How to change, part three

23 Dec

One big problem many people have when they come for counseling is that they don’t know how big their problems really are.

It’s not just that we have these little issues in our life.

As we have been looking at Isaiah 6, we’ve seen instead our fundamental problem is  that God is holy and we are not. And as a result, we deserve His judgment and His wrath.

And there’s nothing we on our own can do to fix that.

Which of course, sounds hopeless, and yet, ironically, it’s only when we begin to see and feel that sense of hopelessness, that we set out on the path towards a real and living hope.

Because what does God do as we humble ourselves like this?

In Isaiah 6, what does God when Isaiah comes to the end of himself?

This is one of the things that makes the gospel so beautiful, because it’s at this point where you think it’s hopeless.

That hope begins.

Because, it’s only as Isaiah sees his sin, because he’s seen his God, that he sees the solution, which is not found in him and something he does.

It’s not found in him.

Trying a little harder and trying to be a little better. It’s found in God acting on His behalf.

Verse 6.

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me.”

At God’s command I am sure.

“Having in his hand a burning coal he had taken with tongs from the altar.”

Which must have been obviously terrifying. A glorious angelic being flying directly at you with a burning coal in his hands. I think I would have fallen to the ground in fear, but Isaiah stands, because I think he knows what is going on.

The altar wasn’t just any altar, it’s an altar where sacrifice was made.

You see, God’s a holy God, and as a result, sin must be punished, and yet God’s a merciful God as well, and He’s provided a means for our sin to be punished, and for us to be saved, and that’s not by ignoring our sin, because He can’t do that, it’s by punishing a sacrifice in our place.

Which ultimately you know, is Jesus.

All the sacrifices in the Old Testament, were pointing forward to him, which is what this burning coal is doing as well, it’s a way of picturing for us, that there is hope for cleansing and forgiveness and it’s found in the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.

Which, as you think about this text is just awesome.

Because, you know who this Lord sitting on the throne is?

This one of whom the angels are crying out, holy, holy, holy? This one whom, is terrifying Isaiah, and exposing him for who He is.

John 12:41 tells us, it is Jesus.

Isaiah saw His glory, that’s what John says.

So this one, who is sitting on this throne, who is absolutely high and lifted up and so different and so glorious and so beautiful, that we look at ourselves and say, we deserve judgment, judge us, is the very one who became one of us, for the purpose of bearing the very judgment our sins deserved on himself.

It’s awesome.

And He did that so that this seraphim could take this burning coal and fly straight at Isaiah and touch his mouth and say in verse 7.

“Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And I wanted to start here when we talk about how people change, because I didn’t want you to miss it.

Because.

It is so easy when we talk about change to make it something small, like there are a few things we can do in order to get our life in order.

And our problems are so much worse than that.

You see God.

You see yourself.

And you see you deserve the judgment of God.

And that’s when.

You find hope.

Because, that same God, who is so holy and so full of wrath towards sin, has a provided a means of salvation for sinners, and it’s not in what they do or how they perform, but it instead, in what Jesus has done on their behalf.

And I am not saying, that’s all there is to changing.

Just knowing that.

As we are going to see there are specific things you need to do, to change, to become more holy, but this is where it all has to start.

Because.

 It’s God’s work of salvation that is the foundation for God’s work of sanctification.

If you aren’t seeing God as holy, you aren’t seeing yourself, and if you aren’t seeing yourself, it doesn’t really matter how much instructions, you are giving, it’s going to be very hard to put them into practice. But as you begin see God for who He is, and start to see yourself for who you are, you are humbled before God, and you realize that you can never try hard enough or be good enough to deal with the problem you’ve created in your relationship with Him, and so you give up relying on yourself, recognize you deserve judgment, and throw yourself on Him and on the salvation and He’s forgiveness, that He’s provided in Jesus Christ instead.

And you enjoy it.

You are amazed by it.

And you are grateful for it.

You realize that all your sins have been forgiven, that you have been totally cleansed, that you are absolutely at peace with God because of what Jesus has done for you.

It’s like you are standing there in the throne room of this holy God.

And where, before you were frightened out of your mind, because you saw His wrath coming straight at you, and you knew you deserved it. You’ve watched as Jesus stepped in and took that wrath, in your place, and so you now have peace with Him. And you’re just gripped by that work that Jesus has done for you. It’s something that overwhelms you.

Because you know how desperately you needed it and how completely undeserving you were of it.

And it’s at that point.

That, I think you are ready, to at least begin talking about, being holy, to talk about, doing God’s will.

Like Isaiah.

I mean Isaiah 6.

Doesn’t end with Isaiah being forgiven in verse 7.

We read instead in verse 8.

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.”

It’s obviously not enough for you to know what to do, if you are going to change.

I mean.

I have found a lot of times we know.

We know we are supposed to say no to this sin or that and we know we are supposed to do this or that. Instead, all too often the problem is more knowing exactly how we are to do it.

Where do we start?

What needs to be true of us, if we are going to be able to put God’s word into practice and I am just convinced one of the keys to doing what God wants you to do is getting this order we see in Isaiah 6 right.

Change doesn’t start so much with doing.

It has to start first with seeing.

It starts with seeing the holiness of God.

And if you want to change.

I think this is where you need to begin.

“God please help me tremble before you, to see you as high and lifted up.”

Because, it’s when you do that. That you see the depth of your sin against Him. And you are humbled. You are brought to this point where you understand you are absolutely helpless and hopeless apart from the work of Jesus Christ.

Which is hard.

Of course.

But it’s also good.

Because it’s at that point you are able to experience God’s mercy and enjoy the salvation God’s provided in Jesus.

To know you are forgiven.

To know you have peace.

To be sure of eternal life.

To know God’s for you.

Which creates this desire, this real intense desire, to change.

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