Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.
For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. (Eze 14:6-8) (This was first posted June 28, 2016)
Idolatry was the number one thing that came between God and Israel for hundreds of years and it is still the number one offense against God today, including among Christians. In the above passage, the issues are gathered in one statement. God’s concern is about one who set up idols in his heart but came to the prophet to enquire of the Lord. This hypocrite kept his idol in his heart alive and working all the time. “Before his face.” His idol possessed his thought life. That person was a double-minded hypocrite, trying to have it both ways. He was in deep trouble with God. The prophet wouldn’t need to answer that man because God Himself would answer the man and make an example of him to other people. It is a dangerous thing for one who pretends to serve God to hide an idol in his heart. When this happens, we need to repent.
In the New Testament, we have a similar warning: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Gal 6:7-8)
We notice that a particular idol or a particular sin is not named in today’s text in the Old or New Testament. It was understood that an idol was something that came before God in the heart of an individual. It broke God’s command: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deu 6:5)
Jesus repeated this twice in the New Testament: And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mar 12:29-31) See also: Mat.22:18.
Loving God is broad and failing to love God is broad. It’s the number one issue with the Lord. Today, we hear this statement a lot: “Well, what I’m doing is no worse than....” and the person names another sin. Such a pitiful statement to fall from the lips of one who claims to know Jesus as his or her personal Savior and Lord. It doesn’t belong in the mouth of God’s children. Nowhere in the Bible do we find such language. God does not let us off the hook because we think we are clever. We must look into His face and pray: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psa 19:14) And Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psa 139:23-24)
With this background we can now consider what Ezekiel meant in the Old Testament and what John the Baptist and Jesus meant in the New Testament. John the Baptist thundered his message by the Jordan river: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mat 3:1-2)
Repent of what? Repent of anything and everything that the individual knows is wrong. The sinner has the list. The preacher doesn’t need to name all the sins of the human race to deal with one stubborn sinner who is hanging on to his sin. We know what’s in our hearts that doesn’t belong there. Let’s not play games with God. God is not mocked. Jesus had no sin but He submitted to John’s baptism of repentance as an example of what people ought to do.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. That must have been a very hard thing on Him because we read: Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Mat 4:11) Shortly after that, Jesus began preaching and what did He preach, first thing? From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mat 4:17) Jesus did not mention the things they were to repent of. Every one of them knew what he or she should repent of. Their conscience had been shaped and influenced all their lives by the teachings of the Old Testament.
After Jesus was raised from the dead and He was about ready to go back to Heaven for a while, He said the Holy Spirit would be sent: And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (Joh 16:8) The Holy Spirit knows every heart and it is His job to convict the souls of men and women and boys and girls of the sins they need to repent of.
People will not repent because the preacher reads off a list of sins. People will only repent when the Holy Spirit convicts of sin and points out what needs to be changed. The preacher needs to preach the whole Word of God and not cut corners and soft-pedal what God calls sin. But it is the Spirit of God that must convince the sinner to repent.
Until that happens, we speak the truth in love and pray for God to grant repentance to loved ones and friends who choose to go their own way. Repent of what? Repent of what God convicts you of. But in the process, we dare not trifle with God for we must deal with Him personally. He will not be mocked.
The greatest need today in America is for Christians and the churches they attend to repent of any idols that are in our hearts. Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you. (James 4:8) Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 – THURSDAY
A.M. Song of Solomon: 1-3
P.M. 2 Cor. 12
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A Good Memory Verse:
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear (confess). (Isa 45:22-23) See also: (Rom. 14:11 and Phil. 2:10)
Song for Today:
The Love of God (Acapella Choir)
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