Imagine for a moment the perplexing and heartbreaking story of an unfaithful husband who brings candy and flowers home to his wife after a day of cheating. You wonder why he would not just keep the candy and flowers, and just stop the cheating.
I once knew a woman whose husband had been cheating on her for months. She had no idea. One day it all came to light and it was shattering and painful. All those birthday presents, valentines, Christmas gifts…What did they really mean now? Lie upon lie, so much deception. Now she knew the truth: that his heart was given to another. Finally, thankfully, when it all came to light (and it inevitably does), he “came clean,” asking for her forgiveness. The good news about this story is, in a supreme act of grace, she gave him another chance. It took many years, however, to heal both of them. So very often, sin leaves the deepest of its scars on the sinner.
It is tragic to hear a story like that one. But don’t think it is any less tragic when we are habitually unfaithful to God.
I would like to share some thoughts from the Book of Jeremiah.
I don’t think God likes it when we saunter back into His presence casually thinking that He will always overlook our sin. This was true in the case of the nation of Israel, in Jeremiah’s day. They had gone “whoring” (God’s words, not mine; check out the entire Book of Hosea), and now they came to the Lord nonchalantly, wanting to return and saying, “My Father, Friend from my youth, don’t be angry” (Jeremiah 3:4–5).
The Israelites had offended God and He had seen right through the pretense of their shallow confessions. He states very calmly, sadly, “This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can” (Jeremiah 3:5 NIV).
Listen ladies, sin’s subtle deception is the one that is perpetrated on our own hearts. All the pretty fantasies and religious words we may say mean nothing to God if in our hearts we continue to cherish and hide ungodly behavior.
We may fool others; most likely we are trying to fool ourselves, but God is not convinced. Today, let’s “come clean,” label our sin (whatever form it takes) for what it is. I challenge you to use the old-fashioned biblical words for sin when you confess to God: thief, drunkard, fornicator, idolater, glutton, sloth! Shocking, I know, but we need to be shocked by our heart’s capacity to sin.
So let’s stop all the pretense and self-deception. Don’t think nostalgically that because you once had a vibrant relationship with the Lord, it will somehow compensate for your present coldness and disregard for sin.
Hear what God says: “I will be merciful and not be angry forever.” But first, we must “return, faithless Israel…acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled…and that you have not obeyed” (Jeremiah 3:12–13 NIV). May God remove the blindness we have to our own sin, so we can then truly rejoice in His love and forgiveness.
Lord, help me to search my heart, and see if I have taken advantage of Your grace and mercy. Convict me of my sins, however big or small they may be in my eyes. Help me see how I have offended You. Resensitize my conscience, and help me forsake evil altogether. Have mercy on me and give me a humble and contrite heart.