Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 29:15-30:14; Revelation 1:1-20
“Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, and their works are in the dark; they say, 'Who sees us?' and, 'Who knows us?'” (Isaiah 29:15)
These words remind me of another Old Testament lesson we heard in church recently (I wrote these devotions in September/October): “Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the LORD! Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Amend your ways and your doings...Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name and say, “We are delivered to do all these abominations?” Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,' says the LORD” (Jeremiah 7:1-11).
Yes, Christians still need to hear the threats of the law. For our sinful flesh always wants to turn the gospel into a license for sin: “Since I am forgiven, it doesn't matter if I go on sinning.” As if God forgives us for that! Sure, sin might make you feel better about yourself (at least for a while), but that's not why God forgives you. He forgives you so that He can feel better about you forever. Thank God! For by the forgiveness of sins, washed over you at the Font, spoken over you in the words of Absolution, fed into you at the Supper, God now feels so much better about you — in spite of yourself — that He promises you forgiveness and eternal life.
That should make us feel good. No, not about ourselves, but about God. We're His now. He says so. And that means out of gratitude we should live lives that glorify God, that are patterned after the good works laid out for us by Him in His Commandments (2 Peter 2:11-13).
You say, “But those are set on too high a plane. I can't possibly do what the Commandments require.” Guess what? You already are! That's God's gift, God's promise to you in the forgiveness of sins. Whatever He finds lacking in you, He holds against Jesus on the cross. He covers it in the forgiveness of sins, spoken over you in His Word, washed over you at His Font, fed into you at His Altar.
With all that going for you, it should go without saying: God does not do this just so you can go on pursuing sin. It must be said. We're just that sinful. Thank God, then, for the threats and admonitions of the Law. They remind us that God sees and knows us. They keep us humble, on our knees, crying out to Jesus Who alone can help, save, comfort and defend us.
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, email@example.com.