Zechariah 7:4-7 ESV
Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? Were not these the words that the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?’”
There is a huge difference between going through the motions of religious practice or performance while still holding on to willful sin, and that of surrender of one’s life wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ in the forsaking of sin and in following Jesus Christ in obedience to his ways and to his commands. Many people are good at going through the motions of religious performance while their hearts are far from God and while sin is still what they practice.
Those who are just going through the motions of religious performance may pretend or fake or convince themselves that what they are doing is for God, but it is truly for self, and usually is for the approval and acceptance of other humans who will see their religious performance as a good thing, and who will validate them and their performances as being genuine and heartfelt.
For, it is possible to perform well for other people, and to convince oneself and others that you are godly and righteous while the exact opposite may be true of you. And today’s modern version of the gospel of Jesus Christ allows for that, too. For the salvation message most are giving these days makes no requirements for the believer in Christ to submit to Christ as Lord, to forsake his sins, and to follow Jesus Christ in surrender to his will for our lives. Thus, according to Scripture, such faith as that is not genuine.
Zechariah 7:8-12 ESV
And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets.
So, the counsel being given here, in truth, is that our faith must be genuine, which is evidenced by our obedience to the Lord, not by religious performances for the benefit of oneself and/or for the approval of other humans. The counsel here is to put into practice what we say we believe and for it to not be lip service only or performance only. And we are to put off the bad (sin) and we are to put on the good (righteousness), but not in the sense of faking it, but in the sense of it being a reality in our lives, in truth.
But the problem today is that so many professers of faith in Jesus Christ have bought into a diluted and altered “cheap grace” gospel, and thus they believe they do not have to submit to Christ as Lord, and they do not have to forsake their sins, and they do not have to obey the Lord. And so they are refusing the words of God, and they are stubbornly stopping up their ears so they do not hear the truth. And they are continuing to devise and to do evil.
I see this a lot on the various websites where I post these devotions, partially in the responses that I get personally from people, but partially also in the reading of others’ posts and seeing and hearing them describe what they believe and what they refuse to believe. Many professers of faith in Jesus Christ today will not listen to what the Scriptures teach, in truth, and in context, for they have their minds made up, and so they do close their ears to the truth and they choose to believe the lies, instead.
Zechariah 7:12-14 ESV
Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts. “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”
This teaching here is not just Old Testament. We have many warnings given to the churches in the New Testament of the judgments of God if we refuse to obey him and to follow him and to forsake our sins. So, we need to take those warnings seriously and not ignore them. For God will do what he said he would do. And some of these judgments will be while we are still living on the earth and they may come in various forms.
And then there is the judgment of eternal damnation for those who refuse God and who will not bow the knee to him and who refuse to obey him but who continue to go their own stubborn ways. And this includes many people who are claiming Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will not inherit eternal life with God, but if we walk (in conduct) according to the Spirit, then we have the hope of eternal life with God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
He Lifted Our Burdens
An Original Work / February 15, 2014
Based off Isaiah 9:2-7
People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.
Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.
Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.
We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.
Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.
He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.