Do not learn the way of the nations… For the customs of the peoples are delusion.
What should someone do who has been converted from a culture that is heavily influenced by paganism?
- They should examine every part of their lives, every cultural practice, and every custom in light of the Bible.
- They should cultivate a teachable spirit so that they readily receive instruction in areas where demons had previously deceived them by vain traditions.
- They should follow the examples of those societies who have been sanctified by the gospel.
- They should guard themselves from the culture in which they were born knowing that it was largely influenced by demonic religion.
- They should happily retain any cultural practices that by God’s grace tend to promote goodness, truth, and beauty as defined by Scripture.
- They should remember examples of Gentiles who were converted in Scripture such as Ruth who gladly left every vestige of her old religion and its cultural baggage.
- They should study the doctrine of total depravity so that they would not tend to overemphasize the goodness of man outside of Christian light.
- They should lean away from cultural conservatism since they do not want to protect practices that are vain.
What should someone do who has grown up in Christianity?
- They should study the precepts of false religion so that they can more accurately refute the errors and more persuasively communicate the gospel.
- They should keep the “antithesis” firmly placed in their minds—the battle between the one true religion of Jehovah and all other religions as demonic enemies.
- They should be particularly wary of media and art which passes on pagan values in a subtle, entertaining manner.
- They should examine themselves to see if any worldly or pagan practices are pulling them away from the highest love for God as Solomon’s wives pulled his heart away.
- They should deal in love and patience yet boldness with those who are coming out of paganism.
- They should happily acknowledge any cultural practices that by God’s grace tend to promote goodness, truth, and beauty as defined by Scripture even in a society that has been dominated by false religion.
- They should study the doctrine of total depravity so that they would not be ensnared by the spirit of this age who is currently promoting the notion that all cultures are equally good, true, and beautiful.
- They should lean toward cultural conservatism since they want to protect practices that have strengthened believers for many generations.
As globalization has brought diverse peoples together, and as modern economies have brought the benefits of unprecedented wealth and cultural advance, Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter 10:1-8 stands to remind the people of God that false religions produce a worthless way of life that will degenerate a people almost as proportionally low as the gospel can raise them. Though there can be glimmers of common grace, Jeremiah has almost nothing to say about that. His inspired message from 600 years before Christ still fits 2,000 years after our Lord: The religions of the world produce worthless cultures.