Thursday, September 3, 2015, 12:35 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 8-9 (selected vv. NASB). Our Sanctuary (8:11-14a) For thus the Lord spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. “Then He shall become a sanctuary…” We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are not to walk in the ways of the people of this sinful world (See: Eph. 4:17; 5:15; Col. 3:5-10), but we are to walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 6:4; Gal. 5:16, 25; Eph. 5:8). In fact, the Word of God teaches that if we say we are in fellowship with God, but we persist in conducting our lives according to the flesh, that we are liars, and we don’t live by the truth. As well, it teaches us that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14). We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to be holy. To be holy means to be set apart (separate, unlike, different) from the world because we are becoming like Christ. So, what is a conspiracy? It is generally considered some type of evil plan conspired by more than one person in secret and for the purpose to do others harm. There are, in reality, people within the world who are involved in conspiring evil against others, who are doing so in secret, and who cover-up their evil deeds by blaming others. If we discover this is going on, and God opens our eyes to these truths, and we find overwhelming evidence that a conspiracy does truly exist, and we expose it for what it is, we are not guilty of what this passage is referring to. What this is saying is that we are not to call something a conspiracy just because the people are generally calling it that. We shouldn’t just join in with what everyone else is saying, especially if we are doing so just to be accepted and liked. We need to use our God-given minds to exercise reason, to do the homework, and to see if there is any validity to what others are saying before we just chime in and go along with the crowd. The main concern here seems to be that the people were listening to rumors, and that they were believing the rumors, and they were responding in fear. We should not fear even if a conspiracy turns out to be true, but we should always trust in the Lord. Yet, it seems to be implied here that the people were calling the course of conduct of some as a “conspiracy” when it clearly was not. Sometimes people call what is good evil just because they disagree with it, such as many who call themselves Christians are opposed to the gospel as taught by Jesus and by his apostles mainly because they don’t like the message, and they prefer something a little lighter and more pleasing to the ears and to the flesh. And, so they attack the true gospel, and they accuse its messengers of being judgmental, hatemongers, bigoted, extremists, disunifiers, and legalistic, etc. We are not to fear what they fear, for they fear putting their trust solely in God, and submitting to his will for their lives. So, instead of fearing what they fear, and assigning blame to people and beliefs just because that is what everyone else is doing, or just because we don’t like the message, we are to fear God, i.e. we are to revere, respect, honor, and obey him, and submit to his Lordship over our lives. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will die, but if we lose our lives (die to sin), we will gain eternal life. If we are walking in the fear of the Lord, we will not want to sin against God, but we will want to please our Lord in all that we do and say and are. According to the Word (8:19-22) When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. They will pass through the land hard-pressed and famished, and it will turn out that when they are hungry, they will be enraged and curse their king and their God as they face upward. Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness. In today’s modern church there is much teaching being taught that is not biblical, and some or much that is directly opposed to the teachings of Christ and of his NT apostles. Mysticism has gained wide popularity in evangelical Christianity, particularly here in America. There is so much twisting of truth going on within the church, but which is being passed off as truth. Humanistic philosophy and pagan beliefs are being blended right in with biblical teaching to where it sounds like what is being taught is biblical when often it isn’t. The gospel has been diluted to make it more appealing to the flesh of humans, less judgmental, and more pleasing to the ears and to fleshly lifestyles. So many people are just believing what they hear in the church, which is being taught by preachers, just because it sounds good, but they are not checking out what they hear against the Word of God to see if it adds up. Yet, if these preachers do not speak according to the Word as taught by Jesus, and as taught by his apostles (NT), and what they are teaching is in conflict with the Word, there is no light in what they teach. Yet, this is not speaking of someone whose theology might be a little off, but it is clear that this is speaking of false teachers who are leading the people astray by teaching what is from another spirit, not the Holy Spirit. They are not walking in the light, but they are still walking in darkness. They have no hope of salvation from sin, but all they have to look forward to is gloom, darkness and distress. Instead of Jesus Christ becoming a sanctuary for them, through faith in him, he becomes a stumbling block to them, because of their unbelief, and they are thus condemned to hell for eternity unless they put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives. A Great Light (9:1-4a) But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor… The good news in all of this is that no one has to remain in darkness and gloom. The Light, Jesus Christ, has shone in the darkness, and he has overcome the darkness. Amen! We don’t have to continue in sin. We don’t have to be slaves any longer to our flesh. Jesus died to set us free, not just from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), but from bondage to and the control of sin over our lives. Amen! When Jesus died, our sins died with him. They were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, Satan, death and hell. Through faith in Jesus Christ we, too, are victors over sin. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Now we are free to become servants of righteousness. Jesus didn’t die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died to give us new lives in Christ, to be lived for his glory. He died to break that yoke of sin which once held us in its grip, and to free us as though we were being literally set free from prison. His grace, which brings salvation, is not free license to continue in sin without guilt or remorse. It is not grace if it still leaves us under the control of sin, is it? His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and desires and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Jesus’ return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). His grace leads us away from continuing in sin to following our Lord Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. His grace leads us away from following the pattern of this world, to following the example Jesus set for us in walking in the fear of God, and in obeying him in all things. Yet, it is only because of what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross for our sins that we can be set free from sin and have eternal life with God. We can do nothing within ourselves to earn or to deserve such a great salvation. And, it is only through faith in him that we can receive this salvation, and have the hope of eternity with God. And, it is only by God’s grace and in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us that we can have the faith to believe and to walk according to the Spirit of God, and no longer persist in conducting our lives after our flesh. So, all glory belongs to God/Jesus, for what he has done in breaking that yoke of sin and in setting us free to now be servants of his righteousness. Amen! My Jesus, I Love Thee William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine; For thee all the follies of sin I resign. My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou; If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I love thee because thou hast first loved me, And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree; I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow; If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow, If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now. In mansions of glory and endless delight; I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright; I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow; If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.