“But God is not deceived by externals”
March 27, 2007 2 Comments
The title comes from CS Lewis’ classic, Mere Christianity. With a few succinct words the Don sums up a very important truth, a truth found throughout His Word.
The Spirit has been tugging at me (only He knows why) for quite some time to really dig into Isaiah’s prophecy, all 66 chapters. Some months ago I began a cursory study of the text only to stop, for whatever reason, at Chapter 13.
I’ve started anew, prefacing the actual text with a look into the reigns of the kings (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah) of Isaiah’s ministry. As far as I understand it this time period was marked by external religion performed by the inhabitants of Judah without real internal transformation.
Indeed, the very first chapter of the book lists the grievances which YHWH has against His chosen nation. I’ve camped out in verses 1-23 for the better part of a month and the Spirit has shown me some things.
One of such thing was gleaned from the following text:
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight — Isaiah 1:16
This text comes at the tail end of a rebuke, in which God describes in great detail the baseness of the religious rituals of the Israelites and His displeasure with them. Baseness because there is no truth behind their devotions. Baseness because it’s hypocrisy they’re performing not devotion to God. It’s hypocrisy because their internal condition does not reflect their external devotion.
Verse 16 is pivotal because what is hidden from God’s sight? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Scary thought for us all. Yet incredibly liberating.
It is very easy to be religious. Do and say the right things, in some cases support the “right” political party. Even morality can be twisted to a prideful, devilish thing. “Hey look at me! I don’t drink like them” How about, “Hey look at me, I don’t say bad words!” and the worst-case scenario, “Hey don’t blame me, I voted Republican/Democrat”.
The Israelites whom God harshly criticizes in Isaiah were deeply religious, as were the Jews Jesus harshly criticized in the first century. Their problem was that their external convictions did not reflect their internal condition.
In verse 16, God is saying (someone please correct me if otherwise), I can see everything, even the condition of your heart which is far from me. I can see the way you “play church” on Sunday only to take off that mask by the time you get home. Enough already, “remove the evil of your deeds from My sight”. Come and be transformed from the inside out.