to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
September 20, 2019 – Friday
Ezekiel 33:12-16 NIV
12 “Therefore, son of man, say to your people, ‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.’
13 If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live, but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die for the evil they have done.
14 And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right—
15 if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return what they have stolen, follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil—that person will surely live; they will not die.
16 None of the sins that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live.
The ‘Therefore’ in verse twelve above tells us this is said as a result of something said earlier, so let’s look at the two prior verses.
10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’
These two verses show God’s great mercy and love, even for those who are caught up in sin for He says Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why? So they may live! Many non-believers will tell you God is terrible because of hell, but here we read God saying I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. He not only takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but He offers forgiveness and mercy if the wicked will but turn from their ways and live.
Then we come to our verses for today where God warns about self-righteousness where we might believe because we have done good, now we can sin, choose to disobey God If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. Thus He is explicit in making sure we should not countenance or even consider such an idea. At the same time He wants us to know if we are caught up in sin there is mercy and forgiveness And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right … that person will surely live; they will not die.
I would like to add a few comments made in Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible concerning these verses.
This is not talking about sins that we commit because we are sinful and cannot help it, even though we try, it is talking about presumptuous sin. It is talking about an attitude of heart and mind taken up and clung to. If the righteous man deliberately turns to sin and disobedience as a way of life, all his previous righteousness will be of no avail. A man is not saved by the amount of his righteousness. Looked at from the human standpoint he is saved by his response to God’s graciousness. And if that response ceases he is revealed as an unworthy sinner, and he cannot therefore count on any righteousness that he has done. For no amount of righteousness can save a man. (underline added)
But what about our salvation through Christ one might ask? To answer Peter Pett adds this:
A godly man was once asked, ‘Do you believe in the perseverance of the saints?’ And that godly man replied, ‘No. I believe in the perseverance of the Saviour.’ So those whom the Saviour saves will be persevered with. They cannot fall permanently back into sin, otherwise He would have failed. But it warns us that there is no peace in wallowing in sin on the basis of past experience. If Christ is truly at work within us our hearts will be right at the end, for He will ensure that it is so. There is no contradiction between Ezekiel and the Gospel.
With Christ we have a permanent solution once we confess and repent of our sin when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. What righteousness we have is not our own, but an imputed righteousness from Him. That is the righteousness that saves.
It’s Friday! Have a Great Weekend and remember to Go to Church. Enjoy the corporate fellowship in prayer and worship as well as receiving the Word of God in the message you receive.
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)