“GOD’S PARLEY”   Part 3

Isaiah 1.18



1.   Turn to Isaiah 1.18:  When you find that verse, please stand for the reading of God’s Word:  “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

2.   We began our examination of this verse two weeks ago when I spoke to you about God’s demand to dialog, “Come now, . . . saith the LORD.”  I pointed out to you that this is a summons to you, from God, Who is a hostile adversary to you if you are unconverted, because by your sins He has been grievously wronged, and He demands an immediate response.  “Come now.”

3.   The good Lord allowed us to continue our study of this passage last week, at which time I spoke to you concerned the deliberation involved in this dialog that God summons you to.  Though it may seem too simple as to need explanation, sinners frequently seem not to be aware of the facts.  Two parties are involved in this dispute, who are not equals, who are most definitely estranged, with only one of them in the wrong.  But the two parties can be reconciled.  I concluded, last week, by pointing out that only you stand in need before God.  As well, He has done nothing wrong to you, has no needs, and has justice on His side of the conflict.

4.   It is God Who is reasonable, while you are unreasonable.  It is God Who is in the right, while you are in the wrong.  It is God Who is righteous, while you are unrighteous.  It is, therefore, your responsibility to come to the table to deliberate with God about your sinfulness, to agree with God that you are corrupt and guilty.

5.   The Bible seems to leave little room for doubt that any sinner who agrees with God’s estimation and appraisal of his sins will be cleansed from his sins.  For as First John 1.9 declares, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  The word “confess” in that verse not referring to reciting individual sins one by one and asking that they be forgiven, but meaning, rather, “to say the same thing, to agree, to concede, to admit, to confess.”[1]  Agreeing with God about your sins.

6.   But here is the rub; getting you to the place where you agree with God concerning your sinfulness.  That, of course, is the purpose of the Law and the preaching of the Law.  “. . . for by the law is the knowledge of sin,” Romans 3.20.  “. . . sin is the transgression of the law,” First John 3.4.

7.   Those who pretend to be Christians, but who ignore God’s Law, and who will not make use of the Law to show the sinfulness of sins, are what are called antinomians, a heresy that competent Christian leaders have stood again throughout the centuries.[2]  But how are we to make use of the Law who were not given the Law?[3]

8.   Since “. . . all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Romans 3.23, it is appropriate to make use of the Law in preaching to show you your sinfulness, to bring you to a place where you agree with God’s estimation of not only your sinfulness, but also your guiltiness and how much you deserve God’s punishment.

9.   What is the benefit of this preaching of the Law, beyond just making you feel very badly about your sins?  Galatians 3.24:  “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”  So, if sinners are to be saved from their sins the Law must be preached.

10. Simon Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost illustrates this truth very clearly.  In Acts 2.36, we see the culmination of Peter’s sermon, whereby he shows his listener’s violation of God’s Law by the crucifying of God’s Own Son:  “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  Their hearts were pricked, the next verse tells us, and 3000 were converted.

11. But sometimes efforts to use the Law of God have a different effect.  Stephen preached an anointed Law sermon that is recorded in Acts chapter 7.  Surely the best concise history of Israel found anywhere, Stephen’s sermon is really a recounting of Israel’s constant sinning, concluding in verses 51-54:

51     Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

52     Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

53     Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

54     When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.


12. Obviously, Stephen’s great sermon did not have the same outcome as did Simon Peter’s on Pentecost.  Or did it?  I am convinced that the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul, was the direct outcome of him hearing this sermon and witnessing Stephen’s martyrdom.  So, Stephen’s Law sermon did have a wonderful outcome . . . eventually.

13. So, what is wrong with preaching the Law in an effort to persuade sinners of their sinfulness?  I know of nothing wrong with it, though most sinners don’t like it.  God seems to both like it and bless it.  But there are an ever-increasing number of preachers who simply will not preach against named sins, who will not preach God’s Law to sinners.

14. Only by preaching the Law and emphasizing the sinfulness of sin can you be persuaded of your great need, prompting you to respond to God’s demand to dialog, “Come now,” and engaging you in the deliberation, “let us reason together,” that will result in you agreeing with God’s estimation of your sins, “though your sins be as scarlet . . ,” and “though they be red like crimson. . . .”

15. Those things said, let me now show you what the result can be for the sinner who sees his sins, who recognizes and does not deny his sinfulness, and who actually feels bad for his sins.  God paints two pictures for us in our text.  We look at them one at a time:



“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow”

1B.    If you will obey God’s demand to dialog, if you will obey His summons and reason together with Him, we see here that something truly miraculous can happen to you.

2B.    Sins that are as scarlet can be as white as snow.  Allow your mind’s eye to see the picture God paints with those words.

1C.   Scarlet was the color of a permanent dye used in those days, made by grinding up a certain kind of insect larvae that infested a species of live oak trees growing in southern Europe and what is now Turkey.[4]  Can you appreciate the imagery? 

2C.   Your sins are associated in the mind of God with the color of dead grubs.  Unclean vermin that crawls around on the ground and in the trees are taken, killed and dried, and then ground up to make scarlet dye, the color of blood.  That dye then absorbed into the very clothes you wear.

3C.   What a vivid picture of sin that is.  Filthy.  Associated with vermin.  Dead.  Ground up bug carcasses.  The color of blood.  Completely covering you.  Can you imagine that in your mind?  That is a description of how God sees you in your sins.

4C.   But something happens when a sinner comes to see his sins as they really are, when he agrees with God’s estimation of his guiltiness.  We are not told in this verse of the salvation of the sinner, but we are shown the result of the sinner’s salvation.

5C.   His scarlet sins are made as white as snow.  What is whiter in nature than snow?  Anything?  Not that I know of.  And consider the directions from whence the two arise.  Scarlet sin is from below, while white snow is from above.

6C.   As scarlet in clothing entirely covers the sinner, snow from the sky covers even more completely and thoroughly, completely blanketing everything by its purity and whiteness. 

3B.    What a wonderful picture of the benefits that are yours with salvation and its cleansing from sin.  To recap, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” shows your existing condition (“though”), shows your evil conduct (“your sins”), shows the base nature of your sins (“be as scarlet”), and shows the heavenly salvation that God provides (“they shall be as white as snow”).



“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though . . . they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

1B.    Again, we see the existing condition (“though”), the flagrancy of your fouls (“they be red like crimson”), and the character of your cleansing should you get saved (“they shall be as wool”).

2B.    By adjusting the mixture of the same ingredients, it was possible to obtain a slightly different color of dye, called crimson.  But it’s really the same thing represented.  The basic ingredient is still ground up vermin carcasses.  And so sin, in its various forms, either scarlet or crimson, is still essentially the same.

3B.    One sinner lies and another sinner tells little white lies.  It’s the same thing to God.  One child steals change from his mother’s purse, while someone else embezzles 100 million dollars from a retirement fund.  But both people are thieves.  And what is the real difference between the teenage girl who shows her belly to titillate boys and the stripper who takes all her clothes off to titillate middle aged men?  The difference is only one of degree.  Amen?  Some sins are scarlet and other sins are crimson, but they are all really made from the same disgusting stuff.

4B.    But what happens when a sinner comes to the place of understanding and admits the vileness of his sins, the guiltiness of his wrongdoing, the punishment that he deserves at the hand of God?  “though . . . they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

5B.    And what is wool, but white protection?  Whereas the sinner once was covered by the garments of sin, contaminated by his own sinfulness, he is now clothed by the soft and pure wool of God’s salvation.  When one is wool-covered one is a sheep.  Right?  So, then, to develop the mental imagery even more, from being a crimson-covered sinner to a wool-covered sheep in the Lord’s flock.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”[5]



1.   This is a wonderful verse from God’s Word, that shows us many truths.  In this verse we see God’s desire for reconciliation and man’s need for reconciliation, God’s view of man’s sins and the glorious salvation that He graciously provides.

2.   What this verse does not show us are two things I have touched on and will close with:  First, this verse does not show what is needed to bring sinners to the table to deal with God about their sins.  I have mentioned that such is the role played by the Law and the preaching of the Law to sinners.  Sinners are so depraved that they will neither admit that they are the sinners God shows them to be, nor will they reason with God about their sins.  Thus, the need for the Law.

3.   Second, this verse does not show us the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, though it does show the result of the Gospel:  “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

4.   What a glorious Savior Jesus must be, to give so great a salvation that scarlet sins can become as white as snow, and sins that are red like crimson can be made as wool.  What a glorious Savior Jesus is.

[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 786.

[2] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 12.

[3] Romans 3.19

[4] See DYE; DYING in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (AGES SOFTWAREÔ, INC. · Rio, WI USA · Version 8.0 © 2000)

[5] John 10.27-28

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