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Sermon #5267

The Wisdom of the Wise

A Sermon on Isaiah 5:21


Isaiah 5:21 ESV KJV
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! (ESV)

Sermon Description

Everyone needs to consider what is their greatest need. Is it health, fitness, employment, love? Do these desires distract them from their need for God? Throughout history, humanity cycles through philosophies to explain away their need for God and declare their own intellectual superiority. In this sermon on Isaiah 5:21 titled “The Wisdom of the Wise,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that these philosophies are recycled like clothes that go in and out of style and fashion. There is no truly new philosophy. Moreover, he points out that any philosophy that leads to saying “there is no God” is foolish and is a copy of the first sin in the garden of Eden. In fact, he points out that wherever humanity says “I know best,” they are in danger of repeating the sin of Adam and Eve. This kind of intellectual and moral superiority is not only false, but also dangerous. When a person tries to solve their problems with intellect, they may solve some bodily ailments, but cannot repair the state of their own soul. The Christian should consider if they are caught up with fixing their own problems and if these “solutions” distract them from Christ and the salvation that He provides. Sin is the greatest ailment and Christ is the only remedy.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The passage under consideration is Isaiah 5:21 which says “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”
  2. This passage is the fifth woe pronounced by Isaiah on the people of his time around 800 years before Christ.
  3. Isaiah addresses the general condition of the people and then gives specific examples of their sin. This is a common way for the Bible to present truth.
  4. The prophet calls the people to consider their ways before it’s too late. His message reveals God’s view of the human condition at all times.
  5. Isaiah 5 is very relevant today. It shows the Bible is contemporary and man’s essential problem is always the same. There is nothing new under the sun. Life goes in cycles.
  6. The passage warns against humanism - belief in man without God. There are two forms: classical (reliance on Greek philosophy) and scientific (reliance on science).
  7. The Bible values the intellect but condemns pride in human wisdom and reliance on it alone. Man should not worship his own mind.
  8. A woe is pronounced on humanism because:
  9. It is a lie. Man thinks he is wise but his life and world show he is not. He does not understand himself, life or his problems.
  10. It leads to pride, self-confidence, rebellion against God and moral decline. When man relies on himself, he descends into evil.
  11. It causes man to refuse God’s salvation. Man thinks he does not need God or the gospel.
  12. God will judge humanism and man’s arrogance. Revelation 18 shows how suddenly Babylon (man’s civilization) will fall.
  13. The solution is “the fear of the Lord” - recognizing our foolishness and need for God. We must become as children and trust in Christ, the wisdom and power of God. God will give us new life, wisdom, and understanding.

Old Testament

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.