The great thing about studying Scripture while simultaneously being controlled by God’s Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9) is that God’s objective Word takes minor subjective slants as the individual works out theology in application. That is, when a believer, led and filled with God’s Spirit, studies God’s universal and unchanging message found in the Bible, he or she finds the most amazing proof of God by personally experiencing something formerly hidden that now has been revealed, and now may subjectively determine the “fleshing out” of such objective revelation.
Of course the “fleshing out” part must be confirmed by and consistent with the entirety of God’s Word, so let’s place a huge caveat up front by noting that God will never prompt His children to act in ways inconsistent with Himself (ie, His Word). **NOTE** for idiot “Christian” man engaging in an emotional or physical affair: God doesn’t want you divorcing your wife because in your unhappiness you’re coveting another’s.
Which segues nicely to my meditation this morning on Isaiah 55:6-8 regarding our thought life, verses I’ve read dozens of times over, even memorized, but stick out like a 15 year olds’ pimple on prom night for some reason today:
Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him;
And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts…,” says the Lord.
We typically think of this famous declaration as God’s great manifesto regarding our inability to comprehend completely how and why God does what He does. That’s certainly in the passage, but think for a moment about the importance of God’s revelation here regarding the differences between how man and God think.
We really only judge men by their actions, because after all, didn’t Jesus say you shall know a tree by its fruit (Luke 6:44)? Getting in the business of judging others’ thoughts seems kind of like answering your wife Yes when she asks, “Does this dress make me look fat?”: it’s just a bad idea. But how often are we judging our own thoughts with scrupulous, meticulous, fine-tooth judging, the same kind of judging God will use with the unrighteous when He evaluates their deeds at the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15)?
It dawned on me this morning reading Isaiah 55 that simply having the wrong thoughts makes a man unrighteous (v7). We understand a person’s actions and deeds separating him or her from God, but it seems to me we spend much more time thinking about doing the wrong thing than actually doing it. Our culture at large finds this perfectly acceptable, a sort of Look-But-Don’t-Touch mantra of living. Yet God appears to think a different way. Remember Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? “You have it heard it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” What is He saying? Exactly what Isaiah said some 700 years prior – “Hey…your thoughts are what make you unrighteous, not just your deeds.”
This is why people almost unanimously reject biblical Christianity. Give us a few rules to follow, and we can gird ourselves up to the task at hand; the will of humankind can prove quite strong. But tell us what we think is wrong, you’re just picking a fight. Besides, the response is inevitable: You have the same thoughts so who are you to judge?
Dismissing or deflecting God’s revelation of our thought life only serves to cement the fact that we as humans have no defense against said revelation; we’re hoping the ignorance-is-bliss argument will work if we really do have to stand before God on the basis of our thoughts, and the less we know, the better chance we have of convincing God to pity us.
If only we would listen to the rest of God’s story – “Let [the unrighteous thinker] return to the Lord and He will have mercy on him…for He will abundantly pardon” (v8). This is where God’s thoughts are different from ours. When we see a guilty person, we want to throw the book at him – no pardon, no chance for parole, just the cold hard truth that you got what you deserved. But unlike the thinking of man, God’s thoughts provide mercy, and He will do much more than we could ever think of or imagine to pardon us of our guilt.
We see a glimpse of what happens when God pardons us in Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” God understands I’m a lost cause inside my own head, no matter how good I am of hiding what’s in there. But by finding out what pleases the Lord (Eph. 5:10) through reading the Scriptures and being led by the Spirit, my mind is renewed and conforms to the likeness of God, which is my destiny as His adopted son (Rom. 8:29).
As one pastor has phrased it, we must rid ourselves of stinkin’ thinkin’. Understanding that apart from Christ our thoughts will always stink of refuse and garbage is paramount to being pardoned of such thinking. Once pardoned, God positions us to renew our thinking by learning how He thinks.
The question is, what do you think?