Turn and live!

God, speaking to the children of Israel through the prophet Ezekiel said, “ Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye” (Ezekiel 18:30-32).

In the passage above we can see that God is going to judge every man according to what he has done and not by what someone else has done. Each person will be held accountable for his or her own life. He tells them to put away their transgressions so that they will not be ruined. He wanted them to become a new person. God takes no pleasure in death. He tells them to turn and live. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden they died a spiritual death and were separated from God. When people sin, God is not pleased. He takes no delight in sin. He wants people to turn from their sin and live spiritually.

Christ speaking to us through the New Testament tells us the same thing that God told his people many years before. In Luke 13:1-5, Christ tells the Jews what will happen if they continue on the path that they are on. “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Christ is saying to them that even if they are not as bad as these were, they still have to repent. Even though their sin was not as bad, they were going to repent or they would perish just as those mentioned perished. The not so bad will perish along with the very bad if they do not repent. Christ is saying, “Turn and live”.

Repentance is a turning from the past. When we repent we turn from the past and face the future. Once we determine in our heart to do what God wants us to do, we turn from sin and face a life free of sin. We like the Jews of old, will have a new heart and a new spirit. We will walk in newness of life with our sins washed away by the blood of Christ. In Ephesians 4:22-25, Paul wrote, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” When we do this we are turning to life. This is what Ezekiel told the Jews they had to do. Ezekiel did not use the same words that Paul used but he said the same thing. Paul is saying, “Turn yourselves and live”.

Paul really brings this point home in Romans 6, starting in verse 1 and finishing in verse 10. ”What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” Paul said that as long as we are in sin we are dead spiritually. We are separated from God with no hope. Then he tells us that we are baptized into Christ, baptized into his death, and that like Christ was raised up, we are raised up so that we can walk in newness of life. We are made alive spiritually and are now able to live in Christ. The old man is crucified, the old man is dead and buried, the body of sin that separated us from God is gone having been washed away by the blood of Christ when we were buried in baptism. We are now alive, free from sin and henceforth we should not serve sin.

We need to keep ourselves faced in the right direction. We must continue to turn and live. It is so easy to forget and turn back the wrong direction. We must always turn towards Christ and the cross and face life. To look the other way is to face death in the judgment. - Don Boice

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