Prone To Wander

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 Jer 7:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
 2 "Stand in the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, 'Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the LORD!'"
 3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
 4 "Do not trust in these lying words, saying, 'The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.'
 5 "For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,
 6 "if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt,
 7 "then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.
 (NKJV)
 Heb 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
 15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
 16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?
 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?
 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?
 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
 (NKJV)
 Joh 6:66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
 69 "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
 70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.
 (NKJV)

Beloved, mark these words well. We can “lose” our salvation. Once saved always saved is a myth. You know, as Christians, we ought to be a little “edgy.” A little nervous about our faith. As human beings we are so prone to wander.
Not that we ought to go around like nervous wrecks, jumping out of our shoes at the slightest provocation.   We can’t be like a Don Knotts character, who is constantly asking, “What was that? How bad was that sin? Did I lose my salvation? Did I fall from grace? No, We can say with Paul in

2Ti 1:12b “for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

God is able to keep us until that Day, but He will never forcefully do that. He only keeps that which we have committed to Him. We need not be “edgy” about God’s part in all this, He won’t fail! But we do  need to be “edgy” about our own part, for we are indeed “prone to wander.” . Our hearts can become hardened toward God and we can lose our salvation.

Please note the hardening agent listed in the epistle reading today.

Heb 3:13 - “Lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” That’s where it starts. It starts with our the gelatin of willful disobedience of God’s Word. Oh, it’s not always what we might call a biggie either. It starts out small.....a little disrespect, a little lying, a little cheating, a little gossip, a little self-indulgence, a little lingering look.



Pretty soon, we get used to it, we think it’s the norm, and if it’s the norm, why should we take the time to be convicted of it, why should we bother confessing it, and why should we come to the Lord for His forgiveness. And slowly, but surely our heart is hardened, because we are not availing ourselves of God’s incredible love and forgiveness.

We become thankless, self-assured, not realizing that there could be a slow damning leak hardening our hearts to the grace of God. One of the questions asked in the Personal Preparation for Holy Communion in our hymnal is this: “Why ought we to remember and proclaim His death?

The answer: That we may learn to believe that no creature could make satisfaction for our sins but Christ, true God and man; and that we may learn to look with terror at our sins, and to regard them as great indeed, and to find joy and comfort in Him alone, and thus be saved through such faith.”

That’s what we are talking about here! When’s the last time you looked with terror at your sins? When’s the last time you were duly terrified and then received the comfort and joy of His unconditional forgiveness?

This is the deceitfulness of sin that eventually hardens the heart and turns you away from the living God.

You were all baptized at an early age and brought into the Kingdom of God through His grace. Your sins were washed away, you were given faith, and the Holy Spirit to help you keep your faith vibrant, active, and alive.

But have you fallen victim to the deceitfulness of sin? Have you slowly allowed your acceptance of sin to erode your faith and harden your heart?

 Pr 24:33 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest;
 34 So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
 (NKJV)

You and I are no different than those people in the days of Jeremiah. They were circumcised people who attended church, and we are baptized people who attend church. One day, the Lord told Jeremiah to stand outside the gate of the Temple to deliver his sermon. Speak to the people before they come through the doors!

He said, “Do you want to come in here? Do you want to be counted as part of my church?” Do you want to be taken up to heaven as the bride of Christ? Do you want eternal life? Then change your ways! The word “amend” here means to be beautiful. In other words start reflecting the beauty of God in your lives!

Let’s skip ahead here to Jer. 7:8,9: ....same sermon.
  Jer 7:9 "Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know,
 10 "and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to do all these abominations'?
 (NKJV)

These people had been delivered from their sins through circumcision, as we have been delivered in baptism, but have we been delivered in order to do all these abominations? The obvious answer is no!   As Paul said in his letter to the Romans:

 Ro 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
 (NKJV)

Well, what does it mean to “amend our ways?” We get a clue in v5 and v6.

 Jer 7:5 "For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,
 6 "if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt,
 (NKJV)


The goal is thoroughly! Learn to allow God the Holy Spirit to examine you thoroughly in His Word. Let every sin be brought out into the light. Confess it, and receive God’s forgiveness.  Then Jeremiah gives us some examples: Things we can do to reflect the beauty of God.

Execute justice. Don’t play favorites!  The church of Jesus Christ is made up of sinners saved by grace. Rich, poor, black, white, male/female, we are all the same. The ground at the cross is level, and we need to start interacting with each other on that basis.

Do not oppress (defraud) the needy. Reach out to the poor, the orphaned, and the widowed.

Don’t shed innocent blood in this place! In this land! What does that say about legalized abortion?

And don’t walk after other gods. Don’t go chasing after the temporary things of this world! Chase after Jesus!

Now think about what Jeremiah is saying here.  “Don’t come into this place if you are going to continue playing  favorites! Don’t come into this place if you aren’t going to lift a finger to help the needy. Don’t come into this place if you are going to ignore the shedding of innocent blood in the land, and don’t come into this place if the things of this world are more important to you than Jesus.

And don’t think that your churchianity will save you either....”Do not trust in these lying words saying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord! Don’t think that “this place” this physical building, your baptized membership will be of any help to you on the last Day! Your baptism must be accompanied by a living faith.

Amend your ways, reflect the beauty of God in your life, or run the risk of hardening your heart and losing your salvation!

In our gospel lesson, Jesus had just delivered a “hard message.” People didn’t want to believe it.

“From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (Jn 6:66) They withdrew what they had committed to Him because of a difficult teaching.   Jesus didn’t hold a gun to the head of those disciples. In fact, He even asked the twelve, “Do you also want to go away? And Peter replied, “To whom shall we go? You have the Words of life!”

It’s not about the difficulty of the teaching, it’s not about following a more difficult path. It’s about recognizing that these are the Words of life! Difficult or not! They come from the Christ the Son of the Living God!

You can lose your salvation. You can walk away from Christ. The writer of Hebrews warns us


 Heb 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; (You can depart from the living God if your heart is full of unbelief!)

 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (We have an obligation to stay on each other’s case in this matter. We should constantly be reminding each other to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins and bring them under the blood of Jesus)

I don’t know when it happened in the church, but a spirit of “mind your own business” has crept in. If we see someone struggling spiritually, we just leave them alone...that is not a biblical response!

 Mt 18:15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
 (NKJV)

Somehow, we have drifted away from the meaning of the word “encouragement.” We’ve turned it into a rah rah kind of thing. Now there is a place for rah rah,  but don’t forget the other part of exhortation....speaking the truth, as it concerns sin, in love.



Pulease! Someone bring a convicting word to me! Give me chapter and verse that speaks of sin, so that I might come before the Lord and ask, Is this me? And if it is, may I be terrorized by my sin and run to the Savior for His merciful forgiveness.

If we aren’t engaged in this activity on a regular basis,  it’s not too long, and the deceifulness of sin begins to take root, we become complacent little Pharisees and we are on our way to the hardening of our heart.

 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, (Friends, we started well in our baptism, some of us started well when we came back to the faith,  but we must finish the race!)

 15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
 16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?
 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?
 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?
 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.


This is serious stuff. God means business in this regard! Finish the race!  Stay on track because you and I are so prone to give up.....so prone to roam.

I was reading Psalm 119 this week and in v25 it says, “My soul clings to the dust.” And I thought about that for a while, and it occurred to me that the professing church of Jesus Christ (and that includes me) could use a little more soul clinging to the dust. We could use a good dose of Holy Spirit wrought conviction. Some terror over our sin!

God-wrought conviction that wakes us up out of our complacency and declares, “Oh, God I have sinned against you! I can’t continue brushing these sins off. I must be broken by them, confess them, and realize Your blessed mercy and grace anew!”

 Then in v29 the psalmist says:

“Remove from me the way of lying:” What is the way of lying? Is it not that denial of sin? Remove it from me Lord! Bring conviction and genuine repentance to my heart. Let Your mercy and grace overwhelm me again.

“He continues:

“And grant me Your Law graciously.”

Isn’t that a marvelous way to state sanctification? It’s almost an oxymoron. “Law graciously.” But what he is saying is this.

“God cause my soul to cling to the dust as I receive a new sense of conviction of my sin. Then move me to confess and receive your forgiveness and mercy and grace. Then I will receive Your Law and walk in Your Law graciously!”

I have noticed a hardening in my own heart. It has been slow in coming since my conversion, (or coming back to faith) but a little unconfessed sin here, a little there, and suddenly I see that I’m not as soft and pliable toward the Lord as once was.  I have gotten complacent and you know what? I think I need to be a little more on edge. Why even a pastor can lose his salvation!

How about you? Where are you in all this? Have you become complacent? When’s the last time you sat down with the Holy Spirit and let Him show you your sins. Do you excuse your actions? Do you blow them off? Hey, everyone else is doing it!  Perhaps the sayings of Jesus are too hard?  Whatever the case may be, the writer of Hebrews leaves us with Good News!

 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.

The promise remains! God’s not going to change! His part of the deal is firm. He still invites you to enter His rest. Therefore, today, recommit your life to Jesus.  Listen again to the words of the Apostle Paul:


2Ti 1:12b “for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Commit your life to Jesus. Commit to staying on your toes, ever vigilant against sin in your life that can lead to the hardening of your heart.  Learn to be an “edgy” Christian. “Fear, lest any of you seem to come short of eternal life.” It’s not once saved by baptism, always saved. You can lose your salvation!

But you don’t have to. Recommit to Him today.