The Danger of False Confidences
Jeremiah 2:37
Yes, you shall go forth from him, and your hands on your head: for the LORD has rejected your confidences…

In the state and conduct of Judah we have a picture of the state and conduct of the world, in religious matters, at the present day; and as that nation, by their distrust of God and want of reliance on His power and goodness, wrought for themselves the degradation and the miseries of a long captivity, so those who are seeking for themselves present and eternal peace by any other means than those which God has appointed, and are lulling their souls into security by false confidences, are "heaping up for themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."

I. THE GENERAL MERCY OF GOD IS THE GROUND OF CONFIDENCE WITH MANY, BUT THIS IS A CONFIDENCE WHICH THE LORD HATH REJECTED. The Scriptures are full of declarations which show the utter fallacy of this trust. We may assure ourselves that those who hold to it have ideas of sin very different from those given us in "that sure Word of Prophecy unto which we do well that we take heed." Let us ponder the fact, that if man, as the Scriptures tell us, was formed in the image of God, by every act of transgression we must be effacing that image, and spoiling God's most glorious workmanship; and if God can look upon such a thing with indifference, and allow it to pass with impunity, He must be reckoned as altogether heedless of the grossest interference with His wise purposes which we can possibly, suppose. Now, is such a thing at all countenanced in the Scriptures? No. "God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Evil cannot dwell with Him, nor fools stand in His sight." And so jealous is He of His glory, that in His dealing with the first of our race He annexed the penalty of death to transgression. Adam transgressed, and he died, spiritually and temporally. And where in this is the evidence of a God all mercy? Why did not paradise smile on our first parents as before? Why did the sword of the cherubim keep them out from their first and most beauteous habitation? It was because God is a God of justice, and His veracity stood pledged for the fulfilment of His righteous threatening. And He stands as pledged still with regard to all but those who, being in Christ Jesus, have escaped condemnation. "Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall he the portion of their cup." And hath He said it, and will He not do it; hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?

II. MANY TRUST TO THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD, BUT THIS ALSO IS A CONFIDENCE WHICH THE LORD HATH REJECTED. Do and live is the motto of the religion of such persons. They purpose to get to life, and their way to it is by keeping the commandments. God, say they, has annexed the promise of future felicity to obedience, and we obey that that felicity may be ours for a reward. Now, this would do very well, did we retain our original standing with God; but whether man be now that holy being he was when God pronounced him to be very good, let the state of the world, let your own hearts witness. The conscience of every man who knows aught of the law of God, and is at all accustomed to compare his conduct and his feelings with its requirements, will testify, that it is as true now as on the day when it was written that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: But many, who trust to themselves that they are righteous, will endeavour to get rid of these considerations, by saying, that though they have sinned, they have repented: that is, they have felt sorry for their sin, and that God will receive penitence as an atonement. This is trifling with the character of God, and with that righteous government which it is His immutable purpose to maintain throughout the whole of His dominions. Even human legislators have not failed to see how subversive such a principle would be of the good of civil society if put in practice in the world. Would it be right — would it be consistent with good government, that crime should go unpunished, if the criminal, when brought to the bar of justice, should express sorrow for his offence? All know that it would not. And will God fail to vindicate His law, His justice, His veracity because of a few sorrowing tears and sighs? But it is said that Jesus, by His obedience and suffering, has obtained an abatement of the law; that He has softened it down in order to fit it to human infirmity; that it is not a perfect, but a sincere obedience that is required; and that if we fall short in any thing, the merit of Christ comes in to supply the deficiency.

1. We observe that Christ came for no such purpose as to temper the law to our infirm circumstances; for if the law was originally right, if that wisdom which enacted it, and which cannot err, saw it to be fit and necessary, it must be immutably so. What! did Christ die that we should not be obliged to love God and our neighbour, so much as we were originally bound to do? Did He give Himself to procure for us a liberty to sin with impunity? No one in soberness of spirit will say so.

2. But, with regard to the merit of Christ supplying only for the little that we may have fallen short, we observe, that it is altogether at variance with every dictate of Scripture on the subject of the sinner's salvation. Was not the sacrifice of Christ a full satisfaction to Divine justice? Did He not magnify the law, and make it honourable? And can it be necessary that to His infinite satisfaction and merit we should add our obedience, soiled and imperfect as it must be at best, in order to obtain pardon and acceptance with God? What an unhallowed mixing of the clean and unclean; what a confounding of Christ and Belial would be here! Besides, why will men be so perverse as to seek justification by the law, whether it be abated, as it is not, or whether it stands in its original force, as it does to those who are under it, and as a rule of life to all? Why will men be so perverse, when it is said so pointedly, that "by the deeds of the law no living flesh shall be justified"? We apprehend that, to every candid person, the foregoing considerations are sufficient to show how unsafe a foundation, on which to build for eternity, are our own righteousness, and those things connected with it which we have noticed. What, then, is the confidence, by depending on which we may look forward securely to eternity? It is the righteousness of Jesus, made ours by imputation, and received by that faith which is of the operation of God.

III. TOO MANY CONTENT THEMSELVES WITH A BARE SPECULATIVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUE WAY OF SALVATION AND THIS IS A CONFIDENCE WHICH THE LORD HATH REJECTED. There is a form of godliness without the power. In order to a real saving knowledge of the subject of redemption, we must have a deep impression of the truths which the subject involves: the deep depravity of our nature; our alienation from God; the hatefulness and repugnancy of sin to the Divine nature; our inability to rescue ourselves from perdition; the love, the wisdom, the condescension, all infinitely displayed in the plan and the execution of our redemption, and the readiness and ability of Christ to save.

(P. M'Guffie.).

Parallel Verses
KJV: Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.

WEB: From there also you shall go forth, with your hands on your head; for Yahweh has rejected those in whom you trust, and you shall not prosper with them.

The Restlessness of Sin
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