Monday, March 09, 2020
It’s not just because this is Monday. I know it’s not the Monday morning blues. It goes much deeper than that. It goes to the very core of my being as I stand before my awesome and holy God. My soul continues to be overwhelmed with a burden for the souls of people who are lost in their sin and are moving rapidly towards eternal death.
Again this morning I read the entire sixty-sixth chapter of Isaiah. In this concluding chapter, God is explaining the final separation of the righteous from the unrighteous – the righteous into His presence on the new earth that will endure forever (66:22), and the unrighteous into eternal punishment (66:24). The judgment of God on the unrighteous will be severe, beginning with the harsh treatment of verse 4, to His fury of verse 14, and His fire and sword of verse 16.
But what I am most burdened with is God’s statement in verse 17.
Isaiah 66:17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things–they will meet their end together,” declares the LORD.
I am burdened because it describes good-willed people with religious inclinations and spiritual values who are included in God’s judgment. These are people who have put on an outward appearance of spiritual life, and who participate in religious traditions and sacraments, but on the inside are still lost in their sin.
Every day I make connections with people who are trusting in the wrong things for their security. They trust their goodness, reminding others that they are a good person. They trust their success, displaying their abilities to the world around them. They trust their wealth, building bigger and bigger kingdoms to their own credit. They even trust their churches, seeking to find spiritual security in their obedience to the sacred duties declared by their leaders to be necessary to earn the approval of God.
But their hearts are unchanged from their innate condition of sin. As a result, in one of the most painful and heart-wrenching statements God ever makes, they will meet their end in the same way as those who absolutely rejected anything to do with God and His Son Jesus. The one who did their spiritual duty will be condemned right alongside of the one who did abominable things. That breaks my heart!
But it goes even deeper. I wonder how many there are in my own church, and in my own family, who are trusting in a man-made, man-honoring religious exterior, when in reality their heart has never been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? I am concerned that there are people sitting under my preaching every week who are going through the spiritual motions of faith but are walking through life following those who are doing abominable things.
My friends, there is only One Way to eternal life, and that is through Jesus Christ our Lord. His death and resurrection are the only qualifier for eternal life. And those who have repented of their sin and been forgiven by faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross must not go back to a life of sin and compromise with the world. The warnings of the Apostle John are clear:
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
And again the Holy Spirit speaks through John and says:
1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
Oh dear people, we must declare boldly whom we will serve. Will we serve ourselves and seek acceptance with the world, or will we serve the Savior and forfeit the world for the eternal world that is coming? There can be no compromise. You cannot serve both because you cannot love both. Make your choice carefully. What you choose to love makes the choice for you, and it has eternal consequence.