Turn once again, if you would, to Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah chapter 6.
The title of my message tonight is, Holiness is Not an Option. Our text is going to be Isaiah 6, 1 through 8, but I want to put our text in a context. If we were to read the first five chapters of Isaiah, they paint a very bleak picture. And we're going to read a portion of chapter 5 in a moment, but I want to give some background.
A.W. Tozer wrote this concerning the church in his day, quote, With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine presence. We've lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence.
In its place are programs, methods, organizations, and a world of nervous activities, which occupy time and attention, but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world, which marks our promotional methods, all testify that we in this day know God only imperfectly and the peace of God scarcely at all. What may be shocking to you, beloved, is the fact that he wrote that in 1948.
In 1948. I want to begin the sermon tonight with a question. Are you growing in your awe and adoration of God as evidenced by your own active pursuit of holiness?
Let me read that again. Are you growing in your awe and adoration of God as evidenced by your own active pursuit of holiness? Some background information. Isaiah means the Lord is salvation. When called by God to prophesy in the year of King Uzziah's death, he obeyed, though he knew from the beginning that his ministry would be one of fruitless warning and exhortation.
It's important for us to understand the setting in which Isaiah wrote from the opening verses. He writes, alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corruptors. They have forsaken the Lord. They have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel.
They have turned away backward. Isaiah condemned the empty ritualism of his day and the idolatry into which so many of the people had fallen. He repeatedly warned them about the terror of the Lord and the glory of his majesty. In Chapter two, he prophesied that the lofty looks of man shall be humbled. The haughtiness of men should be bowed down and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. A reference to a coming judgment day. Yet his message of condemnation was also laced with hope.
From the very beginning of this book, God appealed to Judah. Come now and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they should be white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson, they will be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Instead of heeding the warning, beloved, note what Isaiah says of Judah in Chapter five, beginning with verse 12b.
Chapter five, beginning with 12b. He says of Judah, they do not regard the work of the Lord nor consider the operation of his hands. And I want us to note the clear warnings that follow in verses 18 through 25. And I want us to see the same scornful disregard for God and exaltation of evil that is current in our day today.
And let me say this. I'm going to read verses 18 and 19 and pause and then we'll continue from 19 to 25. But Isaiah five, beginning with verse 18. God says, woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity and sin, as it were, with a cart rope that say, let him make speed and hasten his work that we may see it.
Let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come that we may know it. And we pause here to note the sarcasm and scorn for which they say this. Commentators that I studied state that it's as though the taunting unbelievers are saying, where is the judgment of which you've spoken, Isaiah?
Bring it on. We'll believe it when we see it. This challenge for God to chase and hasten his judgment represented their disbelief in the Holy One of Israel and would judge.
He would judge the people. This reminds me and I'm sure you of what is written in Second Peter three, three and four. And we see the parallel.
Some things never change. Wickedness is always present. Listen to these verses.
Second Peter three, three and four. We read that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts and saying, where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. What do we see in America? What do we see in the world at large? Apathy, agnosticism and a growing atheism are increasing in our day. Now, Isaiah continues his warning, picking up in verse 20, if you'll notice. Chapter five, verse 20. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight. Woe to men mighty at drinking wine.
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe and take away justice from the righteous man. Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root will be as rotten as and their blossom will ascend like dust, because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts and despise the word of the Holy One of Israel. And beloved, we end our reading with first half of verse 25. God says, therefore, the anger of the Lord is aroused against his people. It's against this morally dark backdrop that we begin in our text on Isaiah six. John MacArthur states in preparation for his calling, Isaiah to be a prophet who would proclaim coming judgment.
God gave him a vision of his majestic holiness so overwhelming that it devastated him and made him realize his own sinfulness. I want to insert here something that I mentioned in my Sunday school class this morning. I was going over the notes this morning before coming to church and my wife had the radio on a Christian instrumental music station.
And the words to the song, and I don't remember the title of it right now necessarily, but the words of the song were taken from Isaiah six. As I studied the text of Isaiah six and I heard the words of that song, I was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed. And the best way that I can describe it, I just felt like my spirit was lifted. I don't know how else to describe it. The magnitude, the majesty, the wonder of God's holiness and God's glory.
Just overwhelming. As we continue this message, it reminds us of Job. Now, keep in mind, it was said of Job by God himself that there's none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.
A pretty respectable believer. At the end of the book, God rebukes Job for questioning him. And Job replied, I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.
Therefore, I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes. He had a clearer vision of God as Isaiah did. Like Job, Isaiah feared God when he addressed him as the Lord of hosts, the mighty one of Israel. Like Job, Isaiah will be given a clearer picture of the might and the splendor of God, and this will have a profound impact on him. I want us to begin tonight, number one, with a point in time. Notice the first part of verse one in chapter six, in the year that King Uzziah died.
A little bit of background. King Uzziah died after Isaiah's call to service. Although he sought the Lord and did what was right in his sight, he flouted God's holiness. There was much good to be said of Uzziah, but I think it went to his head, and he entered the temple and tried to offer an offering before the Lord. In Second Chronicles, we read, when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.
The result of his pride, beloved, he ended his life living alone as a leper. Commentators state that Isaiah received the prophecies of the first five chapters after his call, but then, for whatever reason, in chapter six, he returns to describe how and when he was called. So chapters one through five, he's giving this prophecy, part of it that goes on through the book, but then there's kind of a parentheses in chapter six, and he tells how and when he received this calling of God. And if you read those five chapters, you will see that that supports that claim.
So we see a point in time in the year that King Uzziah died, but secondly, a personal experience. The second part of verse one, all the way to verse four, and first, what I want you to see in verse one, he says, I saw the Lord, I saw the Lord. The context of John 12, 41 through 45 clearly links Jesus to this vision of Isaiah.
Let me read that to you. These things Isaiah said when he saw his glory and spoke of him, nevertheless, even among the rulers, many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Then Jesus cried out and said, he who believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me. And numerous commentators that I read said that Jesus is the Lord Isaiah saw. Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Jesus is the Adonai of Isaiah six.
He is the Lord who claims obedience and service. Looking in John, or first John three, two and three, we read, beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope, now get this, everyone who has this hope in him, purifies himself just as he is pure. And my question is this, can you, can I say that we are pursuing this purity in our efforts to be Christlike?
Let me say that again. Can you say that you are pursuing this purity in your efforts to be Christlike? We shall see him as he is, and everyone who has this hope in him, purifies himself just as he, Jesus, is pure. The second part of verse one states, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. I wish that we could vision that, if we could see a vision of that, that would be fantastic as Isaiah did. I even wish that we could hear Isaiah say what he said.
We can say the words, but without the tone and the inflection and the emotion, they don't mean as much. Sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, this is a reference to God's transcendency as the most high God. In Isaiah 55, eight and nine, we read, for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts and your thoughts.
We really have to stop for a minute and ponder that. As high as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts and your thoughts. And this God, whose thoughts are that much farther above mine, listens to my pathetic praise and prayer. Have we lost the wonder of the fact that we have audience with this King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
It makes me ponder. Am I truly pursuing holiness as I should be? We go on, the train of his robe filled the temple. The length of the king's train symbolized his greatness. The Lord's train filled the heavenly temple Isaiah saw. In other words, there's no room for any God but Jehovah as the unrivaled King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And commentators say indeed that the central theme of the book is God himself who does all things for his own sake. And I would say, beloved, that includes saving our souls.
It's first and foremost for his glory. Listen to Isaiah 48 nine through 11. He says, For my sake I will defer my anger and for my praise I will restrain it from you so that I do not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction for my own sake.
For my own sake I will do it. For how should my name be profaned and I will not give my glory to another? If you put the verses that I just read in the context of the first five chapters and the judgment that comes after Chapter six, you see the long suffering of God and every one of us sitting here tonight should be thankful for his long suffering.
We deserve none of it, none of it. And we paint this dark picture of what Judah was like, blasphemy, idol worship. And God says, I'm willing to give you a second chance, though your sins are as scarlet.
They'll be as white as snow. And as I said, as with all things, the gift of eternal life likewise is fundamental for the glory of God. He saves us for his glory. We go on to verse two, above it, referring to God's throne, above it stood seraphim. Each one had six wings.
With two he covered his face and with two he covered his feet. With two he flew and one cried to another and said, holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory. Verse two, we see what the seraphim are. They are fiery, angelic creatures. Listen to this description of seraphim in Psalm 104. It states that Jehovah, quote, makes his angel spirits, his ministers a flame of fire. Fire in the Bible is expressive of irresistible power, immaculate holiness, and ardent emotion. The seraphim have their name from a root signifying to burn and the altar from which one of them took the live coal.
And verse six is a symbol of the highest form of holiness. If we could just envision what that would be like to see this similitude of God sitting on a throne high and lifted up in these burning seraphim, crying, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. Well, we've seen what they are.
What do they do? I've mentioned they acknowledge the person of Jehovah by covering their face because of the overwhelming glory of God's presence. By covering their feet, they acknowledge their own loneliness and their glorious service. Verse three, what do they say? We've seen what they are, fiery, angelic creatures. We see what they do, pay homage and worship to God.
What do they say? Verse three, and one cried to another and said, holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory. And like these seraphim, beloved, the four living creatures of Revelation four, quote, do not rest day or night saying, holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. And I would submit, perhaps what is obvious, that'll never get boring. It'll never get boring to hear that choral speaking, holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.
It will be music to our ears. The seraphim magnify God's glory by stating that the whole earth is full of it, and they magnify God's holiness by repeating it three times. The triplicate is the strongest way the Hebrew language can express something. And this underscores God's extreme unsurpassed level of holiness. The word holy implies absolute moral purity and majestic separateness above creation. My senior Bible class, I try to emphasize to them that holiness of God has a moral side. He is perfect, free from any sin.
He is light, and in him is no darkness at all. And it has a majestic side, a majestic side that everyone who saw a glimpse of the glory of God fell prostrate on the ground. And we would do the same.
We would do the same. Notice what R.C. Sproul wrote concerning this. And I love this. He says the holiness of God is not one single aspect of God, but a synonym for his deity. What does he mean? Every aspect of God's character flows out of his holiness. His love is a holy love. His justice is a holy justice. His knowledge is a holy knowledge and his mercy is a holy mercy.
It's part of who God is. Notice verse four. And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of the seraphim who cried out. And the house was filled with smoke.
The words cried out conveyed the idea of proclaiming strongly. MacArthur states that the shaking of the door posted the sound of the seraphim and the smoke symbolized God's holiness as it relates to his wrath and his judgment. Listen to what Moses said in Exodus 19. It says in Exodus 19, Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace and the whole mountain quaked greatly.
When we go to the last book of the Bible in Revelation chapter 15, we read about the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. And we read that the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power. And the point we're making is if we can just envision the awesomeness, if I can use that word, of the vision that Isaiah saw.
And you will see the impact that it has on him next because point three is this, a proper reaction. What Isaiah said is found in the first part of verse five. He'd seen this vision. He heard the seraphim cry, Holy, Holy, Holy. And verse five says, So I said, woe is me, for I am undone. I'd love to know how he said that. Woe is me, for I am undone.
That's a personal lamentation. Isaiah's vision made him painfully aware of his sin and it has broken him. In this way, God has prepared him for his cleansing and his commission. He said further, I'm undone.
The word undone means to be brought to silence. If we were to put that in the vernacular of our day, he was awestruck. He was dumbfounded. He saw this vision of God and it left him absolutely speechless.
And as I sat there getting ready to come up, the sense again occurred to me. No human being can possibly describe the greatness of what we read in Isaiah chapter six. There are words on a page, a picture's worth a thousand words.
In this, a picture would be worth infinity. Just one glimpse of the glory, the majesty, the holiness of God, and we would say, woe is me, I am undone. Our sense of contrition over personal sins will parallel our understanding of who God is and his holiness. I want to read that again. I want to read a verse and then give you a definition for contrition. Let me say it again. Our sense of contrition over personal sins will parallel our understanding of who God is and his holiness. There's one person on this earth that I definitely do not want to hurt or offend right there.
Why? Because we are one. You see what I'm saying? And the bottom line is this, folks, we ought to have that kind of feeling of obligation, duty, love for God, that in no way do we want to offend him and that our sin is an offense, sins of omission, failing to do what we know we should do, sins of commission, doing those things that we know we should not do. Listen to the verse Isaiah again, 57 verse 15. For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy. I dwell on a high and holy place with him who has a contrite and humble spirit to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Well, many of you may know what contrite means.
Strong's dictionary puts a little beef to it. He said contrite is the Hebrew word meaning to crumble, to break in pieces, to humble, to oppress, to smite. If you put that in our vernacular today, this speaks of being brokenhearted over your sins against God who is holy.
That's the bottom line. He had a contrite and humble spirit. Woe is me, for I am undone.
Contrite means brokenhearted over sin. Why Isaiah said it? We looked at what he said, but why did he say it? Look at verse 5b. He says because I'm a man of unclean lips. Woe is me.
Why? Because I'm a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts. Unclean lips, one commentator that I read stated the words of one's lips reflect the state of one's heart. For as Jesus said, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. So Isaiah said I'm a man of unclean lips because he knew what was in his heart. Isaiah saw the pure holiness of God.
Isaiah heard the pure praise from the seraphim. Isaiah realized that his lips, which had been contaminated by sin, were not worthy to be instruments of perfect praise to the thrice holy God. You know, that ought to make us be more careful about our speech.
How can fresh water and salt water come from the same fountain, that text? I think that we're too loose with our speech many times. I think that we ought to guard our tongues as much as we guard our hearts. Quite honestly, as Jesus said, out of the heart, the mouth speaks. So it's a barometer to our condition before the Lord.
Now, we go on to see number four, a purifying removal. Verses six and seven. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he'd taken with tongs from the altar.
And he touched my mouth with it and said, Behold, this has touched your lips. Your iniquity is taken away and your sin purged. Your iniquity is taken away.
The Hebrew word means to remove. Listen to Psalm 103, verses 10 through 14. And I love this verse, and I thank God in personal prayer for what is contained in this, these two verses.
Listen to this again. Again, your iniquity is taken away. David wrote in Psalm 103, He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far as he removed our transgressions from us.
Listen to this. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him, for he knows our frame. He remembers we are but dust.
Magnificent. His thoughts are that high above us, as we read earlier. But equally, his mercies are that high above us, if I can put it that way. Isaiah's vision of God's holiness and glory compelled him, as we'll see in a minute, to be a mouthpiece for the Lord. And that's our last point, a purposeful response. He meant what he said in his response. Verse 8, also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, whom shall I send and who will go for us?
Then I said, here am I, send me. Isaiah's vision of God's holiness and the glory compelled him to be the mouthpiece of God's justice. And his condemnation of sin, no matter what the personal cost. And tradition, church tradition, has it that he met his death under King Manasseh by being sawn into with a wooden saw. As I reflected on that, I cannot imagine being sawn into with a wooden saw. And basically you are being sawn into by friction.
By friction. What a price to pay, a price that he gladly, I'm sure, paid. Question, are you awestruck as you contemplate the majestic and moral holiness of God who is light and in whom is no darkness at all?
I'm going to read that again and then one other question. Are you awestruck as you contemplate the majestic and moral holiness of God who is light and in whom is no darkness at all? And the second question, have you lost the wonder of who God is and what he accomplished through Christ? Have you lost the wonder of who God is and what he accomplished through Christ?
I want to read, just read two texts in closing to you. One by Peter, the Apostle Peter, and then one by the Apostle Paul. And I want you to think about what they're saying about holiness as we read these New Testament passages. In light of God's grace and mercy and soon return of Christ, the Apostle Peter wrote, therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to former lust, as in your ignorance, notice, but as he who called you is holy, so also be holy in all your conduct because it's written, be holy for I am holy. And if you call on the Father who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear, knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold from your aimless conduct, received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Peter says, as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct because it's written, be holy for I am holy. I emphasize the word all because sometimes we as Christians are guilty of departmentalizing our faith. We live a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde life to some degree.
And none of us, none of us live a perfect life, that's for certain. But the point that we want to make is are we pursuing in our conduct? And I would go so far as to say not just our conduct and our thoughts, our words and our deeds. Are we pursuing holiness? If a thought comes into our minds that we know does not glorify God, do we deal with it then?
And if a word comes out of our mouth that we know that should not come out of our mouth, do we deal with it then? And then likewise, the apostle Paul admonished the Corinthian believers to cleanse themselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. Holiness is never going to be achieved in this life, but our sincere efforts to be holy are the greatest means of obedience and worship that Christians can offer to God.
Let me read that last part again, if I may. Holiness will never be fully achieved in this life, but our sincere efforts to be holy are the greatest means of obedience and worship that Christians can offer to God. Why do I say that? I don't know why the Lord brings this to my mind.
I've said this before from this pulpit. But my father was a very quiet man, said very little. And I had a good relationship with him, but he's a very quiet man. I will never forget coming home from the paper mill. I worked in the paper mill in the summer as I was going to Bob Jones. And all he said was, I heard a good report about you today.
At the mill. I heard a good report about you today at the mill. That doesn't mean much to you because you didn't know my father. Meant a lot to me. Meant a lot to me.
Somebody noticed and told him, and he told me. Beloved, is that what we want when we come face to face with the Father? Well done. Thou good and faithful and holy servant.
We looked at five things, and I want to make application with these. A point in time. Tonight can be a time of merely hearing truth once again, or a time for honest introspection. Folks, we are blessed that truth comes from this pulpit, and you know what I mean by that. Truth is preached at Beacon Baptist Church. But I ask you this question, and the other pastors would also, I'm confident.
Tonight can be a time for merely hearing the truth, and that is a good thing, believe me. Once again, for a time of honest introspection. Think, am I pursuing holiness for God's glory? We looked at a personal experience.
We repeat the question that we asked at the beginning of the message. Are you growing in your awe and adoration of God as evidenced by your own active pursuit of holiness? The third thing we considered a proper reaction. Have you humbly acknowledged your own exceeding sinfulness and your need for daily grace? We need the grace of God in salvation, but we need the grace of God in sanctification. We need the grace of God in service.
The fourth thing we considered, a purifying removal. Do you rejoice that as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him, for he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust. Thank the Lord for that. And then finally, a purposeful response. Are you willing to respond to God's call to obedience and service by praying, here am I, send me, no matter what it costs? You might say, well, Pastor Latour, how do I go about pursuing holiness?
And I'm just going to throw out to you a couple of brief statements. Number one, acknowledge him in all your ways. Live a God conscious life. Actively exercise yourself to living a God conscious life.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good. Do your best to live a God conscious life and acknowledge him. A second thing, seek to bring every thought into obedience to Christ. Seek to bring every thought into obedience to Christ. A third thing, consciously submit yourself as a living sacrifice each day. Lord, my desire is to be a living sacrifice to you, use me as you see fit.
Use me as you see fit. If that is in a subordinate role, if that's in a role that gets a little attention or a little recognition of men, so be it. And quite honestly, folks, it's those roles in many, many ways that probably will get the greatest reward in heaven, greater reward in heaven. Why?
We don't have to worry about succumbing to pride from slaps on the back from other people. The point being, put yourself forth as a living sacrifice each day. Ask God for wisdom. Pray to God for wisdom to think, say, and do what glorifies him. And you could add to this list.
You could add to this list. But the question that you have to ask yourself tonight is this. Am I actively, consciously pursuing holiness? Let's close in prayer. Father, as we bow before your throne, we thank you that we have a Savior who intercedes on our behalf even now. Father, we thank you for the grace that saved us, that through the Holy Spirit quickened us to life and granted us repentant faith. And Lord, we would ask that if there be any here tonight who cannot say yes in my own fumbling way, I am pursuing holiness. If they can't say that they're pursuing holiness, Lord, cause them deep concern. Cause them to question whether they know Christ merely intellectually or if they know him intimately. Father, I pray that you'd use what we've shared tonight to cause all of us to zero in on being holy for your glory. And we'll praise you for it in Christ's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-15 20:36:41 / 2023-05-15 20:50:11 / 14