Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for the transgressions of all people…every skin color and ethnic group. And He willingly died for the fatal disease of mankind’s soul – sin. When God sent Jesus to save the world, He had no particular people-group in mind, or certain color of skin He had partiality over…No, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) In God’s eye’s we all matter, and it’s only the work of Satan that diverts our attention away from unity, and deceives us about that foundational truth. Today, lift up your head and look to Jesus…no matter who you are or where you come from, no matter the color of your skin or what you’ve done in the past… you matter to Jesus and He loves you.
Throughout the book, Ezekiel did not mince words when denouncing the rampant idolatry around him…comparing it to infidelity and prostitution. He also didn’t curb his words, accusing the Jews of being stubborn, self-righteous, and rebellious. It got to the point of alienation that God Himself said, “No, I won’t listen to you anymore.” The people were putting their trust in created things like gold and silver… but God warned all that, “Gold and silver will not be able to save them in the day of the Lord’s wrath.” (Ezekiel 7:19)
We all are born with a sin nature. You don’t need a teach a baby how to be crabby and out of sorts…they arch their little back, face beet red, as they let you know in no uncertain terms they’re unhappy! No, thanks to Adam and Eve that sin nature has been handed down from generation to generation. In Psalm 51:5 David laments about this sin nature when he says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” From the first Adam we obtained our sin nature…but the second Adam, Jesus Christ, came to redeem us from it.
Let’s get this straight…God does not tempt us. Instead, our own evil desires do a really good job of that. And it’s when we allow our own deceptive imaginings to fester and grow, that sin has a foothold. You might call this day-dreaming…part pleasant reverie, part suggestive fantasy…but all of it giving rise to deception and lies in our thought life. And whenever you allow your day-dreaming to “go there”…whatever that is for you, you’re being tempted to give in to sinful thinking. That’s when we need to stop and remember II Corinthians 10:5, which cautions us to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.
Are you bound up in the burial clothes of sin? Do addictions have you shackled to a life you hate? Do you long to be free of the things that have kept you from moving ahead? Then obey the command of Jesus, “Come out!” Yes, the decision is yours to make. You can remain wrapped up tightly in the burial clothes of sin, guilt and shame…or you can walk out of that grave you call your life today and live.
As His ministry became more well-known, Jesus became more popular among the social outcasts. Why? Because He wasn’t concerned about maintaining His squeaky clean image, or only being seen with the right people. Jesus went where the need was. So here we find Jesus at a large banquet made up of every kind of questionable personality and reputation. But He looked beyond the person and saw their potential… and wasn’t afraid to go where they lived. You won’t find the healthy in the hospital…you’ll only find the sick. Just as you won’t find most lost sitting in the pews on Sunday. As Christians, we need to be willing, just like Jesus, to go where the need is.
When Jesus spoke of man’s corrupt, sinful nature He always addressed it in its ultimate result. For example, Jesus never warned us that we must not covet because it might lead to stealing…He said rather, You must not covet because it is stealing. The same goes for all the fleshly appetites and passions that come from our human nature. If you think it – Jesus says you’ve already done it in your heart…from lust to murder. For anytime we allow fantasy to fill our mind instead of truth, our flesh is winning.
I am my worst critic. I lie in bed at night annoyed with myself that I didn’t accomplish everything I should have. Or I’m aggravated at myself for not speaking up when I could have. I react with self-loathing as I play back the events of the day… as the “I should have, I could have, I would have’s” run in a loop through my mind. What’s so sad is… most times, I’m beating myself up over things no one else even knows about. They’re things that are only important to me…so why am I so perturbed? In a word…it’s guilt. Self-directed anger is fueled by guilt…and it doesn’t need to be guilt heaped on us from someone else…for we can do that all by ourselves! But this guilt-ridden self-anger can be changed by the last few words of this verse…for it says to “search your hearts and be silent. Selah” That means we listen and not speak, allowing the Holy Spirit to whisper truth into our heart and mind. It means then we pause and ponder these truths not allowing our mind to race negatively. It’s positive reinforcement, Holy Spirit style.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to not go along with the crowd. Sure, the peer pressure is strong, and we want to fit in and not seem odd…but we also realize what the crowd is about to do is just plain wrong. Deuteronomy 13:8 tells us to not yield to or even listen to the enticements from those who are sinning. And the old excuse of, “Everybody’s doing it!” can’t stand up to the truth if it goes against the word of God. For any words of persuasion, guilt, or deception we hear will never change wrong into right.