Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 8:8-9:26; Colossians 3:1-17; Psalm 78:32-55; Proverbs 24:27
Back in Jeremiah’s time their spiritual leaders had twisted God’s message which in turn lead the people astray (Jeremiah 8:8-9). Today we have a similar situation. There are many denominations and cults in which the leaders give the people a message they want to hear rather than telling them what they need to hear. They deal with sin in a superficial way (Jeremiah 8:11).
But sin is not a paper cut. It is a mortal wound that leads to spiritual death (aka “hell”). It is the most serious aspect of our lives. Yet, talking about it makes people feel uncomfortable. Too bad. Glossing over or ignoring problems is no way to deal with them. Doing so only makes matters worse.
Like Jeremiah many Christians, including myself, are grief-stricken at what the future holds for the United States and the world (Jeremiah 8:18). When I look at all the blatant sin going on in our land I can’t help but see parallels to what was going on in Judah in Jeremiah’s day. Being a sovereign nation is a privilege, not a right. And if we are going to continue to live without God we will lose that privilege.
Everyone has an opportunity to know God. Not just know about Him, but to know Him well – like a close friend or relative. People who refuse to give up their sinful behavior are essentially declining this opportunity (Jeremiah 9:6). Sin separates us from God, as we’ve seen many times in the Bible this year. We can’t cultivate a relationship with God if we are unwilling to give up our sin. You can tell what a person values by what they spend their time doing. By choosing sin over God people are saying that sin is more important to them.
By refusing to obey God’s commands – commands He gives us not because He is an ego-driven tyrant but because He knows what is best for us – we bring disaster upon ourselves (Jeremiah 9:7-13). This is true of individuals. This is true of nations. But notice that people will not understand why these terrible things are happening (Jeremiah 9:12) because they won’t have an understanding of God.
As the United States falls further into decline at the hand of God so-called experts claim to have the reasons and the solutions. If you watch these people on TV or read them on the Internet you’ll see that none of the mainstream ones ever mention God or sin. They are ignorant of what is really happening on this earth. The only way to know what is happening and explain it to others is to know God’s word (Jeremiah 9:24).
As born-again children of God Christians should not be focused on the things of this earth. Rather we should be thinking about heaven (Colossians 1:1-3). We, of course, have to deal with the issues we face daily in this life. But our next stop is heaven and we should look forward to being there rather than loathing being here.
As such we are commanded to put to death all sinful desires that are in us (Colossians 3:5). This includes sexual immorality, lust, greed, anger, slander, lying etc (Colossians 3:5-9). This was our old way of life – the life everyone is naturally born into. But when we enter into a permanent relationship with God through Jesus these behaviors should no longer be part of our lifestyle.
At the moment of salvation our old self has died. We have a new nature – the nature of Christ. But that doesn’t mean we change instantaneously. We have to learn to become the people God wants us to be (Colossians 3:10). We learn that by putting away the things of this world – TV, career, etc – and building a relationship with God through His word.
In God’s world there are no labels (Colossians 3:11). Labels are man’s way of identifying and separating people based on arbitrary factors such as gender, race, or social status. God does not recognize any of this. In God’s family, His adopted children (born-again believers) are united by one simple fact: we all have Jesus as the center of our lives.
Many people struggle to understand how a loving God could bring disaster upon people. We need to remember that God’s goal is for all of us to choose to become part of His family. But people are more interested in their present lives of sin. So God tries to get their attention. Gently at first, but if that doesn’t work He will use more forceful measures. When it gets to that point we have no one to blame but ourselves. Sadly, it often only at this point that people will take God seriously (Psalm 78:34).
Its really no different than dealing with a young child (which is what we all really are). A parent can ask the child nicely to do something. But as the child continues to refuse the parent becomes more forceful. Just like the child, we ignore God’s early warnings and so end up feeling more pain that we need to. If only we’d listen the first time.
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