Sunday, April 15, 2012

Not Need-Minded, Not Seed-Minded, but Spirit-Minded Part II

To support the spiritual error that we must behave holy in order to be holy, or do good first in order to feel good, Olsteen references Isaiah 58, which a reader will take completely out of context without reading it in light of the Finished Work of the Cross of Christ Jesus. Even Charles Swindoll wrote a little time on Isaiah58, one that had swept me up in years past, as I was so spiritually empty on the inside, that I did not know what to do.

Isaiah 58 presages the life of love that every believer will lead as the live a life of Sabbath rest. Even Isaiah's words explain this, despite the humanistic attempts from other preachers to make the passage sound as a a mandate to do something in order to receive.

Isaiah 58 starts out thus:

"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

"Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God." (Isaiah 58: 1-2)

First of all, we are to delight ourselves in the Lord, not just His ways (Psalm 37: 3).

The other problem for the Israelites, they delighted to know His ways, the acted as if they did righteousness.

But Abraham was not accounted righteous for what he did, but for what he believed:

"And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15: 5-6)

Abraham believed in the LORD, not just what He promised, not just what he did. The Israelites, according to Isaiah, were not walking faith. The prophet continues:

"Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

"Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

"Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? " (Isaiah 58: 3-5)

The Israelites were works-oriented, not spirit-oriented. The had turned a fast into another set of works which aggrandized themselves instead of magnifying the love and work of the Lord God in their lives. In fact, they had used these fasts as an excuse to abuse one another instead of living out God's love for them. The Lord then outlines the fast that pleases Him:

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" (Isaiah 58: 6-7)

It's not about doing for ourselves, but doing for others. We are not called merely to offer gifts as a way to make ourselves righteous in God's sight. Jesus denounced this erroneous thinking in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5: 21-26)

When the Israelites, and all other believer, give of themselves, then the following happens:

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.

“Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;” (Isaiah 59: 8-9)

This part of the chapter demonstrates that we are not trying to create our own light or work up our righteousness. Instead, our light will “break forth” and our righteousness “will go before” us. We must become conscious of our righteousness as a gift from God, which in turn enables to produce fruit of righteousness by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Too many believers are trying to earn points with God through works of righteousness, or they are trying to prove that they have the Light of God in them. We must first be fully vested in our righteousness, understanding that we are the light of the world because of Christ in us. When we cease striving for righteous and lightened standing before God, then we produce good works, which will break forth from us.

“And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” (Isaiah 58: 10-12)
Many people have read the next three verses as if verses 11 and 12 are contingent on the tenth verse. I do not find that persuasive:

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

“For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107: 8-9)

It is the Lord who satisfies us, not our works! Jesus also preached this truth:

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6: 35)
Before this, Jesus declares the work that really counts, that really pleases God:
“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6: 28-29)

There are no “works”’ just one work. It starts with believing on Him, just as Abraham did, which is then accounted to us for righteousness. We then become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5: 21), and in turn we bear fruit of righteousness:
“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1: 11)

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12: 11)
The final portion of Isaiah 58 focuses on the necessary element for all the rest to come to passs:
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah58: 13-14)
If we rest in Him, drawing from the Lord, not doing what we want to do, not working up our own righteousness, then He causes us to walk in high victory. Instead of relying on our own words, we live by His word (Deuteronomy 8:3), which does not come back void in our lives (Isaiah 55: 11). The Lord wants us to rest from our own works, our own efforts, and believe on Him:
“For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4: 10)
Instead of telling people to give out in order to get, Pastor Joel Olsteen, and the rest of the pastors and teachers in the Body of Christ, need to receive the gift of righteousness by faith, which in turn empowers us to  reign in life (Romans 5: 17-19), and from which we can then serve others. We need to let the Lord serve us first, though, and when we rest in Him, He can do just that! We do not have to give goodness to get it, or create peace in order to find it, for these are fruits of the Spirit, which are borne in us continually!

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