“Fake Believers” – Jeremiah 5:1-11

May 26th, 2019

Jeremiah 5:1-11

Sermon Title: “Fake Believers”

Aux. Text: Luke 20:45-47

Call to Worship: Psalm 4

 

Service Orientation: Encouraged by the world, our sinful nature, and the Devil, our hearts are prone to wander.   If you think you are safe . . . Beware!

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! — 1 Corinthians 10:12

 

Background Information:

  • The theme of this chapter as a whole is the utter sinfulness of the Israelites which makes it impossible for them to receive the Lord’s forgiveness. (George Arthur Buttrick, Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 5, 843)
  • Since the people would not listen to God’s word, God told Jeremiah to act out His message. This is the first of at least ten “action sermons” found in Jeremiah.  Meanwhile, this chapter deals with four sins of the people of Jerusalem.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 41)
  • (v.1) God’s command resembles the negotiation between Yahweh and Abraham over the fate of Sodom (Gn 18:16-33). But in that circumstance Yahweh’s final offer was to spare the city if ten righteous people could be found.  God’s offer to Jeremiah, however, was to spare Jerusalem if Jeremiah could find one person “who deals honestly and seeks the truth.”  This suggests that Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day was more wicked than Sodom of Abraham’s day.  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 61)
  • (v. 9) He accuses the people of moral obtuseness and gross self-indulgence and allows no room for a heroic patriotism. Nor does Jeremiah give room to support what must have been the popular belief: God would intervene directly to save Israel since it was a divinely elect nation.  The prophetic message from Jeremiah is unremittingly personal and inward-looking in its uncovering of the personal and individual nature of sin.  At the same time it maintains a markedly unsophisticated and almost bland indifference to political exigencies and the prevalence of national ambition and ideology.  (R.E. Clements, Interpretation: Jeremiah, 42)

 

There are 3 kinds of believers in church:  Believers, Unbelievers, and Make-believers. — Kent Crockett

 

The question to be answered is . . . What does God want us to hear through Jeremiah 5:1-11?

 

Answer: Beware that you do not become like 6th century B.C. Judah.  They looked and sounded like God-followers, but they refused correction, and avoided God to pursue their own “gods”.

 

Any lingering doubts about the rightness of the death sentence God has passed on the people are dispelled in the ensuing dialogue (5:1-9) between the Lord and Jeremiah.  (Robert Davidson, Daily Study Bible Series: Jeremiah, 54-5)

 

Jeremiah now appreciates the moral necessity for God’s judgment of His people, as he sees clearly with his own eyes the iniquity, selfishness and depravity of life in Jerusalem.  (R.K. Harrison, Tyndale OT Commentaries: Jeremiah, 74)

 

Once more he indicts the people in an effort to make them aware of their condition.  This condition is comprised of two things: the need for repentance within, and the threat of alien powers without.  (George Arthur Buttrick, Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 5, 844)

 

Why did he go to the poor people first?  Perhaps he felt they were more likely to be humble and obedient to God.  But he was disappointed.  His reasoning changed, and he decided they were limited in their understanding.  He next went to the leaders thinking that surely they knew God’s ways.  But again he was disappointed.  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 61)

 

When a man is living in darkness, and is suddenly exposed to great light, he will not be enlightened; He will be blinded!  Because of this we must be discerning when exposing unbelievers, or new believers, to the deeper truths of the Lord.  Meat will not nourish babies; it will choke them.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 184)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Fake

 

In our culture there is a severe illusion about faith, or belief.  It is one that has been produced by many centuries of people professing, as a cultural identification, to believe things they do not really believe at all.  That goes hand in hand with the predominance of what was called client, or consumer, Christianity earlier.  Thus there arises the misunderstanding that human life is not really governed by belief.  This is a disastrous error.

We often speak of people not living up to their faith.  But the cases in which we say this are not really cases of people behaving otherwise than they believe.  They are cases in which genuine belief are made obvious by what people do.  We always live up to our beliefs–or down to them, as the case may be.  Nothing else is possible.  It is the nature of belief.  And the reason why clergy and others have to invest so much effort into getting people to do things is that they are working against the actual beliefs of the people they are trying to lead.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 307-8)

 

Human beings can honestly profess to believe what they do not believe.  They may do this for so long that even they no longer know that they do not believe what they profess.  But their actions will, of course, be in terms of what they actually believe.  This will be so even though they do not recognize it, and they will lose themselves in bewilderment about the weakness of their “faith.”  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 308)

 

Christianity must reverse its current image and become dynamic, genuine, and real.  If we can prevent the message from being watered down by casual Christians, outsiders will begin to experience believers who have been (and are being) transformed by their faith and who are working in humble and respectful ways to transform the culture.  In the Bible Paul puts it this way: “This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before.  As a result, people who are not Christians will respect the way you live.” (1 Thess 4:11-12).  There is nothing more powerful than the Christian life lived out in obedience; there is nothing worse than a flat, self-righteous form of faith that parades around in Christian clothes.  (David Kinnaman, Unchristian, 83)

 

Prayer, study and seeking and leading in God’s direction is the job of every pastor.  All three of these can be easily faked.

 

What warning does God give us?:

I-  You can look and sound like a God-follower but not be.  (Jer 5:2; see also: Job 17:8; 27:8-10; Isa 1:13-15; 29:13-16; 48:1-2; 58:2-5; Jer 3:10; 6:20; 7:4-10; Ezek 33:30-32; Hos 7:14-16; 10:1-4; Mal 1:6-14; Mt 3:7-8; 6:1-5, 16; 7:21-23; 15:7-9; ch 23; 25:41-45; Lk 11:39-52; Rom 2:1-3, 17-29; Rom 16:18; 2 Cor 4:2; Gal 6:3; Jam 1:22-26; 2:14-26; 2 Pt 2:1-3, 17-19; 1 Jn 1:6, 10; 2:4, 9, 19; 4:20; Rv 3:1)

 

Verse 2 suggests that though people may sound like they follow Yahweh, sealing their agreements with an oath (As surely as the LORD lives), they really follow other gods and, thus, swear falsely.  The second colon of the verse could be translated “they are swearing by The Lie,” with the Lie standing for Baal himself.  (Tremper Longman III, Understanding the Bible: Jeremiah, Lamentations, 55)

 

“Faith that does not act is a faith that is just an act. (Lois Evans and Jane Rubietta; Stones of Remembrance)

 

Hypocrisy rather than heresy is the cause of spiritual decay.  (Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man, 10-11)

 

Jesus says that the root of anxiety is inadequate faith in our Father’s future grace.  As unbelief gets the upper hand in our hearts, one of the effects is anxiety.  The root cause of anxiety is a failure to trust all that God has promised to be for us in Jesus.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 54)

 

With this background we will see more clearly that pride is a species of unbelief.  Unbelief is a turning away from God and his Son in order to seek satisfaction in other things.  Pride is a turning away from God specifically to take satisfaction in self.  So pride is one specific form of unbelief.  And its antidote is the wakening and strengthening of faith in future grace.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 87)

 

A hypocrite is one who protests about sex & violence, then organizes a boycott and a petition to eliminate the sex & violence, all to satisfy his guilt so he can keep watching sex & violence.

 

A hypocrite is a person who is not himself on Sunday.

 

The term hypocrite in classical Greek primarily refers to an actor, such as one sees on the stage, but it came to refer also to anyone who practices deceit.  It is clear from the literary records that it was Jesus alone who brought this term and the corresponding character into the moral vocabulary of the Western world.  He did so because of his unique emphasis upon the moral significance of the inmost heart before God.  As we are creative beings, our heart is who we really are.  Jesus therefore made repeated and unmistakable distinctions between our face to the world and our person before God.

We now know that the Palestine of Jesus’ day had numerous fine theaters, and he certainly was familiar with them.  One was located in the city of Sepphoris, within a few miles of his home in Nazareth.  This one was built while Jesus was a young man, and he and his father Joseph may have been workmen there.  Herod the Great had previously built fine theaters in Jericho and Samaria, as well as in Jerusalem.  When Jesus spoke of “the hypocrites,” he was utilizing a very vivid image that effectively seized the minds of his hearers because of their familiarity with stage characters.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 191)

 

II-  Unbelievers refuse correction. (Jer 5:3; see also: Prv 16:18; 28:18; Mt 18:15-18; Mk 4:17; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 5:1-13; Gal 5:10-12; 2 Thess 3:6, 13-14; 1 Tm 1:19-20; 2 Jn 10-11)  

 

They were callous, stubborn, and obstinate.  They were men and women of steel.  Their suffering did not produce godliness because they were immune to pain.  They would not receive correction.  Even after all of Jeremiah’s warnings, they refused to repent.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 86)

 

Jeremiah compares the cultural elite to dumb oxen who have shattered their yokes.  This image captures their willful disobedience.  They sinned, not out of ignorance like regular folks, but in defiance of the Word of God.  Since they broke free from divine authority, they were doubly culpable.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 87)

 

One may denounce evil and march for justice and the amelioration of societal ills; but unless one also prays that God’s temporal judgments become a means to discipline and to transform evildoers, denunciation and marching are not prophetic activities according to Jeremiah’s example.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 94)

 

“I chose not to believe in God because for me my unbelief was a means for political and sexual liberation.  —Aldous Huxley  (Alistair Begg sermon, The Authority of Jesus)

 

The genuine can be tested and God will test it so that its genuineness can be proved.  (Steve Brown; Living Free, 67)

 

Such a straying animal is an obvious meal for marauding predators, lion, wolf or prowling leopard; so the people having strayed from the Lord may expect to be torn to pieces.  (Robert Davidson, Daily Study Bible Series: Jeremiah, 55)

 

III-  Unbelievers divert worship, values, authority and praise from God to their “gods.”  (Jer 5:4-9; see also: Mt 6:24;  1 Tm 6:9)

 

God’s bounty to the people evoked not gratitude but a greater desire for idolatry.  Material blessings only made them feel secure in their sins.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 413)

 

Perhaps these particular social evils are picked out because of their obvious relationship with the sexual element in the worship of the fertility gods and goddesses.  It is hardly surprising that what religion encouraged was regarded as socially acceptable.  What, and how, a community worships inevitably influences its sense of values.  (Robert Davidson, Daily Study Bible Series: Jeremiah, 56)

 

The goodness of God should have brought them to repentance (Rom 2:4), but they were ungrateful for His blessings (Hos 2:4-13).  Instead of acting like men and women made in the image of God, they became like animals in heat (“well-fed, lusty stallions,” Jer 5:8; see 2:24).  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 42)

 

Men make counterfeit money; in many more cases, money makes counterfeit men.— Sydney J. Harris

 

One may observe all the laws and still be practicing a disguised polytheism.  For if in performing a religious act one’s intention is to please a human being whom he fears or from whom he hopes to receive benefit, then it is not God whom he worships but a human being.  “Such a person is worse than an idol-worshiper. . . The latter, paying homage to the stars, worships an object that does not rebel against God, whereas the former worships beings some of whom rebel against God.  The former only worships one object, but there is no limit to the number of human beings whom the perverse in religion may worship.  Finally the inner attitude of the idolater is apparent to everybody; people can guard themselves from him–his denial of God is public knowledge.  The hypocrite’s denial, however, is unnoticed. . . This makes him the worst of the universal evils.”  (Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man, 392)

 

As Jeremiah had mentioned before (2:23-25), the people were behaving like wild animals in heat.  In their desperation to commit spiritual adultery, they were like “well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife” (5:8).  Judah was a sex-crazed society, saturated with sexual immorality.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 88)

 

Why else do new revised versions of God keep appearing?  Why else does God emerge as racist, sexist, chauvinist, politically correct, legalist, socialist, capitalist?  If we are intellectuals, God is a cosmic Phi Beta Kappa; if we are laborers, God is a union organizer (remember, his Son was a carpenter); if we are entrepreneurs, God is for free enterprise (didn’t his Son say, “I must be about my father’s business”?); if we are poor, God is a revolutionary; if we are propertied, God is nightwatchman over our goods.  The gods of the Persians always look like Persians.  “Unbelief is not the only way of suppressing the truth about God,” says Westphal.  “It is only the most honest.”   (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 109)

 

A man who has counterfeit money is worse off than one who has no money.  Preaching unscriptural ideas of repentance does, perhaps, more damage than not preaching repentance at all.  It is harder to unlearn an error than it is to learn the truth. (B.T. Roberts; Fishers Of Men, 125)

 

Like beasts of burden, which break the yoke and stray away only to fall prey to wild animals, the leaders who had renounced God’s ways might expect to encounter consequent judgments.  (Howard Tillman Kuist, Layman’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 33)

 

 

Worship Point: Even though God could find no one honest or seeking truth, He never gave up “seeking” a remnant He could save, love and bless.

 

For all their religious talk, they refused to follow their hearts.  By “swearing falsely” (v. 2), they actually committed perjury when they worshiped.  This is a strong warning for anyone who claims to worship God.  Whenever hymns are mumbled or prayers are mindlessly repeated, perjury is committed in God’s house.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 86)

 

He that performs duty without the heart, that is, heedlessly, is no more accepted with God than he that performs it with a double heart, that is, hypocritically.  (John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 22)

 

Every time a church family gathers for worship, we come as idolaters or recovering idolaters.  We all fight allegiances to someone or something other than God that make a claim on our lives.  To pretend otherwise is to be naive and unprepared for the serious work of realignment we need.  (Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship, 62)

 

In worship we find fresh reasons and desire to serve.  Isaiah didn’t say “Here am I.  Send me!” until after his vision of God.  That’s the order–worship, then worship-empowered service.  As A. W. Tozer put it, “Fellowship with God leads straight to obedience and good works.  That is the divine order and it can never be reversed” (Harry Verploegh, Signposts: A Collection of Sayings from A. W. Tozer, 183).  The work of service is too hard without the power we receive for it through worship.

At the same time, one measure of the authenticity of worship (again, both personal and corporate) is whether it results in a desire to serve.  Isaiah is the classic example here also.  Tozer again says it best: “No one can long worship God in spirit and in truth before the obligation to holy service becomes too strong to resist” (Verploegh, 183).

Therefore, we must maintain that to be Godly, we should discipline ourselves for both worship and service.  To engage in one without the other is, in reality, to experience neither.  (Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 121)

 

But in fact for thousands of people and pastors, I fear, the event of “worship” on Sunday morning is conceived of as a means to accomplish something other than worship.  We “worship” to raise money; we “worship” to attract crowds; we “worship” to heal human hurts; we “worship” to recruit workers; we “worship” to improve church morale.  We “worship” to give talented musicians an opportunity to fulfill their calling; we “worship” to teach our children the way of righteousness; we “worship” to help marriages stay together; we “worship” to evangelize the lost among us; we “worship” to motivate people for service projects; we “worship” to give our churches a family feeling, etc.

In all of this we bear witness that we are confused about what true worship is.  Genuine affections for God are an end in themselves.  I cannot say to my wife, “I feel a strong delight in you so that you will make me a nice meal.”  That is not the way delight works.  It terminates on her.  It does not have a nice meal in view.  I cannot say to my son, “I love playing ball with you so that you will cut the grass.”  If my heart really delights in playing ball with him, that delight cannot be performed as a means to getting him to do something.  (John Piper, Brothers, We are NOT Professionals, 240-1)

 

Gospel Application: Jesus is the ONLY honest One who seeks truth with all His heart, mind, soul and strength.  He will save, not only the city (1b); but the world.  He can make us born again (Jn 3:1-8) and a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).

 

Why did God create us and later redeem us at great cost even though he doesn’t need us?  He did it because he loves us.  His love is perfect love, radically vulnerable love.  And when you begin to get it, when you begin to experience it, the fakery and manipulativeness of your own love starts to wash away, and you’ve got the patience and security to reach out and start giving a truer love to other people.  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 99-100)

 

The genius of the moral teachings of Jesus and his first students was his insistence that you cannot keep the law by trying not to break the law.  That will only make a Pharisee of you and sink you into layers of hypocrisy.  Instead, you have to be transformed in the functions of the soul so that the deeds of the law are a natural outflow of who you have become.  This is spiritual formation in the Christian way, and it must always be kept in mind when we consider Jesus’s teachings about various behaviors–in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere.

For example, his famous teaching about turning the other cheek.  If all you intend is to do that, you will find you can do it with a heart still full of bitterness and vengefulness.  If, on the other hand, you become a person who has the interior character of Christ, remaining appropriately vulnerable will be done as a matter of course, and you will not think of it as a big deal.  (Dallas Willard; The Great Omission, 152)

 

In a world where the only plea is “not guilty,” what possibility is there of an honest encounter with Jesus, “who died for our sins”?  We can only pretend that we are sinners, and thus only pretend that we are forgiven.  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 171)

 

Spiritual Challenge: Do you deal honestly (v. 1b)?  Do you seek truth (v. 1b)?   Do you embrace hardship, suffering, discipline, and correction from the Lord (v. 3)?  Do you know the way of the Lord (vss. 4-5)?  Do you acknowledge the Source of your good and perfect gifts you enjoy (v. 7 ; Jam 1:17)?  Are you faithful to God (v. 11)?  Do you need a Savior?

 

Instead of mourning over the sins we cannot master, the pride, self-will, lack of love, or disobedience, let us come to the root of the matter and confess our terrible sin of unbelief.  Let our faith grow in the greatness of God’s power revealed in Christ.  (Andrew Murray, Receiving Power from God, 94)

 

The dark night is God’s attack on religion.  If you genuinely desire union with the unspeakable love of God, then you must be prepared to have your “religious” world shattered.  If you think devotional practices, theological insights, even charitable actions give you some sort of a purchase on God, you are still playing games.  (Rowan Williams, “The Dark Night,” A Ray of Darkness: Sermons and Reflections, 82)

 

I know of only two alternatives to hypocrisy: perfection or honesty.  Since I have never met a person who loves the Lord our God with all her heart, mind, and soul, and loves her neighbor as herself, I do not view perfection as a realistic alternative.  Our only option, then, is honesty that leads to repentance.  As the Bible shows, Gods’ grace can cover any sin, including murder, infidelity, or betrayal.  Yet by definition grace must be received, and hypocrisy disguises our need to receive grace.  When the masks fall, hypocrisy is exposed as an elaborate ruse to avoid grace. (Philip Yancey; What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 204)

 

We’re in a new era where people want less of your carefully scripted evangelism sales presentation and more personal demonstrations of your genuineness, your authenticity.  They want to see evidence that what you believe has legs–that it does something.  They’re not impressed with suits and ties, with empty ceremony repeated over and over, and with people who talk big but don’t deliver on their promises.  Rather, they’re drawn to untrained voices in music, torn jeans, passionate emotions, and real stories.  Fail there, and you lose them.  Show your heart and you win them.  (Gordon MacDonald, Who Stole My Church?, 73)

 

Another significant antidote to hypocrisy (in addition to integrity and purity) is transparency.  On one level, hypocrisy is failing to acknowledge the inconsistencies in our life.  It is denial.  It is, as the Bible describes it, trying to remove a speck from someone else’s eye when you have a log in your own.  Living with integrity starts with being transparent.  (David Kinnaman, Unchristian, 54-5)

 

As a “true” prophet he had to do battle with many “false” ones whose words could more easily be attuned to what the men and women of Jerusalem were eager to hear.  Moreover there are firm signs that the past two centuries of history had bred in Judah a complacent feeling of assurance that whatever may have been the fate of the sister kingdom of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians Judah would remain secure.  (R.E. Clements, Interpretation: Jeremiah, 43)

 

In this life there will always be a part of us (the Bible calls it the flesh) that will say, “If I have to serve, I want to get something for it.  If I can be rewarded, or gain a reputation for humility, or somehow turn it to my advantage, then I’ll give the impression of humility and serve.”  But this isn’t Christlike service.  This is hypocrisy.  (Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 115-6)

 

Below are 22 questions which the members of John Wesley’s Holy Club asked themselves every day in their private devotions over 200 years ago:

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
  4. Can I be trusted?
  5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  7. Did the Bible live in me today?
  8. Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
  9. Am I enjoying prayer?
  10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
  11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  13. Do I disobey God in anything?
  14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
  17. How do I spend my spare time?
  18. Am I proud?
  19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
  20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
  21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  22. Is Christ real to me? (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 12-4)

 

Vanstone says, In false love your aim is to use the other person to fulfill your happiness.  Your love is conditional: You give it only as long as the person is affirming you and meeting your needs.  And it’s nonvulnerable: You hold back so that you can cut your losses if necessary.  But in true love, your aim is to spend yourself and use yourself for the happiness of the other, because your greatest joy is that person’s joy.  Therefore your affection is unconditional: You give it regardless of whether your loved one is meeting your needs.  And it’s radically vulnerable: You spend everything, hold nothing back, give it all away.  Then Vastone says, surprisingly, that our real problem is that nobody is actually fully capable of giving true love.  We want it desperately, but we can’t give it.  He doesn’t say we can’t give any kind of real love at all, but he’s saying that nobody is fully capable of true love.  All of our love is somewhat fake.  How so?  Because we need to be loved like we need air and water.  We can’t live without love.  That means there’s a certain mercenary quality to our relationships.  We look for people whose love would really affirm us.  We invest our love only where we know we’ll get a good return.  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 98)

 

John Newton, a minister, once wrote a letter to a man who was very depressed.  Take note of what he said:

You say you feel overwhelmed with guilt and a sense of unworthiness?  Well, indeed you cannot be too aware of the evils inside of yourself, but you may be, indeed you are, improperly controlled and affected by them.  You say it is hard to understand how a holy God could accept such an awful person as yourself.  You then express not only a low opinion of yourself, which is right, but also too low an opinion of the person, work, and promises of the Redeemer, which is wrong.  You complain about sin, but when I look at your complaints, they are so full of self-righteousness, unbelief, pride, and impatience that they are little better than the worst evils you complain of.  (John Newton, The Works of the Rev. John Newton, Vol. VI, 185)  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 90)

 

Spiritual Challenge Questions:

  1. What does it say about the extent of God’s grace that He was willing to forgive all of Jerusalem if one person who deals honestly and seeks truth could be found? What does it say about the extent of human depravity?
  2. In what ways can we become anaesthetized to God’s correction? How can we know if we have been affected? 
  3. What happens when a culture’s values become corrupt, perverted and distorted? What does praise tend to do to a culture’s values?   What does that say about our current 21st century American culture?
  4. What does Paul say we can do in Phil 2:12-18 to make secure our salvation? What does Paul say we can do in 2 Pt 1:1-11 & 3:17-18 to make secure our salvation?

 

“The one who cannot be safely imitated ought not to be tolerated in a pulpit.” (Charles H. Spurgeon, The Greatest Fight, 61)

 

So What?: Do not look to yourself for your salvation.  Only Jesus has the legal record before God that can save you.  Beware what your heart is looking to for your salvation.

 

10-11.  Though Judah is God’s vineyard (cf. Isa 5:1-7), the heavenly Husbandman permits the enemy to enter and pillage it.  But destruction will not be absolute (cf. Jer 4:27), even though the Lord’s choice vine will be pruned severely.  The branches of the vine have not borne the fruits of righteousness, and so will be burned up while the stock will be saved.  This figure is reflected very closely by Christ in Jn 15:1-6.  Israel and Judah have separated themselves from their source of vitality through infidelity, and thus cannot be fruitful as branches because they do not abide in the vine.  What they have in fact produced has been the very opposite of fruits meet for repentance (cf. Mt 3:8; Lk 3:8), despite the demands of God’s servants working in the vineyard, and therefore they can only expect a fiery judgment.  (R.K. Harrison, Tyndale OT Commentaries: Jeremiah, 76)

 

You want to mess up the minds of your children?   Here’s how—guaranteed!  Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality.  Fake your faith.  Sneak around and pretend your spirituality.  Train your children to do the same.  Embrace a long list of do’s and don’ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately . . yet never own up to the fact that it’s hypocrisy.  Act one way but live another.  And you can count on it—emotional and spiritual damage will occur.  Chances are good their confusion will lead to some sort of addiction in later years.  (Charles Swindoll; Grace Awakening, 97)

 

God’s Word is still as watertight and able to save today as it was in Noah’s day.  But there is one requirement on our part–authenticity.  Families attempting to circumnavigate this turbulent world on rafts made of thin religious veneers will splinter and sink.  Only those whose faith is genuine, permeating the home, will survive.  So, if we’re going to meet the challenge before us–that of building genuinely Christian families–we must look to the essentials of authenticity. (Chuck Swindoll; The Strong Family, 2)

 

Like Scripture writers, Augustine thinks of the heart not just as the seat of emotion or desire but also as the governing center of a human being–the human being at his center, at his core, considered in his fundamental orientation.  From the heart “flow the springs of life” (Prv 4:23).  Hence, in Scripture, integrity is a pure heart (Mt 5:8); where integrity is lacking, it is the heart that is “perverse” and “devious above all else” (Jer 17:9).  Accordingly, when Paul wants to describe the source of our new power, love, and integrity, he testifies that Jesus Christ has taken up residence at the governing center of human lives: he “dwells in our hearts” (Eph 3:17).  Depending on its orientation, then, the fact that “the heart wants what it wants” may be our shame or our salvation.  (Augustine, The City of God, 14.13)  (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 62-3)

 

If our sin can’t be used as a witness as well as our goodness, we have a serious problem.”  (Steve Brown; Living Free, 23)

 

As Larry Crabb has pointed out, pretending seems a much more reliable road to Christian maturity.  The only price we pay is a loss of soul, of communion with God, a loss of direction, and a loss of hope.  (John Eldredge; The Journey of Desire, 61)

 

Self-deception is “corrupted consciousness,” says Lewis Smedes.  Whether fear, passion, weariness, or even faith prompts it, self-deception, like a skillful computer fraud, doubles back to cover its own trail.  “First we deceive ourselves, and then we convince ourselves that we are not deceiving ourselves.”   (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 107)

 

One thing was left for God to do: He would allow the invaders to enter the land like marauding animals and destroy the people (see Jer 2:15; 4:7).  The animal had gotten loose from the yoke and run away from the master, only to be met by a lion, a wolf, and a leopard!  What kind of freedom was that?  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 41)

JESUS:

REAL

 

 

 

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