For How Long?

Monday, November 9, 2015, 8:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Keeping Them.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 25:1-11 (NASB).

Again and Again (vv. 1-7)

The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah… Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, “From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, these twenty-three years the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets again and again, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear, saying, ‘Turn now everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell on the land which the Lord has given to you and your forefathers forever and ever; and do not go after other gods to serve them and to worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands, and I will do you no harm.’ Yet you have not listened to Me,” declares the Lord, “in order that you might provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm.

There are many people within the gatherings of the church today, who profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, about whom this could be said, i.e. that God has spoken to them about their sinful behaviors and addictions over and over again, and, perhaps, that he has even sent them godly (biblical) counselors and those willing to help them be set free from their sinful course, and yet they have not really listened. They can physically hear with their ears, and they may listen with their ears, or not, but they don’t really pay any attention nor do they take heed what is being said, because they want to continue on their sinful course, and they don’t really want to change. They may show sorrow over their sin, or not, but it may be worldly sorrow, not godly sorrow, and so nothing changes. So, they continue in the same sin cycle over and over again. Yet, for how long?

What I have learned over the years, though, is that people have to genuinely want to get out of their sin situations. If they don't, they will keep repeating the same behavior patterns over and over again, much like an alcoholic. They have to come to the point to where they hate what they are doing enough to want it eradicated from their lives. They have to stop making excuses for their behaviors, or covering their sins with lies. They have to be honest with where they are and own up to the fact that they have an addiction. If they don't, they can go for counseling and spend tons of money and never be helped. And, the cycle just keeps repeating itself. If they are not honest with the counselors, they can’t help them. Yet, I also know that many who call themselves counselors are also not offering people real help in getting set free from their sinful addictions, but are either medicating them or are getting paid just to listen to their problems, but who offer no viable (godly or biblical) solution.

We, as followers of Christ, can try to help, but they have to make the effort themselves or it will never happen. They have to want to go through the process of healing. Some will make motions that direction, but never follow through on it because their efforts were just to appease the one trying to help, and so it didn't last. And, sometimes when we try to help people who are living in addiction, they will end up attacking us and will try to bring us down with them. Trying to help someone who really doesn't want help can be very painful. We can't do it for them, but we can offer to be there for them when they truly want help, yet we must always be honest with them about their sin, even if they end up hating us in return. We should never give anyone the impression that it is ok for them to continue in sinful behavior. It isn’t ok! Jesus died so we would die to sin and live to righteousness!

One thing I have learned about addiction is that these are very selfish people, some or all of whom just want attention, and they will do whatever they can to get attention. They are always looking for approval, and are continually focused around self. They may go from person to person looking for sympathy, but never truly wanting help, just attention. They may scorn the wise counsel of those who know them best, and seek after sympathy from those who don’t really know them, and whom they can easily deceive and/or manipulate. They will often look for those who will make them feel good about themselves, even in their sin, and will even claim that God does not judge their sin, and that he is pleased with them no matter what they do. So, we must be very wise and discerning, and we must pray for guidance and direction in these matters, because sometimes, in trying to be helpful, we might actually, without realizing it, help feed their addiction.

As well, there are many preachers, teachers and counselors these days who are quite willing to tell them just what their itching ears want to hear. These are false shepherds of the people who feed only themselves, who put Band-Aids over serious sin issues, and who tell people lies so they feel good about themselves and don’t feel guilty about sinning. Not many people today are telling Christians or non-Christians alike that God requires repentance and obedience, and that true freedom is not freedom to continue in sin, but it is freedom to come under the control of righteousness, and it is freedom from bondage to sin. God’s grace doesn’t appease sin. It teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. We need more people telling people the truth about the gospel of Christ, so that people can be set free from their prisons, and we need the lies to cease, so there are no more excuses for sin.

God’s Righteous Judgment (vv. 8-11)

“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

A lot of people get the false notion that now that we are under grace that God no longer cares about sin. They think that God’s grace gives them free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. They have been taught that God does not require repentance or obedience to his commands, and that all they have to do is “believe,” although this “belief” sounds pretty shallow, and is not scripturally supported, for it is not grounded in the word of God, nor does it adhere to the teachings in scripture regarding the gospel of our salvation. They think that believing in Jesus means merely that they get to escape hell and they get to go to heaven when they die, but that they can live how they want in between, and that God’s grace covers it all. Wow! What a mockery they make of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. They make salvation out to be all about them and pleasing themselves, but there is no fear of God, no honoring of him or revering him, but rather they treat God as though God owes them his salvation, and they owe him nothing.

Yet, that is not what God’s word teaches us. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) Jesus. He said that if we hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul said that Jesus died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not after the flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit. If we persist in conducting our lives after our sinful flesh, he said, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (Ro. 8:1-14). Sounds like what Jesus said, doesn’t it? He also said that coming to Christ means we forsake our old lives, we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we put on our new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness and Paul said that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15).

The Bible teaches us that God disciplines those he loves, and that he chastises and punishes those he receives as his children. The purpose of his divine discipline (judgment) is that we might share in his holiness. “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (See: Heb. 12:3-11). He warns the church much throughout the New Testament concerning not taking him lightly, and against falling back into sinful patterns of behavior which represent their lives prior to their salvation, and he calls them to repent, and to turn from their sins, and to follow Christ in obedience, and to live like they say they believe. And, he warns of divine discipline (judgment) and correction should we not respond to his calls to repent (See: Rev. 2-3). So, don’t be coy and think your sin doesn’t matter to God. It does, and he will judge his adulterous church for their sinful rebellion in order to bring her to repentance, so that he may revive and restore her to fellowship with him.

In Keeping Them / An Original Work / June 3, 2014

Based off Ps. 111:10; 19:7-11

Stand in awe of your Lord.
Harken to His teachings.
Follow where He leads you.
Live for Him today.

Through Him you gain wisdom;
Knowledge; understanding.
To my Lord belongs all
Worship and my praise.

Perfect is the Word,
Refreshing souls in His love.
His commands are faithful,
Guiding us each day.

Joy comes to the heart of
Those who love His teachings;
Follow His instructions.
He will light their way.

Abide in the Lord, and
Obey His commandments.
His Word is more precious
Than all of our gold.

By His Word He warns us,
Comforts, and implores us.
When we follow His Word,
There is great reward.