A Search for the Godly

Read: Jeremiah 5:1-7, 11-12 (responsively)
Read: Jeremiah 5:15,23-24a, 25-26a, 29-31 (leader only)
Text: Jer 5:1 (KJV) Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.
Theme: Although sin is rampant in our society, we can have a positive influence on that society by choosing to trust in and live for God.

Diogenes was a Greek philosopher who lived during the 4th century B.C. According to tradition, he renounced all worldly goods, made his home in a borrowed tub, and went through the streets of Athens with a lighted lamp in broad daylight searching for a "good" man.
More than 2 centuries before Diogenes, Jeremiah searched the streets of Jerusalem looking for a righteous man. Instead he found widespread sin and flagrant wickedness.
If we took a lamp and searched the streets of America today, would we find righteousness? In America, about a million and a half abortions were reported for each of the years 1991 and 1992, about 25 per every thousand women. The eighth, ninth, and tenth leading causes of death in 1993 were HIV (38,500), suicide (31,230), and homicide (25,470).
Let's see if God's words to Jeremiah have any relevance to us today:

I. Sin makes sinners callous (vss. 1-3)

A. God told Jeremiah to search for 1 man (vs. 1)
QUESTION - What 4 commands did God give Jeremiah in verse 1? What is the meaning or implication of each?
1. Run - indicates urgency of the search
2. See - identify the problem
3. Know - discern the implications of the problem
4. Seek - find the solution - 1 righteous man.
B. One man could have stayed God's judgment (i.e. one person who was responding to God's prophets, for we know that His prophets existed, and that they were righteous, so He was obviously excluding them from the search.)
QUESTION - What impact can 1 man have in our society today?
ILLUS. Apostle Paul - in his lifetime and largely through his influence, the entire known world was evangelized!
ILLUS. When Martin Luther was told, "Sir, the whole world is against you," he replied, "Then I am against the whole world."
QUOTE - D.L. Moody (?) said, "It is yet to be seen what the impact of one man completely sold out for God would be."
QUESTION - What other times in the Bible did God seek for a righteous man (or men) that he might stay judgment, but found none?
ANSWER - Sodom, Noah ...
C. Sin is pervasive.
Rom 3:9-10 (KJV) What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Rom 3:23 (KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
D. Sin is disguised. (vs. 2)
QUESTION - Does this verse apply to us today? How?
E. Sin is progressive. (Vs. 3)
QUESTION - According to verse 3, how had God dealt with their sin? ANSWER - Chastisement, correction)
QUESTION - Does God deal with us in a similar way today?
Prov 3:11 (KJV) My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
Heb 12:5-7 (KJV) And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Heb 12:11 (KJV) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
QUESTION - What was Judah's response to the chastisement of God, and what can we learn from it? (ANSWER - They ignored it, can grew progressively hardened against sin.)
ILLUS. Lot's progressive decline - "looked toward Sodom," "pitched his tent toward Sodom," lived in Sodom, ruled in Sodom!

II. Sin affects every level of society (Vss. 4-5)

A. It doesn't only affect the poor. (vs. 4)
(i.e. not necessarily poor in wealth, but poor in knowledge of God.)
B. Also affects those who know. (vs. 5)
QUESTION - Is it possible to be knowledgeable of God, His word, His prophecies, His views of sin, and yet live a life that is totally displeasing to Him?
QUESTION - HOW HOW HOW is it possible?!??!?!
QUESTION - How do we, as believers, guard against this in our lives?
QUESTION - Is the general attitude seen in many churches, that we should not preach about sin, but rather emphasize only the positive aspects of God's message, an evidence that this very mind set has affected the church today?

III. Sin makes sinners vulnerable to God's judgment. (vss. 6-7)

A. In Judah's case - national judgment.
READ vss. 15-18
QUESTION - What specific charges does God bring against Judah in verse 7? Are they applicable to us today? How?
B. In our case...
QUESTION - If you (personally) harden yourself to sin and its influence in your life, are you making yourself vulnerable to judgment? If so, what judgment?
Prov 29:1 (KJV) He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
1. Chastening of the Lord
(see verses above from Hebrews)
2. Loss of opportunity to serve.
1 Cor 9:27 (KJV) But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
3. Sickness, physical problems.
1 Cor 11:30 (KJV) For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
4. Death
1 John 5:16 (KJV) 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 it.
5. Judgment seat of Christ.
2 Cor 5:10-11 (KJV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

IV. Sin makes sinners foolish. (vss. 11-12)

A. Willing to lie about God, and believe lies about God. (belie)
QUESTION - What lies about God were they believing? What does "not he" mean?
B. Society seems to always choose any foolish and ridiculous lie rather than God's truth.
QUESTION - What are some examples? ANSWER - Evolution is first that comes to mind.
C. This happens to believers, also!
QUESTION - What are some lies that we often willingly accept and believe?
EXAMPLES - God loves me too much to punish me. My life is going great; so I do not even need God. I will do what I want to do now, and when I am older, I will make things right with God. Yes, I cut corners, but at least I am not as bad as others. I attend church regularly and give my tithe, what more could God want of me?

Living in a sin-dominated society, it is easy for us to go with the flow and be swept along in the current of evil. It takes courage, determination, and real effort to stand for right and go against the flow, as Jeremiah did in his day.
By doing so, we will be salt and light to those around us, and influence our great country for the good.

Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright 1996 William E. Johnson.