[reprinted from October 4, 2011]
“Therefore, house of Israel, I will judge each one of you according to his ways.” [This is] the declaration of the Lord GOD . “Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so they will not be a stumbling block that causes your punishment. Throw off all the transgressions you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death.” [This is] the declaration of the Lord GOD . “So repent and live!â€ Â Â Ezekiel 18:30-32 (HCSB)
Did you ever think about God’s grace when you are reading in the Old Testament? My friend, Alden Thompson, is about to release the 5th edition of his book, Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God? and he got me reading and thinking about God in the Old Testament more than anyone I know. This passage in Ezekiel leapt out at me during my Sabbath study this week.
I will judge you. God is the only one I would want to judge me. That’s good news and bad news. God is the only one who knows my true heart. He sees every dark corner I try to keep so I have a place to hide â€œsecret sinsâ€. Because dark is just like light to God (Psalm 139:11-12), I can’t hide a sin. His Light brings my sin forward and He says â€œWe will deal with this. Choose to ignore and die a little more or repent.â€
Repent. Turn away from what trips me up, dulls my senses, and distances me from the One that I desire more than anyone else. Over and over, God entreats me to become holy â€“ become like Him. I think I can’t. And it is true, I cannot turn with my own strength. It’s like trying to turn a car without power steering. Some of us reading this are old enough to remember driving such a car. Parallel parking was a workout when there was no power steering. It took two arms. Now I can turn the wheel with one finger. Get the power!
Get a new heart and new spirit. At the start of a new school year a new ball season, or new job, it’s wonderful to have a new outfit, to being fresh. God says when I turn from my old sin, that He will forgive and with that forgiveness comes a new me. Many may think that this â€œnewnessâ€ only happens once, when they commit to believe in Jesus, but here God promises before Jesus became real in my world that â€œnewâ€ comes with repenting. Turning away from the old sin always brings a new fresh outpouring of God into my life. My heart, my spirit, the very essence of who I am becomes new.
God wants me new and strong, not worn out like an old pair of shoes. That’s His unconditional love, called grace.
The River is Here written and sung by Andy Park