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The Woefulness of Sin

Isaiah 5 is a dark chapter for God’s people.  Chapter 4 prophesies the coming Messiah, the Branch of the Lord, who will be beautiful and glorious, who will draw all people to himself.  Before that day, however, darkness and growling will be over Judah.  In 5:18-23, there are four “woes” that the Lord gives to his people, and it shows the downward spiral of what sin does to our lives.

  • They “draw iniquity with cords of falsehood” and “draw sin as with car ropes.” Their sin follows them everywhere. They are a slave to their sin (cf. Prov. 5:22). They are so deep in their sin that their spiritual eyes cannot see the works of the Lord. They cry, “If he’s real, let him come so we can know him!” (cf. 2 Peter 3:4). They are treasuring their sin and God’s creation more than God himself.
  • They “call evil good and good evil…put darkness for light and light for darkness…put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” They are very confused about what is right and wrong. Sin is not just the doing of bad things, it is the twisting of good. Romans 1:24-25 says that people have exchanged the truth about God for a lie. That is what we do when we sin. That was the temptation that caused the first sin. Adam and Eve were deceived and they exchanged the truth for a filthy deception.
  • They “are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight.” Sin corrupts the perception we have of ourselves.  We are bad people, but sin makes us think we are good.  God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). We should only have any wisdom in God. Proverbs 3:7 says, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.”
  • They “are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink” and they “acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right.” We are not supposed to be drunk on wine — or anything else! Instead, we are to be intoxicated by God’s Spirit (cf. Eph. 5:18). We should be valiant in spiritual battle for ourselves, our families, our church, and our communities. We should be people who seek justice instead of falling into the snare of the love of money (1 Timothy 6:9).

Notice the progression of the “woes.” First, we become slaves to sin as it draws us around like we are on a cart rope. Next, we begin to think what we are doing is good and right even though it is wrong and evil. Then, we actually believe what we are doing is wise and become proud, unrepentant, and arrogant in our actions, thoughts, and words. Finally, we become “heroes” at what we do, that is, we become very good at sinning.  We are not excelling in love for God and people. We are excelling in sin and unrighteousness.

This is the woefulness of sin.  This happens before we come to Christ, and at varying times, this can even happen in the life of a believer.  That is why we are called to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13).  It can only be done by the Spirit.  It can only be done by grace through faith.