Isaiah 26:1-2 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.’”
Under the New Covenant, which God’s people now have with God (Father, Son Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit), we who believe in Jesus Christ are that strong city. And our salvation from sin, which the Lord Jesus provided for us via his death and resurrection, is our protection, our safeguard, and our fortification against the enemy of our souls. For in Jesus’ death on that cross he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God, that we might die to sin and live to his righteousness.
So, when this says to open the gates that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in, this is talking about those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives. But this is not a one-time profession of faith in Jesus and then we are good to go to heaven when we die regardless of how we live on this earth. For heaven is not promised to everyone who merely professes faith in Jesus but only to those who walk in that faith and in righteousness and holiness in the power of God’s Spirit.
And faith in Jesus Christ is not something we can create in our own minds and wills, either. We don’t get to decide what that faith looks like. For, first of all we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to faith in him, i.e. unless God the Father persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness and of our sinfulness and of our need to forsake our sins to follow Jesus in obedience. And faith is not of our own doing. Faith is gifted to us by God, for Jesus is the author and perfecter of that faith.
So, then we go to the Scriptures to see what that faith looks like and we learn that it involves surrender of our lives over to God, submission to Christ as Lord of our lives, repentance (dying with Christ to sin) and obedience to Christ and to his commands. For if we do not deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and to self) and follow Jesus in obedience we are not his and he is not our Lord. And if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin and not in walks of obedience, we will not inherit eternal life with God.
[2 Co 5:15,21; 1 Pet 2:24; Matt 7:21-23; Eph 2:8-10; Jn 6:44; Heb 12:1-2; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14; Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Jn 1:5-10; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV
“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.”
In Romans 8 we read that those who live according to the flesh (and not according to the Spirit) have their minds set on the things of the flesh and not on the things of the Spirit. And to set the mind on the flesh is death (not life everlasting with God), but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (see Romans 8:1-8).
Now many people today are teaching that we no longer have to obey the Lord since we are under the New Covenant and we are not under the Old Covenant. But the Scriptures absolutely defy such a claim as this! All throughout the New Testament writings, in particular the writings of Paul and John, we read that genuine faith in Jesus Christ results in walks of obedience to our Lord and that if we do not obey our Lord, in practice, we don’t have genuine faith which saves. And we will die in our sins.
For the New Covenant does not promote lawlessness. In fact, it teaches strongly against it! What it taught those who had been under the Old Covenant was that they were no longer bound by all of those Old Covenant ceremonial, liturgical, sacrificial, purification, and dietary laws and restrictions, which included circumcision. But God never did away with his moral laws. And he didn’t do away with obedience to himself. Obedience is stressed over and over again in the New Testament. Faith = obedience.
So, we can’t be at peace with God and have the assurance of eternal life with him if our minds are set on the flesh and not on the Spirit, and if we are walking according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit, and if sin is what we practice, and if righteousness, godliness and obedience to our Lord are not what we practice. For lip service only will not get us into heaven. We have to walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and righteousness must be our practice, not sin (see verses above).
Isaiah 26:7-11 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.”
So many people have this notion that if they profess faith in Jesus Christ that they are now righteous, end of story. But the Scriptures teach that it is those who live righteously, who make righteousness their practice, who are righteous as God is righteous. And we are his holy people who live holy lives, who are holy in all our conduct. And we are saved from our sins who live as those who have been set free from our sins and not as slaves of sin.
[1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 1:3-4; Eph 5:3-6,25-27; 1 Thess 4:7; 2 Tim 1:9-10; 1 Pet 1:13-16; 1 Pet 2:4-5,24; 2 Pet 3:10-12; Rom 6:1-23; Lu 9:23-26; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14; Gal 5:16-21]
Now, as part of our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord we are going to suffer physically, mentally, and emotionally due to illness or accidents or due to abuse and persecution and mistreatment at the hands of those who truly oppose Jesus Christ and his gospel, even if they profess faith in Christ with their lips. Now, I am not promoting excusing away sin as mental illness. Sin is sin, it is not a sickness that we can excuse away. I am just saying that when we suffer for the Lord we will be under attack from the enemy in our bodies, in our minds, and in our emotions, but God can heal all that!
But when we go through such things, which God allows in our lives for his purposes, and for our ultimate good, though it will be painful when we suffer, if we are truly his children, by faith in him, we should learn from what we suffer to walk in holiness and in righteousness. And I am not saying that no child of God will ever stray from the Lord during a time of severe suffering. But when they do they should sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God should thus draw them back into fellowship with him, back to walks of faith and obedience where they should remain.
Hard times should lead us into the arms of God not away from him if we are solid in our walks of faith. But if you are in a place of suffering, and if your faith is weak and failing, please turn to the Lord in your suffering and trust him fully with your life. Let him work his miracles of grace in your life and trust in his sovereignty, and don’t let the devil get the best of you. For the devil loves to attack us at our weakest times, I know from experience. So, learn righteousness through what you suffer and let it make you stronger, not weaker. For our God is our healer and he can turn ashes into beauty.
[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; Jn 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Jn 17:14; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]
‘Til The Storm Passes By
By Thomas Mosie Lister
In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry
Keep me safe till the storm passes by
Many times Satan whispered
There is no use to try
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by
But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies
Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand
Keep me safe till the storm passes by
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