Summary: The sixth of a series of six messages from Jeremiah on sexual sin. This final sermon focuses on trusting God when you fear backsliding into old sinful habits.
A. For several weeks now, we have been spending some time in the early chapters of Jeremiah talking about the issue of sexual sin.
1. Even though these words were written centuries ago, they speak very directly to us about the true impact of sexual sin in our lives in terms of the shame, the emptiness, the enslavement that it brings.
2. While it seems that our society wants to ignore the consequences, God loves us enough to tell us the truth about this. So that is the focus of chapter 2. We spent about 3 weeks talking about these things from that passage.
3. But in chapter 3 there is a significant shift. We see that God isn’t simply interested in diagnosing the problem. He also wants to help us break free from these things that are destroying our lives.
B. So in chapter 3, God begins showing us a way out--not just of this sinful behavior but any sin that is at work in our lives. What is that way out? Well we see it summarized in Jeremiah 3:22.
1. A very interesting verse: "Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding." In this verse, we see two absolutely essential aspects of our experiencing God’s way out of the sin that entangles us. Two critical aspects of real transformation.
2. The first aspect is contained in that first word: Return which also can be translated repent. Last week we talked in detail about what that means, what that looks like.
3. And what we discovered from chapter 3 was that to return or to repent does not mean what we typically think it means. When we hear the word repent, we typically think it means to just stop doing what you are doing. Just stop it.
C. That’s how a lot of Christians approach sin in their lives--just stop it. We make promises to do better. We exert our will power. But it doesn’t work. Trying harder to avoid sin doesn’t work.
1. You see, repentance--at a foundational level--is not simply about stopping our sin. Rather it is about seeing our sin the way God does. Acknowledging to God the guilt of our sin and the devastation that our sin brings into our lives.
4. In that seeing, something significant happens in our soul. Which is the second critical aspect of genuine transformation and is what is described for us in the second part of this verse: vs 22 "Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding." Another translation says "I will heal you of faithlessness."
D. But notice who is doing the heavy lifting here. Notice who is doing the work. God is. It is His activity in us that will help us break free from these sins that are destroying our lives.
1. This is amazing when you think about it. Our God is not saying, "C’mon. do better. Try harder. You can beat this thing." No. That’s not what He’s saying. God says, "return to Me, and I will release my power in your life in greater ways. I will do the work in you."
2. So what exactly does that mean? What exactly does that look like? How does this work? Well that’s what we want to look at today.
3. We’re going to build upon this incredibly important foundation of repentance and discover how we can experience God’s power helping us in our battle with sin.
E. In order to do that, we need to move a bit forward in the book of Jeremiah to chapter 17. So if you have your Bible, please turn to Jeremiah 17.
1. Now if you are wondering what is the primary theme of chapters 4-16, let me give it to you in a word: sin. For the bulk of chapters 4-16 (which probably encompasses several years in the life and ministry of Jeremiah), God is passionately pointing out the sin of his people.
2. What becomes clear is that sin--this tendency toward self centeredness and trying to find life apart from God--is not just a minor issue in our lives. It is pervasive. It is a dominating force in our lives--but there is a more dominating force that we can tap into. The very power of God.
F. And the way we tap into this power is revealed in Jeremiah 17:5-8 Let’s read this out loud together: "This is what the Lord says: ’Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." This is God’s Word.