Today as I prepared for my blog and podcast on Romans chapter 12, in my personal Bible study I also read Isaiah chapter 59. That just happened to be the chapter I was on as I go through the Old Testament. It amazes me how God’s Word all fits together. From the Old Testament prophets to the Gospel writers and then the New Testament letters, they tell us — so clearly — how we are to live. It’s up to us to read, understand and obey. So, I start with Isaiah 59…
Warnings Against Sin
Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you,
nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.
Because of your sins, he has turned away
and will not listen anymore.
Your hands are the hands of murderers,
and your fingers are filthy with sin.
Your lips are full of lies,
and your mouth spews corruption.
No one cares about being fair and honest.
The people’s lawsuits are based on lies.
They conceive evil deeds
and then give birth to sin.
They hatch deadly snakes
and weave spiders’ webs.
Whoever eats their eggs will die;
whoever cracks them will hatch a viper.
Their webs can’t be made into clothing,
and nothing they do is productive.
All their activity is filled with sin,
and violence is their trademark.
Their feet run to do evil,
and they rush to commit murder.
They think only about sinning.
Misery and destruction always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace
or what it means to be just and good.
They have mapped out crooked roads,
and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.
So there is no justice among us,
and we know nothing about right living.
We look for light but find only darkness.
We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.
We grope like the blind along a wall,
feeling our way like people without eyes.
Even at brightest noontime,
we stumble as though it were dark.
Among the living,
we are like the dead.
We growl like hungry bears;
we moan like mournful doves.
We look for justice, but it never comes.
We look for rescue, but it is far away from us.
For our sins are piled up before God
and testify against us.
Yes, we know what sinners we are.
We know we have rebelled and have denied the Lord.
We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
carefully planning our deceitful lies.
Our courts oppose the righteous,
and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
and honesty has been outlawed.
Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
The Lord looked and was displeased
to find there was no justice.
He was amazed to see that no one intervened
to help the oppressed.
So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
and his justice sustained him.
He put on righteousness as his body armor
and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.
He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance
and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds.
His fury will fall on his foes.
He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
In the west, people will respect the name of the Lord;
in the east, they will glorify him.
For he will come like a raging flood tide
driven by the breath of the Lord.
“The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem
to buy back those in Israel
who have turned from their sins,”
says the Lord.
“And this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken!Isaiah 59
Who is the Redeemer?
That’s Jesus Christ. Because Jesus came into the world and sacrificed His life to take away our sins and guarantee us a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven, we must, in turn sacrifice our sinful nature — our old lives — to Him — fully.
Romans 12: A Living Sacrifice to God
In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul tells us exactly what we need to do…
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the Lord.
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.Romans 12 (Bold emphasis mine)
Striving to be Christ-like
I was baptized by immersion in 2006. Though I had invited Jesus into my heart a few years earlier, I had not yet been baptized again. Even after baptism, I still wasn’t ready to give up some of the “behavior and customs of this world.” Believe me, it doesn’t work.
- From Catholic to Prodigal: Surviving College
- From Prodigal to Progressive: Surviving Hurricanes
- From Progressive to Born Again Christian: Surviving Unemployment
I had to fully die to my sinful nature and then fully live for Christ. Paul tells us here that we have to evaluate ourselves honestly. We know in our hearts when we’ve sinned.
It helps tremendously when you read the Gospels and the Bible daily. We’re human. We forget. We get distracted — tempted. Surrendering our lives completely to Jesus is the sacrifice that He expects from us in return for the sacrifice that HE DID for us.
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
Soli Deo Gloria — to God Alone be the Glory
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