Ask for the Ancient Paths

Text: Jeremiah 6:16

Jeremiah received a warning from God to deliver to the people: Jerusalem was going to be punished for their sin. A final call was made for them to return, but they refused. The Scriptures teach that it is possible for God’s people to fall away today. How does this happen? And how can we return to the “ancient paths”?

How Do God’s People Depart?

  • They close their ears to the truth (Jeremiah 6:10) – Jesus calls us to hear (Luke 8:8), but many do not want to listen; they want a message of their choosing (2 Timothy 4:3-4); if we are not willing to listen to God’s word, we cannot be saved (Romans 10:17)
  • They follow what is popular (Jeremiah 6:13) – the prophets and priests were greedy (cf. Micah 3:11); the way to guarantee monetary gain was to teach a message that is popular (2 Timothy 4:3; Jeremiah 6:14); too many do not want to hear anything that is “difficult” (John 6:60, 66)
  • They ignore sin (Jeremiah 6:14) – the false prophets declared “peace” while God’s prophet declared judgment and punishment; the church in Corinth ignored sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-2); this is dangerous (1 Corinthians 5:6; cf. Galatians 2:11-13)
  • They lose their sense of shame (Jeremiah 6:15) – they became “seared in their own conscience” (1 Timothy 4:2); when one no longer feels guilt for sin, there is no motivation to repent

What Are the Ancient Paths?

  • Not the Old Testament – in context, that is what the passage is talking about; but not today (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Colossians 2:14; Galatians 5:4)
  • Not just anything done in the past – what was done in the past may be wrong
  • Not what parents have done – for some, following Christ puts them at odds with parents (Matthew 10:34-36)
  • Not what brethren of previous generations have done – noble goal to “speak where the Bible speaks”; yet our standard is the Bible, not those who claimed to follow the Bible
  • The ancient paths are the word of God – it is our standard (2 Timothy 1:13)
  • The good way – the gospel is good news (Romans 1:16-17); equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

How Do We Return?

  • Open your ears to God’s word (Luke 8:8; Acts 17:11)
  • Reject the popular way (Matthew 7:13-14)
  • Recognize sin for what it is – lawlessness (1 John 3:4); brings the wages of death (Romans 6:23)
  • Mourn over sin (Matthew 5:4; James 4:8-9) – this will cause one to return to the Lord (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)


  • The people of Jerusalem were given the choice of continuing in apostasy or returning to the ancient paths – they chose apostasy (Jeremiah 6:16)
  • We must make a choice – to follow the “ancient paths” or not
  • Following the “ancient paths” is the way to find rest (Jeremiah 6:16; cf. Matthew 11:29; Hebrews 5:9)

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