Perpetual Backsliding Jer. 8:5 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Perpetual backsliding is a phrase used to describe Judah’s condition during the ministry of Jeremiah. This is a condition in which the country had gotten so far away from God there was no turning back to him. The Lord said that they held fast deceit and refused to return. What deceived them into perpetual backsliding? What sent them into a perpetual backsliding was a preference for:
Wickedness over righteousness – Jer 8:6-7 – they didn’t care whether what they were doing was wrong. No man repented. No man asked “What have I done?” They completely ignored the judgment of the Lord. So, they pursued idolatry [Jer 8:2], adultery [Jer 9:2], covetousness [Jer 8:10], burning their sons and their daughters in the fire [Jer 7:31], and so forth. They kept all this up until the Lord finally destroyed Jerusalem because they wouldn’t turn.
Education over wisdom – Jer 8:8-9 – they rejected the word of the Lord. “There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord,” [Prov 21:30]. Solomon said, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge,” [Prov 19:27]. Yet they said, “We are wise.” And the truth is that there was no wisdom in them. There is a major difference between education and wisdom. You can make a living with an education; but you don’t learn to live without wisdom. Their education took them further and further down.
Lies over truth – Jer 8:9-10 – “everyone dealeth falsely.” Everyone was lying. Even the prophets and the priests were lying. And do you know why they were lying? Because that’s what the people wanted to hear [Jer 5:30-31; 6:10]. Covetousness was the key here. They told the lies because that’s what got them into power and that’s what paid. The love of money is a huge reason why people lie. When you get used to that kind of money by telling lies, there is no going back.
Treaties over peace – Jer 8:11, 15 – Judah had a history of negotiating leagues with other countries for their own protection. They were “at peace” with Egypt and with Syria and had paid Assyria to fight with them as well. All of these countries turned against them. Those treaties were not lasting peace. They won’t have lasting peace until the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, is reigning on earth. In the meantime, they could have had peace and protection from the Lord if they would have obeyed him [Deut 28].
Health over salvation – Jer 8:15, 20 – their interest was in their physical health. And what they had forgotten is that their physical health was tied to their salvation. If they had concerned themselves with their spiritual relationship to the Lord, they would have had health. But when their physical health became more important to them than their spiritual well-being, they lost their spiritual relationship with the Lord and their physical health. Look at the medical condition they were in when Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost.
These are the same preferences that the Pharisees had during the ministry of Jesus. And because the Pharisees preferred these things as outlined below, they too were in perpetual backsliding.
- Wickedness over righteousness – Lk 11:39 – they were only interested in the appearance of righteousness.
- Education over wisdom – Jn 7:15; Lk 2:46; Mk 7:7 – they prided themselves on their education and tradition.
- Lies over truth – Jn 8:41, 44, 55 – they didn’t know the truth [Jn 8:32] and they didn’t want to know the truth [Jn 8:45].
- Treaties over peace – Jn 11:48 – their peaceful existence under Roman rule was more important to them than their eternal peace through Jesus.
- Health over salvation – Mk 7:3-4 – there tradition was for hygiene. Yet Jesus said that you can clean the outside but until you get saved the inside is still filthy [Mk 7:21-23].
And the Lord eventually destroyed them for the same reasons that he destroyed Judah centuries before. He couldn’t turn them away from the things that caused them to backslide.
Conclusion: These are the same preferences that we have in our country today. Americans prefer wickedness, education, lies, treaties and health to righteousness, wisdom, truth, peace, and salvation. Brace yourself. These preferences have caused perpetual backsliding in America. The laws are becoming increasingly immoral in this country. Furthermore, you can be sure that the results of this backsliding will be the same as they were in Judah. America is in terrible decline toward destruction.
Do not get swept up into following these preferences in your own life and you won’t get taken in the same perpetual backsliding that took Judah and Israel under the Pharisees.