by William J. Stewart
Last week, looking at the words of Isaiah the prophet as recorded in Isaiah 1:10-15, we saw through the example of Israel that wickedness among God’s people will:
- Remind the Lord of Sodom and Gomorrah (v 10);
- Cause the Lord to not want our sacrifices (v 11);
- Render the assemblies of God’s people without glory to God (v 12);
- Make our worship wearisome to the Lord (v 13-14), &
- Result in the disdain and disregard of God toward our prayers (v 15).
When such things are the case with God’s people, then it ought to be evident that revival is needed. Thus, let us consider the Lord’s plan to bring those who are dead back to life as revealed in Isaiah’s prophesy.
We Must Confess And Repent Of our Sin (v 16)
The solution for sin begins, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean…” The life soiled with transgression needs to be cleansed. Through Jeremiah the Lord proclaimed, “O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?” (Jeremiah 4:14). The apostle Paul, recounting his conversion to Christ quoted the words of Ananias, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
An intimate part of making our lives clean from the stains of sin is to confess and repent of our iniquity. Those who are blind to their sins (or blinded by their sins) will never turn from them. The Lord would have us “…Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin” (Ezekiel 18:30).
We Must Forsake our Evil Ways (v 16)
The prophet continues, “Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil…” Wickedness should have no part in the child of God. John writes, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin” (1 John 3:6). And again, “Whoever is born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). We cannot walk in the path of the evil one and remain a child of the Holy One. We must choose whether our desire is to serve ourselves in the pleasures of sin, or to serve the Lord unto the hope of eternal life. The Psalmist wrote, “Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore” (Psalm 37:27).
We Must Learn To Do The Right (v 17)
It is not sufficient to purge ourselves of evil and attempt to remain thus. Jesus taught, “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they entered and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26). Once evil has been removed, we must fill ourselves with that which is good, for if we do not, we remain a dwelling place open for wickedness. And so the Lord demands of His people, “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”
James tells us, “…to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). This being the case, we need to do as the apostle Paul said, “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially those who are the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
God Desires To Make Us Clean (v 18)
Though we have transgressed His law; though we have walked in our own ways; though we have given the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme; He desires to receive us back and make us pure. “Come now, and let us reason together … Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” What beautiful words to hear from the one who we have turned from. He calls us to come back, and has made atonement for us through His Son.
We are helpless when it comes to the removal of our sins. We cannot affect the salvation of our own soul, and if we have turned from the Lord, we cannot of our selves return to His good favour. But God calls us to reason with Him, and if we will arrange our conduct aright, then He will forgive our transgressions and remove them “…as far as the east is from the west…” (Psalm 103:12). In reasoning with the Lord, we cannot supply Him with excuses for our sins, nor shall we seek to justify ourselves in error; but we need to humbly confess our transgressions. And having done so, let us “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service…” (Romans 12:1).
It’s Our Choice (v 19-20)
Finally, understand that the Lord will not force us to do what is right. He has created us with free will, and He allows us the exercise of that will, even if it means the damnation of our souls. His desire is that we serve Him out of love, not through compulsion. So He declares, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.” This same choice has been given to men throughout the ages. Adam walked and talked with God, eating of every tree except that which was in the middle of the garden. But having violated God’s law, he died spiritually, was cast out of the garden, and eventually returned to the dust he was made of. Israel, before entering the promised land were warned by Moses, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD sword to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
What will we choose to do? The Lord has set before us life and death. Paul wrote, “…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The choice of life or death resides with us, as with the people of Joshua’s day, of whom he demanded, “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15). We can choose to walk in our own way, the way which the Proverb writer tells us leads to death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25), or we can forsake our way and turn to the path less taken, that which leads to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14). The choice is our’s.