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Summary: Backsliding begins with a rationalization of one's behavior, and a relativistic approach to determining right and wrong in one's life. This message deals with the result of this faulty thinking, while offering the only solution to one's backslidden condit

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Recovery through Repentance

Text: Jer. 2:13; 3:22

Intro: Backsliding on God, whether that of an individual, or that of a nation, does not take place all at once; but it is a gradual process. This spiritual malady usually begins with little departures from the truth of God’s Word—making little allowances here and there with truths upon which one once firmly stood.

Backsliding begins with a rationalization of one’s behavior (excuses for one’s actions or beliefs which are usually superficial), and a relativistic approach to determining right and wrong (resorting to situational ethics). Though Satan isn’t passed using blatant, in-your-face temptations to pull God’s people away from the Lord, his usual method is to use temptations that appear harmless, or almost imperceptible. However, as Song of Solomon 2:15a says, it is “…the little foxes, that spoil the vine…”

Such has been the case with our nation. Once our country proudly proclaimed itself a “Christian nation.” Nevertheless, as Dr. Tim LaHaye has said,

During the last 200 years, humanism (man’s wisdom) has captivated the thinking of the Western world. After conquering Europe’s colleges and universities, it spread to America, where it has developed a stranglehold on all public education.

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Humanism seems so credible and logical to the man who does not understand God’s wisdom that it is adopted readily by the masses—much to their own peril. Today’s wave of crime and violence in our streets, promiscuity, divorce, shattered dreams, and broken hearts can be laid right at the door of secular humanism.

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Simply defined, humanism is man’s attempt to solve his problems independently of God.(1)

The bottom line is that, due to humanism, our nation has developed an “I’m okay, you’re okay” philosophy of life. Since the religion of humanism is atheistic, morality is viewed as an irrelevant and outmoded idea in our society; and as a result, our nation is crumbling from within. For all practical purposes, the great, good, and moral nation we once knew is a dream of the past. Whether an individual or a nation has backslidden on God, only repentance and revival can turn the tide.

Just as the spiritual decline of Israel was gradual in the days of Jeremiah, we have seen much the same thing take place in America. Let’s learn from Israel’s mistakes, and pray that God will turn both the individual Christian and our nation back to Himself.

Theme: God, in urging His people to return from their backsliding, revealed…

I. ISRAEL’S FORMER DEVOTION

A. Initially Israel was Determined to Follow God.

Jer. 2:1 “Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”

NOTE: The word translated “kindness” includes “…the ideas of ‘love’ and ‘faithfulness.’ The RSV translates it devotion.”(2)

A poet once wrote, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.”

This would be a good exercise for us as Christians in regard to our love for Christ. The way to begin this exercise is to record the ways that He loves us. Then we need to recall that Jesus said that those who loved Him would obey Him. To count the ways we love Him, we have to count the areas of our lives where we are in total obedience to our Lord.

Love is more than words—and, even more than deeds. It is possible to do things in His name and not love Him. It is possible to say we love Him and not do what we should.

But, it is impossible to truly love Him and not do what He says. Why not try this experiment today. Look at the things you do for the Lord and ask if they are truly done with a heart of love and devotion.(3)

B. Initially Israel was Devoted to God.

Jer. 2:3a “Israel was holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of his increase…”

NOTE: [1] The words “holiness unto the Lord” refer to the fact that the nation of Israel was a nation separated unto God alone for His service. This no doubt refers to the fact that the nation of Israel was God’s chosen people.

[2] The word “firstfruits” adds to the idea that the nation of Israel was not only separated for God’s use alone, but it was also considered by God to be sacred by Him.

The harvest firstfruits were set apart as sacred (Ex 23:19; Lev 23:9-21); so Israel, God’s firstfruits-people among the nations, was sacred. The firstfruits were offered to God and could not be eaten by lay Israelites.(4)

[3] There was a time in America when quoting the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t frowned upon. There was a time in this country when Americans proudly acknowledged that America was “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Perhaps the individual Christian, as well as the leaders of our own nation should ask this very telling question:

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