May 15th

For God’s Sake

22 "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices.  

32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign LORD. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, O house of Israel! 33 " 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, "This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited." 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.' 37 "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, 38 as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD."  Ezekiel 36:22,25-38 NIV

In Ezekiel’s time, the nation of Israel had become so decadent and rebellious, that God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and take the people into captivity back to Babylon. Even in Israel’s utter failure to obey God, he was merciful and promised that he would restore them to prosperity. He also promised that he would:

  1. Cleanse the people from their filthy sins
  2. Give them a new heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone
  3. Put his Spirit in them, enabling them to live by his commandments
  4. Deliver them from all of their uncleanness and sin
  5. Bless the land with fruitfulness and growth and prevent famines from occurring
  6. Help them recognize and realize the gravity of their sin in true repentance 
  7. Bless their fertility and increase the men in their population

 He promised to do these awesome things not for the peoples’ sake, but for his name’s sake, so that all people would know he was God.   

This passage was a prophecy that Jesus fulfilled when he died for our sin and rose from the dead.  All of the above promises are fulfilled for those who believe in Jesus whether they are Jews or Gentiles.  Our faith links us to Abraham as descendents, because he was the father of all who believe (Romans 4:11-16).  2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. ”  The promises are for us and we can claim them in faith. 

There are various possible reasons why some people fail to experience all of the blessings of the above promises when they place faith in Jesus.  One reason is that they may not have asked for the blessings. In verse 37 above, God suggests that he will wait until the people ask him to bless their lives. When we ask God to bless us according to his promises, he will do it for his name’s sake so that he will be glorified in you and as a witness to others.   

A second possible reason for not experiencing the full blessings is that the person may still be following the carnal nature instead of living according to the Holy Spirit’s desires.  Paul wrote, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so ” (Romans 8:6-7 NIV).   Following our carnal desires will almost certainly block God’s blessings from being realized in our lives.  We will reap destruction from the sins we practice instead of life and peace. 

Placing faith in Jesus and returning to carnal living is like putting your dirty, workout clothes back on after taking a shower.   The moment we put your old sinful habits back on, we’re allowing sin to build a new cage of bondage around us.  This new cage is actually unlocked, yet we can’t seem to just push the door open and walk away from it.  

No matter what sins we may be struggling for victory over, we can succeed through Jesus Christ.  We CAN walk out of the cage of sin’s bondage at any time, because Jesus has unlocked the door and shown us the way out.  The place to start is by repenting of our sin, surrendering ourselves to Jesus afresh and asking God to deliver and heal us.  See our study Freedom Journey for more details about living in freedom. 

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, I thank you and praise you for the wonderful promises that are mine through Jesus Christ.  To each of them, I say “Yes” and “Amen.”  May they manifest in my life as you have said in your word.  Please forgive me for any sin that I have tolerated in my life.  I commit myself to putting such sin to death.  Please strengthen me to follow through on this commitment every day.  Thank you, Father!  In the mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen.”