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9 Principles Isaiah Teaches Us About Sin

While it's important for all believers to have a basic understanding of what God has to say about sin, it's impossible to cover it all in one short study. The subject of sin is so complex that volumes have been written about it; this page can merely scratch the surface.

The focus here is on the first chapter of Isaiah, which contains several points about sin which are worth taking the time to write on your heart.

Let's start at the beginning of the chapter, and continue to the end. This is a good time for a reminder that in the Old Testament, God frequently spoke to the people of Israel, either through prophets or in some other fashion, with words which are very applicable to His people (believers) today.

This chapter makes at least 9 points that we all need to understand about sin in order to deal with it. Shedding light on these principles will make way for personal spiritual growth.

1. The importance of knowing Him

Isaiah 1:3

"An ox hath known its owner, And an ass the crib of its master, Israel hath not known, My people hath not understood."

God wants us to know Him; it's His goal for us. There is a cause and effect here; we are more succeptible to temptation if we do not know Him well. The way to get to know Him is through prayer and meditation on His word.

2. The consequences of sin

Bad news:

Isaiah 1:6

"From the sole of the foot--unto the head, There is no soundness in it, Wound, and bruise, and fresh smiting! They have not been closed nor bound, Nor have they softened with ointment. Your land is a desolation, your cities burnt with fire, Your ground, before you strangers are consuming it, And a desolation as overthrown by strangers!"

Good news:

Isaiah 1:9

"Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah."

Sin's effects are destructive. God warns us of this to protect us, and thankfully, He often protects us from really bad destruction.

3. Returning to Him requires pure motives

Isaiah 1:13-16

"Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;"

Obviously, praying to Him with an unclean heart does not mean we have to be cleansed before we approach Him; He is the one who does the cleansing. This means that the people, while solemn in their ceremonies, were not sincere, nor were they repentant; they were praying and coming to Him as insurance. But they had not stopped sinning, and more important, their hearts were not cleansed, so they didn't truly want to stop sinning.

4. God instructs us how to get right with Him

Isaiah 1:17

"Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow."

God is kind enough to explain to them exactly how they could be made clean. He does the same for us; He doesn't leave us hanging. Seek Him, and listen.

5. God can wash our sins away

Isaiah 1:18

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

Good News!! The promise is made that sin can be forgiven. God is always willing to forgive; He has never turned down a contrite heart, and He never will.

6. A contrast between the consequences of sin and the rewards of living our lives His way

Isaiah 1:19-20

"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

Here, God contrasts what will happen if sin continues with what happens if righteousness prevails. This is not so much a threat from God as it is just plain speaking about the consequences of sin. He loves us and doesn't want us to go through the kind of destruction that the enemy has in mind for us when he tempts us.

God is pure, and the closer we stay to Him, we better things will be. He knows that, and just wants us to know that the closer we are to Him, the safer we are.

7. Getting rid of the dross

Isaiah 1:22

"Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water"

God is clearly talking about people who are not totally evil; He is talking about His people. This is another way to say "lukewarm."

Isaiah 1:25

"And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:"

"Purging the dross" means to clean out the unclean parts; the impurities; this is not a punishment, this is a service He is providing for us, but it's painful to go through. Still, He is doing it because of His love for us.

To demonstrate this, let's look at a verse from Proverbs which uses the same "Dross" terminology:

Proverbs 25:4

"Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the refiner."

In case you've never heard this metaphor, here is a summary: The refiner (also known as the goldsmith) takes the gold out of the ground, and it comes with many other minerals which are not valuable at all. He has to chip away all the rock which is not gold. Next, he puts the gold into a container, where he turns on the heat.

The hotter it gets, the more dross, or impurities, rise to the top. The refiner skims the dross off the top and throws it away. He looks into the gold, and sees a very blurry image, a crude reflection. So he turns up the heat some more, and more impurities rise to the top. When they are skimmed off, the blurry reflection becomes a little clearer. The way that the refiner knows he is done is when he can look at the gold and see his clear reflection; his face.

Guess who the gold is in this picture? Guess who the goldsmith is?

8. Sin makes us His enemy

Isaiah 1:24

"Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies."

This is a tough thing to hear: by sinning, we step out from God's protection and become His enemies. We cannot be neutral. God says we are either for Him or against Him. NOTE: This does NOT mean we are unsaved if we sin. If that were true, we'd all be in deep trouble.

9. And finally, the promise:

Isaiah 1:26

"And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.

The results of His promise are contained here; He will make us righteous. This chapter at first is seen as a threat of hellfire and brimstone, but it is a promise that one way or another, He will make us into the men and women He has called us to be.

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