Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 3:19,20

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, July 24, 2014

Now that the Lord has told the exiled northern tribes that he will take them back, if only they will repent and return to him in their hearts, he turns his attention back to Judah and addresses both Israel and Judah together, “like sons.”

True Repentance
19 “I thought,
How I would like to treat you like sons,
  and give you a desirable land,
  the most beautiful inheritance in the whole array of nations.
I thought you would call me Father
  and no longer turn away from me.
20 But like a wife unfaithful to her husband,
      so you have been unfaithful to me, house of Israel,” declares the

Once again the Lord brings back the illustration that idolatry is every bit as wicked and destructive as adultery. In our culture, we must realize that things have become so corrupt that the Lord’s words are useful for teaching, rebuking and training God’s people that the application works in the other direction as well. Adultery—all kinds of sexual sins—are as wicked and destructive as idolatry.

We live at a time when Hollywood and Nashville make their money by pretending that people’s sinful desires are the only motivation for the things that they do. That’s godlessness: utter, complete and total godlessness. Giving in to a temptation is like bowing down to a false god on Sunday morning.

What can we do? Our world makes even our own sinful nature more and more an enemy to our faith every day.

The attitude begins in the heart and in the mind. It shouldn’t be any surprise to learn that sins are addictive. Doing what is wrong and getting away with it gives secret pleasure—but we must recognize that the pleasure given this way is destructive, like eating sugar by the spoonful out of the bag or living on a diet of nothing but potato chips. But God wants us to be faithful to him. He wants us to turn away from our sins and to resist our temptations, too. So when we’re tempted, even in our thoughts, we need to run back to the cross and acknowledge that this isn’t the way God wants me to think; this isn’t the way God wants me to act. The momentary thrill of slipping into a sinful thought—lust, foul language, coveting, a lost temper, pride, or whatever it might be—damages our connection to Christ. Admitting that it was a sin is the beginning. That’s the law doing its work in us through our conscience. Then we will turn away, hopefully we will turn away in shame, or even in disgust, from whatever the temptation was. And that’s the Holy Spirit helping us to see a way of avoiding it in the future. We will remember that shame or that disgust, and it will be easier not to take that step again, like avoiding a cow pie in the field, or the mud puddle in the gutter.

Through Christ, God has offered the position of “sons”—heirs of his eternal inheritance—to you and me. “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross has paid the price for our sins, even the sins we hardly recognize as sinful. Since we belong to God and are heirs of his eternal Day, we need to ask his help and exercise self-control, showing our faith even in our thoughts, even in our choices, and in every way we live. Don’t forget to pray for his help.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.