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There is so much activity in the church today that has nothing to do with its reason for being. The essence of Christian living is service and worship unto a righteous, holy God, through the Lord Jesus Christ. The focus is not 'community', personal well being or a host of other things. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" Revelation 4:11.

The church fails to bow in subservience to Almighty God and to give him the reverence due his name. Saints tend to forget one very important thing; we got saved from sin, sin was God's point of contention with us. God is righteous, he cannot compromise who he is. And, because He is love, he sent a Savior to die in our stead in order to bridge relationship and fellowship with us. Our move is to show faith in his saving work and surrender to his Lordship.

What is our motive as we serve the Lord? Many Christians will employ good character so that they do not self-destruct. Others will live moral lives so that they can get along better in life. Its rare that one ever gives reverence to God with the humble, yet simple understanding that sin offends his holiness and misses the mark of his perfect righteousness. "...Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be..." Revelation 16:5b.

When we embrace God's perfect righteousness we can't help but cease upon the grace of Christ to find relief from our sin. We are moved to appreciate the work of his cross and we gain entrance to the unsearchable riches of Christ! In view of Christ's work, Paul the apostle writes: we "...which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith" Romans 9:30b. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Now also, with respect to revering a righteous God, lets look at righteous service. "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" Romans 6:18. We are beneficiaries of the free gift of righteousness and servants of righteousness. Sad to say, we separate the two. On an occasion, some preacher will come along and expose sin in the church. The saints don't understand what is going on, so they have no tolerance for it. Ponder this before slaying the messenger: God will always vindicate his own righteousness; he never gets over it. It could be that he is using that preacher to avenge his holiness. The practice of sin or the reserves of sin that lie deep within a believer become an object of the Holy Spirit's reproof. The overt offender sometimes "gets it" but the self-righteous are "clueless". The self-righteous do not see their sin. Their sin may be "pride of life" therefore leaving them with a firm hold on self-life. Self is the life lover's sacred cow you know. Life lovers are self-indulgent and self-absorbed, bowing at the altar of self-concern, and on it goes. Oh, the plainness of Jesus' words, "...whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" Matthew 16:25. "If any man will come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" Luke 14:26. Hypocrites never know when something is wrong and are aghast at the mere suggestion. Scripture describes the 'overcomer'; ".... they loved not their lives unto the death" Revelation 12:11.

How dearly, we will appreciate the work of redemption when we recognize the mercy and grace we receive while in the crucible of God's reproof. Also, how supremely we will love the cross of Jesus, if we will lean entirely upon it as our only means of deliverance. But to trust self-help methods of any kind or on any level is treason to Christ.

The prophet Isaiah and his contemporaries were met with great indifference and resistance when they told the truth about their generation, the supposed followers of God. These followers were clothed in pretence. When they were not openly opposing the prophets they were otherwise mocking their message. Isaiah's message from the Lord was "precept upon precept, and line upon line" Isaiah 28:13, in other words, commandment upon commandment and rule upon rule. The exactness of the word of the Lord was being measured upon them but the people were exasperated with Isaiah's relentless appeals.

Matthew Henry the great commentary writer of the eighteenth century expounds on the passage from Isaiah: "They would not heed. It was unto them precept upon precept, and line upon line. The prophet's preaching...made no impression upon them...it was continually beating upon them but it beat nothing into them. Nay, it should seem, they ridiculed the prophet's preaching, and bantered it. The word of the Lord was unto them Tsau latsau, kau lakau; in the original it is in rhyme; they made a song of the prophet's words, and sang it when they were merry over their wine." That describes the response of the modern Christian when the preacher of righteousness arrives on the scene and brings a scorching word. Intolerance and disdain for the messenger and the message makes them miss their chance at God's mercy and deliverance.

In the same chapter Isaiah speaks of Jesus Christ as "a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste" Isaiah 28:16b. God is given to exactness. In the scope of everyday living, we will miss the mark of his perfect righteousness, but he will continue to try us in the same manner as Jesus was tried, until we're perfected. If we as living stones are going to be laid next to Jesus in the spiritual building, it requires that we line up perfectly to him. Jesus, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered" Hebrews 5:8. We are not above our Master. Therefore, it only serves to reason that God would be very exacting upon his church as well, in order to bring about righteousness. Be sure however, that the work cannot be hurried. He is going to chisel us and then measure us. When the stonecutter believes that the stone is exact and precise he will then fit it to the rest of the building but 'he that believeth shall not make haste'. We are stones that are being tried of the Lord. We cannot make haste or hurry his work in us. Our work is to believe that he is chiseling us and measuring us until we are precise to Jesus' righteousness.

If we can grasp this much we will also understand the next verse. Verse 17 reads, "Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet..." The ruler and the plume line are both going to be applied to us. Judgment and righteousness are going to question us on each thought, word and deed. Everything about us that is not of him will have to come under his scrutiny and be dealt with accordingly. This work of God is painstaking and necessary if he is to receive the greater glory due him. In turn, we will experience spiritual deliverance and be united in heart and mind, to revere a righteous, holy God.

Sincerely in Christ,
Mike Andrews

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