But we do more than just stray. “We have all turned to our own way,” (Isa 53.6b, HCSB). As we stray, we inevitably turn. And everyone turns differently. We turn to our own way. There is no set way for people to turn. There are as many ways as there are people. But the Bible does give us some ways in which people turn from God and His parameter.
There are those who turn away based on the sexual urges that go contrary to God’s sexual ethic. Where God expects restraint from all sexual practice until marriage, our culture continuously preaches that we are to give into those urges, but to do so safely. We are taught that nearly everything is acceptable (from premarital sex to extra-marital affairs to homosexuality to pornography) and good if it is what you want, have consented to, and feels good. Last year, thousands upon thousands of names were released from hackers who had stolen names from Ashley Madison’s website. A site which has the motto: “Life is short. Have an affair.” Thousands of lives were shattered because of a lack of sexual ethic. Thousands and thousands of men and women thought only of the gratification of a moment, rather than the satisfaction that God had provided through parameters. But, “We have all turned to our own way,” (Isa 53.6b, HCSB).
Others have turned toward idolatry as a practice. It is not the hidden, unrealized sin of making more of something or someone that we ought (which is still sinful), but it is the all-out worship of the creature rather than the Creator. These people may be able to tell you everything there is to know about a sport, a player, a team. They may know all there is about a political figure, a government group, a political party. They may know the ways of Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Joseph Smith, or a million others. They have the posters, the signs, the autographs, the pins and stickers.
Because they have no idea who God really is, they set up for themselves the gods of their own making. They set up tangible gods that are forged through flames or carvings, or simply through human passion. As Paul wrote, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptile,” (Rom. 1.22-23, HCSB). In the West, we tend to go with the mortal man images and leave the animals to the Eastern religions. But, “We have all turned to our own way,” (Isa 53.6b, HCSB).
There are people who have become discontent with what God has given. Like Eve, they see what has been restricted, and so they desire what they were not given and what they cannot have and decide they will take it by force. They go the way of thieves. Some are better at it than others. The exceptional ones are in Washington D.C. But there are good ones in our neighborhoods and schools and jobs. They steal ideas and answers to tests. They steal money by milking the time-clock at work. They steal supplies from the supply closet. They steal from grocery stores, and Walmart, and brag about their conquests. One of the top movies in 2000 was a remake: Gone in Sixty Seconds, all about boosting cars. But there are others: The Italian Job, Ocean’s Eleven, and such. Most of us don’t really think that what we do as stealing, but taking what doesn’t belong to us, whether ideas or answers or money is stealing, and so, ““We have all turned to our own way,” (Isa 53.6b, HCSB).
Some turn to their own way intravenously or through the bottle or through the nose or in capsule form or through inhalation. Perhaps the first time they thought it would be fun. Perhaps it was giving in to peer pressure. Perhaps it was done to deaden the pain of some trauma. And slowly but surely it became a thing of dependency. For every good event and every bad day these people go to their trusted friend rather than to God in prayer or praise. “We have all turned to our own way,” (Isa 53.6b, HCSB).
Some turn towards anger and hatred. They become verbally abusive, whether through gossip or demeaning speech or simply bullying. Some will just use their speech to fool people, whether swindling them out of their money, their property, or their thoughts and ideas. But as we see, “We have all turned to our own way,” (Isa 53.6b, HCSB).
Keeping in mind that God has set a path for us to walk on, a way in which to go, “we have all turned to our own way,” (Isa 53.6b, HCSB), and so what does that make us? It makes us unrighteous. But when we say the word, unrighteous, there are different meanings that people get in their head, or they are simply oblivious to its meaning altogether. So let’s start with the term righteous, and that will help us with the understanding of unrighteous, not being righteous.
God is a God of law. He is the God of natural law and so we have things like gravity and thermodynamics. At the same time, He is also the God of moral law. Thus we have the Ten Commandments and so forth. Now in the United States we have three equal branches of government that are checks and balances for one another. We have the Legislative Branch that makes the law. We have the Executive Branch that executes or enforces the law. We have the Judicial Branch that interprets the law and judges according to the law. There are no such branches in heaven. God makes the law, enforces the law, and gets to interpret and judge according to the law.
So God made the law against murder. When Cain killed Abel, God went after Cain. Someone broke the law and now it is time to go catch that person so he can stand trial. But God also interprets and judges according to the law. So we see Jesus who said, “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, ‘Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment,’” (Matt 5.21-22, HCSB). Here we have an interpretation of the law. The law goes beyond the letter right to the heart. Jesus shows this in the Sermon on the Mount. So there is an interpretation. But there is also the judgment according to the law. So now we see that we are not simply going to be judged on whether or not we physically killed someone, but rather if we were angry with someone.
So there are many people who think everything is fine because in their eyes they have not broken the law of God. But no one has ever stood before themselves in a court of law to judge themselves. God made the law and knows what He intended the moment the law was made. He is the one who will pull the offender of the law into court and He is the one who decides whether or not the person broke the law or didn’t break the law. Now here is an interesting fact: God doesn’t make false arrests. He doesn’t just drag people into the courtroom willy nilly. He has hard evidence against us proving that “We have all turned to our own way,” (Isa 53.6b, HCSB).
People also say that they hope that their good will out-weigh their bad. Since when does that happen in court? “Your honor, I know I robbed this one bank, but I read to the kids every week at the local elementary school.” “Oh, Mr. Hughes, I didn’t realize that. You’ve done 35 weeks of good and this one bad thing. Case dismissed.” That doesn’t happen. We aren’t tried on the good things we’ve done, but rather the turning to our own ways, doing things outside the parameters of God’s law.
There was a young man who lived during the Revolutionary War Era, who had become a wealthy man through trade. However, because of the Stamp Act that affected his pocket book, this man joined the militia. He had a great mind and spirit about him. He helped lead troops to capture Ticonderoga. He won other major battles as well. He was made military commander Philadelphia by General George Washington, and ultimately commander at West Point. If it wasn’t for this great General, America would have lost the War for Independence. At the same time, it was this general who had arranged the surrender of West Point to the British so America would be defeated. His plans having been intercepted, Benedict Arnold fled to London, England.
All that General Arnold did for the Continental Army would not erase his treason, his traitorous acts. Nor will our good ever erase the rebellion, the very cosmic treason against our God.
So as God would interpret His law, not us, and as God would judge, we will be found in the right or in the wrong. Are we in the right according to God’s interpretation of God’s laws or we in the wrong according to God’s interpretation of God’s laws? If we are in the right, we are considered to be righteous. If we are considered to be in the wrong, we are considered to be unrighteous. Another biblical way of saying unrighteous is: wicked. Now no one likes to be called wicked because that’s too harsh a word for how we interpret our law-keeping or breaking. But in God’s court, we aren’t the judge. He is.
So if there is unrighteousness or wickedness, then there will be judgment. God would not be a good and just God to have evidence of wickedness, of law-breaking, and then not punish us for it.
To be continued…