As we saw in our previous meditation on Isaiah 1, it’s important to consider the vital distinctions between internal and external religion. Internal religion is grounded in a personal relationship with the true God where worship emanates from the spirit, or the “hidden man of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4). But since man’s spirit is dead in sin because of Adam’s fall, external religion abounds as man attempts to create his own gods and live by his own rules.
The proliferation of false religion is not evidence of man seeking God, it is evidence of rebellion against Him. This rebellion leads to death, and it’s important to consider what that means. While many think of death as a cessation of existence, the biblical definition is separation.
The proliferation of false religion is not evidence of man seeking God, it is evidence of rebellion against Him
Spiritual death is the separation of the spirit from God. This is the death Adam and Eve first experienced in the Garden of Eden when they disobeyed God, which is why they tried to hide their nakedness with leaves and shied away from God’s presence. Notice though, that they did not die physically until later. If they only knew the misery this disobedience would cause; how many millennia of disease, starvation, war and misery would be brought upon their posterity!
Mankind sinned and was born alienated from God. God Himself pronounces the verdict of man’s guilt: “As it is written, None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). We should never think lightly of sin.
Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body. Have you ever considered that you are a soul living in a body? Your body is the means for the soul to express the unique person that you are. This is a profound mystery in light of what conception is and how life is defined. Because the body was subject to death when Adam sinned, it was subject to degeneration.
The outward man perishes, but the inward man is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:7, 16). It is interesting to note that the repeated phrase in the Genesis 5 genealogies is “and he died”. Exceptions are Enoch and Elijah, for God took them to heaven without separating their body and spirit. This will again occur with believers upon Christ’s return — even so, Maranatha!
Eternal death is the separation of the person from God with no hope of ever returning to Him. Jesus became human to accomplish redemption for man, so that all who trust in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Consider that eternal life is a condition that begins at the new birth and continues after physical death. At this very moment, we are either alive or dead. When we die physically, we will continue in the same spiritual condition.
At this very moment, we are either alive or dead. When we die physically, we will continue in the same spiritual condition
Having discussed these extremely important doctrinal issues, we can understand why God, through Isaiah, cries out, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil” (Isaiah 1:16).
Mankind is defiled! Isaiah 1:6 offers a vivid description: “From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.” The Lord sees through the world’s religions, including Christianity, and looks at the heart. Jesus likened the Pharisees to whitewashed sepulchres full of dead men’s bones. How terrible to be in such a condition! Rules without righteousness, feigned sincerity without true faith, devotions without desire.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The invitation to reason together is an incredible condescension of the Almighty to reach the lost sons of Adam!
The Jews thought that God was unjust to judge them so harshly. They were serving God in the temple; how could He charge them with such faults? The Puritan preacher Stephen Charnock said: “This is the epidemical disease of human nature; they think they deserve caresses instead of rods, and upon crosses are more ready to tear out the heart of God, than reflect humbly upon their own hearts.”
Dear readers, repentance must precede revival, and brokenness before blessing. Let us examine our hearts fully in these days of wickedness. Let us humble ourselves before the King of kings who comes to us today and says, “Come now, and let us reason together.”
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