September 22

Ezekiel 18:25-32

“Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” 31a

The legal system of Israel was uncomplicated and relatively easy to understand. If people lived according to the law and did what was required by God they would be blessed. If they broke the law and lived according to the ways of wickedness they would be punished. The prophet believed their life choice was obvious: those living in wicked ways should get themselves a new heart and a new spirit in order that they might live. We who live by grace and not by the law may feel relief that we don’t have to worry about such things–but that’s not the case! There are plenty of times in life when we need to turn things around and get ourselves new hearts and spirits. Such changes are the core of the gospel of grace. When we turn back to God in repentance, confessing our sins, the forgiveness we receive is infused with restoration. The words of absolution are not just high-sounding words, they’re words that actually create in us a new spirit and a new heart. It’s not that we by our own reason or strength can conjure up the changes, but the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit is the transforming agent. The prophet believed that threats paved the way to change–Jesus taught us that the road to new life is paved with words of love. Thanks be to God!

Thought for the Day: Which is more likely to change me, a threat or a word of love?

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