“Listen to the Lord, you leaders of ‘Sodom.’ Listen to the law of our God, people of ‘Gomorrah.’ ‘What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?’ says the Lord. ‘I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows'” (Is. 1:10-17).
Wow! What a scathing rebuke from the Lord. Here is the main point of what the Lord is saying here:
Anything not connected with the heart of God counts very little for eternity. When the Lord spoke this rebuke to Israel of old it came as a strong wake up call to return to pure religion. This could apply today as it is so easy to get entrapped with the appearance, production, and professionalism of Christianity with all its hype and miss the heart of God for people, especially the hurting and suffering.
When the Lord wants to wake us up He can do it gently with a kiss of kindness, or He can be severe and really shake us. “Behold the kindness and severity of the Lord” (Rom. 11:22). Many need to be shaken in this hour.
Some Christians today find it hard to believe that the Lord ever speaks like this or could ever deal with us in severity. To them, He is always warm, kind, nice, and gentle – always assuring us only of His pleasure, never rebuking or reproving us. They are sadly mistaken. There are many examples of what I call tough love and the severity of the Lord in the Scriptures from the life and ministry of Jesus in the gospels, Paul in the epistles, as well as post resurrection correction and severe warnings to the churches in Rev. 2 & 3. But in all these things the Father deals with us as His children.
“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child” (Heb. 12:5-6).
In an extended time of prayer and fasting in 2002 the Lord dealt severely with me concerning my own life, character, and calling. Here is an excerpt of my communion with the Lord from a book (The Journal Of A Journey To His Holiness) I wrote sharing the experience:
James 1:27—My captains are found among these just as the Son was found among them. I do a work in you of pure religion. I do a work in you to place you among My captains. I do a work of love in you. I do a work of sensitivity to My heart in you.
Behold My heart as I was moved with compassion for the widow at Nain whose son had just died. Behold My heart as I picked up the little children and blessed them. Behold My heart as I called and healed the blind beggars.
I do a work in you to increase the fruit of your compassion. I do a work in you to increase true ministry. I do a work in you to make you more skillful in My anointing. As you’ve heard My servant say, “Truth and compassion equal skill in My anointing.” I speak the truth, but I am moved with compassion.
Truth does not move Me. Compassion moves Me. I am working both on your speaking and on your compassion so that your life and your works would be found pure in Him who moves.
This is the alignment of My Spirit to continue to build those mysteries in you of which you’ve prayed. This is the alignment of My Spirit to build into you true priestly ministry. This is My armor for you.
I am tightening your belt of truth. I am firming you up with the breastplate of My righteousness. I am strengthening your arms to hold up the shield of faith. I am shodding your feet with a greater preparation of the gospel of peace. I am protecting your mind by having you renew it with My salvation. I am sharpening your sword of the Spirit.
You are asking Me about pure religion. “What is it that makes visiting the fatherless and the widows in their affliction pure and undefiled?” I hear you asking.
I will answer you in segments. First of all, you have had a recent prompting in your spirit concerning this book (James). There is a reason for this. You see many of the mysteries you have recently prayed have come from this book.
Personal comment: I was spending much time praying in other tongues and this was a real revelation to me. Apparently it is possible to be praying mysteries in the Spirit concerning an entire book, epistle, or chapter in the Bible especially as it pertains to your own life.
The work I do in you is found in much of this book. It is a work of removing the impurities and the impediments of your life so that your works will be found pure in the day of the testing of My fire.
I am requiring a living faith from My people in this hour. How much more My priests and My captains? You have been weighed in the balance and been found lacking in genuine faith. This is why I speak to you of pure religion.
I am giving you wisdom for your trials. Trials remove the impurities. Trials produce a patience of character where you become mature and complete and lacking in nothing. This is the work I do in you. These are the mysteries you’ve been praying before Me. Now I give you more understanding.
I am speaking to your character. I am speaking to your calling. In both your character and your calling I am commanding the image of the Son to arise in you. Your prayers have not been in vain. I have come to reveal the mystery of Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The Son was pure before and after He entered public ministry. With and without the anointing He was pure. His private words and works matched His public words and works. James knew this well.
Personal comment: The reason for this is that James was the natural brother of Jesus and lived and grew up in the same house.
This is My perfect will for all My children, especially those who are ministers of My Word in public service. My perfect will is for all religion to be pure.
For religion to be pure, all impurities must be gone. All hypocrisy must be gone. All partiality must be gone. Acts of mercy and good fruits must not be found wanting.
The leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy. They said many things but did not do them. Their hearing and their speaking did not culminate in good deeds. They judged the shortcomings of others while overlooking their own.
Hypocrisy also manifests in a double tongue. A man’s religion is vain and useless when he cannot bridle his tongue, when blessing and cursing proceed out of the same mouth, when praise and then murmuring and complaining comes gushing forth. Remember, it is what comes out of a man’s mouth that defiles him.
Such is the case in many of those who call themselves by My name. That is why I have told you that the work I do in you is to make you one with your message (God’s Word). Your words must be mirrored by your works, and your words must be found pure at all times. You have been walking in that which has been permissible, but now I am calling for the perfect to come.
Partiality is another impurity that defiles My people. Partiality is being a respecter of persons. It respects the rich while despising the poor. It receives the rich for what they can give, but despises the poor because their needs require acts of sacrifice and compassion. Partiality honors what it can get, but dishonors what it can give. The needy suffer because of the partiality of My people. My mercy is shut up in the bowels of My people. Many of them are unfamiliar with the Father of mercies.
God is the Father of pure religion. You will find His pure works birthed among the poor and needy. You will find the bondservants of His Son in the avenues of the despised, in the streets of the oppressed, and in the homes of the broken and downtrodden.
Pure religion is that which is without hypocrisy and partiality, full of mercy and good fruits. Wisdom and understanding is manifest in these works. A meekness of wisdom is the character of those who work these works of God.