These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!’
How often do we resemble these rebellious people? How often do we speak ill of a pastor because he said something that brings our own sin to mind? How often do we resent our husbands for making us aware of a sin in our lives? How often do we say this God?
It is hard to humbly confront sin in our lives, especially when the sin is brought to our attention by a loved one, or by God. It is so hard to say, “Yes, I’m sinning/have sinned, and I want to change that.” It’s so hard to say, “God, I ask for forgiveness and the strength to stop this sin in my life.” Unfortunately, many people just avoid this altogether, either by denying the sin or excusing it away.
“Well, I’m not really sinning, I’m just doing something you don’t like, so you’re upset about that.”
“If this were a sin, then I would feel guilty about it, so I must not be sinning.”
“Yes, I’m sinning, but I’m a good person overall, so this one little sin is no big deal.”
“Yeah, sure, OK… I’m sinning, but everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God, so what do you expect from me?
Hm. I’ve heard these too often, and I know I’ve said/thought them (or some variation) too often as well.
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift!’
God says that we find salvation in repentance and rest. First, we repent of the sin, then we can rest easily about it. Repentance includes confessing the sin to God, asking for His forgiveness, and then altering behaviors to reflect this change of heart. God gives us the power to change our behaviors and to stop sinning. He does not ask us to do things we are incapable of doing! After repentance, there is no need for guilt over the same incidence/issue. God tells us that after we repent, we can rest. There is no need to beat ourselves up about an issue that has been dealt with. In this repentance and rest, we find our salvation. We are saved by the grace of God through His forgiveness and His peace.
God also says that we find strength in quietness and trust. When we are quiet, we can better hear the voice of God or the Holy Spirit within us. Quietness also, usually, produces easiness, peace, and patience. Ever notice how a worry-wart is typically very talkative? She talks because talking helps calm her fears (ask me how I know!). Instead of talking, we should be quiet. We don’t need to talk about our silly worries–we just need to give them over to the Lord and let Him handle them. When I get worrisome, praying “God give me peace” is a lifesaver! It is simple and effective. Once we are quiet, we find it easier to trust God. We need to set our own worries aside, give them to God, ask Him to handle things (which may end up in our taking action on them, but it should be God-led action, not worry-led action), and then trust that He will! This quietness and trust gives us strength to stand up to the storm around us–it is God-given strength, not strength within ourselves.
Now we know what we should not do–we should not hide from or excuse our sin. We should not push God away because He is convicting our hearts (or stop going to church to avoid our pastor or resent our husbands because he brought our sin to light). We also see what we should do–we should be open to His conviction, then we will find salvation in repentance and rest, and we will find strength in quietness and trust.
What if we don’t? If we don’t, then we “will flee” and our “pursuers will be swift!” We will continually be evading the sin in our lives and those who confront us with it. That does not sound like the kind of life I’d like to lead!
Why does God want us to repent, rest, be quiet, and trust Him?
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
Do you see that? The Lord longs to be gracious to us! He wants to extend His glorious grace to us! He wants to give us peace and rest and easiness! Amazing that the Lord, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Holiest God,desires such sweet, sweet things for us, such sinners! Wow!! He is a compassionate, loving God. Yes, He exposes our sin to us, but He does it because He loves us and wants us to stop running from it. He wants us to break out of the enslavement of sin and idols.
Here, we are also told that our God is a just God. He will handle the sin in our lives. There are two ways in which He can rightly and justly handle it:
(1) punish us for our sin with eternity in hell, which we rightly and justly deserve.
(2) forgive our sin and allow us to spend eternity with Him in heaven, which we do not rightly and justly deserve, but which He graciously and mercifully extends to us through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross.
I know how I’ve asked Him to handle my sin. What about your’s?