Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 7:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Hideth My Soul.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 58:1-12 (NASB).
Cry Loudly (vv. 1-3a)
“Cry loudly, do not hold back;
Raise your voice like a trumpet,
And declare to My people their transgression
And to the house of Jacob their sins.
“Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done righteousness
And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight in the nearness of God.
‘Why have we fasted and You do not see?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’”
Many who profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives are merely going through the motions of religious practice, but their hearts are far from God. Among them may be those who are genuinely saved, but who have drifted from their pure devotion to the Lord, and who have wandered off from the truth to follow after the lies of deceitful humans. They attend church services regularly on Sundays or on Saturdays, and possibly even midweek, too. They may tithe to the church, say their prayers, and may even be involved in religious service projects, or in church ministry, and they may even be involved in regular Bible study. But their religious practice is in form only.
Some of them have a “me, me” attitude of self-entitlement, thinking that God should be there to grant their every request, and that nothing bad should ever happen to them. They also think God should honor their forms of worship, and that he should bless them just because they call themselves Christians, even though they are unfaithful to him.
Your Desire (vv. 3b-5)
“Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire,
And drive hard all your workers.
“Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.
You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.
“Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?”
Even though they go through these religious activities and forms of worship, they live however they want, and follow after their own selfish and fleshly desires. Not everyone is the same, so not everyone will express their flesh in the same way. For some, their sin may involve gossip, gluttony, or making fun of others and mocking them. Others may turn away from those in need even though they have the means to help them, because they want to keep it all to themselves. Others may be involved in sexual sin, engaging in physical or emotional adultery or fornication, or they may be addicted to pornography, or they may be guilty of spending hours upon hours watching TV shows or movies which glorify sin or which entertain via sexual situations, sensuality, lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and the like. Others may be following the idols of humans, giving their hearts, devotion, energies and worship to these idols. And, the list goes on. The point is, there are those who profess Christ as Savior, but they are still living to please their flesh, instead of the Spirit of God.
I believe one of the big reasons this is such a big problem in today’s church is that the church has invited the world into the church, has adopted many of its ways, has diluted the gospel to make it more acceptable to the world, and has taught the church that God does not require of them repentance or obedience. They are being taught that all they have to do is pray a prayer, they are saved, nothing can take that away, and when they die they will go to heaven, no matter how badly they sin against God from this point forward. There is no fear of God in this false gospel, and they are totally missing the mark as to why Christ died on the cross for our sins. Certainly he died to save us from hell and to promise us heaven, but that is only part of our salvation. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He saved us out of bondage to sin so that we could become servants of righteousness. The gift of his grace is not a free license to licentiousness. It is death with Christ to sin and resurrection with Christ to live and to walk in his holiness.
Loosen the Bonds (vv. 6-7)
“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”
How might we loosen the bonds of wickedness and undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free? We can do so by telling people the truth of the gospel instead of giving them these feel-good messages which put Band-Aids over serious sin wounds, as though the sin is not serious. We can stop watering down the gospel to make it more acceptable to the world, and stop fearing offending people with the message of the cross. We can cease entertaining sinners and accepting and tolerating their sin, and we can start preaching repentance for salvation and obedience to Christ’s commands. We can stop listening to and putting up with this false gospel which gives free license to continue in sin, and we can start standing on the truth, even though we may lose popularity, may be forsaken by friends, and we may even be persecuted and hated because we stand on the truth and we don’t compromise our faith in order to be socially acceptable or to blend in with everyone.
Yet, we must do this in love, and we must do so in kindness. Remember, it is never kind to lie to people. We are benefiting no one by lying to them. Yet, we can tell the truth in a way that is loving, and which shows compassion and mercy towards others, while still not backing down on what the Word of Truth teaches with regard to sin and salvation. And, we must also live the gospel, and not give it out in words only. We do so by walking in the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, and by caring for the needs of others, giving to others as they have legitimate need, according to our own means. Our religion is not worth much if we are being stingy, mean, hateful, and are lacking in compassion towards those who are in need. Yet, we should be discerning as to what the true needs are. This calls for wisdom.
Like the Dawn (vv. 8-9a, 10b-12)
“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
…Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”
When we turn from our sins of spiritual adultery and idolatry, of going our own way and doing what we want without regard for God and what he desires for our lives, and we turn to follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives, then it will be like a great weight has just been lifted off our shoulders. In Hebrews 12:1-2 it speaks to this issue when it instructs us to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Sin weighs us down, and it hinders our spiritual walks and our testimonies for Jesus Christ. So, when we forsake sin and we walk in the Spirit, and stop living to fulfill the desires of our flesh, we experience true freedom in Christ, and the true meaning of our salvation, which is to deliver us out of slavery to sin so that we can become servants of righteousness. I have known slavery to sin, and I know walking in the Spirit, and I don’t want to ever go back! There is no better way to live than in the perfect will of God for your life. There you will find true peace, joy and fulfillment just in knowing that you are in the center of his will, doing what he has called you to do. Oh, such freedom is beyond words! And, the Lord will give you all that you need to live holy lives, pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of your minds.
The Lord will revive, restore and renew you when you humble yourselves before him in repentance and in submission to his will for your lives. Although you may have caused ruin in your life by your willful sins, he will rebuild you, and he may even use other followers of Christ to help with this rebuilding and renewal, who will forgive you, and who will help you with the process of restoration. We can’t undo our pasts, though, and there may be natural consequences for some of the things we have done, but we can be forgiven, and we can be given new lives in Christ Jesus or revived lives in our Lord. No matter where we have been or what we have done, we can now live for the One who gave himself up for us, and no longer live to please our flesh. That is awesome! This is true grace! This is the true meaning of salvation, not just to be forgiven, but to be given new lives in Christ to be lived in his righteousness and holiness, i.e. to be set free from slavery to sin. Amen!
He Hideth My Soul / Fanny J. Crosby / William Kirkpatrick
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away,
He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.
With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God!
For such a Redeemer as mine.
When clothed with His brightness transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love,
I’ll shout with the millions on high.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.