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)
As King Solomon so wisely observed in Ecclesiastes 7:20, ” There isn’t a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” So to be naive enough to claim we are without sin is only deceiving ourselves and no one else. (I John 1:8) It all boils down to our will vs God’s will in our life…and the decisions we make everyday to either do what He commands or exert our rebellious free will in pride and disobedience.
It’s not God that loads us down with guilt and shame about our past. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. For it tells us in Psalm 103: 8-13, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” It’s only God’s merciful kindness towards us that takes our sins and throws them all into the Sea of Forgetfulness. It’s only us that dredge them back up and torture ourselves with them.
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.
The 32 Psalm is called a Penitential psalm, where the writer, David, acknowledges his willful and rebellious acts of rejecting God’s authority. Within it David expresses his feelings of repentance and holy sorrow…asking God to forgive and remove his sin – and bless him. It goes on to say in verse 2 of this Chapter, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” We will be truly blessed of God when we come taking responsibility for our actions and asking for forgiveness.
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.
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.
The prophet Micah had to make a very personal and difficult decision…be quiet and allow the greed and injustice he saw to continue…or speak out, denouncing the willful rebellion and habitual sinfulness he was witnessing. For Micah, the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit far surpassed any threat in the world…and the righteous indignation within drove him to openly condemn the ungodliness he saw. As Believers, we’re filled with the same Holy Spirit as Micah…the same knowledge between right and wrong…the same ability to bring light into darkness. I pray that a spirit of righteous indignation rise up among God’s people, causing us to boldly speak truth where there’s lies and deception.