Greetings Project Ezra! This week’s reading is Jeremiah chapter 7, and in this chapter God is calling Jeremiah to stand in the door of His temple and confront pretenders to the faith. Several of our previous blogs have also addressed the fact that there are many false converts in the modern church, and this passage makes it clear that this is an issue that needs to be seriously considered and addressed. You and I are not Jeremiah, who had a very unique calling from God, but I do believe the principle encapsulated here is for the whole church. It is something we should take very seriously as street corner evangelists, since most of those people we talk to are in exactly the same spot as the people Jeremiah was talking to.
First, remind people that there is a God who has given us standards to live by, and we have consistently ignored those standards. In verse 9 God mentions theft, murder, adultery, bearing false witness and idolatry, five of the Ten Commandments. The nation of Israel claimed they were delivered, yet ignored God’s commands. This is not just a matter of sin, but of willful, ongoing, unrepentant sin. Many people in the church, who claim the name of Christ, and many “religious” people you will meet on the street, will fall into the same category.
Secondly, God has given us ample warning, as He did to Israel. He gave Israel His inspired word (which has been passed on to us), and commanded them to obey Him, and in return He said He would be their God. He promised to bless them for their obedience. He sent prophets to guide them in His ways, and to bring correction when they strayed. But they were stubborn, and would not listen, even though they continued to claim to be His followers.
Third, God takes His word, and the breach of it, VERY seriously. He doesn’t ignore disobedience, he punishes it. In response to Israel’s rebellion He said he would cast them out of His sight, and that he would pour out His anger and wrath on them. God is loving and gracious, but it is sinful to preach or believe in only the aspects of His character that we are comfortable with. That is idolatry, and most people believe in a god that is a weak, pale and ambivalent reflection of the mighty, glorious and holy God who reveals himself in scripture. And it is His perfection and holiness that should cause us Godly fear. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Finally, let people know that apart from God’s mercy, we are without hope. God’s law and His wrath should never be used to drive anyone toward legalism. It must be used to drive them to the foot of the blood-stained cross. The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith, and those who have repented and trusted Christ will be radically changed. They will not be able to go on sinning, because they have been born of God. They will not claim God’s name and continue in unrepentant wickedness, but, out of love for God the thankfulness for His grave, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be changed from the inside out, and their behavior will reflect that.
So encourage people to examine themselves, test themselves to see if they are in the faith. By God’s grace, maybe you will have the privilege to seeing someone repent and trust the Savior before your eyes.
For the praise of His glory,
A note to those of you who regularly participate in Project Ezra in front of local abortion clinics. I know there are several of you. You might want to use verse 31 as a springboard regarding the abortion industry. Thousands of children are sacrificed each week on the alters of Expediency, Autonomy, and Personal Freedom. They may not be worshiping Baal, but the sin is just as wicked, the attitude just as idolatrous, and child just as dead.