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Sermon #25 — Isaiah Series

 

Title:                           If ye will not believe…

 

Text:                            Isaiah 7:9-13

Subject:                     The Evil of Unbelief

Date:                          Sunday Evening — May 21, 2017

Readings:     Rex Bartley and David Burge

Introduction:

 

The source of all sin, depravity, and corruption in the heart of man, the root of all evil in the universe, is the horrible sin of unbelief. It is recorded in Genesis chapter three that our mother, Eve, being beguiled by the serpent, was persuaded to unbelief. She believed the devil’s lie without reason and did not believe God, whom she had every reason to believe. Such is the natural wickedness of the human heart to this day that we are all naturally inclined to believe the devil’s lie regarding all things, without the slightest justification for doing so, and naturally disinclined to believe God, when we have every reason for doing so.

 

Unbelief is the original and universal corruption of all men. It is the deepest seated of all corruptions. And it is both the worst of all corruptions and the father of all other corruptions. If pride is the mother of all sin, unbelief is the father.

 

Yes, I said, unbelief is the worst of all the corruptions of fallen humanity.

  • Nothing so highly honors God as believing him; and nothing so vilely dishonors God as unbelief.
  • Yet, horrible as this offense is, it is the sin we most readily excuse in rebels and most easily justify in ourselves.

In preaching this message, I want by the Word, power, and grace of God the Holy Ghost, to unmask this devil that yet resides in us all, expose its ugly face, and inspire our hearts to oppose it with vengeance.

 

When God the Holy Spirit comes in saving power and grace to chosen, redeemed sinners, the first thing he does is convince us of sin. Our Savior said, “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, because they belie not on me.” — The very essence of sin is unbelief.

 

(John 16:7-11) “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (8) And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (9) Of sin, because they believe not on me; (10) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; (11) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”

 

Isaiah Confronts Ahaz

 

Turn to Isaiah 7. In Isaiah 7, God sent his prophet, Isaiah, to confront Judah’s wicked king, Ahaz. Ahaz was probably the most wicked king ever to sit upon the throne of David in the house of Judah. He was a rank idolater. He revived the worship of Molech in the valley of Hinnom. He filled Jerusalem with graven images. He even caused his own sons to pass through the fire to Molech! Yet, this pagan king pretended to have great reverence for God!

 

When the kings of Syria and Samaria formed a confederacy to kill Ahaz and destroy Judah, Ahaz was terrified. But, instead of turning to God for help, he made arrangements to turn himself and the kingdom of Judah over to Tiglathpileser, the cruel, barbaric, pagan king of Assyria. He trusted not in the Lord God, but in the arm of the flesh. He turned for refuge not to the Lord God of Israel, but to the armies of the Assyrians.

 

God sent Isaiah to Ahaz to warn him not to look to the King of Assyria, but to the King of heaven, and to promise him deliverance from the hands of his enemies, if he would simply believe God. But Ahaz was obstinate in his unbelief. Isaiah 7 records Isaiah’s confrontation with Ahaz the King. — Let’s read verses 9-13. We will begin with the last sentence of verse 7.

 

(Isaiah 7:9-13) “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. (10) Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, (11) Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. (12) But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. (13) And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?”

 

“If ye will not believe…” — That is the title of my message. — “If ye will not believe…” — “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established…Hear now, O House of David, Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?” — The word “weary” means “disgust.” Unbelief wearies God! It disgusts the Almighty!

 

Unbelief

 

Unbelief is the wearying of God, the thing that disgusts the Almighty. Have you ever thought about the things attributed to unbelief in Holy Scripture? — Adam, Noah’s generation, Lot’s wife, Pharaoh, Israel, Nebuchadnezzar, the Scribes and Pharisees, the rich young ruler, Felix, Festus, and Agrippa all stand out as beacons to warn us of the danger of unbelief and its wearying of God. All unbelief is a matter of the will. Unbelief is a matter of choice. Unbelief is saying “no” to God in spite of the evidence.

Š      Our Savior, we are told, could do no mighty work in Capernaum because of the unbelief of the people (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5-6). — “He marveled because of their unbelief,” as he went through their villages preaching the gospel.

Š      All of that generation who came out of Egypt with Moses perished in the wilderness, except Joshua and Caleb.

Š      Israel was destroyed by unbelief (Romans 11).

Š      Sinners go to hell because of unbelief. — “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” — “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

 

The issue between you and God is his Son. God does not send folks to hell because they are liars, or thieves, or adulterers, or fornicators, or even sodomites, or murderers. God sends people to hell because they refuse to trust his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. — “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

 

If Ahaz had only believed God, Judah would have been saved and Ahaz would have been established in his throne. But he would not believe. And his unbelief was the cause of his ruin. — “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” This is God’s word to you and me, as well as it was his word to Ahaz.If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”

Š      To you who are lost, God says, — If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”

Š      To you who are God’s saints in this world, God says, — If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”

This is recorded in the Book of God for our learning and our instruction. It is recorded here by Divine Inspiration to encourage us to believe God. — If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”

 

Proposition: The cause of Ahaz’s ruin was his unbelief. — Because he chose not to believe God he could not be established.

 

Divisions: Let me talk to you briefly about four things.

1.    The Veracity of God

2.    The Evil of Unbelief

3.    The Nature of Faith

4.    The Cause of Instability

 

The Veracity of God

 

1st — I want to say something about the veracity of God. — How I wish I could persuade you, and fully persuade my own heart that God is true in all things and deserves to be believed. He is worthy of our most implicit faith and confidence (Psalms 100:5; 117:1-2; 119:160).

Š      God is True to His Purposes.

Š      God is True to His Promises.

Š      God is True to His People.

 

(Psalm 100:5) “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

 

(Psalm 117:1-2) “O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. (2) For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth forever. Praise ye the LORD.”

 

(Psalm 119:160) “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.”

 

The Lord God has proved the veracity of his Word. — Has he not?

Š      Is there a promise he has not kept?

Š      Is there a prophecy he has not fulfilled?

 

A good many of us here have proved his faithfulness in many ways for many years (Lamentations 3:1-58).

Š      His Goodness

Š      His Providence

Š      His Forgiveness

Š      His Preservation

 

(Lamentations 3:21-26) “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. (22) It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (24) The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (25) The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (26) It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.”

 

(Lamentations 3:31-32) “For the Lord will not cast off for ever: (32) But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.”

 

(Lamentations 3:55-58) “I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon. (56) Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. (57) Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. (58) O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.”

 

The gospel I preach to you is as true and faithful as the God for whom I speak (John 3:16; 1 John 1:9; 5:1). — “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.

 

(John 3:16) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

(1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

Š      The Covenant of Grace is True!

Š      The Accomplishment of Redemption is True!

Š      The Offer of Free Pardon is True!

 

God is true. If you get nothing else I say, I pray that you will get hold of this, God is true. He deserves to be believed. God is worthy of our faith.

 

The Evil of Unbelief

 

2nd — I want us to see something of the evil of unbelief. — The greatest, most abominable evil in this world is the horrible sin of unbelief (1 John 5:10). Yet unbelief is the nature of man and the bent of man’s will.

 

Both faith and unbelief involve the will. Our text says, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” Believing is a matter of the will. No one believes without willing to believe. Faith is a gift of God wrought in us, not upon us. He works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. He gives us a will to believe. Faith is not a decision, but it is a voluntary thing.

Š      If I believe God, I do so willingly. And unbelief is a voluntary thing.

Š      If you refuse to believe God, you do so voluntarily, you choose to do so.

Š      And your unbelief is your own fault. It is a crime for which you must bear all blame and guilt.

 

As John Bunyan said of sin, Unbelief “is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, and the contempt of his love!”

 

15 Charges

 

Here are fifteen charges that must be laid at the feet of unbelief, fifteen crimes against God that must be laid at the feet of all who refuse to believe God, at the feet of all who refuse to trust Christ. — If you refuse to believe on the Son of God, I lay these fifteen charges at your feet, God lays these fifteen charges against you.

 

  1. Unbelief denies the truth of the gospel (Depravity — Election — Redemption — Grace).
  2. Unbelief is man’s determined refusal to bow to Christ the Lord (Luke14:25-33).
  3. Unbelief is refusal to submit to the righteousness of God in Christ (Romans 10:1-4).
  4. It is against God. It is the greatest reproach of God (Isaiah 7:11-13). As faith gives glory to God (Romans 4:20), unbelief casts reproach and scorn upon him.
  5. Unbelief robs God of the honor of all his attributes. — It denies the truth and veracity of God. He that believes “sets to his seal that God is true” (John 3:33). Unbelief makes him a liar (Hebrews 6:17-18; Ezekiel 33:11; 1 John 5:10).
  6. It casts a black aspersion upon the wisdom of God in the sacrifice of his Son and charges God with folly in sending his Son to die in the place of sinners, denying the need such a sacrifice!
  7. Unbelief denies the goodness, mercy, grace, and love of God, while pretending to defend and reverence him, just as Ahaz did!
  8. Leaning upon the arm of the flesh and refusing to lean upon the arm of the Lord, unbelief makes the power and sufficiency of God nothing.
  9. Refusing to bow to the Lord, unbelief strikes at the sovereignty and authority of God. It is man’s attempt to unseat the Almighty and throw him off his throne!
  10. Unbelief is the contradiction of man to the resolute and fixed will of God that Christ be glorified.
  11. Unbelief is an affront to the holiness, justice, and righteousness of God, asserting that Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice for sin does nothing to set forth the righteousness of God!
  12. Unbelief is the stripping God, as much as lies in man, of all his delight; for the obedience Christ, the man that is God’s fellow, the delight of Jehovah, is contemptible to an unbeliever.
  13. Unbelief is the piercing of Christ (Zechariah 12:10), crucifying Christ, trampling his blood underfoot, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29).
  14. Unbelief is resisting the Holy Ghost (Acts 7:51; Hebrews 3:10, 17).
  15. Unbelief is the weariness of God, making God disgusted (Isaiah 7:13; Hebrews 3:10-17).

 

You are without excuse. God has spoken. Your unbelief is voluntary. You believe not God because you choose not to believe him.

 

(2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2) “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (12) For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. (13) For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. (14) For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (16) Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. (17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”

 

The Nature of Faith

 

3rd — Let me talk to you for just a few minutes about the nature of faith. — What is faith? Faith is taking God at his Word (Hebrews 11:1-3).

Š      About Creation!

Š      About Himself!

Š      About His Son!

Š      About Myself!

Š      About His Salvation!

Š      About His Providence!

 

(Hebrews 11:1-6) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (4) By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (5) By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (6) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

Now be sure you understand this: —Faith is not merely…

Š      Believing that there is a God.

Š      Believing that God exists.

Š      Believing in God.

Faith is believing God; and believing God is believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Go back to John 16. The whole revelation of God is Christ. The whole testimony of God in Holy Scripture is about Christ. To believe God is to believe the testimony he has given of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in Holy Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).

 

(1 Corinthians 2:1-2) “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. (2) For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

 

(John 16:7-11) “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (8) And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (9) Of sin, because they believe not on me; (10) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; (11) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”

 

Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is doing the work of God. Faith in Christ glorifies God. And faith in Christ sees and experiences the glory of God in the accomplishment of redemption by his obedience unto death as the sinner’s Substitute (Hebrews 11:6; John 6:28-29; 11:40; 2 Corinthians 4:6). — The highest form of praise in the universe is faith, believing God!

 

(Hebrews 11:6) “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

 

(John 6:28-29) “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? (29) Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

 

(John 11:40) “Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”

 

(2 Corinthians 4:6) “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

 

The Cause of Instability

 

4th — Back in Isaiah 7:9, we see the cause of all instability. — “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” First, and foremost, that means if you do not trust Christ, you will not be established in the kingdom of God. If you do not believe God, you will be lost forever.

 

But Isaiah’s words speak to you who are the children of God in this world, to you and me, God’s people. — “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. — That means…

Š      If you will not trust, you will not be trusted.

Š      If you will not confide, you will not abide.

Š      No belief, no relief!

Š      If you will not believe, you will not be firm, you will not be fixed.

 

If you will not believe, you will not be…

Š      Established in Comfort (Isaiah 40:29-31; John 14:1-3). — The secret to peace is believing God.

 

(Isaiah 40:29-31) “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.”

 

(John 14:1-3) “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. (2) In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

 

Š      Established in Doctrine.

Š      Established in Hope.

Š      Established in Service and Usefulness (Zephaniah 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:58).

 

(Zephaniah 3:16) “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.”

 

(1 Corinthians 15:58) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

 

Application

 

O sinner, God is greater in mercy than you are in sin. He is more willing to forgive than you are to transgress. And he is more able to save than you are to do evil. But, “if ye will not believe, ye surely shall not be established.” God help you to believe! Believe God, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be established, firm, and fixed forever.

 

(Matthew 11:28-30) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

(Romans 10:11) “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

 

Child of God, take the words of Jehoshaphat home with you, as you go out into the dark wilderness his world. As the people of Judah went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa, Jehoshaphat their king said — “O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established: believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:0).

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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