1 John 1:9

Verse of the Day: 1John 1:9

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

None of us are perfect, no matter what we think. However, as true Christians this should be our desire. Speaking for myself, there are times when I fail to do what God has commanded me to do, or I do what God has commanded me not to do.  Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this. And if we are honest, we all do.  The verse prior to our focus verse says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Notice his wording, ‘If we say we have no sin’, present tense. Paul was clear in his letter to the Church in Rome that no one can say they have no sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Romans 3:23.

What John is saying is as Christians we are to walk with God and devote ourselves totally to Him. We are to live a life that honors Christ, that is a perfect life. However, in our fleshly weakness we often do things we know are wrong. Paul put it like this regarding his own struggle, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” Romans 7:18-19. Paul understood that he was far from perfect. He knew that he did not always live in a way that honored God. In fact, he states that no one does. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12. And to say that we have no sin puts us in a dangerous place because God’s grace and mercy is extended to sinners, not to those who see these as mistakes, or who say, “I’m only human”. We need to realize the victory and forgiveness that comes from praying, “I am a sinner, even a great sinner, but I have a Savior who cleanses me from all sin.

And this is laid out in our focus verse. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. Though sin is present, it need not remain a hindrance to our relationship with God, we will find cleansing from all unrighteousness as we confess our sins. By confessing our sins, we are willing to say and believe the same thing about our sin that God says about it. The one who confesses his sin is the one who agrees with God about how bad he was. And if we deny the presence of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and are denying God’s Word. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:10. And though sin is always present, so is its remedy, so sin need never be a hindrance to our relationship with God. We need to confess all sins to God, and this confession should be with the idea of knowing what you did was sin, hating having done it and desiring never to do it again but wanting to honor God in everything. In this, He is “faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

1 Peter 4:8

Verse of the Day: 1 Peter 4:8

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8

The one thing that the New Testament says throughout is that we are to love one another.  Not just in word, but in deed.  Not just during the good times, but the difficult times as well. This is not just a suggestion, but it is a command.   “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34.

It is very important that we follow this command closely.  First, we all need the support of our brothers and sisters.  We all get tired and dejected at times.  Sometimes we just need the support of people during extreme difficulty.  We should be willing to come to each other’s aid when this happens. And if we have wronged anyone, showing love will cover up these faults against whom we have wronged, as well as those who are observing us.  If we truly love our brethren, this will be easy.

However, Jesus mentions another reason.  It again points to our role as a light to the world.  “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35. If we truly show the love of God to each other, it will pour out to others we meet.  And there are many in the world who need to feel this kind of love because it will be something they have rarely seen.  What a blessing we can be when we help them to truly experience it.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

1 John 1:9

Verse of the Day: 1John 1:9

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

If you are like me, you are not perfect.  As true Christians we want to be.  Speaking for myself, there are times when I fail to do what God has commanded, or I do what God has commanded us not to do.  Even Paul the apostle struggled with this.

If we are honest, we all do.  In fact, the verse just before our focus verse says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  1 John 1:8. Notice the tense here.  He does not say ‘If we say we have not sinned’ past tense, he says ‘If we say we have no sin’ present tense.  Also, John is not writing this to just anyone, but to the Church.

What John is saying is as Christians we are to walk with Him and devote ourselves totally to Him.  However, in our fleshly weakness we are subject to doing things we know we should not do.  Paul put it like this regarding his own struggle, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” Romans 7:18-19.

However, here is the answer.  Strive to be perfect.  Jesus said himself, ‘Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’  Matthew 5:48.  We should want nothing less.  However, if we do miss the mark, then we should go humbly before God and confess what we have done.  Be completely honest.  He knows it all anyway.  And when you do, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  This is a great promise from Him.  Then, go back out and strive to be that light in the darkness He desires us to be.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Isaiah 58:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 58:1

“Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, and declare to My people their transgression, And to the house of Jacob their sins.” – Isaiah 58:1

The first two words ‘Cry loudly’, seen in the first two words of our focus verse, has the idea of calling out someone with your full throat. By this, the prophet is being called by God to declare loudly and clearly that the house of Jacob is committing sinful deeds, specifically ‘missing the mark’ that God called them to follow, and flat-out being treasonous and rebellious.  This introduction suggests that a judgment speech will follow, but the format that follows is very different from the normal judgment speech. Verse one provides the reason for the prophet’s speech (God told him to cry out) and legitimates the idea that these criticisms come from God.

So, what were these criticisms? He starts by showing there hypocrisy. “Yet they seek Me day by day, and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness, And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God.” Isaiah 58:2. The whole description in verse two is appropriate to the character of formalists and hypocrites; and the idea is, that public worship by sacrifice was celebrated daily in the temple and was not held up at any time. It is not improbable also that they kept up the regular daily service in their dwellings. Their priests and prophets consult about the laws and institutions of religion, as if they were really afraid of violating the Divine commands. While at the same time that they are full of oppression, strife, and wickedness, they are scrupulously careful about violating any of the commands pertaining to the rites of religion.

Then in verse three and four. “Why have we fasted and Thou dost not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and Thou dost not notice?’ Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire and drive hard all your workers. Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.” Isaiah 58:3-4. Now God exposes the reality, which was that His people didn’t fast with the right heart and did it only as an empty ritual. Even on a day when they fasted, they still exploited their employees. God didn’t accept their fasting when it wasn’t connected with a sincere heart of obedience. They fasted for needs, certainly; but selfish needs like ‘Help me win this argument.’ or ‘Help me defeat this person.’  Though their prayer was accompanied with fasting, it was still a selfish, even wicked prayer, thus God did not answer. The purpose of their fasting was to glorify themselves, to make their voice heard on high. And God says, ‘No more. You will not fast as you do this day.’ 

Then God describes what He is looking for in us. “Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free, And break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isaiah 58:6-7. God tells His people, If you want to fast the way that pleases Me, begin with getting right with your brothers and sisters. Stop oppressing others and reach out to help them. Loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free. How is this done? They had to stop acting wickedly towards others. This means that getting right with God begins by stopping the evil we do towards others. They were to share their bread with the hungry and their clothes with the naked. It was not hide everything for themselves. They had to start acting lovingly towards everyone. This means that getting right with God continues by showing true love to all.

We must be careful that what we do is not to lift up and please ourselves, but to lift God up and please Him. It will not matter if we take communion, read His Word, or go to church if we are only doing it because it is a Christian thing to do.  I did this for many years until God showed me I was not truly saved. And when I finally listened to God and gave my life to Him, I finally understood what the true Christian life is all about. Doing the do’s and not doing the don’ts is not enough, for we can do all we want, but if it is not to please and honor our Lord, it is actually a waste of our time. We need to give Him our life and focus on making Christ the core of our existence, pleasing Him in everything we do and we will be in His will. And that includes loving everyone as Christ loves us. Remember when Christ was asked the question of what is the foremost commandment of them all. “Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31. If we do not love God above everything else, and love everyone as we love ourselves, then all we are doing is going through the motions without honoring and giving our all to God. And this is not what we are to do.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Hebrews 2:17

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Hebrews 2:17

“Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” – Hebrews 2:17  

This is a very interesting section in Hebrews, for it speaks of why the salvation of man was accomplished as it was.  Starting in verse 14 we read. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” Hebrews 2:14. Because mankind were fleshly beings with blood, He also needed to spend this time with the same limitations. Remember, there was only one way to pay the penalty for our sins. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. However, it must be a perfect sacrifice, not from us who are imperfect. “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:17-19. This is why it was essential that a perfect person had to die. No one can pay for their sins, for they are not perfect. In essence, once you sin you can never pay the penalty for that sin.

It even becomes more powerful in the next verse. As a continuation of the previous verse, “and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Hebrews 2:15. Christ delivered us who were destined for eternal misery and torment, with no possible deliverance. Paul put it this way. “For as by a man came death, by a man has also come the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-23. Now it is important that we do not see this as a ransom, as some think. Theologian David L. Allen puts it this way. “The ransom theory of the atonement claims that the death of Jesus somehow paid a ransom to the devil. But, as Oden rightly noted, this theory is contrary to Hebrews 2:14–15 where the author explicitly stated that the death of Christ was a triumph over the devil, not a ransom paid to him.”

Now, coming to our focus verse, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17. In order for Him to have paid the penalty for us, He had to be made like us. I like the wording here “in every respect”. There was absolutely no difference in how we were and how Jesus was. And this indicates that the likeness is not a superficial one. It will later be qualified only on the matter of Christ’s sinlessness. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15. The purpose served by this likening explains to some extent the nature and end of the Son’s perfecting. The incarnation and suffering of Christ took place so that he might be a High Priest characterized by mercy and fidelity.

And this is why man’s salvation was done in this way, why it was necessary for Christ to come here and die. He was the only one who could die for all in order to save all if they turn to Him. We could not even die for our own sin, so He died for them all. This is love in it’s true form. And this is the love God has for us. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Luke 17:3

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 17:3

“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” –  Luke 17:3 

This verse deals with people, specifically in these verses (1-4), who sin against us.  Starting in verse 1 we read, “And He said to His disciples, It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come!” Luke 17:1. As we see at the beginning of this verse, He is not speaking to the Pharisees but to His disciples.  And what He is saying here is that temptation, here referred to as ‘stumbling blocks’ are inevitable.  From the Greek word ‘skandalon’ which refers to the trap-spring,  the item on a trap that causes it to spring shut. The idea is that whatever tempts us to sin is a trap, and if we fall into sin due to the temptation, then we sprung the trap and are caught in it. But notice the end of this verse.  Yes, we sin and that is wrong.  Jesus knew that due to the world, the flesh, and the devil such temptations would continue. But Jesus says woe to those who cause the temptation.

Then in the next verse, Jesus shows how He feels about this. “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:2. Drowning a person with a stone tied about the neck was an ancient mode of punishment. What this is saying is that it would be better for them to endure the temporary drowning death by men then to cause a young brother or sister in Christ to sin, which is a serious offense to God.

Now we come to our focus verse. “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3. So, based on what we see in the first two verses, He is not speaking of sins in general, but particularly of sins one brother commits against another. This rebuke should be a mild brotherly admonition, helping them understand what occurred. If such correction brings him to humbly acknowledge his fault, forgiveness must not then be withheld, even if the trespass had already been six times repeated. We see this last part in verse 4. “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, I repent, forgive him.” Luke 17:4. Now, this seven times is not to be taken literally for it has a much deeper meaning. It does not mean you may forgive him, but it is an imperative denoting ‘you will forgive him’. There is no option here.  And to understand the numbers, we must go the Matthew for clarification. “Then Peter came and said to Him, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22. The seven times mentioned in Luke, and the seventy times seven in Matthew are not upper limits to the number of times we are to forgive.  It means ‘always.  If a brother or sister sins against us, and they repent, then we are to ‘always’ forgive them.  And our model in this is God Himself. He forgives all our sins if we truly repent and ask forgiveness. Remember, Jesus forgave all the sins committed by one on the cross in which he repented.  “And he was saying, Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom! And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:42-43.

Jesus calls us to forgive those who sin against us and repent of that sin. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32. When we repented, He forgave us.  Therefore, those who repent of their sins against us, we must forgive. And in so doing, we will show them the reality of our faith, and thus open the door to help them grow in their faith and in the knowledge of God. And this is what we are called to do. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14.  And this light is to help disciple others in the faith. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. That is, after all, our calling.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Luke 5:20

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 5:20 

“And seeing their faith, He said, Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” –  Luke 5:20 

This verse references the healing of a paralytic; however, it ends with an interesting focus. 

Luke begins by speaking about a paralytic who is journeying to find healing.  He uses here the term paralytic, but in various other places uses the term ‘crippled’.  Joel B. Green in his commentary on Luke states, “At this time, the lame were banned from the priesthood in Israel and, at Qumran, were excluded from full participation in the community. Alienation seems to have been their fate in Luke’s world too.” Jesus sought to overturn the concept of alienation of cripples as we see in, “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:13, as well as “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” Luke 14:21.

This account starts with Jesus teaching some Jews. “And it came about one day that He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.“ Luke 5:17. And while this was going on, “And behold, some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in, and to set him down in front of Him. And not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, right in the center, in front of Jesus.” Luke 5:18-19.  There was a great crowd there and it was not possible to carry him to Jesus, so they got on the roof and let him down right in front of Jesus.  He saw this action as a major showing of ‘their’ faith,  not just the of the crippled man.  Hence, “And seeing their faith, He said, Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Luke 5:20.

Note, this was not just a passive statement as, ‘God forgives you’. And the Jews correctly understood what was meant.  “And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:21.  They completely believed Jesus had committed blaspheme by speaking of forgiving this man’s sins for Jesus, as the leadership saw Him, was not qualified to forgive sins for only God could.  Blaspheme was a frequent charge leveled against Jesus. There are no Old Testament analogies to Jesus’ actions here. Today, due to this passage, ministers make a clear distinction between a pastor’s pronouncement of God’s forgiveness of sins and the direct forgiving of sins by the pastor/priest.  

Now, Jesus had knowledge of what they were thinking.  He was the Son of God and nothing was hidden from Him.  So He asks them why they were questioning/reasoning this in your hearts.  And then, “Which is easier, to say, your sins have been forgiven you, or to say, rise and walk?” Luke 5:23.  And without giving them any opportunity, He tells them, “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say to you, rise, and take up your stretcher and go home.” Luke 5:24.  Jesus’ authority to forgive was no less effective because of its invisibility.  However, it will be proved by healing the paralytic. The authority to heal and the authority to forgive are the same authority that Jesus received at the baptism by both the endowment of the Holy Spirit and the Father’s declaration of divine sonship. “Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.” Luke 3:21-22.

In our focus verse, one thing Jesus was showing was that the healing of the body was less important than the forgiveness of a man’s sins.  What good would it be if a man’s legs were healed if he ended up eternally lost?  Jesus was not saying the paralyzed man was especially sinful, or that sin was the cause of his paralysis. Instead, He addressed the man’s greatest need, and the common root of all pain and suffering, man’s sinful condition.  Plus, this gave Him the opportunity to show the Pharisees and the Scribes just who He was, the Son of Man.  “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

1 Peter 2:24

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Peter 2:24  

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24

As Good Friday and Resurrection Day approaches, it is good to look at what this day means and the importance of it to our lives.  This day came because of the love God has for each and every one of us.  From the beginning of mankind to today, mankind has rebelled against God through sin.  Adam and Eve while in the garden, succumbed to the temptation of Satan and sinned.  God told them not to eat of a particular tree in the garden.  “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17.  However, they disobeyed Him which was sin.  “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6.  And from this time forward, there has been no one who has lived a completely sinless life.  Except one.

For our dilemma, God had a solution.  There was a need for one man to be born and live a perfect life, so that he could pay for the sins of everyone else.  This could not be a normal person, for no man has ever lived a life without sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.  So, He had a son who would be able to live a life without sin who could then pay the penalty for ours.  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He understands and sympathizes with us, because He was a born a man through Mary, a woman.  And He is able to address our sinfulness by providing a perfect sacrifice through Himself because He was sinless, being God in human flesh.  And this is the message of our focus verse.  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24.

This shows the incredible love God has for us.  First, He knew we would sin against Him for He knows all things. “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” Isaiah 46:8-10.  But He stilled loved us and therefore He provided a way to address the sins and cleanse us from them.  And all we need to do is confess them with repentance.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.

Jesus came with the sole purpose of paying the penalty for our sins.  “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:21-23. Jesus never sinned therefore He could pay the penalty for us all.  It was a horrible and cruel death, but He endured it all for us.  This is perfect love from a perfect God.  Give thanks to Him for without Jesus, we would all die in our sins and enter eternal punishment; but with Him we have eternal life with Him.  How beautiful is that.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Isaiah 1:18

Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 1:18 

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

This verse is part of a vision God had given to Isaiah.  “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” Isaiah 1:1.  God is revealing to Isaiah the wickedness and ultimately what He wants of Judah.  He starts off by saying Judah does not know Him.  “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” Isaiah 1:3.  After all the time He spent with them, they still do not understand.  They had become a sinful nation and had abandoned Him (v4).  They were a rebellious people.  However, there was a remnant.  “Unless the LORD of hosts Had left us a few survivors, We would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah.” Isaiah 1:9.  In other words, God’s grace toward Israel, and specifically Judah, prevented Him from destroying all of Judah as He did Sodom and Gomorrah.  Paul in his letter to the Roman addresses this issue to the Jews in His time.  “And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,” Romans 9:27.  And again, “And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” Romans 9:29.  Then, in the verse 10 the prophet intonates that spiritually they were as Sodom and Gomorrah.  “Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!” Isaiah 1:10

He then proceeds to rebuke them regarding their sacrifices, offerings and their keeping of the feasts.  He no longer delights in them because they are vain and mean nothing.  They have become nothing but rituals and habits.  He tells them to no longer bring them to Him.  But then goes further regarding prayer.  “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” Isaiah 1:15. 

After stating what He does not want, God tells Isaiah to declare to Judah what He does want.  “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,” Isaiah 1:16.  First He tells them to wash themselves, clean their hands and hearts.  Cease doing evil.  Next He tells them to do good.  “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17.  These are probably some of the good they were neglecting. 

After pointing out wrongs they did, and the good they did not do, He offers grace to them in our focus verse.  “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18.  God tells them if they will cleanse themselves, remove and cease doing evil, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the orphans and protect the widows in their midst, then He will, by grace, remove the stain of sin from them. They will be clean as God desires.  However, they must be obedient to Him. For obedience shows their hearts.   “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”  Isaiah 1:19-20.

Israel believed that by following the Law, giving the offerings, and doing the rituals, they were pleasing God.  However, this was not the case.  Here is what Micah declared to Israel.  “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:6-8.  Just giving offerings and performing sacrifices and whatever we wrongly believe pleases Him is not enough.  We are to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.  In these things He is pleased.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.