Focal Passages: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 21-23, 25-27, 30-32
America is a nation that loves to forgive. At least, that’s how is seems. When professional athletes are caught using performance-enhancing drugs, if they apologize and admit their mistakes they are welcomed with open arms. The same is true of politicians or celebrities who “misspeak.” As long as there is an apology, we are willing to forgive. But is the forgiveness we see displayed in the media really pleasing to God? I think not. Too often the apologies that we hear are filled with caveats such as “if I have offended anyone” or “if I have hurt anyone” rather than an honest acknowledgement of having genuinely been in the wrong. God desires genuine repentance and offers real forgiveness.
In Ezekiel 18:1-4 God confronts a proverb that was well known in Israel – “the father’s eat sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” The Israelites desired to shift the blame for God’s judgment on them by blaming the preceding generations. God makes it clear that each person is responsible for his or her own sin. Later in Ezekiel 18:21-23 God reveals that each person can experience forgiveness. God calls on sinful people to turn from their sin and to Him. The idea of turning is the very heart of the word “repentance.” God makes this offer of forgiveness, because He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Unbelievably, there were some who thought this was unfair; too easy (Ezek 18:25-27).
There are those today who think that turning from their sin by trusting in Christ is too easy. But it is not “easy.” God has judged our sin in Christ on the cross. While we were still sinners and under his judgment, God provided for our forgiveness through the death of Christ (Rom 5:8).
What God says in Ezekiel matches up exactly with the New Testament description of salvation. If we reject His offer of salvation, we face God’s judgment alone. If we receive His gracious offer of salvation, we experience His forgiveness and receive life. Was there a time in your life when you turned from your sin to the grace and forgiveness of Christ?