Isaiah 57:21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
We love the many gracious promises in the Bible but we tend to ignore the conditional statements. We love, “Peace, peace, to those far and near,” in verse 19 and try to claim it for ourselves, However, verse 19 refers to “mourners,” that is, those genuinely repentant. What this verse is saying is, “No repentance, no peace.” It is worth noting that Japanese distinguishes between external peace and internal peace, and this whole section is talking about internal peace. If you want to be at peace with your conscience, then repent! Actually, the possibility of repentance is a major element of God’s grace. John Newton didn’t write the lyrics to Amazing Grace until after he had repented of a life that definitely put him in the category of “the wicked.” However, we often take repentance too lightly, equating it with saying, “I’m sorry” when you’re not really sorry. We tend to enjoy sin, or we wouldn’t do it so much! The Japanese term for repentance is very clear and accurate. Broken down, it means, “regret and start over.” It does no good to say, “My bad,” with no intention of never doing it again. In our human weakness we are prone to indeed doing it again, but repentance is first of all a matter of heart attitude. It does no good to think, “That was wrong, but boy was it fun!” That attitude is unfortunately all too common. This verse is warning us that such an attitude will certainly not give us the peace that we need far more than we need any momentary thrill.
This certainly applies to me, as I can say from experience. Growing up in a strongly moral and loving home, my conscience was well established from an early age, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t give it quite a beating! I couldn’t begin to list all the willful sins I’ve committed, not to mention the unintentional ones. However, God has taught me about repentance and forgiveness, and I am deeply grateful. It was quite a few years ago now that He taught me something I have found to be very important: to get free of sin, I need to believe and understand that I’ve been forgiven. The verse that opened my eyes is one that Peter wrote after writing about the characteristics of what we would call a good Christian, someone who accurately represents Christ. What he said was, “But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9) I discovered that the more I thought about the sin I had committed, the more likely I was to commit it again! As John said, when we confess our sins to God in repentance, they are genuinely cleansed, so they don’t hang onto us any more. (1 John 1:9) Getting free requires that we believe that!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me communicate this truth effectively to all who are open to receive it. I don’t want to bash people over the head with REPENT! because that would certainly be counterproductive in most situations, but I don’t want to miss any opportunities You give me to speak to those whose hearts are ready, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!