Our society is very anti-God and wants nothing to do with God and will try very hard to win your heart…..or better yet steal it from you. This is a message to the believer who struggles in their Christian life, trying to find a balance between these two worlds. See, it doesn’t happen overnight it’s that subtle deception like an “I V drip”. As one writer said “There is really no such thing as a sudden fall. Oh! the last step is only the last of a series of steps. I believe there are always many steps before a child of God reaches the verge of the precipice. I believe, further, that even when the edge of the precipice is reached, very few jump over. Most of them slide down, slowly at first, and it is so easy, so gentle, so effortless, so natural, so pleasant, that, alas! They seem to enjoy the sensation. It is only when the pace begins to accelerate terribly, it is only when control is slipping away, that this pleasant enjoyment gives way to anxiety and alarm.” This is where we need to proceed with extreme caution! It’s easy to stray down the wrong path and think that everything is ok. It’s easy to forget your first love when your appetite is being filled with the other things of this world. John Piper said “We need to ponder the superiority of God as our great reward over all that the world has to offer. If we don’t, we will love the world like everyone else and live like everyone else.”
We need to do a self-evaluation to see what we love the most! See, what’s worse for the soul is a person who has tasted the available truth of forgiveness and choses to continue to follow after the things of this world as a way of satisfaction. It’s the idea, content at first, but as time goes on they get bored or dissatisfied with what they have………meaning God. Maybe you know someone or maybe you feel this way?
- Your Time with God dwindles.
- You desire to fellowship with other Christians diminishes
- You hardly ever read your Bible.
- Your church attendance is inconsistent and less important to you.
- You become more concerned about yourself rather than the things of God.
- Your giving is almost nothing.
- Your lifestyle has become more sinful rather than more holy/pure.
The focus of your heart changes from the things of God to the things of the world. Maybe the problem is that you’re sliding down the hill as well and you don’t realize your backsliding in Christian life. WHAT IS BACKSLIDING? First, all Christians are sinners, but not all Christians are currently backsliding. Backsliding is not the loss of one’s salvation (this is impossible), nor the loss of God’s love and care (his faithfulness endures forever). To say it simply, a backslidden Christian is one whose communion with Christ is whose faith is weakening. This passage displays to us where backsliding leads too and the compassion and great concern that our God has for us when we stray away from what’s most important and serve self or idols. The Lord said “I remember the devotion of your youth” this God speaking to His people. (v2). As a bride is to her husband………. you loved me at the beginning of our marriage, but know you are different! And that pure excited devotion you had for Me at the beginning has quickly changed and gone in the other direction to serve other things.
Doesn’t that sound like many of us in this room? With one hand were satisfied in God and with the other we are continued to look for other satisfactions to feed selfish lusts or passions. When we can’t get what we want from God, we leave Him for someone or something that is better. Sadly the result or outcome of that backsliding leads to this question! What did I do wrong that you have turned away from me? (v5). Let that question soak in this morning! In our generation what is wrong with God that we are not more interested in Him? In our generation why are we not serving Him? Is God doing something wrong? Again in (v5) what sin has God committed to make us turn our backs on Him? What has God done that you would follow after vain thing or idols? Some translations say “vanity” which has the same meaning here as idols. They become vain, foolish having no more sense and reason because idols they are no good and benefit nothing. As John Calvin said “as long as the devil deceives and deludes the world, idols and images will be in repute, though they are in themselves solely useless and worthless, while yet they prove disastrous to the souls of men.” What are some things that draw us away from God?
In the end it leads to pain and a wrong view of God and His everlasting grace in our lives. Look what God says in (v13) “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” My people have committed two evils! First, they have forsaken me and secondly they have crafted their own cisterns. We live among people whom you may know, who have carved out little cisterns for themselves. They will do it on their own, their way and ignore God and His wisdom along with God’s children and seek to fill their own desires and lusts. The major downside to this is that carved cisterns are riddled with holes that are unable to hold water. What picture of the self-righteous man or woman. A person who desires money, fame or power will never be satisfied and they will continue to seek out their own passions. Have we not witnessed this in the life of most men who have fallen to image of a naked woman? Have we not seen this is the life of resent celebrities who have everything yet are still unsatisfied?Have we not seen this in the divorce of marriages when times get tough? Have we not seen this in the life of some of the youth who try to grow up so fast and refuse to listen to their parents [especially as it pertains to modesty and purity]? Have we not seen this in the church where people are always dissatisfied, because the church is not doing what “you” want them to do? This is the warning to all Christians! A person will never find true satisfaction in these…..it only leads to sin and hardened heart to the beauty found in God alone. And sadly this leads to a backslidden life of vain [idolatrous] pursuits because you’re dissatisfied with God and His children.
LET ME ASK YOU THIS! What does it mean to be an idolater? Some say it’s:
- Its worshipping other gods
- It’s a craven image
- It’s a person
- Its self-worship
They‘re all good answers! But the word idolatry goes much deeper than that! Webster’s defines Idolatry as: An image, form or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship; a pagan deity. Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold. I think Erwin Lutzer explanation of idolatry goes even deeper than that..... He leaves no room for compromise for today’s generation when it comes to idolatry!
He says……..“an idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero. If I can simply define idolatry! It is something that gives you and me more pleasure (fulfillment) than GOD." Idolatry is more that bowing down at an image on your wall or a Buddha sitting on a mantel. It’s what you give your most time too. AGAIN! What have you turned from to follow the Lord Jesus Christ? What was your idol or your god before salvation came? What is your idol possibly today? See we need to understand that God wants nothing greater in our lives than Him………ALONE! If we are not.....Consuming our lives with more of Him minute by minute. If we are not.....In drenching our lives or families our churches, in the Scripture, in prayer, sharing the hope of Christ and communion with the saints! Then, we are at risk of becoming an idolater as these men and women in this passage! Let me explain as we look at what idolatry has done through the ages starting with the Bible:
- Self-worship in the Garden found in the book of Genesis (Chapter 3)
- Tower of Babel found in the book of Genesis (Chapter 11)
- The Golden Calf found in the book of Exodus (Chapter 32)
- The Battle of Elijah and the prophet Baal in the book of 1st Kings (Chapter 18)
- The Fish god in Nineveh found in the book of Jonah (Chapter 1)
- Nebuchadnezzar and his statue of gold found in the book of Daniel (Chapter 3)
- Rituals and traditions of the Pharisee’s found in all the 4 Gospels
- Worship of man the apostles and faithful men of God (1 Cor 3)
- The “unknown god” found in the book of Acts (Chapter 17)
- Angels found in the Book of Revelation (Chapter 22)
We need to understand that God hates our idolatry! Listen to what God says about this problem.....not me! GOD SAYS as He does in this passage of Jeremiah. The Lord uses strong language of rebuke here! Again, He says “for my people have committed two evils…”
“evil” in its most general context, is taken as the absence of that which is ascribed as being good. Often, evil is used to denote profound immorality. Israel has not merely offended God, like the unregenerate man or woman, by idolatry, but by deserting the only God who can satisfy the needs of human nature. His covenant people committed two evils, they abandon the true God and they serve idols. What is the outcome of these two evils to a backslidden Christian…..these sins to build cisterns for your own pleasure.
Idolatry is an Abomination and an affront to a holy God who love us. “for it is an abomination to the LORD your God.” Deut 7:25
Idolatry is unprofitable and it will continue to leave you empty and unsatisfied. “....They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god; They prostrate themselves, yes, they worship. They bear it on the shoulder, they carry it And set it in its place, and it stands; From its place it shall not move. Though one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer Nor save him out of his trouble.” Isa 46:6-7
Idolatry is forsaking God and brings about judgement. “because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands” 2 Kings 22:17
Idolatry changes the truth of God into a lie “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Rom 1:25
Idolatry is only having fellowship with the Devil “My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, And their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, And they have played the harlot against their God.” Hosea 4:12
Idolatry is false worship and dishonoring to God “He cuts down cedars for himself, And takes the cypress and the oak; He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. Then it shall be for a man to burn, For he will take some of it and warm himself; Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; Indeed he makes a god and worships it; He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. He burns half of it in the fire; With this half he eats meat; He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire." And the rest of it he makes into a god, His carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, Prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god!" Isaiah 44:14-17
So I can’t stress this enough that the Bible is abundantly clear that idolatry is and goes against everything God desires and wills.....that He created for His good pleasure! This is the concern that God has for His people in this passage! We should examine our lives in light of this passage. Have we forsaken God with something and not realize it? Have we been worshipping and following after our own desires and passions instead of God. Have we been complacent as we slid gradually down the slippery slope of backsliding to serve self over God? Have we been so busy we forgot about our first love as the church of Ephesus did? We are not to serve self but to serve and continue to follow the living God who loved us and gave His Son for us......WHICH MEANS WE FOLLOW……….
- A breathing God
- A caring God
- A loving God
- A sovereign God
- A merciful God
- A righteous God
Not a god made of wood, silver, gold, or a statue, a cross or fallible men and women. Not a god created in our image or by our hands. We serve a God who desires and deserves our adoration and thanksgiving. We serve a God who transformed our ways to serve the One who created man in His likeness. We serve the GOD of the Bible (YAHWEH, ELOHIM, EL SHADDAI, JEHOVAH, AND ADONAI). We follow and worship the true living God through the Gospel! We have also been delivered from the wrath of almighty God (The Just and the Justifier). To all Christian have you committed these two evils? Have you chosen sin over Him because you thought you dig a bigger and better hole to hold water? Things that draw us away from Him to pursue vain worthless things! Please think before you’re tempted to commit these two evils……..GOD IS BETTER!
- God is better than money
- God is better than education
- God is better than career or aspirations
- God is better than family and friends
- God is better than entertainment
- God is better than sex
- God is better than popularity and power
- God is better than anything and everything you could imagine
My question for us is………………….Do you believe that? And if so, come back! Why? Because as the song goes “One day in His house is better than a thousands elsewhere.