God for their sins because they did not repent and they did not follow the Lord in obedience, because of their pride.
But for the repentant, for those who humble themselves before the Lord, who own up to their own sin, and who choose to walk away from their sin to follow Jesus in obedience, all because of God’s grace, and only in the strength and power of the Lord, they will have peace with God, and they will have eternal life with God, all glory to God. Amen!
[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 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
You are Loving and Forgiving
An Original Work / February 19, 2012
Based off Psalm 86
You are loving and forgiving,
Jesus, Savior, King of kings.
You provided our redemption.
By Your blood You set us free.
You are gracious; full of mercy.
No deeds can compare with Yours.
Great are You; there is none like You.
Glory be to Your name.
Teach me Your way, and I’ll walk in it.
O Lord, I will walk in Your truth.
May I not have a heart divided,
That Your name I give honor to.
I will praise You, O Lord, my Savior,
For great is Your love toward me.
You have delivered me from my sins.
Your grace has pardoned me.
You, O Lord, are full of compassion,
Slow to anger, bounteous in love;
Faithful to fulfill all You promise;
Glory be to Your name above.
Hear, O Lord, and answer Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.
Turn to me and grant Your strength to me.
You are my comforter.