10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.
12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward. Is. 52:10-12
I awoke this morning feeling extremely free in my spirit. I felt so at peace with my God. Notice I am not saying that I am perfect or that I felt perfect, no. As far as spiritual perfection and I are concerned, if perfection is in the North Pole then I am somewhere in the Tasmanian Sea. That’s how far apart we are.
But I woke up feeling completely free, and at perfect peace with God. It was one of the most incredible feelings I have ever had. I lay in bed experiencing absolute spiritual bliss as I felt myself completely at peace with God. I wondered what it was about because I happen to know I am nowhere near even the fringes of perfection. As I lay there in bed wondering what this was all about, God brought to my heart the above scripture. God then opened this scripture before my inner eyes and I came to understand it perfectly.
Now, before I go off and meander all over the place, let me state exactly what I came to understand this scripture means, an understanding which turned this morning into a most wonder-filled post-Christmas gift from God to me.
In this scripture the prophet Isaiah was seeing in the Spirit, into the future, at the sacrifice of Christ. And what he saw was that once Christ had come and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice, we would have the power and the ability to walk away from sin and to live a holy life according to the will of God. Many Christians try to excuse sin in their lives, but we should not do that. The Bible says right there, “The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations”. This means our God is a holy God. And there is no way we can try to downscale that.
There are Christians today who have bought into all kinds of false notions about liberty. But we simply cannot. Our God is a holy God. Simple and clear. All we can do is strive to arrive at His holiness. No less, and no excuses. God’s decree to us is there in black and white: “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.”
We are to touch no unclean thing.
But let’s move on…
Verse 12 is even more exciting.
“For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward.”
Notice here that God says that we are not going to walk away from sin “with haste, nor go by flight”. If God says we are not to walk away from sin with haste, nor by flight, that’s exactly what He means, and that’s exactly how it will be executed. It will not be accomplished in any other way, so we better check out exactly what God means here. Otherwise, we stand to miss it, and if we miss it here we will be missing it real big.
Let us see the picture in this scripture. It suggests that we are to walk away from sin or the sinful life, but we are to do so majestically, not with harried motion. That means we will walk away in a spirit of freedom.
Why? It is because it is all by grace, not law.
It means that even though God has called on us to live a completely sinless life He has not called us in a spirit of law, but in a spirit of grace. The phrase “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence” means that God does not expect us to be perfect in a jiffy. But at no one time will God ever deal with us in a spirit of law. He will always deal with us in a spirit of grace, whatever level of our walk with Him that we are at.
Moreover, it is by that very grace – God’s grace – that we will overcome sin. That is why the scripture says: “For the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward.”
So many Christians live and die in law. They have never tasted the freedom that God affords His children. They live hard, dry spiritual lives, and they die with many regrets in their hearts. What a tragedy!
The bigger tragedy is that many of today’s preachers, the shepherds of God’s people, have themselves become “law-yers”, i.e. specialists in law, biblical and otherwise. They are more expert at binding God’s people ever more firmly in the clutches of law (Mosaic and otherwise), sin, the world and the devil than loosing them from these diabolical powers.
I was in church one time when a visiting preacher said that he had been praying for those people in his church who don’t tithe, and they were dying one by one. At that time I didn’t know any better, so I cheered and clapped at the punishment that these stupid “sinners” were receiving. Had God opened my eyes to see how much more of a “sinner” I was and how much more I deserved to be punished (according to the spirit of law), I would have fainted with the shock of it.
Unfortunately, there are millions of similar stories – true stories – in church today.
But God is not like that. With God we may be the weakest Christian but He will never approach us with that condemning look in His eye. The Bible says in John 3:17 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
God has called us in freedom, and He is not about to budge from His position. We could go off and become the worst of sinners, but the minute we turn and come back to Him He will always run to receive us, as the prodigal son’s father did. And He will command the most incredible blessing upon such people.
We see this grace on the life of the Apostle Paul, once the most virulent persecutor of the church (1 Tim. 1:12-16).
In Galatians 5:13 we read, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty…”
How can we interpret that scripture otherwise? How can we go off and bind people in law after law when God Himself has called them to freedom? And how can we, if God has opened our eyes to see the truth and to know of His grace, how can we allow ourselves to be bound by even the tiniest bit of law in our lives?
No one and no situation has the power to bind us in any bit of law. We are free. We are free to walk away from sin, and to serve God – a holy God – in all freedom.
[Below: The grace of God sets people free to be who they are]