“But my people have forgotten me; they make offerings to false gods; they made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient roads, and to walk into side roads, not the highway.” (Jeremiah 18:15, ESV)
A vacation adventure gone wrong found me walking through mud and muck. I really did try to stay clear of the worst of it, but a few misplaced steps ruined my good intentions—and my shoes. The combination of mud and animal waste hardened in the treads and set up like concrete. I tried and tried to clean those shoes, but they were just too dirty. I finally threw them away.
I thought about those shoes, and what led to their end, as I read Jeremiah 18:15. The prophet warned the people of God that they had strayed from a well-marked highway onto a rough side path. The New Living Translation says, “They have stumbled off the ancient highways and walk in muddy paths.” What enticed them to choose the muddy path of sin over the well-maintained road of righteous living?
Sin is deceptive. God has given us His Word as our guide; but if we do not follow its instructions, we can easily fall for sin’s deception. Hebrews 3:13 (ESV) cautions, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” When the verse speaks of being hardened, it is warning us against becoming obstinate or stubborn.
Sin easily ensnares us. Most of us do not intentionally plan to sin, but it is easy to be drawn into sin’s trap little by little. Hebrews 12:1 warns that sin can easily entangle us and trip us up. Before we even realize what is happening, we are mired much deeper in the mud than we ever thought possible.
How do we keep ourselves moving along the highway of holiness instead of on the muddy pathway of sin?
Commit to obeying God’s Word. Job understood this and said the commandments of God were more important to him than the food he ate. “My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:11-12, NKJV)
Seek God’s help. The stronger our relationship with the Lord and the more we pray for His direction, the easier it becomes to resist temptation. Make Psalm 25:4-5 your prayer. “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (ESV).
Watch your step. If we keep an awareness of sin’s deception, we are less likely to fall for the enemy’s tactics. If we watch our step, we will avoid the mud of sin. “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure” (Proverbs 4:26, ESV).
Have an accountability partner. We all have blind spots and weaknesses. Becoming accountable to a trustworthy, godly friend can help us navigate these muddy areas and get us back on the right path. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17, NKJV).
My muddy shoes were stained beyond hope. I gave up and tossed them. But the clinging mud of sin can be cleaned off. We don’t have to walk in the muck and mud any longer. God provided a way out.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
Lord, thank You for forgiveness and mercy. Even when I become distracted and get off the right path, You are there to help me find my way again. You clean me up and put me back on the right road. I am forever grateful.