This passage in Hosea sums up for me, the problem many people have with the church or in fact, any organised religion these days. The church has been hugely powerful and has massively influenced the whole history of western civilisation. The church has been responsible for some terrible crimes throughout its existence, all of which have their roots in scripture but in the hands of feeble, greedy and frightened men, the scriptures have been bent and twisted out of all recognition. People have found, that if need be, they can mould scripture until it can be shown to support all manner of sinful, evil behaviour. The Israelites of old, built their many alters and developed their religious rituals to such an extent that their very acts of sacrifice, became flawed by the sinful motives behind them. They sought to hide behind a thin veil of pious religiosity. But The Lord sees everything. He sees into the very depths of our hearts. There are no fortresses that will hold out against the power of God, and no amount religious ritual will protect you either.
Hosea 8:11-14 NLT
“Israel has built many altars to take away sin, but these very altars became places for sinning! Even though I gave them all my laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them. The people of Israel love their rituals of sacrifice, but to me their sacrifices are all meaningless. I will hold my people accountable for their sins, and I will punish them. They will return to Egypt. Israel has forgotten its Maker and built great palaces, and Judah has fortified its cities. Therefore, I will send down fire on their cities and will burn up their fortresses.”
There can be no peace in your heart if you know you are not living an honest, upright and morally sound life. When you lie about your sins, either to others, or to yourself, the lie is always there. It eats away and gnaws at your conscience. This is how God punishes us. He doesn’t execute people very often, but he does hold us accountable. Our sins slowly burn our souls away and we feel it as sorrow and misery and loneliness. You may forget your maker, or deliberately choose to ignore him, but he never forgets or ignores us and that is what torments the conscience. My goal is to try to always be aware of my sins. If I am always aware, then I can confess and repent. But if I forget about God then I will also forget about my sins and, believe it or not, understand it or not, accept it or not, the wages of sin is always death, regardless of whether you acknowledge it or not. (Romans 6:23)
Hosea 6:1-9:17, 3 John1:1-15, Psalms 126:1-6, Proverbs 29:12-14