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Sermon #17 Isaiah Series
Title: It shall be
well with the righteous
Text: Isaiah 3:10-11
Subject: God’s Promise to His Elect
Date: Sunday Evening — December 18, 2016
Readings: Merle Hart and Rex Bartley
I’ve got good news from God for you tonight. Open your Bible to Isaiah chapter 3. The Lord God has sent me here to tell you that it shall be well with the righteous. That is my message. — It shall be well with the righteous. What a great, blessed, sweet message from God to his saints upon the earth. — It shall be well with the righteous.
Actually, I have a word from God for every person within the sound of my voice. I come to you with both a message of comfort and a word of warning. You will find my text in Isaiah 3:10-11.
Š Here is a message of comfort, a word from God to all his people: — “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings.”
Š Here is a word of warning, a word from God to every wicked rebel, every unbeliever: — “Woe unto the wicked! It shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.”
Are you righteous? Then it shall be well with you. You shall eat the fruit of your doings. Are you wicked? Then I cry, with Isaiah, “Woe unto you!” Because you shall receive your just reward, you will surely die.
There are but two classes of people mentioned in our text, because there are but two classes of people in the world: — the righteous and the wicked. All of us fit into one of these two classes. There is no middle class before God. You are either righteous, or you are wicked. It has always been this way. Some are of “the seed of the woman” and some are the “seed of the serpent.”
Š In the first family there was a righteous man named Abel and a wicked man called Cain.
Š In the flood God destroyed the wicked in his wrath; but Noah, the representative of the righteous, was preserved in the ark.
Š Abraham had two sons: the child of the flesh, wicked Ishmael, and the child of promise whom the Lord made righteous, Isaac.
Š Isaac had two sons: wicked Esau whom the Lord hated and Jacob whom the Lord loved and made righteous in his sight.
Throughout the ages of history God has separated the precious from the vile, the righteous from the wicked. It is not God’s intention that the two should ever be mixed. The flood came upon the earth because the sons of God married the daughters of men. An unholy alliance was made between the Church and the world; and that alliance provoked God to anger in the highest degree.
The Lord God says to all his people, — “Come out from among them and be ye separate.” — “Be not conformed to this world.” Children of God, we must not, we dare not form alliances with men and women who hate our God! We must not choose our companions from among those who are enemies to Christ and the Gospel of his grace. God would have us to maintain a clear distinction between the righteous and the wicked, the precious and the vile.
Š God divided the light from the darkness. — The light he called day and the darkness he called night; and he would not have us to call light darkness nor darkness light.
Š They were not allowed to plow with an ox and an ass together.
Š They were not allowed to wear garments of linen and wool together. — Linsey Woolsey Doctrine
These things were forbidden in the law, because God, typically, was forbidding any unhallowed mixture of righteousness and wickedness, truth and error, or light and darkness. God will have a seed to serve him and fear him. They shall come without the camp bearing the reproach of his Son. And they shall be distinct from the seed of the serpent.
The crimson line which runs between the righteous and the wicked is the precious blood of Christ. It is the blood of Christ that distinguishes the one from the other. Faith in Christ is the great mark of distinction. As that faith grows, the distinction becomes more and more apparent and necessary for both the righteous and the wicked.
Which are you? Are you among the righteous, those who believe on Christ, being washed in his blood and robed in his righteousness? Or, are you among the wicked, those who believe not, those who look upon the blood and righteousness of Christ as useless things? May God make you to know your own condition before him and make you righteous in Christ.
Proposition: If you are among the righteous, I have a message of comfort for you. — If you are among the wicked, I have a word of warning for you.
Message of Comfort
First, here is a message of comfort for the righteous. I have this word from God, he commands me to deliver it to you — “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings.” Right in the middle of this message of doom, God carefully words a message of mercy. God is about to bring great calamities upon the nation: famine, war, and pestilence. But he says to his righteous ones among this wicked nation, “It shall be well.” — “There shall no evil happen to the just.”
Context of Judgment
Look at the context in which this promise is found. In the midst of horrible ungodliness, in the midst of a time of great evil and Divine judgment upon the nation of Israel, upon those who were called the people of God, when the whole nation was given over to idolatry and moral perversity, the Lord God says it shall be well with the righteous.
This chapter opens with Isaiah declaring the consequences of sin upon the nation.
(Isaiah 3:1) “For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water.”
In verses 2-7 the Lord God declared that he would make children rulers of the nation, not just silly children, petty, peevish, self-willed, selfish, childish adults, but wicked children. — Have we not witnessed the reality of that judgment in our nation? — Morally perverse rulers, in the Church-House and in the State-House are tokens of Divine judgment upon any society (Romans 1:18-32; Isaiah 3:8-9).
(Isaiah 3:8-9) “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings [are] against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory. 9 ¶ The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide [it] not. Woe unto their soul! For they have rewarded evil unto themselves.”
When sin, like a disease, runs through all the nation and through the professed Church of God, two things are always prominent:
Š And Immorality (Adultery, Fornication, Homosexuality).
In every age in history and in every society, the contempt of God, when those who wear his name in profession “cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despise the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:24), you can be certain that idolatry, immorality, adultery, pornography, fornication, and homosexuality will follow and will be promoted with the very violence of Sodom. They not only refuse to hide their ungodliness with shame, they violently promote it. — “Woe unto their soul! For they have rewarded evil unto themselves” (v. 9). — And so it is in our day!
Having forsaken the Rock of Ages, men will take any refuge and worship anything, except God our Savior. They will trust the reeds of Egypt, the myths of Greece, the spirits of Africa, and the mystic gods of India, rather than worship the God of all grace.
Blessed Lord Jesus, ever preserve us by your Spirit and by your grace, and cause us to see in the darkest hours of your just judgment that you alone are God and you alone are our Rock, the Rock of Our Salvation!
But God’s declaration of evil has only scratched the surface of things thus far. Read verses 13-24. The Lord God speaks of “the daughters of Zion” looking and dressing, walking and talking like common harlots. When fathers and mothers cast away God’s Word and God’s way, they lead their children to hell!
Children of God, take heed to the glaring testimonials before you of utter ungodliness.
Š What a reproach it is to the name of Christ for those who wear his name to dress and behave shamefully!
Š What a reproach it is to any man for his wife and/or daughters to dress indecently!
Š Yet, this is what happens when men and women “cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:24).
Those are the things that describe the judgment of God upon our nation and upon the church of this decadent, hedonistic age.
Still, right in the midst of this terrible denunciation of woe, the Lord God says to me, his servant, — “Say ye to the righteous, that [it shall be] well [with him]: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings” (Isaiah 3:10).” Who are these men and women that God calls “the righteous”?
Š There are none righteous by nature (Romans 3:9-19).
Š There are none capable of producing righteousness (Isaiah 64:6).
Š Not even all the religious works, devotions, and sacrifices we offer to God can make us righteous (Isaiah 1:10-14; 1:2-7).
Š That man who is righteous in the sight of God is one who is made righteous by God.
The only righteous people in this world are people who have been made righteous by the work of God our Savior, Jehovah-tsidkenu, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16). We have been made righteous in the sight of God by the gift and imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us. —— The Lord Jesus Christ is made of God unto us righteousness and we are the righteousness of God in him — (1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Gospel of Christ reveals three distinct and separate acts of imputation.
Š We sinned in our father Adam and, sinning in him, Adam’s sin is imputed to all the sons of Adam (Romans 5:12).
Š The sins of God’s elect were made Christ’s and imputed to him, when he was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).
Š The righteousness of Christ is imputed to every believer, and righteously imputed to us, because in Christ we obeyed God’s holy law in every detail (Romans 5:12-21).
(Romans 5:12) “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
(Romans 5:17-21) “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Children of God, our righteousness before God is an unalterable point of law and justice as well as mercy and grace. The law of God cannot reverse itself. The justice of God cannot declare us guilty (Romans 3:24-26; 4:8; 8:1, 32).
But, blessed be God, there is more to this business of salvation and righteousness than legality and points of law! All who are born of God have been made righteous by God in regeneration too (1 John 3:1-10). Salvation is not a “pretend game.”
Š God did not pretend that Christ was guilty. — He made him guilty!
Š God does not pretend that his people are righteous. — He makes chosen, redeemed sinners righteous by his omnipotent grace!
In regeneration the Holy Spirit imparts to us the righteousness of Christ. He implants within us a new heart of righteousness and a righteous nature.
Š The old man is not eradicated nor is he improved.
Š Our standing before God is not improved.
Š But a new nature is born within us (2 Corinthians 5:17). — “Made partakers of the Divine Nature!” — “The new man created in righteousness and true holiness!” — “For as he is so are we in this world!”
Š Warfare begins (Romans 7:14-24).
The righteous are those who are made righteous by God. What does God here promise to the righteous? — “It shall be well with him.” Now listen to me, child of God! — Are you listening? Read the statement as broadly as your heart’s imagination will allow. There are no limitations to the promise. There are no conditions to the promise. There are no qualifications in the promise. To the righteous God simply says — “It shall be well with him.” God, who cannot lie, made the promise (Romans 8:28). Our hearts respond, “Well, if God be for us, who can be against us. It shall be well with the righteous.” It shall be well with the righteous always, and at all times, and in all circumstances.
It is well with the righteous now — (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Š It shall be well with the righteous when all seems to be ill — (Jacob — Joseph).
Š It shall be well with the righteous when it is ill to everyone else — (The Widow at Zarephath).
Š When temptation comes, it shall be well with the righteous — (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Š When trials come, it shall be well with the righteous — (Hebrews 12:5-11; James 1:12).
Š When Satan buffets, it shall be well with the righteous.
Š When we are weak, it shall be well with the righteous — (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Š When we sin, it shall be well with the righteous — (I John 2:1-2).
Š When we fall, it shall be well with the righteous — (Peter). —— “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD [shall be] a light unto me” (Micah 7:8).
Š So long as we live on this earth, it shall be well with the righteous.
Š In the hour of death, it shall be well with the righteous — (Bro. Martin — Baxter).
Š In the judgment, it shall be well with the righteous — “Come ye blessed.”
Š In eternity, it shall be well with the righteous — (Revelation 21:4; 22:4).
(Revelation 21:1-4) “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
(Revelation 22:4) “And they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] in their foreheads.”
My friends, God promises that it shall be well with the righteous; and he wants you to believe and know it and enjoy the fact of it. It shall be well with the righteous.
What is the basis of this promise? Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, “Pastor, I know that this promise is written in the Bible, but how can I be sure that it shall be well with me?” If you are righteous, if you are a believer, if you are washed in the blood, born of the Spirit, and robed in the righteousness of Christ, it shall be well with you.
Let me give you seven solid pillars to support this promise which ought to greatly encourage your faith. It shall be well with the righteous, because…
1. Your greatest trouble is past. — Your sin and guilt has been removed (Isaiah 44:22-23; Romans 8:1).
2. Your greatest enemy has been defeated. — Satan.
3. Your indwelling sin, that old man of the flesh, is doomed.
4. Your God, who made this promise, rules all things.
5. You live upon a bank that will never be broken — The Bank of Grace (Hebrews 4:16).
6. You are not alone (Hebrews 13:5).
Š There is a Comforter within you.
Š There is an almighty arm upon which you may lean.
Š There is a gracious God walking with you.
7. The very justice of God demands that it shall be well with the righteous — “for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings.” That which you have done in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, your perfect, righteous obedience in him, demands that it shall be well with you. He merits all that is good; and by his merits you merit and shall have all that is good. — His obedience is your obedience! — His merit is your merit! — His doings are your doings! — His righteousness is your righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16).
Children of God, can you get hold of this blessed, comforting promise of good? — “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him.” In Christ, by virtue of our union with him, we are…
Š Well fed, for we feed upon his flesh and his precious blood.
Š Well dressed for we are robed with his righteousness, with the garments of his salvation!
Š Well housed, for the Lord himself is our Refuge, the eternal God is our Dwelling Place.
Š Well wed, for we are married to Christ.
Š Well provided for — “The Lord is the portion of my soul.”
But there is a dark side to our text. I will be brief in declaring it, but honesty compels me to tell you the truth. Here is a word of warning to the wicked. — “Woe unto the wicked! It shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.”
“Woe unto the wicked!” — The curse of the law and the judgment of God are upon you. It shall be ill to you who are wicked. Always, at all times, in all circumstances, it shall be ill to the wicked.
Š All is ill with you now.
Š All shall be ill to you as long as you live.
Š It shall be ill to you when you die.
Š It shall be ill to you in the judgment.
Š It shall be ill to you eternally.
And your eternal woe will be the just retribution of Divine justice upon you. — “For the reward of his hands shall be given him.” — “The wages of sin is death.” If you go to hell it will be your own fault. It will be the work of your own hands.
“Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him.” — All your temptations, all your darkness, all your wanderings, all your failures, all your falls God will overrule. It shall be well with you. There shall never be a night, but that morning shall come. There shall never be a day of trouble, but a day of prosperity shall follow. There shall never be an emptying, but there shall be a filling. There shall never be a bringing down, but that he will raise you up again. Let it be darkness or light, sorrow or grief, night or day, life or death, time or eternity, — “It shall be well with the righteous!” — If we knew what God knows, we would order every event of our lives just as God is doing it right now!
“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. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it].” (Isaiah 1:18-20)
Though all is “Woe unto the wicked” and woe to you, though you fully deserve to perish under the curse of God’s holy wrath and justice, righteousness is set before you in the Lord Jesus Christ. It can be had most freely and easily, if you desire (Isaiah 1:18-20).
Illustration: Charlotte Elliott (Brighton, England) was a bitter, unwed woman. Her health was completely broken at 30. And her disabilities had hardened her. Her parents were believers; but she was full of bitterness.
On one occasion the famous Swiss preacher and hymn writer, Cesar Malan, was a guest in her parents’ home. As her father and Malan spoke to one another about the goodness, mercy, grace, and love of God in Christ, Charlotte erupted in a violent outburst, terribly embarrassing her family before their honored guest. — “If God loved me, he would not have treated me this way!” — Her parents just left the room in embarrassment. The preacher stayed behind.
“Charlotte,” he said, “you are tired of yourself; and you are holding to your hate and anger because you have nothing else to hold to.” ——
She replied, “What, then, is your cure?” ——
He answered, “The very Christ you despise.” —— Charlotte softened a bit. “What shall I do?” she asked. —— “Come to Christ. Come to the Savior, with all your fear, and shame, and pride. Ask him to have mercy on you and give grace.” —— She replied, “Just come to Jesus Christ as I am?” —— “Yes,” he said.
Charlotte did just that. She came to Christ, just as she was. Fourteen years later, she wrote her spiritual biography in a one of the most well known hymns of the English language.
“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”