5¶This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6“For he will be like a bush in the desert,
And will not see when prosperity comes,
5¶ Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 6For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the …
What does it take to change sinful people? This is a question that everyone must ask at one point or another in their life because all live in a world of sin. Why is the world and humankind the way that they are? The Bible not only tells why people are sinners, but it also tells how they can change. In this sermon on Jeremiah 17:5–8 titled “The Nature of Man,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks to the prophet Jeremiah to see what God says about sinful people. Humanity is set in its own ways and does not submit to God’s rule. In this state, people are unable to seek God and love Him rightly. How then can they be saved? The answer is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ who came into the world to save sinners. Jesus died in the place of sinners that they might be justified in God’s sight. Jesus moves His people out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of righteousness. While sinful people are evil and wicked, Jesus alone has the power to give them a new heart that not only loves God but seeks to serve Him.
- The sermon begins by establishing that the words being discussed are from Jeremiah 17:5-8. These verses contrast the life of one who trusts in man with one who trusts in God.
- The historical context is that Israel had turned from God and was facing judgment from Babylon. God sent prophets to warn them, including Jeremiah.
- Jeremiah's message is that Israel must turn back to God or face curse and destruction. This message applies to all mankind.
- The two ways of life presented are absolutely opposed with no middle ground. One either trusts in God or in man.
- Those who trust in man are cursed because man's nature is fallen and sinful since the Fall. Man is born in sin and naturally goes against God.
- The sinful life is natural, wild, and uncultivated like a shrub in the desert. It grows on its own without planting or pruning.
- The desert soil and environment determine the shrub's stunted growth. Similarly, man's sinful nature determines his stunted moral and spiritual growth.
- Shrubs are unattractive, lacking in form and symmetry. So sinful man lacks godly character and holiness, becoming a "monstrosity."
- Shrubs bear no fruit. Likewise, the sinful life bears no lasting good fruit for oneself or others. It is useless and wasteful.
- Shrubs cannot benefit even from good things like rain and sun. Similarly, sinful man cannot benefit from God's good providence or word.
- Worst of all, sinful man cannot benefit from the greatest good of Christ's atoning work. He is blind to the gospel.
- The sinful life ultimately shrivels and dies under God's curse. There is no hope apart from new life in Christ.
- One must be born again, given a new heart and nature, to become fruitful like a tree planted by waters.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.