Summary: The fourth of a series of six messages concerning sexual sin. This sermon focuses on repentance and turning away from sexual sin.
A. If you have your Bible, please turn to Jeremiah 3. We are in the midst of a series of messages entitled Behind Closed Doors: The Truth about Sexual sin.
1. We are spending some time in the early chapters of Jeremiah and are discovering God’s perspective on this incredibly relevant issue of sexual sin.
2. For three weeks now, we have seen in Jeremiah 2 God vividly describing the emptiness, the devastation, the shame, the enslavement that accompany the sexual sins in which we engage.
3. Whether it’s internet porn, or premarital sexual involvement, or adultery or being obsessed with our own sexual attractiveness, or any number of other expressions of sexuality beyond God’s life giving design.
B. For those of you who have hung in there for these three weeks, I applaud you. It is not an easy subject to look at, but it is so critically important that we do. The stakes are incredibly high in terms of our spiritual, emotional and relational health.
1. But it’s been tough. Over the past few weeks, I think most all of us have experienced a heightened sense of the seriousness of this issue in our lives--but that heightened sense sometimes brings with it a sense of despair or hopelessness.
2. Yea, Pastor Alan, I know this is a problem. I know this is wreaking havoc in my life. I can see the issue. But what do I do now? I feel ashamed. I feel discouraged. I feel enslaved. Where do I go from here?
C. Can I ever break free from these things in my past? Can I ever be free from these things that seem to hold me in chains?
1. The answer is absolutely. Thankfully, we have a God who isn’t simply interested in diagnosing the problem, but who also is eager to help us experience the life He desires us to experience.
2. After talking very frankly to us in Jeremiah 2 about the sexual sin in our lives, God then presents to us in chapter 3 a way out. A way out of the shame we feel. A way out of the emptiness and the enslavement. And a way into real freedom, real life change.
3. So what exactly is this way out? There is a very important word used over and over again, not only in this chapter but in the entire book of Jeremiah that lays out for us a critical part of this way out.
4. In fact, there is no other book in the entire Bible that uses this word more often than Jeremiah does. What is it? It’s the word "return". It is also can be translated repent. Over and over again in this book, God says to His sinning people, Return to me. Repent.
D. This is what God wants us to do. This is the pathway out of these sexual sins that pull at us and seek to destroy us. This is the pathway into His incredible mercy.
1. Return to Me. Repent. It’s a word that speaks of a radical change in orientation. But there is a lot of confusion about this word.
2. You see, part of our problem is that when we hear this word, we tend to think of a one-time action. ’I’ve returned, so I’m here now. I’m done returning.’ Or I’ve repented. I can move on.
3. But in a spiritual sense the word return isn’t like that. It is not a one-time thing. It is a way of life. In 1517 AD, the fire of the Protestant reformation was ignited when Martin Luther nailed his 95 truths to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.
4. The first thesis of those 95 was this: "Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."
2. So in Jeremiah 3, we see that God is inviting us into a different way of living. A continual posture of the heart that enables us to experience the transforming power of mercy.
F. Which is great, but we need to understand something. This lifestyle, this experience of returning or repentance is not easily embraced by us followers of Christ. There is a very subtle and yet significant barrier that can keep us from genuine repentance. And all of us are vulnerable to it.
1. It is something God addresses very directly in the first part of chapter 3 and is embodied by the nation of Judah. Now before I read this passage, I need to give a little history lesson.
2. The whole nation of Israel was initially one nation under King David and under King Solomon. But when Solomon died, his son Rehoboam was kind of jerk and ticked off most of the tribes of Israel, so he fled south to Jerusalem and became king over the southern tribes, which became known as Judah. So Israel was the northern kingdom. Judah was the southern kingdom. Jeremiah lived in Judah.