Summary: There are curses for trusting ourselves and blessings for trusting God. In which will you trust?
a. As I read the bible, I find that God often pronounces blessings upon His people, but He also tells about curses that go along with the blessings as well. I believe that there is a reason for this.
i. The warnings, the curses highlight the blessings by the power of contrast.
ii. If you ignore these curses, it would be like removing all of the traffic signs on a dangerous road.
iii. And if all I preach is the blessings and ignore the curses, I am setting you up for a huge tragedy, because you will not be prepared for the curves in the road of life.
2. Our passage found in Jeremiah is one of those passages. It lists both curses and blessings:
a. Jeremiah 17:5-11 “Thus says the LORD, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 "For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. 7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. 8 "For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.
b. This passage spells out curses and blessings according to the One in whom we trust.
c. If you think trust in God is just incidental to the Christian life, think again. Trust is central to all we do and are.
3. V5: "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength”
a. It is really easy for us to turn this verse into one of those “its about all those non-believers” kind of message.
i. But I got news for you today. This warning is for Christians. It is for all of us in this room. And there is a lesson here that every one of us needs to hear.
ii. This verse is about trusting in the flesh – not just trusting in “other men” but about trusting in “our own flesh” as well, about making our flesh our strength.
iii. The New Testament calls this walking by the power of the flesh, or in the power of the old man, or walking by our own strength.
1. Gal. 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
2. Phil. 3:3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
3. These passages and many more in the New Testament point out very clearly the importance of not trusting the power of the flesh.
iv. Let me define this New Testament concept of flesh (as I have in other sermons):
1. The flesh in scripture relates to the fallen nature of man
a. The sin corrupted, relationally estranged nature of humanity.
b. All humanity is bound up in sin and the sin nature.
c. When Christ died on the cross, he took your sin nature and mine, and it was crucified and died with Him.
d. Essentially, your old sinful nature died with Christ.
2. Most of us grasp that from a figurative point of view.
a. We get the concept that we are supposed to be dead to sin, sin is supposed to have lost its power over us, we are supposed to have been raised with Christ and have the power of the Holy Spirit to live life by.
3. But what we miss is the practical reality and the implications of this powerful truth.
a. The two short verses I just read are indictments on Christians who began their journey of the Christian life by the power of the Spirit but are now trying to complete it in the power of their dead flesh.
b. Gal. 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
b. THE FUTILITY OF THE FLESH: (Watchman Nee, “Not I But Christ.”)
i. Do you ever get tired of failing, of sinning, or are you surprised by what you do or how you fail? Most of us can relate to this.
ii. Our failures must beg a question from us: “How do you live the Christian life?”
1. If we do it by our own efforts then we are consigned to a miserable, joyless life.
a. We will be living by rules and laws and performance, and we will never attain what God requires of us, never loving enough, never doing enough.