Alas, Sinful Nation

Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 7:47 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Give Ear to Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 1:1-20 (Select vv. NASB).

They Have Revolted (vv. 2-4)

Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth;
For the Lord speaks,
“Sons I have reared and brought up,
But they have revolted against Me.
“An ox knows its owner,
And a donkey its master’s manger,
But Israel does not know,
My people do not understand.”

Alas, sinful nation,
People weighed down with iniquity,
Offspring of evildoers,
Sons who act corruptly!
They have abandoned the Lord,
They have despised the Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away from Him.

The children of Israel in the Old Testament were in a unique position as God’s chosen people. They were a physical nation of people as well as they were God’s covenant people. No other nation on this earth has ever been or ever will be equal to what they were. Yet, the Old Covenant was just a precursor to the New Covenant, for God had planned all along that he would send his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to become our sacrificial Lamb, given up to death on a cross to take away the sins of the world. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Old Covenant relationship, which God had with his people, was abolished, and the New Covenant was instituted in its place. God destroyed the barrier that stood between Jew and Gentile and he made both one in Christ, through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, God’s covenant people now are those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. They have been reborn of the Spirit of God through death to sin and via resurrection to new life in Christ. The old has gone. The new has come. Once they were in slavery to sin, but now Jesus has set them free from bondage (sin addiction) so that they can now become slaves of his righteousness. Now God’s holy nation is the church, the body of Christ, the saints of God in Christ. It is no longer a physical nation, but it is a spiritual nation. So, it does not exist in one specific location, but it exists all over the world in multiple locations.

So, if we were to apply these words to God’s people today, I believe the application would have to be confined to a specific location, though the area of land could be broad in spectrum. For, I don’t believe this description fits the body of Christ worldwide, but it definitely fits in America. Yet, if it fits where you are, then surely make the application. And, hear what God wants to say to you. For I believe this is certainly a picture of the times in which we now live. Even though the church is comprised of believers in Jesus Christ who have been delivered out of slavery to sin, we all have the propensity to still sin, as long as we live in these flesh bodies. So, we are all capable of straying from our Lord and of turning back to the sins from which he set us free, and that is a sad picture indeed (See Rev. 2-3).

Hear God (vv. 10-15)

Hear the word of the Lord,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.
“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
“When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
“Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
“I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.

In the gatherings of the church there are those who are genuinely saved from their sins and those who make a profession only of faith in Jesus Christ. Among the genuinely saved are those who are walking in obedience to their Lord, and those who have gone astray from the Lord and have wandered off to follow after other gods. There is probably a fine line between those who are wandering Christians and those who are Christians in name only. Yet, the message is still the same. God is not interested in what we are willing to sacrifice for him. He doesn’t want our leftovers. He wants it all! The sacrifice he wants is us (our whole being) on the altar as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed of the Spirit in the renewing of our minds and hearts.

God sees our religious performances as the “trampling of his courts,” especially if we are living in sin while pretending to be righteous before him. In fact, he is sick of them. If we profess to love him with our lips, but we dishonor him with our lives, and we choose how we will worship God, rather than giving him the worship he requires, then it is like a slap in the face to him and an insult to the sacrifice of Jesus, given on the cross for our sins.

It is a lot like a person professing love to his or her spouse and then going out and committing adultery over and over again, yet then bringing her or him some “offering” of flowers, candy, a ball cap, sports memorabilia, service, time, praise and other gifts to cover-up for the sin. If the spouse is aware that this is going on, he or she would not find pleasure in these gifts knowing that the spouse is giving himself or herself to another (or others). And, that is how God feels about religious performances, too, that are put on in place of genuine worship, love, respect and worship of him, and that are a cover-up (mask) for willfully giving in to sin over and over again.

Wash Yourselves (vv. 16-20)

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
“If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
“But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

So, the counsel here is to wash yourselves, if you find that this is where you are. So, how is this done? You have to remove the evil deeds from your life. You have to STOP sinning, and you have to START obeying God and his Word. I hear so many Christians say they can’t help it, or they feel trapped, or they are just struggling, as though it is perfectly ok to keep repeating the same willful sins over and over again, and as though they can’t say “NO!”

Yet, it isn’t ok with God to keep giving yourselves over to lust, greed, and self-pleasure. Jesus Christ died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Co. 10:13). Jesus already made the way of escape. He put sin to death on the cross. He conquered sin in his resurrection. And, in Christ we have all we need to say “NO!” to sin and to say “YES!” to God. Yet, if we ask, he will show us specific ways in which we can escape temptation. But, we do have to make it a daily practice to resist Satan, flee (run away from) sin and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

The Bible teaches us that if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars. It says that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to our flesh, we will die in our sins. But if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. Jesus said that if we hold on to our old lives of sin, we will die in our sins. But, if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (See 1 Jn. 1:6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

So, how do we reconcile this teaching with the knowledge that Christians can have believed in Jesus as their Savior, but now they have gone back to sin and rebellion against God? What I know is that the Word also describes our salvation as ongoing and as a process. The Word says we must remain in Christ and him in us, and we must continue in him till the end with the faith we had from the beginning if we want to have eternal life. We are not saved on the basis of past belief, for it is the believing who have the promise of eternal life.

Also, believing has to do with submission to Christ, because belief is a gift of God, not something we generate in our own flesh, i.e. it is spiritual. So, if we have wandered away from Jesus Christ, we need to come back to God. If we consent to his will and we obey his instructions to us, we will have our eternal rewards. But, if we persist in rebellion and we refuse to repent, then judgment is surely what awaits us, so repent of your sins today.

Give Ear to Jesus / An Original Work
Based off Isaiah 55 / February 16, 2016

Call on your Savior.
Seek the Lord while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way;
Turn to the Lord.
God will have mercy.
He’ll forgive you of your sin.
He will freely pardon you
And give peace within.
Turn from your sin, follow Jesus,
Be cleansed from sin.

Give ear to Jesus.
Come to Him. Your soul will live.
Listen to Him speaking to you:
“Eat what is good.”
If you are thirsty,
Come to Jesus, drink from Him.
Drink His Spirit given to you.
Be born again.
Listen to Him. Do what He says.
Rejoice in Him.

God’s Word, eternal,
Will achieve what He desires.
He is willing none should perish,
Saved by His blood.
Share now the gospel.
Jesus died so we’d go free.
Walk in vict’ry,
Free from your sin, eternally.
Die to sin, and live to Jesus.
In Him believe.

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