Tuesday, August 30, 2011

God Will Not Be Found Near Our Sin

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

Excerpt from “The Blessed Sovereign Grace of God” – 2011-08-28
Isaiah tells us God is calling us to “seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” This implies that God may not always be “found” and that God may not always be “near.” Our God is speaking here of a time when He would allow His people to be carried off into exile in Babylon because they chose other gods over Him. He calls every person who would be carried off into exile to seek Him and find Him while there was still time. This echoes previous words spoken by Moses who said: “You will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 4:29). These are words not only for Israel but also for those of us at Arrowsmith.

The threat of exile really isn’t an issue or a problem for us here today: we’re sitting pretty comfortable and secure right now in life. And that’s our problem: the culture and society we live in has convinced us we are comfortable and secure. But the reality is, tomorrow or next week or next year, things might be different. But terrorists and earthquakes and hurricanes and cancer should open our eyes to the reality that in the near future God may not be so easily found or near. James 4:14 says: "Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." It is possible that the Lord may be found tomorrow, that he may be near tomorrow. But we don’t know that. What we do know is that is that we don’t get our hearts right with God today, it may be too late to “seek” Him tomorrow. What keeps us from seeking God and calling upon God “while he may be found . . . while he is near”? One word we have already looked at: independence. In being created God’s image, we were created with a natural bend towards seeking to have a personal, intimate relationship with God. Yet, sin has so infected and so perverted God’s original intent, that we now view our God-likeness as the right to be independent like God. Mark Dever has written that “Some even talk of God Himself as if He were made in the image of man, rather than the other way around.”

It was in Garden of Eden where we not only lost our sense of true innocence, but also our sense of total dependence upon God. One of the greatest after effects of the fall is that without realizing it, we’ve now become dependent on sin rather than on God. In our fallen nature, sinful thoughts, lifestyles, and actions become deeply held beliefs and firmly established patterns. Our lack of dependency upon God coupled with our dependency upon sin is why we find it so difficult to abandon the sinful thoughts, lifestyles, deeply held beliefs and firmly established patterns that we hold onto that are not of God. This is why in verse three God said: “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live.” We cannot “seek the Lord” and be dependent on sin at the same time. The Lord will not be found in or near sin. God will be found – painfully so - at the end of our sin. But God will not be “found” in our sin or “near” our sin.