Isaiah 23-24, 1 John 3

Victory Over Sin.

Isaiah 23-24, 1 John 3

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.  1 John 3:8 ESV

The people of Judah were well acquainted with sin. They were guilty of it and surrounded by it. God was punishing them for their sin and rebellion against Him. He was using sinful, godless nations as His tools to bring about that punishment. Greed, corruption, gross immorality, selfishness, perversion, apathy, idolatry, and every other form of sin was evident in the lives of the people of God and among the nations of the world. But God had called His people to live holy, set apart lives. He had consecrated them for His use and called them to be His chosen people. “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6 ESV). He had provided them with the Law as an objective standard for righteous living. But He had also provided them with the sacrificial system as a means of receiving forgiveness and reconciliation for the sins they were bound to commit. The Law revealed their sin. The sacrificial system provided forgiveness for their sin. But rather than rejoice in the holiness of their God and bask in the amazing mercy and grace He offered them, they turned elsewhere. God indicted them for their unfaithfulness. “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote” (Isaiah 29:13 NLT). Like the rest of the world around them, the people of God were living in disobedience to and showing disregard for God. So God warns of the day of coming judgment. Over and over again, Isaiah uses the term, “in that day.” He warns of a coming day when God’s judgment of man’s sin will be complete and comprehensive. It will include all mankind and even impact the earth itself. As in the days of Noah when sin had infected the earth, God will “empty the earth and make it desolate” (Isaiah 24:1 ESV). “The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the Lord has spoken this word” (Isaiah 24:3 ESV). It will be a time of sorrow and suffering, devastation and despair. But even in the midst of the darkness, God’s light will shine. He will spare a remnant who will “lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west” (Isaiah 24:14 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

There is a day coming when God will deal with sin once and for all. He will wipe the earth clean from all the residual remnants of sin. Isaiah speaks of the coming day of the Lord, when Jesus Christ will appear a second time on the earth, but this time He will come as the Lord of lords and King of kings. He will come as a warrior dressed for battle to wage war with Satan and to destroy the last vestiges of sin on the earth. John reminds us that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. The apostle Paul gives us a comprehensive list of the “works of the devil” as manifested in the lives of men and women. “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21 NLT). Jesus came to destroy those works. And when Jesus died on the cross, we’re told His last words were, “‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30 ESV). Jesus’ death paid for our sins. Not only that, His death made possible our justification. We stand before God the Father as sinless and righteous, because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our sins are paid for. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 ESV). But sin still impacts our lives. We still struggle with indwelling sin. Sin surrounds us every day of our lives. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for sin, once and for all. He finished that part of His assignment. But there is one last thing He has to do. And the day is coming when He will complete that task as well. We read about it in Revelation 19:5-6: “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.’” On that day, when “the Lord of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 24:23 ESV), Jesus will have dealt the final death blow to sin and Satan.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Sin is inevitable. Like a cancer, it continues to spread throughout the planet, infecting not only the lives of men and women, but the creation itself. Yet, as God’s children – those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior – while we are far from sinless, we do have the capacity to sin less. Because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, we have the power to live righteous lives here and now. “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5 ESV). As a result of that reality, John is able to provide us with some stunning good news.  “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9 ESV). We have a new nature. We have the Holy Spirit of God living within us. Our redeemed nature cannot and does not sin. But we do have a sin nature, and it is alive and well. Paul gives us a vivid picture of these two forces doing battle within us. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Galatians 5:16-17 NLT). As long as we live on this earth, we will face the daily reality of sin’s power and presence in and around our lives. But we do have the capacity to live righteously. We do have the power available to live as children of God rather than as children of the devil. We can love. We can live sacrificially and selflessly. We don’t have to sin, but far too often, we choose to. We must constantly remember that Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devil in our lives – here and now. But we must also live with the hope that He is coming again, and when He comes He will eliminate sin from the earth and from our lives once and for all.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

The story of mankind’s redemption is not yet finished. God’s divine plan is not yet complete. There is still one more thing that must happen. His Son must return. He must judge sin and Satan one final time. He must eradicate the last vestiges of sin from the earth. He must judge sinful man. He must right all wrongs and establish His justice over all the earth. And while I live on this earth surrounded by sin and daily putting to death the sin nature in my own life, I must keep my eyes focused on the end of the story. John reminds me that this world is not all there is. “And this is the promise that he has made to us – eternal life” (1 John 2:25 ESV). I must live with that promise in mind.

Father, it is finished, but it is not yet done. Jesus has paid the penalty for sin, but He has yet to destroy it from the planet. It is evident all around us. I can see it’s influence in my own life. But the day is coming when sin will be no more. The day is coming when death, disease, sorrow, pain, hatred, greed, selfishness, and every other manifestation of sin in the world will be completely eliminated and Your Son will say, “It is done!” I look forward to that day. Give me the strength to live in light of that day and in the power of Your Spirit until it comes. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men