Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil (Jeremiah 13:23)
Jeremiah 2::32 asks “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Well, no – what bride would forget her wedding attire? That is simply out of the question, so the answer should then be “NO WAY” and yet we read on:
“—yet my people have forgotten me days without number”.
So the answer is YES after all. Jeremiah 13:23 is a question and not a statement, and it’s like God wants to show Israel how difficult it is for people who are accustomed to do evil and who have hardened their hearts, to change their behavior. But we can be delivered from our sins and spots. We must choose to come to God so he can change us and help us to change our bad habits. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. What else does Jeremiah 13 tell us? We can read about a group of evil people who refuses to obey God, which is very disturbing to him. Due to their rebellion and their refusal to listen and obey, God will punish them. We can read about a people who have forgotten about God and trusted in FALSEHOOD. Does God want his chosen people to trust in falsehood? Clearly not. We can read that it’s due to their wickedness that God will put them to open shame. It’s due to their own actions which they themselves are responsible for, because God certainly didn’t cause them to perform adulteries, neighings, lewdness of whoredom and other abominations that we can read about. God is mighty upset with his peoole for constantly acting against his will. See for yourself:
10This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.11For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.
16Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock is carried away captive.
22And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare.
23Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
24Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness. 25This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood. 26Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear. 27I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?
We are told we can keep ourselves unspotted from the world
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
1 Timothy 6:14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Peter 3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Why would God take the time and give so many warning to Israel in Jeremiah (and elsewhere) not to do evil if He knew they were destined to do evil because their nature was evil? A change requires serious effort because of being accustomed to do evil. Jeremiah tells the people to correct their behavior. How can man correct his behavior if he can’t change it and doesn’t have a choice? Man defiles himself by sinning.
Mark 7:20And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,22Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:23All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Rom. 2:13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Rom 1:19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.