Summary: Today, by turning from sin to God through faith in Jesus Christ, anyone can have a new heart. Salvation is not turning over a new leaf, but receiving a new life.
Opening illustration: During the past year, cars, trucks, tires, window blinds, and toy xylophones have been recalled by their manufacturers. In every case, the message was similar: “This product is defective or dangerous and could cause serious injury or even death. Return it to us and we will correct the problem.” But it’s up to the consumer to heed the warning and return the dangerous item.
Suppose God put this warning on the heart and soul of every person: “Because of a fatal attraction to sin and willful misuse, this item is defective. Failure to correct this problem will result in certain spiritual death.”
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God said that the hearts of His people had become adulterous (Ezekiel 6:9) and as hard as a rock (11:19). Yet the Lord longed for their hearts to be softened, and for them to come back to Him. He made this impassioned plea: “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin … Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die O house of Israel? (It is not worth it) For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies … Therefore turn and live!” (18:30-32).
Let us turn to Ezekiel 18 and check out God’s exhortation of what we need to turn from to God …
Introduction: The thought that God would judge us on our own actions and not on the behavior of our nation or our ancestors may seem more obvious to us than to them, but it remains a powerful message. We are not simply victims of fate. We are not simply victims of circumstance. The outcome of our lives is not pre-defined by our DNA. What happens to us, what becomes of us, is up to us. We are people with freedom, people with choices. That is meant to be heard as good news. That is meant to be heard with a sigh of relief. The Word of God tells us that we will reap what we sow. If we sow in the flesh …
How can a person’s life turn around?
1. Turn from Wickedness (vs. 26-28)
In our culture, wickedness means a deed in the likeness of Adolf Hitler, being a baby killer, Satan worshipper, a rapist or child molester etc. Whereas the word ‘wickedness’ in Hebrew means guilty of sin or guilty of hostility (rebellion) against God which deserves punishment. By that standard we all are guilty and deserve punishment and only Jesus can save.
The wickedness present in the world is on a scale not seen since the days of Noah and it is like an invisible net, which covers the Earth. So lethal is it that very few really understand the level of sophistication involved. But be aware, this plan - the details of which will be given to the world – by those who say that they represent My churches on Earth – will be brought before you and you will be expected to accept it. Then you will be demanded to devour it and you will be given no choice. What you will be asked to do, behind all the garble, is to deny Me, Jesus Christ.
I warn the world, that when you try to dismiss My Divinity – you and all those involved in this devious plot – you will be marked as an enemy of God. When you side with blasphemous laws, you are guilty of sin against God. I will continue to warn you, to open your eyes to the Truth, but I cannot force you to remain true to Me. I cannot force you to love Me. Your free will is your own, but if you turn and ask Me to guide you, I will open your eyes to the Truth. When you accept the Truth I will save you.
When a man who professed to have walked with God and been obedient to Him becomes apostate (quits on Him) and experiences death because of his turning away from God obviously does not have eternity with Him. At the same time when an ungodly man makes a commitment to God by turning away from wickedness and becomes obedient Him, he is not only promised eternal life but enjoys it. In fact Matthew 10:39 says, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
The prophet Ezekiel is exhorting the godly man to remain godly otherwise face the dire consequences and at the same time calling out on the ungodly to repent and be saved. Saving here is not something temporary but everlasting. Though we might experience physical death but have life ever after in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ezekiel is insisting and encouraging to all who are not walking the godly path to experience Him who is the giver of all life and the savior who is the Lord. He is discouraging the godly to turn apostate because the consequences are not worth it. He authenticates that when an ungodly man turns around, he brings life into himself and life eternal.