God sent Jeremiah the prophet to address the people of Israel because they were caught up in a nasty cycle of sin. The nation had gotten wrapped up in all sorts of idolatry, and they adopted false gods from other people groups to the point that God described His beloved people as being like an unfaithful bride. The little graven figurines and the rituals weren’t the worst of it, though. The Israelites hadn’t simply gotten complacent and strayed onto the wrong path; they were running onto it.
God explained to Jeremiah, “No man relents of his evil, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turns to his own course” (Jeremiah 8:6). That was the main problem. The sin itself wasn’t Israel’s biggest fault. The real issue was that the sinners didn’t acknowledge their need for a savior.
Today, that’s especially true in light of the cross. God sees our mistakes as us just deviating off course, and will tell us, “Whoops, that wasn’t the right way,” as if we’ve stumbled off the sidewalk curb—so long as we get back up and continue on the right path. Now, if we gave up on the straight-and-narrow and shamelessly turned to our new course, then we would be truly lost.
The point is, God doesn’t care about performance as much as He cares about heart. Good deeds done to make up for bad deeds mean less to Him than sincere regret for bad deeds. He wants to use willing servants, not already-perfect prodigies. Think about how David sinned with Bathsheba, and how he tried to cover it up with murder and deceit. Even so, David is still described as being a man after God’s own heart! In his song of repentance, David writes to God, “You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).
When your flesh and the world and the enemy get the better of you, don’t get hung up on the fact you’ve fallen. It happens, and the Father awaits your return with open arms. The important piece is that you run back to Him rather than trying to cover up the sin yourself, rather than just shrugging it off, rather than continuing in it.