Isaiah 1:16c-17a Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!
Today’s verse was an exclamatory statement from the Lord to the Israelites. They were religious but their lives were not lived according to what God wanted. In fact the context of Isaiah 1 presents a picture of a people who were the antithesis of what God wanted. In describing their religious activities, God uses the following descriptive terms: no pleasure in the blood of bulls and goats and lambs, trampling my courts, meaningless offerings, detestable incense, evil assemblies and hated festivals and feasts.
It is in this context that He issues His command to ‘Stop doing wrong, learn to do right.’ In the following verses where He instructs them how to live we find the well known promise of forgiveness, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Rather He is pleased when they turn from their ways and live. (Ezekiel 18:23)
Later in Isaiah the Lord says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (29:13a) The problem is a people who think they are living right, when they’re not. They are living in deception – deception so serious that they do not recognize the truth when they hear it. Or if they do recognize it, they don’t do anything about it.
It’s wonderful to repent like Zacchaeus did when he met Jesus (Luke 19:2-10). But it is imperative to actively pursue with the Holy Spirit, the application of God’s word and ways to every area of our lives as the years go by. In our culture – now more than ever – there are many temptations that we have to deal with that have cultural approval. Among them are the following:
- situation ethics
- there are no absolutes (except this absolute that there are no absolutes)
- if it feels good do it
- how we dress
- white lies
- political correctness
- sexually impure content of commercials, programs, internet sites, video games and movies
- gender identity
- what we communicate and how we communicate
It’s important to recognize that all wrongdoing is sin (1 John 5:17a). Fortunately, we are not left to ourselves as we pursue living godly lives. We have the great promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” May the Lord enable us to see and repent of the things in our lives that are not considered right by Him.