The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the Lord (Jeremiah 3:6-10, NKJV).
In Jeremiah 3:6-10, we see the sin Israel committed. We also see God calling Israel to return to Him. When she didn’t, her sister Judah followed her into sin. So, God cut Israel off from His presence. This is something the USA and Canada should heed. Both countries have banned God from schools, the marketplace and from the halls of government. And the U.K. has also decided that God doesn’t matter. U.K. judge is calling for Britain to be systematically de-Christianized. When you stop honouring God and remove all traces of Him from life, the end result will not be good, and Israel is the perfect example of how devastating that can be.
Jeremiah 3:8 states that God had given Israel a “writ of divorce.” The word for divorce in Hebrew is kĕriythuwth, and it comes from the root word karath, which means to cut off. It also means to “cut a covenant.” So God is saying he is cutting his covenant with Israel. This is serious! He had sent Israel away and cut her off from Him. The nation He had called to be holy, to be an example to the world, was now so far away from God, He wanted nothing to do with them. He not only removed His hand of blessing (Jeremiah 3:3), but He removed them from His presence. Yet Judah, seeing Israel cut off from God’s presence, did not fear losing their relationship with God and followed Israel into sin. This is what Canada, the U.S.A., the U.K. and every other Christian country that has said no to God risks. It is every person who has said no to God. If you don’t want Him in your life, He will not suffer your presence, and He will remove Himself from you. But what happens when you realize your mistake? Judah pretended to repent of her disobedience and return to God. But God saw through Judah’s pretense of repentance and knew it wasn’t real. If confession is not followed by true repentance, God is not fooled.
In Jeremiah 3, we not only see how serious God is about sin but how merciful and willing He is to take back those who have sinned when they repent. In fact, I would have to say that Jeremiah 3 sets a tone for all people who have failed God, fallen into sin and want to return to Him. It is evident throughout the chapter that God’s desire is for His people to return to Him. However, a simple “I’m sorry Lord, I messed up, please forgive me” prayer will not do. With confession, there must be true repentance. However, sometimes our actions of disobedience come with consequences that we have to suffer through. And though Israel eventually did repent, she still needed to be entirely cleansed of her sin. Israel’s flagrant sin toward God would lead to their exile from the land. They would lose their temple and their city (Jerusalem) while spending seventy years in Babylonian captivity. Even when we confess and repent, sin still has its consequences. So be willing to accept them.
So what do we do? How can we make ourselves right with God if we have fallen away from Him? Some Christians believe that since they accepted Jesus as their Saviour, they no longer need to confess their sins or repent. Unfortunately, they use Jesus’ saving grace like a “get out of jail free card.” This is a belief of the Grace Movement. Believing that they are no longer accountable to God (needing to confess sin) because Jesus’ death cleansed them of all sins - past, present and future. And while we are forgiven for all our sins, we should not expect sin to go unnoticed by God. There will always be consequences for disobedience. Loving parents do not let their children defy them or continue to allow them to do wrong. Our Heavenly Father is the same way. He loves us too much to let us live in direct defiance of Him and His Word. Those Christians who claim that they are saved by grace and therefore don’t need to worry about sin are only fooling themselves. Yes, we have been saved by God’s extraordinary grace. But are we to take advantage of that grace? What did God ask of Israel for Him to accept her back into fellowship with Him?
"Only acknowledge your iniquity.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR INIQUITY
Iniquity means “premeditated choice, continuing without repentance.” In other words, God wants us to acknowledge that we made a choice to sin and continued to do so without being sorry for it. Iniquity leads us to have no fear of God because we willfully continue to sin in His presence. God wants us to acknowledge that we willfully sinned against Him.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS
Transgression means presumptuous sin. It means “to choose to intentionally disobey.” I realize that sounds a lot like iniquity, so let me give you an example between the two. When David slept with Bathsheba and then had her husband murdered - that was iniquity. Premeditated choice. Transgression is slightly different. For example, when we lie or knowingly run a stop sign. It could be a one-time thing. Like when Samson broke his Nazarite vows by touching a dead lion (Numbers 6:1-5; Judges 14:8-9). So God wants us to acknowledge those sins we continue to partake in (iniquity) and those sins we commit without thought (transgression).
ACKNOWLEDGE YOU HAVE NOT OBEYED GOD
After naming your sin for what it is (don’t sugar coat it, or come to God with excuses about why you sinned), acknowledge that you have disobeyed God. You disregarded His commandments. You forsook His Word and sinned. Admit it. As long as your sin goes unconfessed and you have an unrepentant heart, you are mocking God. You have (like Judah) just paid lip service to God. You have broken your fellowship with Him. Yes, you are still saved through the grace of Jesus’ sacrifice, but you live in direct disobedience toward your Creator. When you harbour sin in your life, you are clinging to it more than you are to God. You are placing your love of sin over your love of God. If you continue to sin and say it doesn’t matter because you are saved by grace, you are fooling yourself and mocking God’s saving grace.
“What shall we say then?
Did you happen to notice the main element of confession and repentance? It is acknowledging your sin. When we acknowledge our sin before God and confess how we have erred against Him, it should bring us to our knees in repentance. Repentance means turning away from your sin and never doing it again. One of the greatest gifts God gave us was sacrificing His Son so that we might be saved from eternal damnation. Jesus’ death resulted in our sins being forgiven - past, present and future. But our sinful nature has not been taken away. We are still capable of sinning. If you think you are righteous just because you have believed in Jesus as your Saviour, you are fooling yourself. Your belief in Jesus does not make you righteous. His forgiveness of your sins makes you righteous.
If you claim the title of Christian and realize that you have not been living a God-honouring life, there is only one thing for you to do. Acknowledge your sin before God (confess it) and repent. To those of you who believe in “free grace” and feel there is no need to repeatedly confess your sins and ask for forgiveness - I will remind you that you still have a sinful nature. Yes, you are forgiven, but you are still capable of sin. If you are not sinning, then you shouldn’t have a problem. But if you are sinning and follow it up with a flippant, “I’m forgiven, so it’s okay,” then my friend, you are mocking God’s grace. Like Judah, God sees right through you. Return to Him, keep the lines of communication open and do not grieve His Holy Spirit any longer. Your sins are forgiven - now live your life accordingly.