Oct 27, 2023 It’s Personal – Words of Grace Blog – October 27, 2023
This Sunday at Grace Community Church we will hear a message of grievance and grace from Isaiah 28-31. Five “woes” are pronounced concerning the sins of God’s people, with promises of grace and the call to repentance and trust woven throughout. Do you hear the gospel in this?
While working through this passage this week, I was reminded of Isaiah 6, where the prophet saw the vision of the Lord. There we see a profound spiritual reality. The experience of God’s grace assumes personal sinfulness.
In his vision, Isaiah saw the lofty position of the Lord as the sovereign King. The glory of the Lord filled the temple. The heavenly beings proclaimed the holiness of the Lord. The sight of the King, the Lord of hosts, led Isaiah to the realization that he was a sinner.
“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” These are the words of a man who encountered the living and holy God.
Then one of the heavenly beings took a burning coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s mouth and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips, your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” This is the experience of a man who encountered the gracious and merciful God.
The thing that struck me in a fresh way this week was the “Woe is me.” “Me”, Isaiah said.
Isaiah was a prophet raised up to speak the word of the Lord to a sinful nation. And he did. But before he did, he had his own experience with the gospel. His uncleanness of heart and mouth, and his cleansing of sin by God’s grace were real to him.
Isaiah didn’t deny the sin of the people, but he started with his own. More accurately, the Lord gave the vision, the conviction of sin, and assurance of cleansing to Isaiah. He did so because Isaiah, personally, needed it. Isaiah’s life, not just ministry, began with “Woe is me.”
My recollection of Isaiah 6 this week was not the result of sermon work only. In a moment of internal agitation before the Lord in prayer, a sin of attitude surfaced in my mind. I spent a few minutes with the Lord pealing back layers of defense to let the light into my heart. I knew I had to own my sin. “Woe is me” was the prayer I prayed.
What good did that do? The grace of Christ to cleanse my sin and restore to me a degree of spiritual sanity was abundantly supplied in that moment. My agitation subsided and my perspective shifted. I had a new ability to speak truth to myself rather than let myself be carried along by emotions. I sensed a freedom to love and pray for others. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.
Friends, don’t ignore or resist the personal nature of the gospel. When you see the uncleanness of your own heart, then hear and heed the call, “In repentance and rest you shall be saved. In quietness and trust shall be your strength.”
I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday.