You've probably heard the trick question: did God really say that money is the root of all kinds of evil? The answer, of course, is no - God said that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And then everyone laughs and says, "Gotcha." We've heard it so often that the question doesn't even trick us any more.
So here's another one for you: is sin that big of a problem?
On the surface, we'd all say, well, yes. From the very beginning with just one piece of fruit, we've shown that sin is a problem. Turn on the news, read the headlines, log in to social media, and you can see it plain as day. Sin is a problem. In fact, most of us would say that our biggest problem is sin.
But maybe that's not what God would say.
It's another one of those little subtleties that changes the way that we understand everything. Jeremiah 2 helps us to see it, confirms that this little bit of nuance matters. And this little bit of nuance is this: God is more upset with you for saying that you haven't sinned than for actually sinning.
Read that again - the big problem is not that you're a sinner; the big problem is that you pretend that you aren't one, even while you go on sinning.
And who among us doesn't do this? Most of us consider ourselves good persons. We're decent human beings. We live nice lives and do kind things and give of what we've got to help others. Sinners? Yeah, we guess, if you're going to get all "religious" about this sort of thing, but in our day-to-day lives? We're just good people.
Go back and read the stories. Eve picks a fruit...not a big problem. Eve gives the fruit to Adam and he eats it...a bit of a problem. Eve has a bite...still, a little problem. They hear God coming and fear they're about to be found out, so they hide in the bushes...big problem. You can actually hear the moment God's heart breaks, and it's the moment when Adam and Eve decide that it's better to be sinners and hide than to be sinners and confess.
The Scriptures are full of this exact scenario, and so are our lives. Most of us have even convinced ourselves that we don't really need God; we just choose Him because He makes our lives somehow better, by whatever terms we've defined that.
Read that again - most of us have convinced ourselves that we don't even need God.
That's why it's the denial, not the sin, that's a problem. God loves us. He loves us so much that He's made for us a way back to Him...again and again, as often as we need it. That's for sinners.
But in order for sinners to take the road back to God, they have to be willing to admit that they are sinners. They have to know how lost they are. They have to confess how far astray they've wandered, and that's what we're so unwilling to do.
The big problem? The big problem is not that we've sinned; it's that we claim that we haven't. This breaks God's heart more than anything.