Why Do You Keep Doing It?
Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves . . .? Jeremiah 44:7
It’s always painful to watch others pursue their destructive appetites. Even as one who has known the slavery of addiction, it’s difficult for me to understand why some return repeatedly to drugs, food, or pornography despite knowing the disastrous consequences.
In my own addiction, loved ones wanted to know why. Providing an answer was difficult but necessary for my own understanding. Why did I continue down a path that caused so much misery?
God asked his people the same question in today’s passage. Having abandoned Judah for Egypt – against his command – God asked them why. You saw how I allowed Jerusalem to be conquered for its sin. You know the price of your own way. Why do you continue to rebel?
God, I think, did not ask because he was ignorant. He asked because his people needed to figure out the answer. Just as I needed to understand my own addictive, destructive behavior, the Israelites needed to understand theirs.
Why do we repeatedly pursue sinful behavior that leads to painful consequences? We must understand that it is because we have a sick, broken nature (the flesh nature) to do so. In Christ, we carry a new, perfect spirit life, but we carry that gift in imperfect jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). Since the fall of Adam and Eve, our flesh has been corrupted (Genesis 3). Our hearts are desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9), our flesh life wars against our spirit life (1 Peter 2:11), and we all have pathologic appetites (James 1:14).
It’s painful to realize how unhealthy we are in our flesh, but it is far worse to deny the reality. The one who refuses to believe he is sick no longer requires a physician (Matthew 9:12). The one who thinks himself cured will remain blind to his ongoing need. We all need Jesus . . . every day.
Our broken nature may be frustrating, but the glorious reality of this life, is that we can experience freedom and healing, if we will daily deny ourselves and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). Following our own nature is sickness and death (Galatians 6:7-8), but following Christ is life, which thankfully, we may know here and now.