Print

THOUGHTS FROM ISAIAH

THE SIN THAT SEPARATES FROM GOD

In Isaiah 59:2 we read a statement that is all too frequently used as a whip with which those who believe in the Lord Jesus are flayed and tormented:

‘… your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.’

How many sensitive souls have been robbed of the joy and peace of their salvation in Christ by the misapplication of these words! How many of God’s saints have feared that God will not hear their prayers because their pastors or teachers have told them so on the basis of this verse!

We need to ask ourselves ‘Who were these words spoken to? What were the sins that God is talking of here?’

Let us back track to Isaiah 57:3-9. There idolatry of the grossest kind is described: the people of Israel were totally given over to the worship of false gods. Having forsaken the true God they were committing ‘spiritual adultery’ – burning incense, presenting offerings, even sacrificing their children, on the hills, in the valleys, in the oak groves, under the over-hanging cliffs – everywhere and anywhere. Even their doors and doorposts were marked with pagan symbols.

These were not believers who happened to have some sin in their lives. Not at all. These were blatant unbelievers, people who had put false gods in the place where the one true God ought to have been. People who not only did not believe in the one true God, but deliberately and wickedly did precisely the opposite of what he had commanded. People who had taken elements of the worship prescribed by God and slotted it into pagan rites. This embrace of idols and the associated foul worship practices were an intentional insult to the true God. Their involvement with idols gave clear witness to their ignorance of the true God. No one, knowing the true God, would ever swap him for an idol. Only those who had no concept of his absolute otherness, his utter uniqueness, only those who did not believe that he actually is the only God, could do such a thing. Their actions make it clear: these people, to whom verse 2 is directed did not know God and did not believe in God.

Of course their iniquities had separated them from God – for their iniquity was the rejection of God.
Of course their sins had hidden God’s face from them so that he would not hear – they did not believe in him, they did not know him, so whoever they were praying to it was certainly not God.

This word in 59:2 is not God’s word to the believer who sins, it is his word to those who have rejected him.

And what is his word for those who do believe in him? Is it not the Gospel of grace? Is it not the Gospel of peace? Is it not the message of forgiveness – of sins no longer being held to our account, of sins no longer being held against us?

Hear the word of the Gospel as Paul quoted Psalm 32:1,2 in Romans 4:7,8:

‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man who sin the Lord will never count against him.’

Hear the word of the Gospel as Jesus stated it in John 5:24:

‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.’

The person who believes, really believes in the one true God, has, through the death of Christ, already crossed over from death to life. They are already beyond the judgment. They can never be separated from God [Romans 8:31-39]. Because of Christ, they have permanent, present access to the Father [Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014