TURN AND LIVE
SOME 600 years before Jesus, GOD used Ezekiel to summon the people to “turn and live.” They were told to cast away their sins and make for themselves a new heart. “Why will you die?”, they were asked (Ezekiel 18.30-32). Two questions arise for us. (1) Does God ask you to do the impossible? And (2) What does God want you to know?
The call shows that the people were not right with God. They had turned away from him. God wants them to turn to him. Those who do shall live. A great promise is joined to a solemn command!
Can you turn to God and live? Most people respond with a resounding yes. Why? Because we do not like to think we lack power. How does Jesus see you? He says to religious people, “How can you speak good when you are evil?” (Matthew 12.34). And he tells us that it is “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” The implication is clear. A good tree may produce good fruit (see verse 33), but you cannot make yourself what God created you to be. Why not? Because “you are evil,” Jesus says (verse 34). It seems then that God asks you to do the impossible. Is that the case? And, if it is, is it fair?
How much power do you have? We are created to exercise three types: physical power, moral power, and spiritual power. Physically you are able, health permitting, to do great things. You can breathe, lift, push, pull, run, and squeeze. You have some physical strength. And you can use it.
You are also able to make moral decisions. You can choose to abstain from getting drunk, from smoking, and from taking illegal drugs. You decide not to commit adultery or murder.
Though you have physical and moral power, you lack spiritual power. That is what God tells us. We learn it in the Bible.
What are you not able to do? You cannot keep God’s law (Romans 8.7). You cannot please God (Romans 8.8). You cannot turn to Jesus (John 6.44). You cannot do anything pleasing to God without Jesus (John 15.5). You cannot believe (John 5.44; 12.39). You cannot bear good fruit (Matthew 7.17). You cannot love God (1 John 4.20). You cannot do good (Jeremiah 13.23). You cannot think a good thought (2 Corinthians 3.5). And you cannot enter the kingdom of God as you are (John 3.1-8).
If you cannot do these things, why does God ask you to do them? Surely the answer must be because God wants you to see your real need. You need him to change you; to make you new. He wants you to rely on Jesus alone. He wants you to live by faith.
Those who have faith are called to do good works. But your best works can never save you from being cast into hell. The only way to experience forgiveness for your sins and sinfulness; the only way to find new life; the only way to be sure you will inherit the new heavens and earth when they are brought into existence is by faith. Salvation is a free gift from God. It is cannot be earned. It is all of grace.
Why, then, does God call you to turn and live? Because he wants us to seek forgiveness and new life in Jesus. The promise that you shall live is added to the command to turn to encourage you to seek him. It is God’s way of bringing his chosen ones to faith. All of us should listen to God’s call. He calls us to turn to him and live. All of us are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. What you have no power to do, God can empower you to do. That is the great lesson we all need to learn.
What does a failure to turn to God and ask him for new life in Jesus reveal? That one is not prepared to ask God to change them.
Now is the time to seek the new heart and spirit which God promises to give? Please remember, those who seek him shall find him.