Holding Firm

Day 292

Prayer for the day

Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; you are my crag and my stronghold.

Scripture for the day

Isaiah 56-58, 2 Thessalonians 2

Is it possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason? Is it possible to hold to the law without actually pleasing God? It would seem from Isaiah’s condemnation of the Israelite that this is not only possible, but a regular stumbling block for them (and possibly for us).

God’s rebuke of the people is that they have been seeking to obey the law, but have been missing the actual point of the law, and so have been breaking it in spirit while keeping it in letter. They have been fasting, but in fasting they have not understood the purpose. They have forgotten why they were fasting, forgotten that fasting is a reminder from God of their reliance on Him, of their humility, as well as a ritual. Isaiah speaks the words of God, saying that the fasting that repents in ashes and the fasting that has no real effect are equally missing the point. The fasting that God desires is the fasting that works itself out in justice and equity. This is active fasting, fasting that accomplishes its purpose. This is the true law-keeping.

True lawlessness is encountered in the second letter to the Christians in Thessalonica. They are encouraged to stand firm against the “man of lawlessness,” who is someone trying to lead others astray through false teaching. Paul then encourages the people who hear these words, the ones who listen to the teachings, to stand firm, to understand where their faith comes from, the basis of their trust in God, and calls them to live according to the law that God has written on their hearts. In this way they will keep the spirit of the law as God has commanded it and not fall into error and condemnation.
Thanks be to God for the law written on our hearts. Let’s keep it rightly, and well.

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