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Sermon #15 Isaiah Series
Title: “Cease Ye from Man”
Text: Isaiah 2:22
Subject: The Idolatry of Trusting the Flesh
Date: Sunday Evening — November 27, 2016
Readings: Lindsay Campbell and Mark Henson
Let’s read Isaiah chapter 2 together.
(Isaiah 2:1-22) “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. (2) And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. (3) And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (4) And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (5) O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
(6) Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. (7) Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: (8) Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: (9) And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.
(10) Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. (11) The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. (12) For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: (13) And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, (14) And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, (15) And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, (16) And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. (17) And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
(18) And the idols he shall utterly abolish. (19) And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
(20) In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; (21) To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. (22) Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?”
Our text will be verse 22. — “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?”
Throughout these first two chapters Isaiah has been exposing the perverse idolatry of his nation. So base, so vile, so perverted had his people become that they even turned the oracles of God into idolatry. Their sacrifices, their prayers, their religious services, and their holy days had all degenerated into base paganism, so that God had become weary of them (Isaiah 1:10-15; 66:3-4).
(Isaiah 1:10-15) “Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. (11) To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. (12) When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? (13) Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. (14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. (15) And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”
(Isaiah 66:3-4) “He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. (4) also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.”
Fallen Men Idolaters
All men by nature, since the fall of our father Adam, are idolaters. Our nature is so corrupt that we crave something audible, visible, and tangible as the object of our trust and confidence. We cannot be content with that which is purely spiritual.
Š Man cannot see God. Therefore, he will not trust him.
Š Man cannot hear God speak. Therefore, he will not obey him.
Š Man cannot touch God. Therefore, he will not bow before him.
Š Man by nature is an idolater.
And this fact is true even among those who are truly born of God. Our old nature, after conversion, is no different than it was before. It is only subdued and held in check by grace. So long as sin remains in us, so long as we are in this body of flesh, our tendency, the bent of our nature, will be toward idolatry. Our flesh grows weary of God, who is Spirit and must be worshipped in Spirit and in truth. We all want to worship something we can see, touch, and hear. That is a sad fact. But it is a fact. — Fallen men are idolaters! Man, by nature, is an idolater. John’s admonition is always seasonable: — “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:20).
Century after century, God sent his Word to Israel. And century after century, Israel turned aside to idols. The Jews were, by far, the most spiritual and most enlightened of all men. They were a people educated by miracles, enlightened by the oracles of God, ruled by the law of God, and instructed by the word of God’s prophets. Yet, they continually went after the gods of the heathen! Everything God did for them should have taught them to trust him.
Š He led them out of Egypt.
Š He opened the Red Sea.
Š He fed them with manna from heaven.
Š He gave the water out of the rock.
Š He sheltered them by a pillar of cloud.
Š He gave them light by a pillar of fire.
Israel was alone in the wilderness with God. Yet, they cried to Aaron, “Make us gods to go before us;” and he complied without a moment’s hesitation! — Idolatry is the nature of man!
Š While Moses was in the mount, Aaron was making golden calves (Exodus 32:1-6).
Š God gave them a brazen serpent to typify Christ; and they worshipped the serpent (2 Kings 18:4).
Š God caused Balaam to bless his people; but they turned aside to the gods of Baalpeor (Numbers 25:1-3).
In Isaiah’s day, after experiencing God’s great goodness for more than a thousand, after more than a thousand years of special revelation and special providence from the invisible God, Israel still turned aside to their idols.
Š They trusted their wealth, and despised the treasures of God’s grace (v. 7).
Š They trusted horses and chariots, and despised God’s power (v. 7).
Š They trusted their graven images, and despised God (vv. 8-9).
(Isaiah 2:7-9) “Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: (8) Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: (9) And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.”
In a word, the men and women of Israel placed great confidence in man, worshipping “the work of their own hands” (v. 8), and calling it the worship of God. They trusted themselves, and refused to trust the Lord God.
Things are no better today. Our nature is so twisted and perverted that mankind seems to always be under the spell of witchcraft and idolatry.
Š Men trust wealth and despise providence.
Š Men trust power and despise grace.
Š Men trust religious forms, symbols, and ceremonies, and despise the power and Spirit of God.
Š Men trust their own obedience to God’s law, and despise Christ’s obedience.
Š They trust their own righteousness, and despise Christ’s righteousness.
Š Men trust “the work of their own hands,” and despise the work of Christ.
Š Men trust their “sacrifices” (religious gifts, philanthropy, good works, etc.), and despise Christ’s sacrifice.
Š “Good Baptists” consult with witches, palm readers, soothsayers, and astrological signs, and ignore the Word of God!
As children must have their toys, the sons of Adam must have their idols. Though God made man upright, he has sought out many inventions.
But there is one form of idolatry more vile, more wretched, more deadly than any other. There is one form of idolatry more obnoxious to God than any other. It is horrible to worship money. It is vile to worship power. It is base to worship graven images. But the most horrible, base, vile form of idolatry in this world is the worship of self! God the Holy Ghost describes man’s worship of himself as “will worship” in Colossians 2:23. And here, in Isaiah 2:8, he calls it the worship of your own work. Fallen man worships himself! That is the most foolish and most sinful thing in the world.
(Colossians 2:6-15) “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: (7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (8) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (11) In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (12) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
(Colossians 2:16-23) “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (17) Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (18) Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (19) And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. (20) Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (21) (Touch not; taste not; handle not; (22) Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? (23) Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.”
Idolatry, in all its many forms and deeds, is but “the satisfying of the flesh!” — Nothing else! — Just “the satisfying of the flesh!”
Let’s look at Isaiah 2:22 together. — “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” — It is written, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm” (Jeremiah 17:5).
Proposition: If we would be accepted of God, we must cease from man. — You cannot worship, trust, and serve the Lord God until you cease from man, until you quit trusting yourself.
Stop Trusting the Flesh
1st — Hear what God says by the prophet Isaiah. — “Cease ye from man.” — Stop trusting, following, and worshipping man. Cease to place confidence in man. And trust Christ alone. — Stop trusting the flesh! Obviously, the text implies that we all have a natural tendency to trust man. We all have a tendency to trust the flesh. We are here called upon to reverse our conduct and cease from man.
Š Cease trusting others!
Š Cease trusting self!
If you would be saved by the grace of God in Christ, you must cease from man. — John Gill was certainly on the mark when he suggested that Isaiah is saying, “Cease ye from the man, the man of sin, antichrist.” You will never know and worship God until you come out of and cease to follow the religion of antichrist (Isaiah 48:20; 52:11-12; Jeremiah 51:6-10; 2 Corinthians 6:17; Revelation 18:4).
(Isaiah 48:20) “Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.”
(Isaiah 52:11-12) “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. (12) For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.”
(Jeremiah 51:6-10) “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. (7) Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. (8) Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. (9) We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. (10) The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God”
(2 Corinthians 6:17) “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”
(Revelation 18:4) “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
You will never be saved until you cease to trust your soul to any mere man.
Š No Mediator but Christ.
Š No Priest but Christ.
Š No Holy Father but Christ.
God will never accept you, receive you, and be a Father unto you until you cease to trust yourself (Luke 18:9-14).
(Luke 18:9-14) “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: (10) Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. (11) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. (12) I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (13) And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. (14) I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Š Salvation is not by your good works, but by God’s work of grace (Romans 9:16).
Š Salvation is not by your will, but by God’s will (Romans 9:16).
Š Salvation is not by your works of righteousness, but by Christ’s work of righteousness (Romans 5:19).
Š Sin is not atoned for by your sacrifices, but by Christ’s sacrifice (Hebrews 9:27).
Š Acceptance with God is in Christ alone! — “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31) “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
This word is also sent to us who are the children of God by faith in Christ. — “Cease ye from man.” The tendency of our nature is to idolize man. Many who would never think of worshipping at a crucifix or even wearing one, bow, and scrape, and grovel before men, as if God’s work depended on man. — “Cease ye from man.”
Š We must not trust the horses and chariots of Egypt.
Š We must stop trusting the silver and gold of men.
Š We must cease being intimidated by the fear of man.
Š We must stop being motivated by the favor of men.
“Cease ye from man” because you have come to know the God-man, Christ Jesus. What man can be compared to him? Throw yourself entirely upon El-Shaddai, God all-sufficient. He will do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.
Š No man but Christ can give peace.
Š No man but Christ can supply my spiritual needs.
Š No man but Christ can protect my interests.
Š No man but Christ can provide for my body and soul.
Cease to idolize man by courting his approval or fearing his disapproval.
And this word is given to the church of God. — “Cease ye from man.” I say to you, men and women of Grace Baptist Church, “Cease ye from man!” Far too often, even in the church of God, men make an idol of man. That must not be!
Š Human opinion must never rule the church of God.
Š Human power must never be the strength of God’s church.
Š Human custom and tradition must never supplant the Word of God.
Š Human aid must never be counted upon.
God’s church is not built with the wood, hay, and stubble of flesh, but with the gold, silver, and precious stones of the gospel!
2nd — Now, look at the second part of our text. — “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils!” — How foolish it is to trust or fear such an insignificant creature as man. — His breath is in his nostrils! What does that mean? It means that …
Š Man is a very feeble creature. — Grass is stronger!
Š Man is a very frail creature. — Death takes him with ease!
Š Man is a very fickle creature. — You cannot trust him!
Š Man is a very fearful creature. — He flees a shadow!
Š Man is a very fading creature. — He will soon be gone!
3rd — Now read the last line of our text. — “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” — Every man must first cease from himself and then cease from all other men, because neither we ourselves nor anyone else is of any significance or consequence (Isaiah 40:1-31).
(Isaiah 40:1-31) “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. (2) Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
(3) The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (4) Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: (5) And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
(6) The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: (7) The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. (8) The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (9) O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
(10) Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: —— behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. (11) He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (12) Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? (13) Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? (14) With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
(15) Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. (16) And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. (17) All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.
(18) To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto him? (19) The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. (20) He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.
(21) Have ye not known? Have ye not heard? Hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? (22) It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: (23) That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. (24) Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. (25) To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.
(26) Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. (27) Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? (28) Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. (29) He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (30) Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: (31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
God help me to live as if there were no one in the world but God. Then, though there be billions of men around me, they cannot sway me. — Man is nothing! Man is utterly insignificant! — “Cease ye from man!”
Š Some of you have been trying to save yourselves. — “Cease ye from man” (Galatians 2:20-21).
Š We are all too much affected by men. — “Cease ye from man” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
(Habakkuk 2:17-19) “For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein. (18) What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? (19) Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.”
Š Some of you yet cling to the man of sin, antichrist and his religion. — “Cease ye from man” (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).
(2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (1) Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
Precious Savior! Give me grace to lie low in the dust before you, convinced that I am nothing and less than nothing! I can merit nothing from you, my God. I look to you, alone, my Redeemer, for all I need and for all my soul can require, for grace in this life and glory in that which is to come. Give me grace, my God, to cease from man, to cease from self, to cease from every imaginary creature confidence. — O my God, give me confidence in you! Give me grace to sing with your redeemed…
(Psalm 18:2) “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
(Psalm 27:1) “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
(Psalm 28:7) “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”
(Psalm 118:14) “The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.”
 They bow down and humble themselves before their idols, before the works of their own hands!