Ezekiel 11 & 12
Ezekiel 11 & 12:
He said … we said
The Israelites thought they were in charge of their own lives. They frequently decided they had a better idea of what they needed and where they would find the answers to their problems than God did!
So instead of seeking God, they followed after idols. Instead of trusting God for their provision, they pleaded with fertility gods, even participating in sexual immorality as part of their pagan worship. When God said, if you continue going this way, I’m going to allow you to go into captivity, they said, we can avoid the consequences of our actions by relying on own clever schemes. We can cover our sins instead of repenting from them, align ourselves with pagan nations when we come under attack, and only listen to the “prophets” who tell us what we want to hear.
Sound familiar? It should.
God said, marriage is a covenant and should not be broken except in the case of sexual immorality (Matt. 5.32). We said, we’ll make “no fault” divorce the law of the land.
God said, don’t have sex outside of marriage (Gal. 5.19). We said, we’ll use condoms and birth control pills and we won’t have to suffer the consequences of pregnancy and AIDS.
God said life is precious; I created it and knew you even before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Ps. 139). We said it’s not a baby and we can abort it any time we like.
God said, don’t covet (Ex. 20.17). We said, we’ve got to keep up with the Jones.
God said, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph. 6.1). We said, “It’s my life. I can do whatever I want!”
Mankind has not changed, but neither has God; His answers are still the same—turn from evil and from going our own way, seek God and obey Him, and receive His grace and forgiveness.
But as we’ll see in our Psalms reading, sometimes we can look good in all those obvious areas, and just be a different kind of idolater.
Verse 1, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD.’”
As Christians there should be a joy associated with going to church and worshipping with other believers. If we dread going to church and find any excuse to stay home, we need to check our hearts. Someone once said, “If you don’t want to spend time with believers here on earth, there is little chance you will be with them for eternity.”
While going to church doesn’t save us and He doesn’t love us less if we miss a service, it is part of living an obedient life before Him. And yet, we can be deceived into believing going to church doesn’t really matter.
We can become “ok” with other areas of sin, as well, by deciding it is justified in our case or comparing ourselves to others and saying, “At least, I’m not that bad.”
Not forgiving because of how deeply we’ve been hurt.
Gossiping under the guise of “prayer requests,” while ignoring any conviction.
Excusing pornography or self-pleasure because our spouse isn’t providing what we feel we need. And a host of other secret sins.
Just like the Israelites in Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s day, we can have these areas of our lives that are not submitted to God and not only feel “ok” about them, but be downright self-righteous and judgmental about the sins of others, especially unbelievers, speaking out loudly against those who say abortion if ok or practice homosexuality, often very harshly.
How does that happen?
Mike Wilkerson in his book Redemption, talks about something he calls “Religious Addiction.”
Definitions of addiction include words like habit, obsession, and dependence. It denotes a compulsive need or dependence on something. It usually involves a certain lifestyle, hanging out with other people who do the same, and talking the way they talk. It offers an escape from reality.
Wilkerson says, “The religious addict escapes the reality of his own sin … If he doesn’t deny his sin altogether, he finds some way to justify himself, often by noticing how he’s not as bad as the next guy. He’s not like those heathen.” He goes on to explain that a religious addict will, among other things, adopt the lingo and much of the lifestyle of other religious people. He says, “These are his ‘sacrifices’ to gain his god’s favor and retain his righteous standing,” because like any addiction, it’s a form of idolatry. Religious addicts are often blind to their own problems.
But we don’t have to be a religious addict to have blind spots where we are not worshipping God as we should; where we’re going through the motions; where we’re speaking the lingo, but not living a Christ honoring life.
In Psalm 86.11 the psalmist said, “Unite my heart to fear Your name.” We can have “rooms” in our hearts that are off-limit to God. In effect we say, “I’ll do this, this, and this or quit doing this and this, but I’m going to do what I want in this area.”
Let’s examine ourselves in light of God’s Word to make sure we are not just “religious addicts” or idolaters and pray that God would help us see those “rooms” in our own hearts where we have locked God out.
Verse 18, “Whoever walks blamelessly will be saved, but he who is perverse in his ways will suddenly fall.”
Paul said it this way:
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6.7-8).
Don’t stop with the elementary principles of Christ
The last three verses of chapter 5 reminded us that we are not to be spiritual babies, but through practice—the doing of God’s Word—grow as believers. Here in the first three verses of chapter 6 we are told to build on the foundational truths of Scripture. Hebrews 6.1-3:
1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.
We do that by meditating on His Word, by getting to know Him as God, by understanding and worshipping Him for His attributes, by putting off the old man and putting on the righteous habits of the new man (Eph. 4.22-24), by becoming more like Christ (Rom. 8.29), and by making it our goal in life to please Him (2 Cor. 5.9).
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