It seems all too common in our culture for people to present one image in public only to find out later that they were actually living a duplicitous life. They were one thing in the public eye, typically whatever garnered favorable attention, and then something completely different in private. Sadly, I am afraid we have become so conditioned to this mentality that we are willing to accept the same behavior in our own life.
A prime example can be seen in how we project one image at “Church” on Sunday, but then practice a very different lifestyle Monday through Saturday. The same heart and mouth that declared praise to God on Sunday is now profaning God. The desire for God’s word is replaced by the demands of the world and desires of the flesh. The keen sensitivity to the working of the Holy Spirit is squelched by the noise of busyness. Before we know it, the week is gone and we have spent no quality time communing with our Lord in prayerful meditation of his Word, and in joyful service of his gospel ministry. We would do well to heed the warning of God for his people in Isaiah 56-58. A summary of the warning is basically that Israel had pledged her love and loyalty to God, but by her actions, was now clearly playing the harlot with the world, and sadly, the same can all too often be said about us. Let us not give to another that which is reserved for God alone.
Isaiah 56–58 (CSB)
1 This is what the Lord says: Preserve justice and do what is right, for my salvation is coming soon, and my righteousness will be revealed. 2 Happy is the person who does this, the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. 3 No foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord should say, “The Lord will exclude me from his people,” and the eunuch should not say, “Look, I am a dried-up tree.” 4 For the Lord says this: “For the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose what pleases me, and hold firmly to my covenant, 5 I will give them, in my house and within my walls, a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give each of them an everlasting name that will never be cut off. 6 As for the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to become his servants— all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold firmly to my covenant— 7 I will bring them to my holy mountain and let them rejoice in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” 8 This is the declaration of the Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel: “I will gather to them still others besides those already gathered.” 9 All you animals of the field and forest, come and eat! 10 Israel’s watchmen are blind, all of them, they know nothing; all of them are mute dogs, they cannot bark; they dream, lie down, and love to sleep. 11 These dogs have fierce appetites; they never have enough. And they are shepherds who have no discernment; all of them turn to their own way, every last one for his own profit. 12 “Come, let me get some wine, let’s guzzle some beer; and tomorrow will be like today, only far better!”
1 The righteous person perishes, and no one takes it to heart; the faithful are taken away, with no one realizing that the righteous person is taken away because of evil. 2 He will enter into peace— they will rest on their beds— everyone who lives uprightly. 3 But come here, you witch’s sons, offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute! 4 Who are you mocking? Who are you opening your mouth and sticking out your tongue at? Isn’t it you, you rebellious children, you offspring of liars, 5 who burn with lust among the oaks, under every green tree, who slaughter children in the wadis below the clefts of the rocks? 6 Your portion is among the smooth stones of the wadi; indeed, they are your lot. You have even poured out a drink offering to them; you have offered a grain offering; should I be satisfied with these? 7 You have placed your bed on a high and lofty mountain; you also went up there to offer sacrifice. 8 You have set up your memorial behind the door and doorpost. For away from me, you stripped, went up, and made your bed wide, and you have made a bargain for yourself with them. You have loved their bed; you have gazed on their genitals. 9 You went to the king with oil and multiplied your perfumes; you sent your envoys far away and sent them down even to Sheol. 10 You became weary on your many journeys, but you did not say, “It’s hopeless!” You found a renewal of your strength; therefore you did not grow weak. 11 Who was it you dreaded and feared, so that you lied and didn’t remember me or take it to heart? I have kept silent for a long time, haven’t I? So you do not fear me. 12 I will announce your righteousness, and your works—they will not profit you. 13 When you cry out, let your collection of idols rescue you! The wind will carry all of them off, a breath will take them away. But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain. 14 He said, “Build it up, build it up, prepare the way, remove every obstacle from my people’s way.” 15 For the High and Exalted One, who lives forever, whose name is holy, says this: “I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed. 16 For I will not accuse you forever, and I will not always be angry; for then the spirit would grow weak before me, even the breath, which I have made. 17 Because of his sinful greed I was angry, so I struck him; I was angry and hid; but he went on turning back to the desires of his heart. 18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, 19 creating words of praise.” The Lord says, “Peace, peace to the one who is far or near, and I will heal him. 20 But the wicked are like the storm-tossed sea, for it cannot be still, and its water churns up mire and muck. 21 There is no peace for the wicked,” says my God.
1 “Cry out loudly, don’t hold back! Raise your voice like a trumpet. Tell my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 They seek me day after day and delight to know my ways, like a nation that does what is right and does not abandon the justice of their God. They ask me for righteous judgments; they delight in the nearness of God.” 3 “Why have we fasted, but you have not seen? We have denied ourselves, but you haven’t noticed!” “Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast, and oppress all your workers. 4 You fast with contention and strife to strike viciously with your fist. You cannot fast as you do today, hoping to make your voice heard on high. 5 Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord? 6 Isn’t this the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard. 9 At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer; when you cry out, he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you get rid of the yoke among you, the finger-pointing and malicious speaking, 10 and if you offer yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday. 11 The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose water never runs dry. 12 Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the foundations laid long ago; you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets where people live. 13 “If you keep from desecrating the Sabbath, from doing whatever you want on my holy day; if you call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, seeking your own pleasure, or talking business; 14 then you will delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride over the heights of the land, and let you enjoy the heritage of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.