The world which we live in is a very fine proponent of “doing you,” that is, of engaging in whatever makes you happy or pleases you. Our world would say that to pursue your dreams, desires, passions, etc., and to pursue them in the context of a world focused on wealth, fame, pleasure, luxury, ease, or any other worldly pursuit/aspiration, yes the world would say that is perfectly fine; in fact, you ought to do such a thing and act in such a manner. After all, you only have one life to live, and what is granted or available to you in this life is rightly deserved by the owner thereof to partake in a full enjoyment of it. However, God’s word instructs us in a way which is in remarkable contrast to this.
To walk after your own way, and your own heart, is a very evil thing according to God. Without the “washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” the heart remains in its carnal, adamic state, which, according to The LORD, is “deceitful above all things, and incurably wicked” and every work birthed from a heart in such a wretched state is as a “filthy menstruous cloth.”
What’s worse than being in this case naturally, is calling yourself a child of The Living God, a follower and lover of The Messiah, God’s One-and-only Unique Son, Jesus, and then living in a sinful way, according to your emotions or desires. Paul says to do this is to be an enemy of the cross of Christ,
"(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)" [Phil 3:18-19]
Reading the surrounding verses in context, you will find that Paul expects those to be “followers together of me” which is to have “our manner of living in heaven,” and which is worked out in daily life by counting all earthly and past things as dung, and to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” [Phil 3:8-14]
And The Holy Spirit tells us in the book of Hebrews, that the one who continues on a lifestyle contrary to God’s word, that is, walking after their own ways in willful disobedience, is to “trample underfoot the Son of God,” and to count “the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.” [Heb 10:29] For those who do this,
"…there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." [Heb 10:26b-27]
And Israel was doing just that: turning away from God and doing their own thing. They lost hope; circumstances were hard, and they figured following The LORD hadn’t done them much good so they decided to try doing their own thing. We read in Jeremiah,
"And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not embanked…" [Jer 18:12-15]
Israel, losing hope in God, decides to “walk after [their] own devices, and…do the imaginations of [their] evil heart[s].” According to The LORD, they forgot Him and went after vanity. Earlier in Jeremiah’s book, The LORD says,
"For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." [Jer 2:10-13]
The Israelites had forsaken God, the living fountain of waters, the well that never runs dry and never leaks, which provides the freshest and most brilliant water; yes, Israel forsook that fountain for broken, dirty pots filled with dirty, muddy water.
In Chapter Eighteen, The LORD, uses a different analogy, comparing Israel forsaking/forgetting Him, to the mountains of Lebanon. These mountains were a excellent source of water; for when the heights of these, packed with snow, melted during warm seasons, those below would receive fresh, cold, filtered water. Likewise, The LORD, who is “higher than the heavens” provides excellent source of refreshment. But Israel forwent God to search for their own source. They wanted life, but they wanted it their way.
As our Father tells Israel in Jeremiah 18:15, they stumbled from “the ancient paths” and started to go in a way which was “not embanked.” Those ancient ways of God, recorded in scripture and preserved for all, which, according to God, those who walk in such paths “shall find rest for [their] souls.” And the embanked way, that is, the highway, according to The LORD through Isaiah, is a path for “the holy people,” and those who are “of a contrite and humble spirit.” [Isa 57:14-15; 62:10-12]
Solomon tells us “the way of the righteous is embanked.” The paths which our Father wants us to pursue are raised up; they are raised above this world. Plainly stated: they are holy paths, paths which are set apart. These are the ancient paths which provide peace to the soul. These are the paths which require a diligent and zealous pursuit of Jesus’ water and His alone, of forsaking one’s own way, own desires, own pleasures, own thoughts, and wholeheartedly following after God’s by means of His Holy Spirit, given to those whose heart has been regenerated.
Let us not pursue our own ways, but The Lord’s, “for if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” [Rom 8:13]