Bible Reading: Jeremiah 13:15-27
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23)
Do we understand our true identity as a Christian? If we are going to understand what it means to be saved by Christ, we must comprehend how depraved we are as sinners. Let’s take a look at Judah’s story in the time of Jeremiah.
Judah had decided to leave God to worship other idols like Baal. They had forsaken the one true God for a paganistic lifestyle. As a result, God became righteously angry for His people, who He loved with all His heart. The relationship between God and His people is pictured as a husband to his wife. God loved His wife, which is His people. Yet, His people had chosen adultery with other gods and idols. God is jealous of His people because He loves them. In His Holiness, God sends Judah a warrant for exile. He needed them to know that He was the true God.
Judah is just like us. We are God’s people, yet often we turn to worship other idols apart from God. That could be ourselves, our money, our pride, our friends, you can name it. So also, the just punishment that we deserve is exile. Judah was exiled from the Promised Land to Babylon. However, this is a metaphor for the real spiritual reality. When we fall into sin, we deserve to be exiled away from God’s presence, into hell. No sin deserves to stand before God. All sinners must be exiled away from God. You can see this in Adam and Eve’s story too. When they sinned, they were sent out of the garden of Eden, away from the direct presence of God.
Humans know this truth. If you ask someone if they are a perfect human, nobody will dare to say yes. We all make mistakes, we all sin and everybody knows that. However, many of us still think we are good. Unconsciously, many of us think that if we do enough good deeds, live a good Christian life, go to church, read the Bible, hang out with Christian friends and stay away from drugs; then we will be good enough to go to heaven. This is a complete lie! No matter how good your outward actions are, in your heart, you have already chosen your own strength over God’s. You believe in yourself more than you believe in God - that’s already idolatry.
No one is good. Romans 3:10 says, “none is righteous, no, not one”. There is no way anyone has any good in them. And there is no way that we can be saved from exile from being a good person or doing good deeds. Can an Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? And so, as sinful people, no good work will turn us clean. In our own strength, we only deserve exile.
The one and only hope for us is to believe in Christ. Only in Christ is there forgiveness of sins. Only by the power of God can we be washed clean from our sins. Is He the one we trust and believe in? Our trust in Him is signified by our willingness to submit to His Word and obey Him.
Lord, please help me understand my own sins. So often, I choose to worship my own idols. I think that I am good enough to cleanse myself of my mistakes. Please forgive me. Apart from You, I can do nothing. Please remember me in Christ and forgive my sins. Grant me a heart that obeys and submits to Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.