Isaiah 1:2-8 “Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness — only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.”
In my last blog post I talked about the reality of wounds and warfare and the great need for healing. I spoke to wounds that have been inflicted by the words of others or the lies that we have received that have hurt us. I talked about how Jesus came to “heal the brokenhearted” and “bind up their wounds.” Jesus is the Great Physician and Healer of our souls.
However, in this post I want to address not “other-inflicted” wounds or “enemy-inflicted” wounds but “self-inflicted” wounds.
Many of the wounds in our lives are merely the consequence of forgetting or forsaking, rebelling or resisting, sinning or straying from the Lord. That is what the passage this article began with is addressing and speaking to.
What we need to do is come humbly and honestly before God and discern true guilt from false guilt. We then need to confess and repent of true guilt and turn to, or back to, the Lord in faith. God’s heart breaks over both wounds inflicted by others or the enemy as well as self-inflicted wounds due to our own sin and selfishness. Notice His question to the nation of Israel was “Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion?”
In verses 7-8 He reminds them of this because of their sin: “Your country is desolate, (laid bare/empty) your cities burned with fire (destruction); your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you (poverty and ruin), laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. The Daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege.”
Sin and selfishness, stubbornness and straying, rebellion and resisting the Lord only lead to emptiness, desolation, ruin and destruction. Sin robs of peace. It robs of joy. It robs of strength. It robs of life. It doesn’t have to be!
The great need in our day is not bolstered “self-esteem” but a people who will recognize they have sinned against a Holy God and will then confess their personal sin and turn to the only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, instead of simply blaming everyone else. Certainly others have sinned against us and have not loved us as they ought, but have we not also sinned against others and not loved as we ought? We all have been wounded by others and have wounded others. And we also have wounded ourselves by our own sin. And that we cannot blame on others. You have to own your own sin. You can’t say “so and so made me so angry that I snapped and did what I did, so it’s really their fault. If they wouldn’t have done what they did, I wouldn’t have reacted as I did.” There may be truth in the fact that “Eve handed you the apple” but you are still responsible for taking it and eating it. And it may be true that “the snake” (Satan-the devil) tempted and deceived you, but you still disobeyed God. And God will hold you accountable not for others’ influence or actions, but your own actions and decisions. (Read Genesis 3).
We are now a culture of people who are blaming our environment, upbringing, parents, and everyone around us for the way we are. Certainly all these things influence and contribute, but sin comes from within, not without. Circumstances only reveal or bring out what is really already in our hearts. And put in the right circumstances at the right time to the right degree, what would come out of any of us, apart from grace prevailing in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit in the life a true believer, is ugly, evil and sinful. And at times ugliness, evil and sin have come out of us (revealing the reality of it inside of us).
Self-esteem (feeling better about ourselves) is not the answer. Yes God loves us and being secure in that is essential (1 John 4:16-19) and healing (Psalm 139). But the healing of self-inflicted wounds requires confession of sin and repentance of sin.
But both of these (confession of sin and healing) require coming to Jesus humbly and honestly. To be justified by God you must stop trying to justify yourself. To receive the grace of God you must stop lying to yourself, deceiving yourself, blaming others, denying, or diminishing your sin. You must come broken and totally open. The walls and masks must come down. The games must stop. Only then will you come to know God’s grace and mercy.
James 4:6-10 says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Isaiah 1:13-20 says: “Stop bringing meaningless offerings!…When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
No, you are not responsible for others’ sins against you, and you need not feel guilty for their actions or abuse in your life. But you are responsible for your sin and/or sinful responses (becoming bitter, sinning in your anger, striking back, getting even, etc. toward those who have wronged you).
The point is, many of our wounds are self-inflicted because of our sin, selfishness, stubbornness, rebellion and pride. But even these wounds can be healed if we will but repent and return to the Lord! God wants to bring wholeness and healing to His people! It is not His desire for us to be crippled by other or enemy inflicted wounds or our own self-inflicted wounds. Scars will remain. But Jesus can heal the pain and calls us to “stand up, pick up our mat, and walk.” (Matthew 9:2-6).
The big question is “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5). That may seem like a silly question, who would not want to be healed! But the truth is many don’t want to be healed because they have lived with wounds for so long they are afraid of life without them. Some people actually like the attention and pity they get from others because of them. Some people use their pain (wounds) to their own advantage. Some like (or want) to be dependent on others and have others do everything for them. Some people are afraid of personal responsibility and the changes that will come with being healed. But this is sinful and will only lead to greater suffering and shame.
Let Jesus heal you. He is near to hear and to heal.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.