An appalling and horrible thing
has happened in the land:
the prophets prophesy falsely,
and the priests rule at their direction;
my people love to have it so,
but what will you do when the end comes?
Jeremiah mentions the false prophecies being prophesied within Israel and the poor instruction of the priests. All the prominent leaders are doing their own thing and instructing the Israelites to do things that were not pleasing to God. Based upon previous passages in Scripture, it was probably obvious to the Israelites that the instruction was bad or misleading, and they most likely chose to pretend like the information they were given was accurate. That also seems to be the case when God says, "My people love to have it so."
And wouldn't people love it if our actions were condoned instead of condemned? What if the police officer stopped you for speeding and said, "You were going 60 in a 40, when the horsepower of your car shows me you could have been going a lot faster. Don't let that vehicle go to waste. Use it and enjoy its abilities." What if your boss for a major corporation caught you sleeping on the job and said, "I get it. I do it too. Gotta catch up on sleep sometime. Just make sure to get your daily work done, and you can sleep as long as you want!" You'd feel good about these reassurances to do wrong disguised as good. Speeding impacts others around you and could be deadly. It should never be condoned. Sleeping on the job means you're stealing time from the company- it doesn't matter what your boss says unless he personally owns the company.
So yes, we would love to hear others affirming our sins and allowing us to commit them instead of feeling shameful, and that's what the world does to us today. The world says things like "Porn is okay. Everyone watches it. It's healthy. View it." or "Monogamy is old school. Polyamory is socially tolerable now. Try it out." We have the choice to give into the world's ideas or to refrain, but as God reminded the Israelites, "But what will you do when the end comes?"
Sin does provide pleasure for a limited amount of time. It ends. It grows old. It leaves you hanging. Suddenly that high you had on it or the happiness you received from it is gone, and you keep chasing it, but it's not the same anymore. Some of y'all might not get to that point though. What happens when your life is shortened unexpectedly?
It can happen. I'm a fairly healthy-looking 20-something who recently found noticed my birthmark was beginning to grow abnormally. I figured it wasn't a big deal, but I went and had it checked out, which led to a biopsy and a surgery all within a couple of weeks. The abnormal growth was the most severe form, and I was told it would have led to melanoma cancer had it not been removed. Some people experience abnormal skin cells that could potentially lead to cancer, but the site is a mild form, unlike mine. I had the worst case. I could have developed cancer and not known it for quite some time. I rarely look at that birthmark, but God allowed me to examine it one day and notice something wasn't right before it became a serious issue.
If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. One moment you think you're young and invincible, and then the next God shows you that that's not the case. What happens when you fulfill your sinful desires only to realize you made a mistake and your life has been cut off short? What happens when you die in sin, and you wake up at the judgment seat? It's too late to repent.
God reminded the Israelites of this. Yes, you have the choice. The choice to keep on sinning or to stop and follow God. But if they chose to keep it up, God warned them of the consequences- the end outcome. Eternity in hell.
Time is short. God is gracious, and He gives us chances. But sometimes enough is enough, and there are no more. I would urge you to stop the sin. It's not worth it. Pick up the cross of Christ. That is worth it, and it's something I don't regret.
He Won't Forgive Me, Will He?
One thing I've noticed about the mind is that it says many things that are true and many that are untrue. One of the biggest lies the mind perpetuates is that God will stop forgiving us, that He will simply cut off His love for us no matter how hard we beg His forgiveness. I've heard stories from people who didn't believe God wanted to save them or that they just weren't part of the elect, and no matter how hard they begged, they didn't believe God heard their prayer. And for some this may seem silly, but for others who are struggling and wondering if God will forgive them, you might be thinking this too.
He could just suddenly stop forgiving us. After all, the Bible talks about how God has the ability to do as He pleases with us because He made us (Rom. 9.21). So this would follow that idea. He isn't obligated to forgive us. We are considered unworthy and undeserving of forgiveness, so it would follow that God could suddenly take his mercy from us and choose not to forgive us. Right?
You can breathe a sigh of relief. The book of Jonah tells a much different story about forgiveness. If you remember, Jonah refused to obey God, was punished, and then restored. Jonah was forgiven, despite the fact that he purposefully disobeyed God and had no intention of obeying God until God created dire circumstances. When Jonah was at his weakest, though undeserving, God heard Jonah's prayer and forgave him. I know what you're thinking. Well that was one story. One example. Maybe Jonah was the exception.
Let's take a closer look.
Remember the Israelites before they left Egypt? They cried out to God for help. He saved them. Remember when David was fleeing Saul? He prayed to God to save him, and God responded and did so. Remember the evil king named Manasseh? One day he was extremely sorrowful for his sins, and God forgave him. And what about those Ninevites? The evil Assyrians? God forgave them once they tore their cloaks and repented of their sins. If you look at all of the stories of people who cried out to God in repentance, God saved them. He never says "No."
But the Bible does say that there is a time when God will not hear the cries of those who call out, and that's reserved for those who purposely live in sin, unremorseful. Sin separates us from God, and if we hold onto it, God won't listen to our cries for forgiveness. This is written about numerous times, "If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened" (Psm. 66.18).
Notice the key term: repentance. So if your mind tells you God won't forgive you, ask yourself if it's because you're dwelling in unconfessed sin. If that's not in, then your mind is fooling you- a ploy of Satan to get you to live a life of misery with a disconnect in communication with God. If you're one of the penitent ones, then you have the Bible to reflect back on and recognize that everyone who called out to God for forgiveness, repenting of their sins, was heard and forgiven.
It's as simple as that. God's love is so great that He won't purposely slam the door on us. He won't say "No" to a sinner begging at His feet. As long as you are alive on this earth, God extends His mercy to the truly sorrowful.
God will forgive the penitent sinner!
Published in Boundless, Devozine, The Lookout, The Life, The Secret Place, and many more, Ashlea is a freelance writer on the side and English professor who spends her free time posting here on her blog.