“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 18:29
Oh my friends! If I had a thousand years to type and you had a thousand years to read I don’t know that we still would be able to hash out the things that God is pouring out on me right now! I feel like I’m standing on the edge of an ocean of revelation with the waves lapping at my ankles, just scanning the endless horizon of possibilities and His amazing Grace.
His word each morning has just been so filled with revelation that I’m getting completely overwhelmed with just where to start. It’s all so amazing and wonderful and I want to share ALL of it with you!
I am so excited about the message hidden in chapter 18 that I feel like there was extra caffeine in my coffee this morning! I am literally bouncing off the walls and I can hardly hold still. It is, by far, the best of all messages. It is the Good News of the gospel! And I pray that you listen carefully to it today.
For the longest time I lived my life thinking that I had to keep track of my sins. I thought that every time I sinned God was up on His throne angrily frowning at me. I mean, after all, He is a just God right? I had sinned and according to today’s reading, “The soul who sins shall die”. (Ezekiel 18:20) Thankfully, God has shone His marvelous light on His truth; the truth I was forgetting.
These are OLD covenant terms and conditions, and I’m living in a NEW covenant era!
Do you remember those paint with water coloring books? They were the ones that had the paint already on the page and all you needed was water and a brush and those plain white pages would come to life with a rage of color. It was like magic. Reading the old covenant is like that. It has little dried dots of Jesus’ blood hidden between each of the words, and all it takes is a little Living water and the brush of the Holy Spirit to breathe Truth and Life into those dry bones. And what’s really awesome about that is that when you read today’s reading through the blood of Jesus, the message that comes through IS marvelous!
The house of Israel was saying that, “The way of the Lord is not just”. (Ezekiel 18:25) And honestly that’s what all my sin-tracking was. As long as I was focusing on my sins, my motives, my actions were screaming “the Lord is not just”! The way I was living and treating myself was an old covenant way of life. I believed that I needed to be punished for my sins, because I was the one who had committed them. By believing this and acting in this manner I was denying the entire message of the gospel:
22a“For there is no distinction; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24AND ARE JUSTIFIED by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. 26It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:22-26
How many times have you heard the verse “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”? Probably hundreds right? Yet while it is an entire verse, it ISN’T an entire sentence! You know, I never knew that until I read it for myself. That’s when the Holy Teacher showed me His Truth. I want you to SEE what I’m talking about here because it is critical. There is such a tremendous, life changing truth in this passage and I don’t want you to miss it.
The sentence starts in the middle of verse 22, “For there is no distinction,”: we are all the same. But then the sentence doesn’t stop there, it pauses for a breath and then continues the thought,
23“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”:
“sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.” (Romans 5:12-13)
Yes, because we were born of flesh from the line of Adam we are born sinners. We ourselves hadn’t done anything on our own to be counted as sinners, yet we were counted as such nonetheless. We are all sinners. BREATH. It’s a comma not period.
24“and are justified by His grace as a gift,”: AND. It’s a conjunction! “And” is a joining word, it connects the things that come before it to the thoughts that come after it!!! The fact that we all start life as sinners is NOT the end of our story, it’s just the beginning! There is an “and”, a connector, there’s MORE! And the more is MARVELOUS! While we all are sinners, we are also ALL JUSTFIED by His grace as a gift! Satan loves when we stop at the sin verse and leave out the justified verse. He doesn’t want us to know that we ARE JUSTFIED. Because when we know that, well, there’s no stopping us. Just this morning, he has tried every which way to keep me from sharing this message with you because he KNOWS what it will do for you; it will set you free! You have been justified by His grace as a GIFT!
Romans 5:15-21 says, “the free gift [justification] is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
When you give someone a gift at Christmas what is your hope? Do you hope that they will like the gift? Do you hope that they will use and enjoy the gift? Or do you hope that they will hate it and give it away or return it unused? You want them to LOVE the gift don’t you? You want them to love the gift and USE it all the time. That’s when you know that a gift has been received, when the person you gave it to uses it because they love it.
God is just.
He is a just God and when sin abounds He requires punishment for that sin.
God is justifier.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more! God loves this world and everything in it so much that He gave His one and only Son (Jesus) on the cross to be punished for OUR sin – all of them. Just as God “passed over the former sins” He has also passed over the sins that were yet to come, ours, all of them. With the first Adam, we ourselves hadn’t done anything on our own to be counted as sinners, yet we were counted as such nonetheless. The same is true with the second Adam, the NEW beginning, the NEW covenant, our NEW creator. We ourselves can’t do anything on our own to be counted as righteous, yet when we choose Jesus and become born again, we are counted as such nonetheless.
Before choosing Jesus, we are sinners. And it doesn’t matter how many good things we do, we are still sinners. After choosing Jesus, we are MADE righteous, and it doesn’t matter how many bad things we do, we’re still righteous. The key, is remembering that
“for our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2Corinthians 5:21-6:1)
Once upon a time I prayed and asked God to help me better understand what was so amazing about Grace, because I just didn’t “get it”. He took me on the adventure of a lifetime! I became extraordinarily legalistic, to the point where I spent the majority of my day asking God to forgive me for one thing or another and it was horrible. I hated myself. I hated that I just couldn’t do everything right. I couldn’t follow His Law to the letter no matter how hard I tried. I kept telling myself, “I have the Spirit of Jesus living inside me I should be able to live like Jesus!” But the harder I tried the more I failed. I was miserable. There is a reason the Disciples called it the ministry of death, because it almost killed me.
But then God introduced me to Joseph Prince. He preaches Jesus and Grace alone. For months I would watch his sermons and struggled with what they contained. I wanted to believe that God’s grace is as radical as Joseph was telling me that it is, but it was just too unbelievable! Forgiven for ALL my sins? All of them, even the ones I haven’t committed yet? How can that be? And don’t I have to ask Him for forgiveness for every single one of them, otherwise they’re not forgiven, right? It was just too radical, too much, too good to be true. To believe that all my sins were wiped away the moment I chose Jesus, even the ones I hadn’t committed yet, it was just too much for me to believe that God could be that good; that His grace could cover me that completely – yeah right.
And then a beautiful little pink polka dot kitty walked into my life and I will never be the same again! God used my daughter Anna, whose name means Grace – “coincidentally”, to teach me that His grace really is that radical. His grace really is that good and it really does cover me that completely!
Oh how I wish I could go on and on! The impact that this truth has had on my life, well, it’s made me NEW! J And I pray that it will for you too. May the blessings of God be so heavy upon your heart that you can’t miss hearing them and feeling them with every breath that you take. This is not the end my friend, it is only the beginning! May God’s radical Grace flood your entire being today and every day from this day on! In Jesus’ name!
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to HIS ways, declares the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 18:29