OBEDIENCE TO THE LIVING GOD
Wednesday, 22 January 2020
Ezekiel 18 : 1-32
“Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel?” -Eze.18:31[NLT]
The Jews, in Ezekiel's time, complained of God's harsh dealing with them in punishing them for the sins of their forefathers (Ezekiel 18:1-2). However, God conveys the message that He has no pleasure in the death of a sinner. "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.” (Eze.18:30)
In our key verse for today, God is instructing them to find a new heart by themselves. However, in Ezekiel 36:26, God says that He will give a new heart and place a new spirit in them. Here, God takes the initiative; it is His doing. Yet, notice the change in terminology in Eze.18:31: The responsibility becomes ours! "Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit." [NKJV] In this passage, it is man, not God, who has to get the new heart and the new spirit. Ezekiel 18 and Ezekiel 36 do not contradict; God can create the new man in us when we cooperate with Him in the process. Both the parties are needed to make a new heart –He needs our cooperation!
It describes what God does for us and what we must do for ourselves if we are to receive the promises of the New Covenant. Why should you go to hell while the kingdom of God is open to receive you? Why should you be the devil's slaves, when you can become Christ's freemen! Why will you die in your sin?
There is a commitment required: “But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. " (Eze. 18:21NLT). Followed by an action: "And I gave them My statutes, and showed them My judgments, which, if a man does, he shall live by them" (Eze.20:11). "I am the LORD your God: walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them" (Eze.20:19). We "make a new heart for ourselves" by what we do! Specifically, the action God requires of us is keeping His law, doing His commandments. This is the Christian's work.
We are to prepare ourselves just as an Israelite prepared an animal sacrifice (see Numbers 15). It is up to us, as "living sacrifices" (Romans 12:1), to prepare ourselves for the marriage of the Lamb by putting on clean clothes - the new man. Col. 3:9-10 says, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
We need to willfully make a decision to obey God’s instructions and keep our lives within the boundaries set by Him, so that He can accept us. God invites us today to cooperate with Him to renew our inner man – will you accept this invitation?
Lord God, please take away the stony heart and give me the fleshy one with Your statutes implanted which would produce the fruit of the Spirit in plenty. In Jesus’ name
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