Isaiah 66:3-4 “They have chosen their own ways,
and their souls delight in their abominations;
so I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and will bring upon them what they dread.
For when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, no one listened.
They did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”
This sounds remarkably close to home! It certainly sounds like a description of much of society today. Very few people make decisions based on “What does God want?” It’s all based on what seems pleasurable to the individual, and not even on what seems good to them. “Good” itself is defined almost entirely in terms of self, with pleasure, finances, and influence being esteemed. Isaiah and several other prophets made it very clear that such an attitude brings judgment beyond our worst fears. Regardless of how things play out on earth, each person will have to stand before God, and all excuses will be peeled away. (Hebrews 9:27) That’s why the cross of Christ is so absolutely vital, for indeed, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We all fit into this description in Isaiah at times! That’s why Jesus’ message wasn’t just, “Believe,” but “Repent and believe.” (Mark 1:15) James had some very blunt things to say about belief that isn’t coupled with repentance. (James 2:19) If we fail to let go of our sin, our faith doesn’t mean much. Even Jesus was clear on this point. (Luke 6:46) Repenting of sin means choosing to let go of it and seeking God’s will instead. Any church that teaches, you don’t have to change, is preaching a false gospel. God accepts us as we are, just as the hymn says, “Just as I Am.” However, He doesn’t leave us as we are. Repentance means giving Him full permission to change us however He chooses, because He is the standard for what is right, and not our flesh or feelings.
This certainly applies to me. Having been a missionary pastor for well over 30 years, some people have trouble imagining that about me, but I am as much in need of the grace of God as anyone else. It was a great victory for me when I realized that when I focus on the sin I have committed, I’m all the more likely to do it again. When I realize and accept that God’s forgiveness is real and focus on Him, I am truly set free from the sin. I deal with people all the time who are caught in a cycle of sin and have accepted the devil’s blanket condemnation of them. As with everything else he says, that’s a lie from the pit of hell! The Good News, the Gospel, is that God has made forgiveness and salvation available through Jesus Christ, so every chain of sin is broken for those who receive Him as Lord in repentance and faith. My task and my privilege is to communicate that Gospel to as many as will receive it, for their salvation and God’s glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. You know the specific people who came to mind as I wrote that. I ask Your grace and mercy for them and Your anointing for me, that I may speak Your truth in love to set them free from all the lies they have swallowed, for their salvation indeed. Thank You. Hallelujah!