Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Work of Righteousness & the Gift of Peace - Isaiah 32

"And the work of righteousness will be peace,
and the service of righteousness will be
quietness and security forever."
(vs 17)

Work and peace - hmmmm. I can't say that I often think of work and peace in the same sentence. Honestly, all too often my work seems to be laborious and tiresome - exhausting not peaceful. Often I find myself grumbling and complaining under its load. Work was around before the fall and it surely was done in peace then, but after the fall work seems to wear us out. "Cursed is the ground because of you, in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life" (Ge 3:17). Genesis 3 goes on to talk about the "thorns and thistles" that hurt and the "sweat of the brow" that flows out of our labors. Post-fall work is hard!

Yet, in this text work is said to result in peace. But note that it is the work of "righteousness" that will be peace. It is not sinful labor nor self-righteous labor that brings about peace. No, it is the "work of righteousness."

So, what does my condition at the end of my work say about my heart? I'm thinking through my days as a wife, mom, friend, church secretary (by default), musician, housekeeper, chef - add the infinite number of hats that I wear to the mix. How often do I find myself going through my life's routine sinfully rather than righteously? I grumble and complain about the tasks that lie before me - maybe not outwardly but often inside. There is no peace! I do my works hoping that someone will notice and give me a great big pat on the back - they don't. There is no peace! I give counsel, lend a hand, write a song proudly thinking I have it all together - my counsel is wrong, my helping hand is rejected, my song stinks. There is no peace! Sinful self-righteous labor doesn't bring me peace - it wears me out!!

On the contrary, when - by nothing but the sheer amazing grace of God - my works are done in humble reliance on my God because I recognize I can't do them on my own, then there is peace! When my labors are done that I might thank God rather than He or someone else thank me- then there is peace! When I give and do expecting nothing in return beyond the glory of God - then there is peace!

Works of righteousness can only come from the God of righteousness. I cannot produce them on my own. Before I can even possibly do a righteous act I must first be in Christ for He alone is my righteousness (1 Co 1:30, Jer 23:6). Anything and everything that we do while not resting in Him by grace through faith is only and always sin (Ro 14:23). There are NO works of righteousness that will ever flow from our lives apart from the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. Righteousness is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Co 5:21)
  • "...having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ..." (Ph 1:1)
  • "...and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith." (Ph 3:9)
  • "...and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." (1 Pe 2:24)

The redeeming work of God must be step number one before we can do any righteous act and before we can have any lasting peace. Here in Isaiah we see that fleshing out within the context. Notice in verse 15 just prior to this promise of peace that Isaiah speaks of the Spirit of God being poured out on them. Again, the work of the Triune God is a prerequisite for works of righteousness.

How desperately I need the work of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to make my works righteous for I continually make them to be filthy rags (Is 64:6)! In "works of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and security forever." Peace, quietness, and security. I think I need to go to work now! By His sovereign mercy may I, with Solomon "commit [my] works to the LORD, that [my] plans will be established." (Pr 16:3)

Laboring on,


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