Bible Reading: Jeremiah 16:1 - 17:13

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come… The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:5-6,11)

Who can understand the human heart, and who can understand their own sinfulness? Sin is a power that binds us and captures us. It ensnares us and takes over our lives. It is evil, and by ourselves, we have no power over it. The more we try to overcome it by our own strength, the deeper we fall. The harder we plan an escape route, the more lost we become. Although God is gracious to us and full of mercy, we still turn from Him to our own ways. We follow our own desires, and we desire to be king over our own lives. We love our own rulership over God’s even though God has made it very clear that His ways are righteous, holy, pure and for our best enjoyment. 

Israel was God’s chosen people. God made it very clear that He would be faithful and that He would love them and lead them. God showed that He was faithful to them by leading them out of Egypt. He then led the helpless and defenceless nation to defeat the armed and big nations of Canaan in wars only won by God’s strength. God gave Israel the promised land. When nations wanted to attack and thwart God’s plan, God would defend Israel because He was jealous of His people. Yet, despite all this, Israel was still ignorant before God, forgetting that they needed to trust and believe in God. They turned to other gods, worthless idols, and their own strength. 

This story continues for us. God sustained His people from generation to generation despite their stiff-necked attitude so that Jesus could be born from the lineage of David. God kept His promise of a saviour even though the people were very undeserving of one. Jesus, God the second person, came to earth to die for our sins. God Himself gave up His glory to become a sacrifice for us so that we can be forgiven of our rebellion against God. We have been forgiven and fully atoned for. All our sins, past, present and future, were paid for on that cross. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. 

Yet, why do we keep on sinning? Why is Christ still not the only ruler and master over our lives? Why do we still love sin and seek comfort in it? Who can understand our sinful nature and utter rebellion against God? 

In humility, pray with me the words of Jeremiah 17:14-18,

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;

    save me, and I shall be saved,

    for you are my praise.

15 Behold, they say to me,

    “Where is the word of the Lord?

    Let it come!”

16 I have not run away from being your shepherd,

    nor have I desired the day of sickness.

You know what came out of my lips;

    it was before your face.

17 Be not a terror to me;

    you are my refuge in the day of disaster.

18 Let those be put to shame who persecute me,

    but let me not be put to shame;

let them be dismayed,

    but let me not be dismayed;

bring upon them the day of disaster;

    destroy them with double destruction!

Also pray the words of the Puritan (The Cry Of A Convicted Sinner Valley Of Vision),

THOU RIGHTEOUS AND HOLY SOVEREIGN,

In whose hand is my life and whose are all

    my ways,

Keep me from fluttering about religion;

  fix me firm in it,

  for I am irresolute;

  my decisions are smoke and vapour,

  and I do not glorify thee,

  or behave according to thy will;

Cut me not off before my thoughts grow

      to responses,

    and the budding of my soul into full flower,

    for thou art forbearing and good,

    patient and kind.

Save me from myself,

  from the artifices and deceits of sin,

  from the treachery of my perverse nature,

  from denying thy charge against my offences,

  from a life of continual rebellion against thee,

  from wrong principles, views, and ends;

  for I know that all my thoughts, affections,

    desires and pursuits are alienated from thee.

I have acted as if I hated thee, although thou art

    love itself;

  have contrived to tempt thee to the uttermost,

  to wear out thy patience;

  have lived evilly in word and action.

Had I been a prince

  I would long ago have crushed such a rebel;

Had I been a father

  I would long since have rejected my child.

O, thou Father of my spirit,

  thou King of my life,

    cast me not into destruction,

    drive me not from thy presence,

    but wound my heart that it may be healed;

    break it that thine own hand

      may make it whole.