Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Today’s Topic: Self-Defined or God-Defined
Today’s Text: Isaiah 48:1 Listen to this, O house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel – but not in truth or righteousness.
I’m stuck. It’s a dilemma. I cannot get past the last six words of this verse. No matter what I try the Holy Spirit keeps bringing me back to them. I believe God wants me to learn a lesson about who I am. Maybe this is for you too.
The people of Israel were God’s chosen people. Nothing could ever change that reality. They had a rich and meaningful spiritual heritage. They were called by the name God had chosen for them. But their spiritual activity was a sham – a ritual that had no righteousness – a task that wasn’t the expression of truth.
Religion can become just that – truthless tasks and righteousless rituals. (Don’t try to correct my spelling – those words aren’t in the dictionary, but they are descriptively powerful.) We have become people who have a form of godliness but deny the power of it in our everyday activity. (2 Timothy 3:5) We make great promises to God about our plans to change, but those plans are quickly absorbed into our secular and worldly lifestyles. We turn to God in our dark times of deep need, but we really only want rescue rather than repentance.
Religion produces self-defined people. Look at the people of Israel. They were chosen by God. They were called by God. They were set apart for God’s purpose. They were given a special name. They inherited a spiritual heritage that is the model for all people. But they quickly turned all of that into a license to satisfy the desires of their own sinful hearts. They translated their past into permissiveness – their perceived security into personal self-fulfillment. No longer did they choose to let God define them, but rather they chose to define themselves.
Now let’s look at ourselves. We are a chosen people (1Peter 2:9). We are called by God (Romans 1:6). We are set apart for God’s purpose (Philippians 2:13). We have been given a special name (Acts 11:26). We have inherited a spiritual heritage (Galatians 4:7). How then do we live? Are we also guilty of turning all of that into a license to satisfy the desires of our sinful nature that was to have been put to death when we came to saving faith in Jesus Christ?
Let us all take some time today and every day to consider this – am I living my life according to God’s definition of me that is correct for eternity or according to my own definition that is convenient for today? May every activity of our lives be seen by God as the expression of the truth of His definition of a Christ-follower. May our lives be lived in the righteousness of Christ. That is holiness – a life without contradiction.