Saturday, July 6, 2013

not for my sake

Reading in Ezekiel this morning, as I continue to complete reading through the Bible completely, and was struck by a truth that I know, but that was still refreshing early this morning...

In chapter 36, starting in verse 22, Ezekiel is given a message from God concerning the salvation that is to come for His people. Its a wonderful promise that tells us that even though we have strayed, and trampled upon all that He has given us, even though we have profaned His name among the world, even to whatever level of uncleanliness that we have achieved on our own, no matter how deeply we have allowed our evil desires to root within us... despite all of this, God promises that He will cleanse us of all of our filthiness. He even goes deeper to promise that He will give us a new heart, that He will remove our heart, that we have turned to stone, and give us a heart of flesh, He promises to place within us a new Spirit. God goes so far as to say that this new spirit is not simply a cleansed, renewed version of our old spirit, but in verse 27, He says that it is His own Spirit that He will place within us, a Spirit that will allow us to walk in a manner to which He has called us, and a Spirit with a desire to live in obedience, under His authority. In doing so, God promises to restore His children, not just a restoration back to who we were before it all went wrong, but to make us a new creation, with a new Spirit, and new life, promising to multiply His grace upon us, and promising that we will never again receive ourselves into the eternal disgrace of our evil desires. His promise is an eternal cleansing, and a new life walking in concert with His will.

As amazing as all of that is, the part that truly floors me this morning is best emphasized at the beginning of verse 32, God concludes by saying that He is NOT doing this for OUR sake! He states it first in verse 23, His motivation in this revitalizing work is to vindicate the holiness of His great name! He is saving His people in such a complete and miraculous way, not for our own sake, but that by doing so in the sight of the world, that He will prove Himself holy among us in their sight! God promises that it is not for our sake that He is choosing to begin His saving work, but for the glory of His holiness.

This passage shows the mission-minded, evangelical focus of God... and hopefully places us, rightly, in a place of worship, desiring to accept that our salvation was not for us, but for others to be able to see the glory of God, and for others to desire to experience that glory through the birth of a new life, the gift of a new heart, and the exchange of a new spirit. God was promising this before Christ came to earth, before we knew the Way, Truth, and Life through which this great promise would be carried out. God spoke of His children whom would be cleansed, not of unknown persons who might come to Himself. This passage leads straight to the heart of what it is to be in Christ, called by name, knowing that you are saved by grace, through faith, that it is not of yourself, so you shall not boast. The passage is also a promise that when we are cleansed and revived by God in this way, that He will take the desolate wasteland of our life, and fill it with fruit so plentiful that it will cause others to remember back to the Garden of Eden, and our true home. People should be able to look into a believer and follower and see that what used to be empty is now being cultivated, changed, and producing good fruits. And again, in verse 36, God reminds us that the intent of this is that the people who remain around us will know that it was God that rebuilt our being, and God that planted that which was desolate... and He leaves it with another promise, "I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it."

This is a passage is a promise spoken by God the father, foreshadowing the saving work of God the Son, and promising the sustaining work of God the Holy Spirit. It speaks to the Doctrine of the Elect, it speaks to the need of Grace, it speaks to the futility of a works-based system for salvation... it speaks of the depravity and desolation that we have managed to attain by forsaking God's word and commandments. It speaks to our need for cleansing. It promises the fruits of the Spirit that will be present in the lives of those who have experienced a new birth. It speaks of the exchange of our heart for the heart of God. It speaks of all of this, 570 years prior to the birth of Jesus Christ, the earliest manuscripts of this text were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, predating the birth of Christ! This is the word of God, promising salvation to those He calls unto Himself, promising new life to those He calls His children. But it is not a promise to glorify us, it is a promise that He does these things to ensure that His glory is visible among His people, that the world will know that He alone is God.

Amazing stuff from an old book that means everything to us today

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