[Mar 18]—Open For All

Jeremiah 12:14-17

What sins really tick God off? Hopefully you know that he takes all sin a lot more seriously than we do, but you should also know that he takes some sins more seriously than others. There are well-meaning Christians out there who teach that the Lord counts all sins equally, but this really doesn’t jibe with what Scripture teaches. I won’t get into the evidence, but if you’re interested, here are some passages.

So what really gets his blood boiling, so to speak? Well, Jesus seems to take an extremely dim view of anyone messing with children, for example. But something else that really seems to get him angry is false teachers, or anyone who leads someone else away from humanity’s Redeemer. As you merely skim the book of Jeremiah you see multiple warnings and threats about this. At issue here are the nations surrounding Israel who led it away from the Lord. It’s not bad enough that they’re rebelling against the Judge of the Universe. No, they’re not content unless they’re leading others astray. That’s why James warns against even desiring to become a teacher, because you’re responsible for not only yourself (as all of us are) but also for the spiritual condition of all your listeners. God holds anyone who claims to be a teacher to a higher standard.

That’s why today’s passage gave me pause when I was reading Jeremiah in preparation for the blog. At first it’s pretty similar to most of the book: He’s pronouncing judgment on his rebellious, stubborn, sinful people. But as the Puritans said, judgment is his “strange” work. He’s not willing that any should perish, so after he’s punished them, he’s going to bring them back as a people. He’ll have compassion on them and bring them back to their own inheritance, and—most importantly—back to himself.

And yes, apparently this includes those who led others astray: “[If] they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people.”

Let me make this clear. On the basis of God’s word, anyone this side of the Great Divide can come to Christ and repent. Here's a song by Carolyn Arends called "Love Is Always There," which makes that point beautifully.

As Carolyn Arends put it,

“Until this life is over

there is no point of no return

'Cause everywhere you turn

His love is always there”

There’s only one unpardonable sin, and even teaching a false gospel isn’t it. But there’s always bad news on the flip side of the Good News. If any of the nations didn’t listen to God’s revelation to them, there would be consequences. That’s how it is with choices: They come with consequences.

And as it is with nations, so it is with individual people.

Father God, when I think about the people who might listen to what I say and to what I write, it frightens me. May every word I speak or write draw everyone who listens or reads closer to you, and not further away. I beg you.

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