He who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what the pagans choose to...
“Declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.” Isaiah 58:1
God says to Isaiah, “Declare to my people…” (58:1). Notice what God says about his own people and see if you think this describes Christians today.
These people were diligent about their personal relationship with God, serious about worship and bible study: “They seek me daily and delight to know my ways” (58:2), and serious about prayer and fasting: “They ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?’” (58:2–3).
God’s people have been worshiping, studying the Bible, praying, and fasting, and yet, bad things were happening to them. Trouble has come to their nation. God isn’t answering their prayers.
So God’s people were frustrated. They feel God has let them down, and they want him to know that they are not pleased about it (58:3)! These believers feel that God owes them, and that God is under an obligation to come through for them because of what they have done for him.
Hasn’t God seen their devotion? Yes, God has seen their devotion, and he sends the prophet Isaiah to tell the people that he is not impressed: “Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers… Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high” (58:3–4).
These believers were no different from other people who did not worship, read the Bible, fast, or pray. They had settled for a private piety that left them as self-centered as if they had not known God at all. Their faith was a religious glaze over a self-centered life.
Where do you feel that you most identify with God’s people here?