Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 9:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 63:7-19 (Select vv. NASB).
His Great Goodness (vv. 7-9)
I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has granted them according to His compassion
And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses.
For He said, “Surely, they are My people,
Sons who will not deal falsely.”
So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the angel of His presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
Our God is an awesome God! He created us and he designed us for a purpose, that we might give him glory, and honor, and praise. Yet, man sinned against God, and since then all have become sinners. We all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit (Ro. 3:23). Not one of us can ever be good enough to be approved by God. Not one of us can earn or deserve our own salvation, i.e. we don’t deserve God’s grace to us.
But, God knew this when he created man (and woman). He knew they would sin against him, and so he already had a plan for how he was going to save them from their (humanity’s) sins. His plan from the very beginning was that, in God’s perfect timing, he would send his Son Jesus Christ (God the Son) to the earth, to take on human flesh, and to die on a cross for our sins. Although Jesus knew no sin, he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). In other words, He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).
Yet, to receive this salvation, we must believe in Jesus and in what he did for us with God-given faith. This faith is divinely persuaded of God as to God’s perfect will for our lives, so it submits to God’s will and purposes, and it yields to his control over our lives. When we believe in Jesus with this kind of faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are made new in Christ (reborn) of the Spirit of God, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). The old has gone. The new has come. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).
Yet, Jesus didn’t save us just so that we could escape hell (eternal damnation) or just so we could have the promise of eternal life with God. He saved us to purify us, to make us holy, and so that we would follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. He died that we might have completely new lives, not just so we might behave a little bit better. Jesus died, in fact, that we would no longer live for ourselves, but that we might live for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). When we call him “Lord,” that is not just a title we give him. “Lord” means “owner-master.” When he saves us he delivers us out of slavery to sin, and he changes our hearts so that we now become bond-slaves of his righteousness.
God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue living in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which bring salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). In fact, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful 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/God for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6). So, a saved life is a changed life; a life transformed of the Spirit of God away from living for sin and self, and to God, to walk in his ways and in his holiness.
He Disciplines Us (vv. 10-11a)
But they rebelled
And grieved His Holy Spirit;
Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy,
He fought against them.
Then His people remembered the days of old…
Still, when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, although he has freed us from bondage (addiction) to sin, we still have the propensity to sin against him. Yet, if we do sin, we are still saved, and his blood still covers our sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1). But if we continue living a sinful lifestyle, i.e. if we continue in the practice of sin, the Bible says we don’t really know him, we don’t love him, and our sins are not covered. Yet, only God knows who are really his and who aren’t. There seems to be a fine line between those who don’t know him and those who do but who are not living like they do, and only God knows who is who.
The Bible teaches us that those whom the Lord loves he also disciplines (scourges, rebukes). He does this that we might share in his holiness. Some discipline is meant more for the purpose to prune, purify and mature us in our walks of faith, and to make us more fruitful, while other discipline appears to be more aimed at correcting and reproving sinful behavior, with the goal in mind of getting us back on track in our walks of faith with God. All discipline, though, is painful. “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (See: Heb. 12:1-13).
When we have wandered away from our pure devotion to our Lord, and we have neglected our walks of faith, and if we have ignored his warnings, and if we have not listened to his calls to repent of our sins, he may send divine discipline (judgment, correction) in order to get us to humble ourselves before him in repentance so that he might restore us to himself and heal us. So, if this is where you are, know that he is calling to you to turn from your sins, to trust him again with your life, and to turn back to following him in obedience and in surrender to his will. There is no better place to be ever than right there in the center of his will for your life, and in perfect peace.
Prayer for Mercy (vv. 17b-19)
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.
When God takes his church through a time of trials and difficulties, in order to purify her, to make her holy, to mature her in Christ, or to correct sinful behavior, and in order to get her to return to him as her ONLY Lord, she may call out to him for mercy, and for relief from her suffering. Yet, the suffering is for her good, that it might produce a harvest of righteousness in her life. So, she needs to surrender her all to the Lord, and submit to his will and purposes, and trust in his sovereignty, even if the relief does not immediately come, or even if it does not come in this life, at all. God knows what we need. We can pray for relief, most certainly, but if it does not come, we must rest in him and wait on him and still believe that he knows best.
One of the reasons, though, that God will discipline (judge) his church is for the very reasons these verses describe. His people have become like those whom he never ruled over, i.e. they are not living at all like they have been cleansed from their sins, and as though Jesus truly set them free from slavery to sin. Instead, they have become trapped by sin’s deceitfulness once more, and they are following again after the ways of this sinful world. They are living not much different from those who don’t know Christ at all, so it is barely distinguishable between the world and the church. They have neglected their personal times of worship with our Lord, and prayer and Bible study have been set aside in favor of TV, sports, the internet, social media, video games, movies, and/or whatever else is distracting them and is drawing them away from their pure devotion to Christ.
The gatherings of the church have also adopted the ways of this sinful world in order to attract the world to come to its meetings. Most churches these days, especially here in America, no longer preach on sin, judgment, repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ and his cross. They do teach on grace and forgiveness, though. It is like they want the resurrection minus the cross, but without death to sin we can have no life in Christ. As well, the Lord’s adversaries are trampling down the church, but that has been, at least here in America, because they have invited the government and the world and its influences into the church and its gatherings.
So, again, God is calling to his church to repent of her idolatry and her spiritual adultery, and to return to HIM as her ONLY Lord and Savior.
My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon
My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.
In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.