Jeremiah 16:16-17:27; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12; Psalms 80:14-19; Proverbs 19:22-23
OT: “This is what the Lord says: Cursed is the person who trusts in mankind. He makes human flesh his strength, and his heart turns from the Lord. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. The person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit. The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable — who can understand it? I, the Lord, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve… Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for you are my praise.” (Jeremiah 17:5-10, 14 CSB)
God’s will and desire is not to curse, but to bless. Blessing comes though being connected to the Creator and Source of all life. We become connected and remain connected through faith. We become cursed when we remove faith from our Creator and Sustainer and place our faith in someone or something else. Trying to receive life and blessing from a created thing is as futile as trying to get blood from a turnip. In the Garden of Eden, mankind fell into sin when, through the devil’s accusations and deceptions, Adam removed his faith and trust in God and placed his faith and trust on himself. Through that shift in faith, Adam severed his relationship with God and lost access to the tree of life. Through his own actions, he removed himself from the blessing of God and became accursed.
God’s message, through Jeremiah, to the people of Judah was that the reason they were experiencing physical drought and famine was because they had subjected themselves to spiritual drought and famine by trusting in themselves and other nations rather than God. If they wanted to see life return to the land, they needed to return to the Lord their God by placing their faith and trust in Him. Instead of “following their heart” they needed to follow God, His word, His will and His ways. Unfortunately, because of the sinful state of mankind, our hearts are incurably deceitful, selfish and hardened against God. We will always be drawn away from God and toward sinful attitudes and behaviors by our impure heart. Our only hope is for God to heal our hearts and save us from sin and ourselves. And because that is God’s will, He did just that through His Son Jesus Christ.
NT: “Additionally then, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received instruction from us on how you should live and please God — as you are doing — do this even more. For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you keep away from sexual immorality, that each of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passions, like the Gentiles, who don’t know God… For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness. Consequently, anyone who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-5, 7-8 CSB)
In saving us from sin through faith in Christ and healing our incurably deceitful and hardened hearts, it is not God’s will that we strive and struggle to live up to His impossible standards. It is God’s will that we are sanctified more and more into the image of Christ that we may live in holiness and not according to the desires and bents of our impure flesh. When we first come to faith in Christ, God declares us righteous and sanctifies (sets us apart as holy) from sin. Once we have been sanctified by faith, we enter a process of sanctification as we continually walk in obedience by grace through faith. How does that work? We place our faith in God’s word, will and ways. Our faith is expressed through obedience to God’s word, will and ways. As we begin to obey in faith, God gives us grace to obey through the Holy Spirit. That is called walking in the Spirit. The more we walk in the Spirit, the more our impure desires and bents are “put to death” and we become progressively sanctified into the holy likeness of Christ. That is God’s will, and it is possible through faith in Christ.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that it is Your will for me to be blessed and not cursed. I thank You that it is Your will for me to be made holy instead of striving to become holy. I know through Your word, that if I repent from my sinful ways and place my faith fully on You, You will save me, heal my hardened heart, make me ever more holy, and bless me. Therefore, I choose to place my faith on You and walk in faith by Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.