Ezekiel 33 & 34
Is Believing “in” God Enough?
Verse 19, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!”
John MacArthur says that demons, while they seek to deceive others about the truths of God and while they chose to follow Satan, are orthodox in their theology. They know who Christ is, they know they are under His authority, and they know that one day they will be cast into the lake of fire (Mk. 5.6-10).
But just believing in God isn’t enough.
Do you know someone who claims to believe in God, but without any evidence of saving faith? This is a great verse to memorize and share. Believing in God does not save us, that is, merely, believing that He exists. It’s belief in the gospel that saves (Mk. 1.15; Rom. 1.16). It’s believing He is who He says He is, believing what He says is true, and receiving it as our only personal hope for salvation.
Instead, many have some general idea of God as some kind of a benevolent Father. They often expect that He will weigh the good and the bad things we have done and since most of us think we’re really not that bad (Prov. 20.6), hope the good will outweigh the bad.
But the gospel is the truth that we are sinners dead in our trespasses and sins and unable to save ourselves. We cannot be saved by good works (Jn. 3.10, 3.23, 6.23; Eph. 2.8-9), nor through any amount of religion (going to church, being baptized, taking sacraments, etc.).
God sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins. He died on the cross, was buried, and was raised again. We are saved by His grace when we admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior and by putting our faith in Him and Him alone to save us. It’s Jesus who saves us, but we must “receive,” that is choose to believe, the truth.
Today’s Other Readings:
Ezekiel 33 & 34:
Watching & Warning
1 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand” (ch. 33.1-6).
Ezekiel was called to be a “watchman” to the people of His day. He was to warn the people of their need to repent and turn from their sin and idolatry. We, too, are “watchman” called to share the gospel with those around us. Matthew 28.19-20 says:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
If we are faithful to share God’s truth, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient, we are free from guilt. But if we refuse, “their blood is on our hands.”
Notice I said we are called to be “faithful,” not to do it perfectly, not to memorize the whole Bible, nor to be able to answer every potential question or objection someone may make … just to be faithful!
We are not responsible for someone’s response, only to be obedient as God’s instrument in the lives of others. It is He who ultimately seeks and saves!
Chapter 34.11 says, “For thus says the Lord GOD. ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.’”
We are also watchmen in another sense.
Galatians 6.1 says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
Sometimes we will see our sisters and brothers in Christ “overtaken in a trespass.” The idea here is of an animal caught in a trap, in this case, a trap of sinful behavior. As I’ve said before this doesn’t mean we are to point out every sin in another believer’s life, but when we see those patterns of sin or things that are hurting others or damaging the testimony of Christ, we are to gently and lovingly minister the truth and help them be restored.
Wait & Hope
I love the two verbs used here to describe the psalmist’s response to God—“wait” and “hope.” We are to wait with patient expectation and put our confidence—hope—in Him.
“He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
Is there someone in your life who has heard the gospel repeatedly and rejected it over and over, perhaps you are the watchman called to warn him or her of the danger of stiff-arming God!
Is there some area of your life where God has dealt with you repeatedly and you refuse to obey? Consider praying that God would unite your heart to fear His name (Ps.86.11) and ask for His help to surrender every area of your life to Him.
Go be His watchman today!
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll discuss the questions, “Are your words blessing or cursing?” and “Are you ‘profiting’ from your reading and study of the Bible?” We’ll also talk about how Satan is a fisherman who studies us to know the right bait to reel us in and how the Bible’s admonition about bad company applies to politics.
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Getting ready for 2018
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.