In 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the church door in Germany. He did it to protest the practice of the church selling forgiveness for a price. God frowns on any practice that belittles genuine repentance. He wants us to pursue inner purity as well as an outer lifestyle that pleases Him. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to chastise ancient Israel (Isa. 58): “You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance. Bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD? No, this is the kind of fasting I want: free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.” The essence of God’s word to ancient Israel applies to us today. With the help of God’s Spirit, we must pursue both inner and outer purity.
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