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Sermon #3                                                                                                                                                                                                    Isaiah Series

 

Title:               A People Laden with Iniquity

 

Text:                            Isaiah 1:2-9

Subject:                     The Depravity of Man

Date:                          Sunday Evening — May 8, 2016

Readings:     Larry Brown and Mark Daniel

Introduction:

 

Because the human race is “a people laden with iniquity,” every man, woman, and child in this world is dreadfully afraid of God. All men by nature are afraid of God. Everyone has a dreadful fear of meeting God in judgment, a fear of his wrath and punishment. Some men suppress this fear, try to deny it, and try convince themselves that it does not exist. They try to convince themselves that it is a fear caused by religious superstition, rather than a fear caused by the God-consciousness stamped upon Adam’s race by the Creator himself. But the fact remains, all men by nature are afraid of God. Every man in the world has a natural, inescapable, deep-seated, conscious awareness that God has a controversy with him which must be settled. — What is that controversy? The Prophet Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 1:2-9.

 

(Isaiah 1:2-9) “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. (3) The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. (4) Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. (5) Why should ye be stricken anymore? Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. (6) From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. (7) Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. (8) And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. (9) Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”

 

Fallen man is terrified of God because we are “a people laden with iniquity.” That is the title of my message — A People Laden with Iniquity. Man is terrified of God, terrified by every thought of God, of death, of judgment, and of eternity, because we are — A People Laden with Iniquity.

 

The message of God delivered by his prophet Isaiah in our text was spoken directly to Judah and Jerusalem concerning the sins of that nation and their religious practices.

 

Matthew Henry suggests, “Probably this sermon was preached in the reign of Ahaz, when Judah was invaded by the kings of Syria and Israel, the Edomites and the Philistines, who slew many and carried many away into captivity.” — (Perhaps he was correct. — See 2nd Chronicles 28:5, 17, 18).

 

God’s Message to Us

 

But I am not speaking to Judah and Jerusalem. Because that nation and people turned away from God, despised his Word, and crucified his Son, they have long since been destroyed, left in spiritual desolation, and forsaken by God (Matthew 22:1-7; 23:38-39). — “Because of unbelief they were broken off” (Romans 9:20). However, these things were not written in the Book of God for them alone. They were written for us.

 

This is God’s Word. It lives and abides forever. Judah and Jerusalem, in this text, are simply representatives of all men. They represent you and me. This is not God’s controversy with Judah alone. This is God’s controversy with every nation in the world. This is not God’s controversy with the Jews alone. This is God’s controversy with every person in the world.

 

Our text describes God’s controversy with man. You may not like it. You may not want to hear it. You may get upset with me for declaring it. But every word that I speak to you in this message will be but the echo of your own heart and conscience. I am going to preach to you only what your own conscience tells you, every time you hear it. May God the Holy Ghost now speak to your heart.

 

Proposition: God has a just controversy with man which must be settled. It is a controversy which must be settled. But the only one who can settle it is God himself.

 

Divisions: I want you to see three things in this text. This really is not my sermon, but Isaiah’s. And it sets forth these three points:

  1. The Goodness of God, which All Men Despise (vv. 2-3).
  2. The Universal Depravity of Man, which Calls for the Wrath of God (vv. 4-8).
  3. The Marvelous Election of Grace, which Opens a Door of Hope (v. 9).

 

Goodness Despised

 

1stIsaiah begins his message by telling us of  the goodness of God which all men despise (vv. 2-3).

 

(Isaiah 1:2-3) “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. (3) The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.”

 

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth. — Though he spoke in God’s name, with God’s authority, and by God’s power, Isaiah knew that unless God intervened the stars of heaven and the animals of the earth would be more likely to respond to his words than the fallen sons of man.

  • The very lights of heaven condemn the darkness of men.
  • And the fruitful field condemns the barrenness of man.

 

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken! — When the Lord God speaks, though he speaks by a man, we would be wise to hear with attention. Isaiah was a true prophet of God. That which he spoke was the very Word of God. Now hear what he says! The Lord God declares…

 

(Isaiah 1:2-3) “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. (3) The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.”

 

I have nourished and brought up children. — Though not all men and women are the children of God by adoption and grace, yet all are his children by creation (Acts 17:24-29).

 

(Acts 17:24-29) “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (25) Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; (26) And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (27) That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: (28) For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (29) Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”

 

God’s providence is especially designed for and accomplishes eternal good for his elect (Romans 8:28). But the goodness of God extends to all his creation (Psalm 145:8-10).

 

(Psalm 145:8-10) “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. (9) The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. (10) All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee.”

 

God causes his sun to shine upon the just and the unjust. He sends his rain upon the righteous and the wicked. Not all men and women know the goodness of God that you know. In fact very few know such goodness! — God has been good to you! He has nourished you and brought you up, as a father nourishes and brings up children.

  • God made you.
  • God sustains you.
  • God provides for you.
  • God is keeping you out of hell! — That is goodness!

 

Every morning you awake, you awake by an act of God’s goodness. Every night you lie down, you lie down upon the pillow of God’s goodness. And if you should meet with trouble, that too is an act of God’s great goodness. It is God warning you of judgment to come. — The goodness of God ought to lead you to repentance (Romans 2:4); but you harden your heart and despise his goodness!

 

All men, since the fall of Adam, despise God’s goodness.They have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider!Here the Lord charges all mankind with three infinitely evil crimes. These are charges God lays against you.

  • Treason — “They have rebelled against me.”
  • Ignorance, willful Ignorance — “Israel doth not know.”
  • Ingratitude — “My people doth not consider.”

 

“How hard our hearts by nature are,

Despising mercy great,

We live by our Creator’s care

And all His goodness hate!”

 

Universal Depravity

 

2ndIsaiah describes the universal depravity of mankind which provokes and calls for wrath of God (vv. 4-8).

 

(Isaiah 1:4-8) “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. (5) Why should ye be stricken anymore? Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. (6) From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. (7) Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. (8) And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.”

 

Sin is both a crime and disease of the heart that is common to all men everywhere in all ages. It is a universal malady. Notice the prophet’s words — “Ah sinful nation.” This is a lamentation, a cry of mourning. It came from the lips and pen of Isaiah. But Isaiah is speaking for God. Here is God bemoaning men! He speaks with holy indignation against our race and announces the sure consequence of our sin.

 

Our sin and guilt is set before us in unmistakable terms (v. 4).

 

(Isaiah 1:4) “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.”

 

What the Lord here says of the nation of Israel is true of us all, for all men are really but one nation, one race, and one family, sprung from one original father, Adam. And in him we all sinned (Romans 5:12). Our guilt and depravity is as inexcusable as it is wicked. Here the Lord God tells us seven things about our sin.

  1. The depravity of our race is a universal depravity. — “Ah, sinful nation!
  2. We are all full of sin, totally depraved. — “A people laden with iniquity.
  3. Sin is our very nature. — “A seed of evil-doers.” — We are the sinful seed of sinful stock!
  4. We are all propagators of corruption. — “Children that are corrupters.” — By Natural Generation! — By Our Influence!
  5. Originally and primarily, sin is the forsaking of God. — “They have forsaken the Lord.”
  6. Sin provokes God to anger. — “They have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger.”
  7. And sin is the constantly increasing degeneracy of our hearts. — “They are gone away backward.

 

Isaiah’s description of man’s depravity is very much like that which Paul gives in Romans 3:9-19.

 

(Romans 3:9-19) “What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; (10) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (13) Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: (14) Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: (15) Their feet are swift to shed blood: (16) Destruction and misery are in their ways: (17) And the way of peace have they not known: (18) There is no fear of God before their eyes. (19) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

 

God’s servants in all ages always agree. They all say the same thing. — They all see “eye to eye.”

  • All men are guilty of sin!
  • All men are justly condemned because of sin!
  • All men are helpless to change their state and condition before God!

 

Next, to make us see the evil consequences of sin, the Lord God describes it as that from which we cannot be retrieved by any form of correction (v. 5). He asks the question, — Why should ye be stricken anymore? Ye will revolt more and more.

  • Though God threatens, man will not change.
  • Though God punishes, the heart of man is unchanged.
  • Only the blood of Christ can remove the guilt of sin.
  • And only the grace of God can subdue the power of sin.

 

If God should shut the door against you and forever cast you aside in reprobation, it would be no more than you deserve (Proverbs 1:23-33).

 

(Proverbs 1:23-33) “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (24) Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (27) When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (28) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: (29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (30) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. (31) Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (32) For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (33) But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”

 

Sin is the fatal disease of our race (vv.5-6).Isaiah compares sin to a deadly disease, spreading through the body, covering every part, which will surely end in death unless God intervenes.

 

(Isaiah 1:5-6) “Why should ye be stricken anymore? Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. (6) From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.”

 

Sin is a disease that has taken root in our vital parts.

  • The whole head is sick.” — Reason and judgment are perverted.
  • The whole heart is faint.” — The affections of our hearts are all unclean.

 

And this malady has so overspread the mind and body and soul of man that there is no soundness in us.

  • No Sound Principles!
  • No Sound Thoughts!
  • No Sound Words!
  • No Sound Desires!
  • No Sound Works!

 

Everything about us festers, stinks, and rots with the leprosy of sin. And there is none to help, if God himself does not help.

  • The wounds cannot be closed.
  • The sores cannot be bound.
  • The leprosy cannot be healed.

 

As sin brought judgment to Judah and Jerusalem, it is sin that brings the wrath and judgment of God upon people today (v. 7-8).

 

(Isaiah 1:7-8) “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. (8) And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.”

 

Temporal judgments are forewarnings of eternal judgment. And eternal judgment is the just reward of our sin (Romans 6:23).

 

This is God’s controversy with man. He is holy. We are sin. Our sin is natural, and willful, and universal, and inexcusable. Our every breath provokes God to anger. We deserve to die. We must die. Our sin must be punished!

 

But, I do have good news for the sinners. There is hope for men, even the fallen sons of Adam.

 

Elect Remnant

 

In verse 9, Isaiah proclaims the marvelous election of grace, which opens the door of hope.

 

(Isaiah 1:9) “Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”

 

Thank God, there is a remnant according to the election of grace who shall be saved (Romans 11:5; 9:29). Who is that elect remnant? All who seek the righteousness of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 9:30-33).

 

(Romans 9:30-10:4) “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. (31) But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (32) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; (33) As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (1) Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

 

Election shuts the door of mercy against no one. Election opens the door to many. Were it not for God’s election of some from eternity, we would all have perished like Sodom under the wrath of God. Thank God for electing love!

 

(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Application

 

Your only hope of salvation and eternal life is faith in Christ. Trust Christ and live forever. If you will not trust him, you must forever die!

 

Illustration: Old Yeller

 

Come humble sinner, in whose breast

A thousand thoughts revolve;

Come with your guilt and fear oppressed,

And make this last resolve.

 

“I’ll go to Jesus, though my sins

Like mountains round me close;

I know His courts, I’ll enter in,

Whatever may oppose.

 

“Prostrate I’ll lie before his throne,

And there my guilt confess;

I’ll tell Him I’m a wretch undone

Without His sovereign grace.”

 

I’ll to the gracious King approach,

Whose scepter pardon gives;

Perhaps He may command my touch,

And then the suppliant lives!

 

Perhaps He will admit my plea,

Perhaps will hear my prayer;

But if I perish, I will pray,

And perish only there.

 

I can but perish if I go,

I am resolved to try;

For if I stay away, I know,

I must forever die.

 

But if I die with mercy sought,

When I the King have tried,

This were to die (Delightful thought!) —

As sinner never died!”

 

Children of God, bow now before the Lord your God and, as you realize what God has done for us by his grace, give thank and praise to him. Remember where God found you and saved you (Isaiah 50:1-3).

 

(Isaiah 51:1-3) “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. (2) Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. (3) For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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