A Thought for Today from Jeremiah 5

I am just going to quote a Scripture here.  This passage pretty well nails the scenario in our churches today that most all of us have experienced and which we are trying to expose.  I like the Lord’s promise of His justice upon such evil and thought these verses might be an encouragement to all of you as well:

Jeremiah 5:26-31 For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men. (27) Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; (28) they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. (29) Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?” (30) An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: (31) 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?

Why Aren’t They Hearing the Good Shepherd?

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.  (John 4:5-6)

Many professing Christians seem to have little or no ability to discern truth from error, or as we might also phrase it, evil from good. And yet the Bible is quite plain that all real Christians are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ who is also known as the Spirit of truth. The Spirit enables the Christian to hear the Shepherd’s voice, to listen to and recognize God’s Word, and to reject all counterfeits.

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  (John 10:4-5)

Abusers are of the evil one. For all of their amazing deceptions and disguises, ultimately they cannot deceive Christ’s people because the Spirit in us reveals to us who they really are. And yet we are seeing many who profess to know Christ stumble at all this. Evil is exposed. False teachers who abuse others and work to bring them into bondage are rebuked. Scriptures that speak to these very things are taught and preached regularly. Yet, we see many simply fail to “get it.” Why?

Most abuse victims and survivors will tell you that it took a long, long time for the lights to come on so that they finally realized over time just what this thing was that was happening to them. They started to see the real person that their abuser was. They will tell you how the Lord opened their eyes to see it. But they saw it. Eventually, they saw it. They knew.

Why then, we ask once more, are so many people who claim to be Christians not only remaining blind to the evil of abuse right in their own pews, but actively opposing its exposure? Why are they refusing to believe victims, and why are they enabling and protecting the wicked?

Could it just perhaps be that they do not have the capacity to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice? Could it be that they are still of the world, and march to the world’s drum rather than Christ’s?

Nothing exposes the real nature of a church and its members than how they respond to the cries of the downtrodden.

A Good Description of Real Repentance

1 Peter 2:1-3, So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

One of the questions we all face in dealing with someone who is only a pretender in their Christian “faith,” is this matter of their oft-repeated claims to be repentant.  They can seem quite convincing.  The puppy-dog eyes inviting pity.  The insistence that everyone must believe their claims of “sorry” (a definite sign of un-repentance, by the way).  You’ve heard it all many times.  You have wanted to believe it.  Sometimes you did.  Always, you found out it was false.

The Apostle Peter gives us a remarkably clear description here of the abuser.  He does so because he is speaking of the characteristics of sin, and abuse is sin in one of its purer forms — largely or entirely let loose from any constraints of conscience.  Consider these five elements of the abusive mentality and tactics:

  • Malice –  An ill-will toward someone.  Malevolence.  Intentional desiring to harm someone.
  • Deceit –  Lying, disguise-wearing, changing the facts of history, crazy-making.
  • Hypocrisy – Deceit gone wild.  An entire life constructed that is a fraud, designed to cover the corruption inside the cup.
  • Envy –  Coveting glory and honor for oneself.
  • Slander – The verbal spewing of all the other wickedness directed toward others.  Malice, deception, hypocrisy and envy set to words.

These are the things that must be put away if real repentance is to occur.  All of it has to go.  There has to be a thorough scouring of one’s life, loading up all of this trash and sending it to the dump as the garbage that it is.  But there has to be more.

In place of all of these things, there must be a new craving for God’s truth.  Think about it.  Every single one of this five-fold inventory of trash – malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander – is an expression of what is a lie.  And that is a pretty good description of the essence of the abuser’s life — it is a lie.  He is a lie.  The lie must go.  The truth must come.

How can we know if someone is repentant?  Well, Peter is showing us here that where genuine repentance is, you will find this new hunger and thirst for the pure milk of the Word of God.  And as this milk is consumed, growth takes place.  Growth in salvation.  Growth in Christ.  The stench of the old garbage is replaced by the fragrance of Jesus.  And as the truly repentant, believing heart consumes this milk, it finds the taste of it quite agreeable.  “What is this savor?  Give me more!”  It is kindness.  It is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ shown to a once rebel heart.  And it really, really tastes good!  Real repentance is a beautiful thing.  It tastes, and it finds that the Lord is good.