Short video answers to your most serious questions about leaving homosexuality
It turns out a lot of the denominations which have accepted homosexual behavior as not-a-sin, or as in-born have a prevalent belief which they base on Isaiah 64:6. However, you shouldn’t trust Isaiah 64:6 as a judgement about you, and if you did, you’d have to throw out the whole Bible. Let me explain.
Forget, for a moment, the content of the verse in question, we’ll get to that soon enough. Right now, we have to talk about “hermeneutics”, or “how to interpret the Bible.” Most of the people who like to quote Isaiah 64:6 use as a defense 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which says "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” At first glance, it would appear that we have to take Isaiah 64:6 for what it says.
But hold up! What did the 2 Timothy verse mean? Is the entire Bible merely a record of what God said? There certainly do appear to be some thing other people said. Daniel 4:4 (and most of that chapter) appear to have been written by King Nebuchadnezzar. You know, since it says “I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, …”. And Peter gets quoted some, too. Matthew 14:29 even tells us what Peter said “But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.” Even Satan is quoted in the Bible. So we see, God is not the only one who’s words made it into the Bible. When we want to know whether we can trust the content, like “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.”. We have to consider who is speaking. Because Jesus said “And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night:” -Matthew 14:27. God, I can trust. Others? Well…
And sometimes we have to consider who is influencing the speaker. In Mark, 16:16, Peter answers Jesus’ question, “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”. And Jesus’ judgement was that Peter was speaking under the influence of God, “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” -Mark 16:17. And yet, on the same page in Mark 16:22, “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Jesus’ judgement of that was “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” -Mark 16:23. So when we want to know if what the person said was theologically-reliable, we have to consider not only the speaker, but also the influences on the speaker.
If we don’t consider these contexts, then we really can’t take the Bible seriously because it would be full of ridiculous self-contradictions. For instance, the serpent in the garden said “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!”. Genesis 3:4. We’re told in Revelation 12:9 that “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan”. So some of Satan’s words made it into the Bible, and are in-effect a prophecy, which contradict God’s words. Genesis 2:16-17, “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”. So, we’re going to have to consider the reliability of the messenger.
So what does “All Scripture is inspired by God…” mean, if it doesn’t mean literally every single word in the Bible came directly from God? Well, first of all, it means God inspired the writer to make the written account. Second, it means where the Bible speaks of historical events, the historical account is accurate. Peter really did say these things. Satan really did say these things. And Nebuchadnezzar really did say those things. Others would contest this hermeneutic, saying that if God did not agree with the statements the others made, that the scripture would not be “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”. But that is a short-sighted conclusion. It is very useful to know what tricks Satan uses to lead us away from God’s will. Matthew 10:16, Jesus tells us “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”. So God wants us to be wise, which means “sharp powers of judgement”. How fortunate that God would pick the serpent as His example of how shrewd we should be, so nobody could argue that we should be shrewd, but not as shrewd as the most cunning animal…
Now that we know we should be shrewd, and have learned some ways to determine whether a phrase is trustworthy, let’s apply these principles to Isaiah 64:6. “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
Who is speaking? The first clue is the subject of the sentence, “we”. This probably wouldn’t be God, but He does refer to Himself in the plural in Genesis 1. So let’s look for more clues. The speaker uses the plural possessive “our” in reference to “iniquities”. God has no iniquities, therefore, this is not God speaking. A sinful man, or sinful men, are speaking this content. There’s more reasons it’s not God speaking, but to get that, you’ll have to check the next paragraph.
Some have asserted that this is Isaiah himself speaking as one of the people to the rest of the people. But this also cannot be the case. First of all, there is no text in which God is said to have told Isaiah to say these several verses. Second of all, these verses, 1-8 use a second person pronoun, “you”, and in verse 8, the antecedent of the pronoun is revealed. “But now, O LORD, You are our Father”. If you go read the other verses, they refer to the antecedent of the second-person pronoun as having done things which only make sense for God to have done, but I’ll skip them since the strongest argument is the explicit statement of the antecedent.
So, could it have been Isaiah speaking to God? It could have been. At a minimum, Isaiah would have written down that it was said, or at least directed a scribe to write down what was said. But even if Isaiah said this, it was a response from the people. In verses 1-5, they essentially complain that God has not shown up in miracles, and use that as an excuse for why their faith was weak. The best interpretation of this verse, is that it was the response of the people or the people’s leaders back to God, perhaps trough Isaiah, who was a prophet, carrying messages back and forth from God to the people, and from the people to God was part of his job. So even if Isaiah said it, the influence for the content came from the people.
But, some would argue, that just because we know the source is not reliable does not mean the content is not also true. And well, that’s a valid argument. So let’s consider the content directly.
Are our most righteous deeds like ‘dirty’ rags? Well, for all I know some of your deeds are like dirty rags. However, as Christians, our most righteous deeds are actually pretty awesome. Check out Revelation 19:7-8 “his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” But, who said this? Well, back in verse 5-6. “And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,”.
So let’s follow this, and it’s going to get a little meta.
Jesus sent an angel to John, a disciple & apostle. (Rev 1:1). So, is post-pentecost disciple John reliable to transmit a revelation from God? Yes. The angel gave him visions of things which would take place in the future, which included this scene in Rev 19. Are angels sent from God reliable? Yes. In Rev 19, a voice from the throne (and so carries divine authority) names the people who will be speaking next: God’s servants. And they say “the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints”, i.e. the bride of Christ’s wedding dress is the righteous deeds of the saints. So, we have it on the authority of God’s servants, shown by the angel, recounted by the apostle, that the saint’s righteous deeds are like a fine linen, useful as a wedding dress for the bride of Christ. That seems pretty reliable, and kinda the opposite of filthy rags, isn’t it?
Perhaps the people speaking in Isaiah 64 really had done nothing good. Certainly, God was making His judgement of their unrighteousness apparent through Isaiah in other verses. But does this mean that we, saints today, can do nothing righteous? That our most righteous deeds that we can do don’t amount to anything more than filthy rags? Absolutely not, Biblically. In stark contrast, it is actually possible for us to do righteous deeds, so righteous that they become a wedding dress, fit for a wedding in Heaven to Jesus.
So, am I promoting a works-based salvation? No. I only address this because I know some would bring it up. Our good works are motivated not because we want to get saved, but because we are saved. 2 Peter 1:5-7 does a really good job of explaining the order of these things. First comes faith, and by God’s grace, we are saved through faith. To build on top of faith, we should make an effort to do virtue (i.e. good works, and good intentions). Faith that does not produce good works is dead. Some argue that Christians are incapable of good works, and then their theology begins to veer off course. Let’s not get sidetracked by beliefs from inconsiderate hermeneutics. Let’s start ‘making every effort to add virtue to your faith…in every area of your life” as the apostle Peter, under the influence of the Holy Spirit wrote.