Jeremiah 6:6-8 (ESV)

For thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Cut down her trees;

cast up a siege mound against Jerusalem.

This is the city that must be punished;

there is nothing but oppression within her.

[7] As a well keeps its water fresh,

so she keeps fresh her evil;

violence and destruction are heard within her;

sickness and wounds are ever before me.

[8] Be warned, O Jerusalem,

lest I turn from you in disgust,

lest I make you a desolation,

an uninhabited land.”

Once, around the time I was eight or nine years old I came home to an empty house after school and decided to go out. I dutifully locked the door and as I closed it a note fell from off the lock of the door and I picked it up to read it. It was a note to me from my parents which said that they had misplaced the key to the house and that I must not lock the door if I go out. I still remember the churning feeling in the pit of my stomach and the hope that I really hadn’t locked the door or that perhaps I had not pulled it quite far enough to close. I was confident that my greatest fears would not be realized. But they were. And I remember thinking “this can’t be happening”. But it was. It was the biggest crisis of my life up to that point. I couldn’t believe that something this horrible had occurred and that I was the cause of it. The point is, even in the face of knowing what had happened I did not want to admit that this was the case. I actually thought “this wouldn’t happen to me.”

This is not a rare thing for people to conclude. People who smoke do not think that the cancer that has taken root in so many smokers will reach them. Speeders know that they will not hurt or get hurt on the roads when they drive. Eating like this will not give me diabetes.

This was the problem that the city of Jerusalem had in the days of Jeremiah. They would not admit that God would really punish them for their sins. God cannot make it plainer – “Be warned, O Jerusalem”, Jeremiah tells them on behalf of God. The religious leaders are telling the people “peace, peace” when there is no peace (verse 14). The pleasant message, the uplifting message, the soothing message is what they want and it is what most preachers are delivering, so Jeremiah is not heard or believed. “This will not happen to me” is their heart belief.

How many so called “Christians” live in the same delusion? How many turn the grace of God into a license to commit immorality (Jude 4)? How many bask in grace while making no attempt to show grace in how they live, in what they value, and in real struggle against real sin and a real enemy of the soul? How many Matthew 7:21-23 believers will be at the throne of God hearing a statement that they were absolutely convinced would be said to others but not to them?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. [22] On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ [23] And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

There is no deception worse than self-deception. There is no confidence so bad as false confidence in something that cannot give any help. That is what the people of Jerusalem had in Jeremiah’s day and they refused to believe otherwise. It is what many professing Christians have today and they are no less duped by their own false confidence and self deception. Make sure you are not one of them.