“But a wicked person who turns his back on that life of sin and keeps all my statutes, living a just and righteous life, he’ll live, really live. He won’t die. I won’t keep a list of all the things he did wrong.”
~Ezekiel 18:21-22 (Msg).
Life and death. This is what this chapter in Ezekiel is about. It’s harrowing stuff really.
The New Covenant life is certainly spiritually adherent to this Scripture. If we take God at his Word, he doesn’t keep a list of our wrongs tucked neatly away in his heavenly top drawer. We’re absolved. Sure, judgment will come—and that once (Hebrews 9:27)—but we’re assured of our passage and our relationship with God through eternity, beginning the time we commence passage with him.
The actual passage from Ezekiel is very reminiscent of New Covenant language—but with the ‘obedience rider,’ a condition we’re constantly tempted to ‘tack on’ to the ends of our own salvation, in trying to “add” something in our good works.
Chopping the opposite way, then, and since we’re saved, is there any compulsion to live a just and right life? Well, we could answer yes and no. But it’s a risk isn’t it—to fall short intentionally. But seeing that we’ve acknowledged our need of and pledged our allegiance to God, we have the moral obligation certainly to carry through faithfully, as far as possible, to the end. Ezekiel is more direct here. It’s ‘obey or else.’
The passage might very well be our reminder that judgment is coming; indeed, in this life, it’s here. If we don’t step in keeping with God, generally, we’re going to almost certainly suffer consequences for it. The problem commences when we settle for these consequences. Obesity, by example, is one of these very real consequences where our dietary sins are judged in this life—we inflict this “judgment” upon ourselves, along with a myriad of similarly according health outcomes. And yet, many seem complicit with this third-rate lifestyle.
Ezekiel 18 is a warning to come into time with the beat of God. God is everywhere and he and his judgment is certainly inherent in this life, not to mention in the life to come—where judgment will be perfectly precise; a “science” and not merely the general “art-form” it is in this life (in the presence of the evils of this current final age).
God requires unflinching obedience to his Spirit—that beautifully silent yet fundamentally real call to our consciences.
This is the new life, truly; a life not without it’s very many blessings as we hear and heed those calls of God ringing in our hearts and minds.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.