Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good.
Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. (Isaiah 1:16-18)
When something is settled, there is no further discussion. It is fixed - established - no change is forthcoming. The condition of relationship is to come - to lay down one's own agenda and to submit oneself to obedience to the Lord's will. We can try to wash ourselves up and be clean all on our own, but we still gonna stink! Until we are willing to give up and learn at his feet, we are still gonna stink. We can do all manner of good works, but we still gonna stink. Until we come, lay down our sins, and sit at the foot of the cross, we are gonna stink!
Obedience is what comes next - we get that backwards, though. We work on all the 'steps' of obedience before we get ourselves into right relationship with Jesus. We think we can somehow work our way to God, forgetting or not even realizing that he has worked his way to us through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ! We NEED relationship - not good works. Good works alone is religion, pure and simple. Volunteer all you want - you still gonna stink. Give all that you have to the poor and needy - you still gonna stink. Come to the cross, submit your heart to Christ, and that 'stink' is gone!
I have pointed out the 'stench' of sin and the sin nature more than a few times today. Why? Too many times we get so caught up in the 'signs' of right-living that we forget there has to be a heart-change that comes with them. The heart needs to be made right with God FIRST, then the 'signs' of right-living we might refer to as 'good works' or 'good deeds' actually flow from a different place in us. They begin to flow from the place of trust, not the place of hope. Good works to GET us somewhere or something in life is a place of hope. Good works that God actually blesses flow from a heart that has trusted in the finished work of Christ to deal with our sins once and for all.
The washing up we need most is accomplished at the cross. The 'cleaning of the slate' or the 'removal of all sin' is done at the cross. We 'give up' as we come - we leave behind as we go. The cross is no place for weaklings - it requires a significant amount of strength to give up and leave behind all that we have hoped in up till that point. To move into a place of trusting in the finished work of Christ to remove our stink requires strength - the strength to admit we are weak, unable to cleanse ourselves from the stink, and standing in need of a change of heart and mind. Just sayin!
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