Then I said: Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and be among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth   with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed and your sin is atoned for.                                              Isaiah 6:5–7

When Isaiah is confronted by the majestic holiness and beauty of God, he is devastated! Woe is me. Can you imagine all of your sin (every little dark secret) laid bear before the Lord? The Bible is clear: the Word of the Lord reveals our hearts. So, imagine standing before the Lord of the Word.

Isaiah knows, woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips. Out of the mouth the heart speaks. When Isaiah says, I am an unclean man, this is not just lip service. Not only that, but he dwells among an unclean people. While Isaiah identifies with his people (dwell with people of unclean lips), he is also set apart because he is willing to admit his condition. For many people, repentance is just lip service, a social nicety. In culture, people say they are sorry because it’s the nice thing to do. For us, we repent because we see the holiness of God and know that our sin grieves Him. 

Notice what happens: a seraphim peels off from circling the throne and takes a burning, holy coal off the altar and touches Isaiah’s lips with it. The holy, burning coal from the altar burns the sin away.

It does not hurt him; it heals him. God ministers to the sinner at the point of confessed need. God has touched. God has taken away. Isaiah contributes nothing. It is all God’s provision. So we realize that we don’t need to clean up our lives before we come to God. We come to God, and God cleans us. When you confess you sin, God does not hurt you. He heals you.

The grace of God isn’t designed for casual acceptance. It compels us to abandon plans, dreams, possessions, priorities, treasures and pleasures in this world. He is worthy of absolute submission to His person and absolute surrender to His purpose: Declaring His glory and His gospel to the ends of the earth. This is what we live for, and this is what we die for. This is why we must say, without condition and regardless of cost: “Here we are, Lord; send us.”[1]

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

[1] Adapted from The Coming King by Matt Capps, LifeWay Christian Resources 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *