Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
From the teaching series, Lessons From Isaiah
“How is the faithful city become a harlot! It was full of justice; righteousness lodged in it, but now, murderers. Your silver is become dross, your wine, mixed with water.”
“How does the city sit solitary that was filled with people! How is she become a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become a tributary! . . . All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they are become her enemies.”
If anyone among God’s people is blind to the truth, it is only because he has become blind. If anyone is ignorant, it is that he has become ignorant. God’s children are not born into His kingdom blind and sinful; they are born pure and humble and wise. From the moment we surrender to Jesus and are washed from our sins, we are “complete in him”; we are “new creatures” that are made “a new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We start out in our earthly life with a sinful, foolish nature. Our first birth was of the flesh, and it gave us the nature of sinful flesh, just like our earthly fathers. But our second birth, our birth into God’s kingdom is not like that. When we are born again in Christ Jesus, we are born with a holy nature, just like our heavenly Father has (2Pet. 2:4).
From that point on, we do not have to “get ready” to meet God in peace; we only have to stay ready.
After we are born again, the battle is not to prepare ourselves to meet God in peace but to keep ourselves ready, because we start out in Christ perfectly pleasing to our heavenly Father. We do not start our life in Christ in need of anything, for when he becomes our Shepherd, we do not want (Psalm 23:1). The battle in this life is the battle to stay in the spiritually clean condition that God puts us in when we are born again. Spiritual warfare is the warfare to stay on the right path once God has placed us on it, and not to become anything. In Christ, God has made us what He wants us to be.
God sent Isaiah to prophesy destruction to the Israelites because “this people’s heart is become dull” (Mt. 13:15 quoting Isa. 6:9). But in the beginning of Israel’s walk with God, it wasn’t that way with them. In the beginning they cried out, “All that the Lord has said, we will do!” (Ex. 19:8). By Isaiah’s time, however, they couldn’t even recognize God’s voice because they had become self-willed and foolish. They didn’t stay clean and happy, as God had made them. They had been lured into sin and had became something else, and it broke God’s heart.
Paul lamented that the saints in Galatia, who had begun their new life in the power of the Spirit had become more attracted to ceremonial, fleshly rituals. Certain men had lured them away from the strait and narrow path of the Spirit into faith in religious rites and rituals. In short, they had become something they were not when they were first born again; namely, confused. “Oh, foolish Galatians”, Paul tearfully pleaded, “who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth?” Then, he added this fatherly, penetrating question: “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?”
My dear brothers and sisters, you were perfect with God in the beginning of your walk with Him. To be prepared to meet your heavenly Father in peace, you need not become anything more than you were then because what you were then is what God Himself made you; it was not your work or that of your earthly parents. You were washed from all your sins by the baptism of the holy Ghost, and you were perfectly clean before God. You were willing then to be changed, to be molded by God’s tender hands, humbly willing for others to be right and you to be wrong, and hungry for God’s righteousness. STAY THAT WAY! Do not become anything else because everything else is sin. Paul said, “As you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, so walk in him.” Amen! This continuation in righteousness is called in the Bible, “faithfulness”, and no one will be saved without it.
This is the parable Jesus gave concerning one of his servants becoming something other than what God made us at the start of our journey:
“Who is that faithful and wise steward whom his lord shall make ruler over all his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord, when he comes, shall find so doing. . . . But if that servant shall say in his heart, ‘My lord delays his coming,’ and he then begins to beat the men servants and maidens [of his lord] and to eat and drink, and to be drunk, the lord of that servant will come in a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and he will cut him in pieces and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Lk. 12:42-43, 45-46).
One of the saddest moments in the Bible is when the distraught King Saul went to visit a witch for help because God would no longer answer him. God sent the prophet Samuel back from the dead to reprove the king with these terrifying words: “Why have you disquieted me, to bring me up?” And when the weeping Saul explained that God would no longer talk to him, Samuel answered grimly, “Why then do you ask of me, seeing that the LORD is departed from thee and is become your enemy?” God became Saul’s enemy because Saul had himself changed; he had become different from what he had been when God made him king. Before Samuel died, he had sternly rebuked Saul for becoming different, reminding him of his former ways: “When you were little in your own sight, weren’t you made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed you king of Israel? . . . Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
Dear friends, strive to maintain in your heart the godly love you had in the beginning, the same humility, the same fear of God, the same desire for truth! Be faithful to Him who called you out of darkness into His light! Keep yourself pure; guard your heart; continue to live the way you were living when Jesus washed your sins away. If you do, you will live forever. But if you become something else, I warn you now that you will be ashamed when you meet your Lord, and you will be in danger of being condemned in the Final Judgment and cast into the Lake of Fire. You do not want to cause God to become your enemy, as so many others over the centuries have done.