Read: Jeremiah 7:1-15
Text: Jer 7:3 (KJV) Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of
Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to
dwell in this place.
Theme: Hypocrisy is sin, and if we do not judge it, God will.
"I would come to church, but there are too many hypocrites
in church." How many times have we heard that one?
The world mercilessly condemns the church for the perceived
hypocrisy within, and yet nowhere is hypocrisy more harshly
condemned than by God and God's Word. As a matter of fact, only
Christ used the word "hypocrite" in the New Testament.
He reserved His harshest words for those who fell into this
category. (cf. Matthew 23:13f)
None of us would deny that hypocrisy is ugly.
ILLUS. On Sept. 10, 1990, the Associated Press reported that a
man was burning garbage behind his home in San Jose, California.
That happened to be against the law. What was worse, however, was
that while he was burning his garbage, the fire got away from
him. It spread over a hundred acres and took six helicopters and
four hundred firefighters to extinguish it. The man who had
started it was the captain of the San Jose fire department.
None of us would deny that hypocrisy is ugly. Few of us would
deny that we are, in some ways, hypocrites... that we have been
guilty of hypocrisy.
Today we want to study this sin as Jeremiah saw it, and as God
sees it. Israel did not learn from Jeremiah's message, and was
I. The Invitation (vss. 1-7)
- A. The need for change ("amend your ways").
- QUESTION - How would you describe the religious life of
the people described herein? (list qualities on board).
QUESTION - Were these people faithful to church? faithful
to "worship"? (vss. 4,10,14)
QUESTION - What do you think of this statement, "The
command to amend your ways and your doings (7:3) probably
irritated many in Judah who thought that coming to the
temple proved their piety."?
QUESTION - What kind of worship were they faithful to?
(vs. 4 - ritualistic?)
QUESTION - Is it possible to worship in a way that God is
not interested in, that actually disgusts or offends Him?
(cf. Amos 5:23 (KJV) Take thou away from me the noise of
thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.)
QUESTION - If they were faithful to the house of God and
"worship," of what were they guilty?
QUESTION - Other than meaningless worship, what other
areas needed changing, according to verses 1-7? (ANSWER -
treatment of others, lack of compassion (shedding of
blood refers to regulations re: cities of refuge not
being observed?), idolatry)
1. Although they revered the temple, it had become
a good luck charm.
2. Although they worshipped, it had become
ritualistic and meaningless.
3. They had come to believe that because of the
temple in their midst, they could sin with impunity. (vs.
4. They were guilty of the sin of hypocrisy.
- B. The result of change ("I will cause you to
- QUESTION - What is implied as a result if change does not
occur? (vss. 3,7)
QUESTION - What is plainly stated as a result if change
does not occur? (vs. 12,14)
QUESTION - If change did occur, deliverance was promised
(vss.3,7). Is there ever a time when it is too late to
repent? PARENTHETICAL - Read Jeremiah 7:16, 11:14, 14:11.
God had already told Jeremiah that there would be no
deliverance. How does this fit with the fact that He
promised deliverance in vss. 3,7? How does this fit with
1 John 5:16 ("If any man see his brother sin a sin
which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give
him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin
unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for
1. You can reach a point where there is no
possible deliverance, because you will no longer ask for
2. You can never reach a point where deliverance
is unavailable to you if you ask. God will always deliver
those who ask for deliverance!
- C. Application.
- 1. America is "one nation under God,"
just like Judah was the home to the temple. The temple
was God's dwelling place; so, in spite of their
idolatrous worship, they believed God would not allow
tragedy to come to His place of abode.
QUESTION - Do we, in America, have a similar attitude
ILLUS. Judge Robert Bork's new book, entitled Slouching
Toward Gomorra details this problem.
2. Those who are faithful to God's house may still
need to examine their lives concerning the sin of
II. The Indictment (vss. 8-11)
- A. The Sins (vss. 8-9)
- (Have class list them and write them on the board. List
should include Trusting in lies, stealing, murder,
adultery, burning incense to Baal, walking after other
QUESTION - Do any of these apply to us today? How?
- B. The Hypocrisy - (vs. 10)
- QUESTION - What do you think of these statements?
"The people apparently felt that by visiting the
temple, they had made a sufficient payment and now could
go out and do as they desired. God's response showed that
performing rituals is not a payment to justify unethical
QUESTION - How can a believer get in such a condition?
(cf. 1 Tim 4:2 (KJV) Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having
their conscience seared with a hot iron)
QUESTION - They were condemned for trusting in lies (vs.
4). Is the above condition possibly caused by listening
to too many lies?
QUESTION - What warning is here for us?
- C. The Reality (vs. 11)
- 1. "I have seen it." wow
2. God sees sin.
3. God sees through false, ritualistic, heartless
4. God sees everything about us.
Psa 139:2-3 (KJV) Thou knowest my downsitting and mine
uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou
compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted
with all my ways.
2 Chr 16:9 (KJV) For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro
throughout the whole earth...
III. An Illustration (vss. 12_15)
- A. The Lesson of History (vss. 12-13)
- 1. Shiloh was the first place God had placed his
name when Israelites entered Canaan.
Josh 18:1 (KJV) And the whole congregation of the
children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set
up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land
was subdued before them.
2. God destroyed it because of their hypocrisy and
idolatry, though. (cf. 1 Sam. 4:1-22)
QUESTION - Did the Israelites learn from history?
QUESTION - Do we?
- B. The Lesson of not learning from History... (vss.
- ... is that history will be repeated.
1. God's hatred of sin is evident is this lesson, isn't
it? (Especially the sin of hypocrisy)
2. We could easily become discouraged as we are reminded
that at our best, we're missing God's mark. Even our worship, our
attempts at righteousness, are often hollow ritualistic, empty,
and displeasing to God.
3. BUT, the grace of God is even MORE evident here. Thank
God for verse 3! Thank God for verse 7!
4. God IS a God of judgment, and sin must and will be
judged, including the sin of hypocrisy. But God is even more a
God of grace and mercy and love who already judged sin (including
the sin of hypocrisy!) on Calvary, and always always always
forgives when we turn to him and "amend our ways."
Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright © 1996 William E. Johnson.