I read two fantastic articles via Facebook today just before reading today's Bible in a Year passage, and it was amazing how well they all tied together.
The verses from our passage that jumped out at me were....
Isaiah 28:7-8 These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment. For all tables are full of filthy vomit, with no space left.
Isaiah 28:15b for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter
Isaiah 28:17 And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.
Isaiah 29:13 ....this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me...
Isaiah 29:15-16 Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, "Who sees us? Who knows us?" You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, "He did not make me"; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?
Mark 7 even references the passage I just quoted!
7:6b-7 This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
The first article I read was called We Should be Weeping by Jared Mulvihill (Desiring God site) and it addresses the fact that we do not see our sin the same way God does. We minimize it, justify it, excuse it, downplay it, we are numb to it, we sometimes don't even notice it!
From the article (emphasis mine).....
The book of James was written to encourage believers back to faithful living instead of sinful wandering (James 1:21; 4:8–10; 5:19–20). At the height of his letter, James cries out for the believers to see their sin rightly and act accordingly.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. (James 4:8–9)
James wants his readers to feel the weight and heinousness of their sin, and to mourn over it. But why as believers should we? Why should we weep over our sin?
James writes this way because he knows the gospel becomes glorious when the depth and power of our sin is understood as grievous. When we see a clearer glimpse of our sin we behold a clearer glimpse of the cross. The horror of our sin magnifies the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice.
The reality is that the gospel is good news of great joy (Luke 2:10) because it invades dreadful news of great sorrow. It steps in and changes things, bringing us to God as his own (1 Peter 3:18). The result is that God gets the glory and we receive the joy.
But instead of killing our sin we are feeding it. Instead of loathing our sin we are loving it. Instead of destroying our sin we are desiring it. The result: We belittle the cross and deceive ourselves. Our need becomes less and the enormity of Jesus’s sacrifice fades. The quickest way to loose the wonder of the gospel is to lose sight of the depth of our sin.
Yes, we should be weeping. We should be appalled, disgusted, shocked, and grieved in the depths of our hearts over our sin. All our sin is treason against God. Not just the prideful, lying, stealing, and lusting sins but sins of the tongue, sins of anxiousness, sins of bitterness, sins of partiality, sins of complacency, sins of jealously, sins of impatience, and sins of arrogance. We should grieve over them all.
Do we see our sin the way God sees it? It is only when we see the wickedness of our sin, even (especially?!) our "little" sin, that we truly see God's holiness, and that we truly see His love and mercy and grace. That a God so holy would sacrifice His only Son for a people so wicked is grace beyond imagining!
The second article I read was called For Years I Pleaded With God To Make Me Straight, So Why Did My Prayers Go Unanswered? and he says this.....
I do know what He's revealed in the Bible and I do know what I now, as a believer in Jesus, believe to be true of my own "unanswered prayers" experience.
Firstly, when I grew up pleading with God to make me straight, I had no real interest in God Himself. I wasn't praying for God to do this because I loved Him or wanted to live my life for Him. I was actually pretty unconcerned about Him, to be honest. I wanted God to take away my same sex desires for my own benefit – so that I could fit in, be normal, be one of the guys, and even so that I could just have sex with girls like all of my friends were. < — So I obviously wasn't worried about being sexually moral. I just wanted to be sexually normal.
My desire to be made straight was all about me. I had no interest in being reconciled to God or having a relationship with Christ.
Which brings me to by second point. From what I see in the Bible, God is far more concerned with first fixing our hearts than he is with fixing other things in our lives. Same sex attraction included. Yes, it's true that God hates homosexuality. But more than that, He hates that our hearts are opposed to Him and that we long to live our lives separated from Him. God's foremost desire is that we would come to Him through Christ to receive new hearts that love and adore Him.
In fact, nothing can even begin to be done as far as the untangling of our sexualities until we receive new hearts that love and adore God. How do I know that? Because Romans 1 says that the whole reason homosexual desire even exists is due to our rejection of God's loving rule and authority over our lives....
Homosexual desire – and all other sinful desire — exists in the hearts of people because worship of God doesn't. In Adam, we corporately rejected the good rule of God over our lives. And in each of our hearts, we have all individually rejected the good rule of God over our lives. And what has been the result? God has given us over to ourselves. He gave us up to our sinful desire, and has allowed us to revel and further deteriorate in it.
So why didn't God answer my prayer to rid me of my homosexual desires? Because homosexual desires were not my main problem. They were a problem, for sure. But the root of my problem was that I didn't love God or worship Him, and my homosexual desires were just fruit of that, so to speak. God's desire was to fix the root of my issues....
My heart was changed instantaneously when I trusted in Christ and began to follow Him, but my mind was not. I now have a heart that genuinely loves God and desires to worship Him, but at the same time, I'm still utterly messed up and damaged by sin. The Lord is working in me and renewing my mind day by day, shaping me more and more into the reflection of Him that I was created to be. But it's been a process. And it will continue to be a process until I receive a new, perfect and sinless body in the age to come. When that day comes, the fullness of what Jesus purchased for me will be given to me: full freedom from every sinful thing that restrains my enjoyment and worship of God.
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 30-31, Mark 7:14-37