Ancient Israel had been rebelling against the God Who created them for many years when Ezekiel wrote his scathing rebuke (18:30-32). The patient God of the Scriptures was once again warning His people about the end result of their transgressions–death–which is the same result promised to their biological and spiritual descendants today (God’s church–Rom. 6:23). The definition of sin (the breaking of the Law–1 Jn. 3:4) has not changed. Nor has the penalty for sin. The question God was asking those who professed Him then is the same question He is asking those who profess Him now: “Why will you die?”
Let us examine the wording of His rebuke of Israel while remembering that what was written in the Scriptures about ancient Israel was preserved for “our instruction upon whom the ends of the earth have come”–the church at the end of the age (1 Cor. 10:11). In verses 30,31 Ezekiel warned that God would judge them if they did not repent and turn from their evil ways which, if continued, would bring about their destruction. He commanded them then, and us now, to put sin out of their lives, take on a new heart and a new spirit. For, He asks them: “… why will you die?”–Why did they choose death over life? In verse 32 He summarizes His instructions on how to live in Him using one word–“turn.” The word “turn” is an action word that takes place in three phases. First, one must recognize that he is a sinner (transgressor of the Ten Commandment Law). Then one must mentally repent–turn 180 degrees from the direction one is going, then begin traveling in the new direction, which is the exact opposite of his previous “walk.” This is the walk (lifestyle) of Jesus of Nazareth that the true convert must travel (1 Jn. 2:6). During the present age one has only two choices: life or death. The directions given for each is the exact opposite of the other. In the eyes of the Lord, one is either 100% with Him or 100% against Him. “Sinners saved by grace”–spiritual fence-straddlers–have no place in Him.
Let us note the exact wording of the Lord’s rebuke as recorded in Ezekiel 18. Here He uses the Word “will,” noting the surety of death. One who continues to sin WILL die. Period. Being the most famous Christian on earth has no effect on this law. God is not impressed, nor is He a respecter of persons. His sin=death Law holds true in every life. We must, as a true man of God once said, “… quit sin utterly.” As we are told by the Apostle James, one sin, in God’s eyes, is the same as a million sins. One drop of Sarin will kill a person. One sin, like Sarin, destroys the sinner. Like the deadly poison, ALL sin must be removed or it will kill its host. “(All) old things must pass away; behold ALL things are made new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Here the Apostle Paul is writing to and about those who are “IN CHRIST.” Such a man is a “NEW CREATURE (CREATION).” The man in his entirety must allow the Lord to totally remake him by ridding him of every vestige of his old self and replacing it with a totally new creation. NOTHING FROM THE OLD CAN BE PART OF THE NEW. Nothing the new creation did before conversion is worthy to be transferred. The change from old (death) to new (life) is not automatic upon conversion–reversal of life’s walk. The change must come with the approval and subservience of the one being changed.
In order to be put to death totally and remade totally we must realize the Truth in the above statements. We are not taught this in church where we are told that Jesus made any effort on our part totally unnecessary, that we are automatically new creations upon completing the prescribed ritual, speaking the prescribed words and “taking Jesus into my heart as my personal Savior.” Truly, “Satan has deceived the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). Truly, all things must become new. The transition from old to new is lengthy and excrutiatingly painful. A lifetime of sin and error must be torn out by the roots. Old thoughts, words and acts, though seemingly harmless and just part of our human nature, must be destroyed. Who we associate with, where we go, what we wear, watch, read, etc. must change. THE OLD MAN, IN HIS ENTIRETY, MUST DIE. Old habits and quirks must go in that the convert has entered a new world–a world ruled by the Lord. THE NEW MAN MUST BE FREE FROM THE PAST NO MATTER HOW RELIGIOUS, RIGHT, HOLY, ETC. IT SEEMED TO BE. No matter how religious we might have been, nothing of our old lives is fit to be part of our new lives. When I explained this to a loved one she spoke for all of my loved ones as well as the entirety of professing Christendom when she said: “Obeying God is just too much trouble.” And why should those who profess oneness with God go to all that trouble? They are, after all, “saved.” And Satan smiles. L.J.