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“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds'” (Jer 4:3-4).

Jeremiah uses two metaphors to illustrate a similar problem. A piece of land, no matter where it is located, cannot be sown if it is filled with thorns. A people, no matter who they are, cannot be right with God if the desires of their heart are no different than the uncircumcised pagans. Each metaphor relates to one key aspect of God's promise to Abraham: God promised Abraham a glorious land, but the Promised Land had become just like it was while inhabited by the Canaanites. God had promised Israel a seed, but the chosen people had become no different than the Canaanites. A land, no matter how chosen it may be, can never be fruitful if sin has not been thoroughly removed.

A people, no matter how chosen they may be, cannot continue to be blessed if sinful hearts have not been thoroughly purified.

Effective Preaching – Heart aimed Preaching

I would like to make two applications (although many more can be made). First, effective preaching, be it to our children, our neighbors, and the people in our congregation, is preaching that speaks directly to the heart and does not merely call out bad behavior. Bad behavior is a symptom of a sick heart. Second, effective preaching, be it to our children, our neighbors, and the people of our congregation, must not only diagnose the disease but also provide the cure. Whenever a person admits to us that his/her heart is desperately wicked, we are divinely equipped through the gospel to offer them a brand new one.

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:9-14).

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