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Temple Safety

April 30, 2012

If you profess to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus, what are you trusting in for your salvation. Here in the United States, especially in the south, there are a lot of people that seem to have misplaced their trust. I was reading in the book of Jeremiah this morning, and he addresses this topic:

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go to the entrance of the Lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the Lord! Listen to it, all of you who worship here! 3 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:

“‘Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. 4 But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!” 5 But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6 only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. 7 Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.

8 “‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! 9 Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11 Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken! (Jeremiah 7:1-11, NLT)

The people of Judah seemed to believe they could do anything they wanted and still maintain God’s promise and protection simply because they were his chosen people or his temple was there and he was in his temple.

They were guilty of worshiping the false gods around them and treating others with contempt, both their own countrymen and those outside their borders. They seemed to think they could do these things then run to the temple and say, “We are safe!”. It was like a twisted, grown-up game of spiritual tag. As long as they could reach home base, they were safe.

As it turns out, life does not work that way. There are consequences for our actions. I think one of the reasons God holds us responsible for our actions is because they are simply the fruit of the condition of our heart. If we have a heart that submits to God, right actions will follow. If we have a rebellious heart, our actions will demonstrate. I understand that sometimes a person who submits to God’s authority makes mistakes and succumbs to the will of his old nature. But over time the frequency and severity of these actions diminishes.
Look at what the people of Judah were doing. God told them, “I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6 only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols.” Most of these things have to do with the way they were treating the most vulnerable of their society. I am sure there is a lesson in this for us today.

I don’t want to over-apply this, but there are two points I want to make:

  1. We cannot trust in the temple for our salvation; we must trust in the maker of the temple. It is not enough to call yourself a Christian. It is not enough for your parents to have raised you in church. It is not enough to have walked an aisle, prayed a prayer, raised your hand, filled out a card, or any other one-time action. You must become a disciple of the one you supposedly prayed to. Our forms do not save us. You can insist on a specific Bible translation, type of music in and out of church, or some other form, but that is not where your salvation lies. It is found in trusting in and becoming a disciple of Jesus.

  2. We are not saved by doing or not doing the things Jeremiah listed above. Following God’s laws does not save us. Treating people rightly does not save us. Refusing to worship false gods does not save us. Our trust in Christ saves us. We treat people right, do what God tells us, and worship only him not to gain our salvation, but in response to it. This is what he calls us to.

What are you trusting in? What is your “temple”?

Agree or disagree? Points of clarification? Add your thoughts below.


One Comment
  1. mlightsey2 permalink

    Amen! Just been discussing how we do people a disservice by telling them how simple salvation is – just ask Jesus to forgive you and ask him to come into your heart and then you get eternal life. True, but there is so much more offered and asked of us. We leave out getting to know Him and living the way He leads. New believers are used to living their life how they want. They need help understanding that following Jesus means getting to know him and what HE wants for them. In a church of true followers they can learn by watching others’ examples and receive help and guidance. I hurt for those who say they want to follow but seem to only think that means coming to church once or maybe even twice a week. I finally decided to surrender to God when I saw that the true followers had something I didn’t and I wanted it. Not just the people who came to the church, but the people who knew Jesus and truly followed Him. I didn’t just want the “fire insurance” salvation, I wanted the life that is blessed and has that strange peace. We say living a Christian life isn’t always easy, but life is not easy, but it’s easier with Jesus than without him. And I prefer to follow him than try to do life on my own. And the reason I am where I am is that I have learned that Holy Spirit is my strength and force that gives me the ability to follow, and he guides, encourages and teaches me. Your last paragraph says it all very well.

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