Religiously Sinful

“Hear the word of the LORD …listen to the instruction of our God … ‘What are your sacrifices to me?’ asks the LORD. ‘Stop bringing useless offerings …When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look at you; even if you offer countless prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered in blood. Wash yourselves …Remove your evil deeds from my sight …Learn to do what is good. Pursue justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause’” (Selected, Isaiah 1.10-17).

Perhaps all of our religious activity and countless prayers are merely self-justifying behaviors. God is not pleased with religious activity from me while I hold onto life dominating sins. This is truly self-righteous, legalistic behavior. Perhaps we seek God daily, delight to know His ways, and still strike with the fist of wickedness (see Isaiah 58.2-4).

What is truly required of a child of God? Certainly, it is required that we live a life of victory over sin by walking in the Spirit. So, why are we living lives filled with anger, lust, discontentment, envy, and impurity? Why are we lazy and covetous? Why are we conceited and arrogant? Skeptical and unfaithful? A major reason we struggle with sin is we seek to change our behavior while not changing our hearts and lives.

We must wash ourselves and remove all of this evil from God’s sight. We must do good, pursue justice, correct the oppressors, and defend the rights of the fatherless and widow. Jesus went about doing good. So must His disciples. Don’t be deceived. Religious activity for God devoid of a heart for Him is a betrayal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news of the Gospel is that “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool” (v. 18). May God bless us with a willing obedience and a tender heart for Him!

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