Isaiah 55:6-111NIV New International Version Translations
6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Here God makes a gracious offer of pardon, and peace, and of finding complete happiness. We are told that it will not be in vain to seek God. God Himself through His Word is calling out to us, and God’s Spirit is living through us. Sound great but here comes the catch: there is a day coming when God will not be found. There may come a time in this life, in your life when death and judgment are at the door between you and God but it will be shut. So here is God’s advice given to use through the prophet Isaiah:
- There must be not only a change of our ways, but a change of our mindset.
- We must change our judgments about persons and things. It is not enough to stop sinful practices, we must even strive against sinful thoughts.
To repent is to return to our God, against whom we have in effect, rebelled. If we do so, God promises to pardon us. The caution is not to take God’s mercy for granted. It is not be used or counted on as an occasion to be sinful. Mankind’s thoughts concerning sin, Christ, and righteousness concerning this world differ vastly from God’s view. We forgive, and cannot forget; but when God forgives sin, He remembers it no more. The power of God’s word in this world and His grace, is as certain as any law of nature.
A sacred truth is that “repentance” will produce a spiritual change in the mind of people. This is something no person can do to for another. The Gospel’s message of grace, however, will make great changes in people. The Gospel delivers us from the wrath to come, the converted sinner finds peace in their conscience; and love constrains them to devote themselves to the service of their Redeemer, Christ. Instead of being profane, contentious, selfish, or sensual, the forgiven sinner becomes patient, humble, kind, and peaceable. The hope of helping change the world in this way should urge us to always look for ways spread the gospel’s message of salvation.
Items for Discussion
- How many different ways can you think of to share the “Good News” message of the Bible?
- What have been the ways that seemed to work best for you?
- Do you believe a person should study or practice sharing with others?
- Why should we approach sharing the Gospel with a sense of urgency?
- Apologetics, the reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine, require some preparation prior to any attempts. What are the things you have done or might do to improve your own abilities in this area?
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Paul’s focus is not on behavior but on the mindset and motives that lie behind those behaviors.2See further information on Albert Ellis While it is possible for a person whose mind is set on the flesh to adopt behaviors that appear to be Godly, the fleshly mindset constitutes a rotted foundation that is bound to fail under pressure. The person whose mind is set on “the flesh” will hate God and not be able to serve God. Paul warns that the mind that is set on the flesh is opposed to God and therefore leads to death. However, the mind that is set on the Spirit leads to life and peace.
To achieve this mindset requires a spiritual transformation—the kind of transformation involved in being “born anew” or “born from above”(John 3:3). Later in Romans, Paul will say, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God” (12:2). That transformation is a tall order if we rely on pure human strength. In fact, it is unachievable apart from the grace of God. Christ’s death and resurrection, however, makes such transformation accessible to us, and we are free to pray that Christ will transform us—will grant us the new birth—the necessary birth from above (John 3:3).
Paul’s verses raise some of the most basic questions in life: who is in charge? who calls the shots? what is our mindset? what is important to us? In a time in which anxiety and worry seem to constitute the air we breathe, how we walk, who dwells in us, and on what we focus may be exactly the questions we need to ponder.
Items for Discussion
- What do you see in today’s society that hinders our ability to stay focused on Christ?
- What does it mean to you to have “Christ in you?”
- What are the things people do that bring them false security to this issue of which world we live in, the “Flesh” or the “Spirit?”
- What are the signs you would expect to see in yourself if you are making progress toward living with Christ in you?
- How does sharing the Gospel’s message with others keep you centered on Christ?
- What priorities should a body of Christians have to stay centered on Christ?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations