Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 11:47 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Believe Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 63:11-19 (NASB).
Recap (chaps. 58-63)
The people of God were living in spiritual adultery and idolatry. They were living in rebellion against Almighty God. They went through the motions of having a relationship with God, but their hearts were far from him. They had forsaken his commands. Instead of living to please God, they did as they pleased. They were liars and deceivers, who conceived trouble. They were culpable for the shedding of innocent blood. They rushed into sin. They had evil thoughts, and their lifestyles were marked by ruin and destruction. They traveled along crooked paths. They were secretive about their sins, walking under a veil of deception which blinded their eyes. They encouraged oppression and defiance. Righteousness and truth (honesty) were far from them. They persecuted those who did follow the ways of the Lord. They turned their backs on God, even though outwardly they may have made a show of following God with their lives. And, they grieved the Holy Spirit via their rebellion. So, God “turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them” (Is. 63:10)
Where is Grace? (vv. 11-15)
Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses.
Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock?
Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them,
Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses,
Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name,
Who led them through the depths?
Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble;
As the cattle which go down into the valley,
The Spirit of the Lord gave them rest.
So You led Your people,
To make for Yourself a glorious name.
Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation;
Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds?
The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me.
I believe the description in the recap concerning the sins of God’s people against God could be said of much of today’s church, as well, though certainly not all applies to all people. And, I believe God is already in the process of judging his wayward people, and that, particularly here in America, this will become even more evident in the coming days. As well, a vast majority of the church, perhaps more specifically the church in the west, has bought into a false grace gospel, which gives them free license to sin, and which teaches them that God does not require repentance or obedience. This false grace gospel also teaches them that they will be raptured before God judges, so when judgment does strike, they are most likely to be the ones to question why this is happening to them, and to ask, “Where is the God of mercy, love and grace?” And, “Why is he not rescuing us?”
Many teachers in the church today have greatly softened God’s image to make him out like a big stuffed teddy bear or like a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every wish and desire, and who would never discipline us, but who pacifies sin and who smiles on us and is delighted in us even when we are steeped in sin and rebellion. Yet, is that the picture we get of God from the New Testament? Does his grace mean he looks the other way when we sin? Does his forgiveness mean he no longer cares about our sin? Is his attitude toward sin that we can decide for ourselves when and how we will relinquish our sin? Is he ok with us continuing in willful sinful rebellion against him? Does he never confront sin or call us to turn from it and to forsake our idols? Or, is all that Old Testament?
“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Col. 3:5). “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Co. 10:14). “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:3-5). “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Eph. 4:31).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt. 5:27-30). “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also 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” (Heb. 12:1).
Clearly God still cares about sin. His forgiveness does not mean he looks the other way, or that he is ok with us continuing in sin. In fact, his grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14).
“So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Ro. 8:12-14). “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 Jn. 1:5-6). “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:3-4).
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives’” (Heb. 12:4-6)
If you are being disciplined by the Lord, it may be because he is merely maturing you in Christ, and is in the process of conforming you to the image of Christ and he is making you holy. It may be, as well, that he has things he wants to teach you, such as perseverance, faithfulness, love, compassion and gentleness. Or, it may be that he is allowing you to go through trials to test your faith or so that you can comfort others with the comfort you received from God when going through similar difficulties. Also, he may be teaching you that your dependency must be completely in him, and not in yourself or in others. Or, the discipline may come because you are living in rebellion against God, you have returned to walking after the flesh, and you have forsaken your God to follow after the idols of this world. Know that God’s discipline is also the exercise of his grace, because the purpose of his grace is to deliver us out of bondage to sin so that we may walk in his holiness!
Why, O Lord? (vv. 16b-19)
You, O Lord, are our Father,
Our Redeemer from of old is Your name.
Why, O Lord, do You cause us to stray from Your ways
And harden our heart from fearing You?
Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.
Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while,
Our adversaries have trodden it down.
We have become like those over whom You have never ruled,
Like those who were not called by Your name.
It appears here that the people of God were questioning God’s sovereignty over their lives, or that, perhaps, in some way they were blaming God for their own sinful rebellion against him, for they seem to imply that God caused them to sin, perhaps because he did not stop them. They also appear to be questioning God’s justice in disciplining them for their sin, as well as they seem to be bringing into question God’s justice in using their enemies, who had never submitted to God, as his divine instruments of judgment against them. Even though there is an admission of sin here, still it seems to be lacking in humility and repentance, at least at this point. There appears, as well, to be the passing of blame, and the pride of heart that feels somehow superior to their adversaries, and maybe even an entitlement mentality here, thinking that because they had been God’s people for a long time, that entitled them to God’s blessings, even if they were still living in open rebellion against him.
Perhaps you may identify with them in some way or another. You may be living in rebellion against God while putting on the façade of walking in fellowship with your Lord. You may be harboring hatred and resentment toward someone, or perhaps you are trapped (entangled) by a besetting sin which you keep secret and think no one sees. And, if someone does see, and he or she confronts you, you pass the blame, or else you claim God’s grace as a covering for your willful and continued sin against God and others, thinking that God won’t harp on your sin, but that he will allow you to continue in it and to take your time in letting go of it, thinking that is his grace. But, his grace teaches us to say “No” to sin, and it does confront sin, and it does call us to repentance and obedience. As well, if we remain stubborn and think we can continue in sin, claiming God’s grace, know that God will discipline you, and that, too, is his grace, in that he is rescuing you from yourself and from your sinful rebellion, and he is leading you back to himself, and to submission to the cross of Christ.
Or, you may be living in faithful surrender to the Lord, but you, too, are going through trials and tribulations, and you may be asking God “Why?” or you may wonder where he is in your circumstances, or what he is doing, and you may, too, begin to question his sovereignty over your life. And, so he is saying to you to trust him with your circumstances, to believe in all his promises, and to know he is working all things out for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purposes. Either way, he is calling us to trust him, to surrender to his will for our lives, and to believe his word, even when we don’t have the answers we might like to have to all of our many questions.
Believe Him / An Original Work / July 15, 2013
My heart cries: Lord, won’t You hear me
Seeking You for the answers
To my heartache and questions
I have concerning my life?
Speak, Lord, to me right now.
“Oh, dear one, why don’t you trust Me
With your life’s circumstances?
Give your all on the altar
In submission of your will
To My purpose for you.
“Surrender your life completely
To your Lord and your Savior.
He has all things planned for you
For His glory and honor.
He’ll work all things for good.
“Believe Him. He will fulfill all
Of His promises to you
For your life and your future.
Trust Him. Rest in His love.
He’ll give you peace from above.”