Ezekiel 18: 31-32 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone
These verses come on the heals of God explaining that each person is responsible for their own sins. Their transgressions are their own. They aren’t blamed for their father’s sins, and also the father is not blamed for the child’s sins. He also says that those that turn from their sins are no longer condemned. Why does this matter? Because, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Because we are sinners, we are not supposed to live in heaven. We are supposed to be condemned for our sins and experience death, a total separation from the love of God. Even when we confess and try to change, we sin. It’s a part of our earthly condition.
Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me
As Christians we struggle with our sin so much. We are pulled one way by our flesh and another way by our Spirit. Remember those pictures of a man with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? I think this is the struggle they were trying to represent with that image. We feel torn between our earthly selves and our desire to be closer to God without any of the junk of sin between us. We need to get rid of the sin that keeps us from having a fulfilling life with the Lord (here on earth and on for eternity). God calls on us in this verse to cast away our transgressions. He doesn’t want us to keep them close by. He doesn’t want us to sort of give them up. He’s calling us to throw them as far away as possible from ourselves. To distance ourselves from the sins that entangle us. The sins that get in the way of our relationship with others and especially with Him. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of the blessings He has in store for us. He loves us.
It can be really hard to distance ourselves from our sins. Especially if we kind of (ok really) like them. Maybe you enjoy having sex with multiple partners. Maybe you don’t care that you binge drink every weekend. Perhaps you’re not that worried about flirting with someone other than your spouse. Maybe you don’t care that you cheat a little on your taxes or wrote some fictional successes on your last resume. Maybe you don’t care, but God does. Not because he likes to keep you under control, but because when you start to do these things, they eat away at your soul. They distract you from God. You start getting problems that complicate your life and divert your focus on God. You get a disease, get crippled in a drunk driving accident, get arrested for tax evasion or any multitude of distractions. But it’s not just these things, but anything that gets in the way of our relationship with God. Sometimes that’s even other relationships. Anything that makes you think about yourself or something else more than you’re thinking about your relationship with God is an unwanted distraction. Be alert to the temptations.
Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit
It’s not too late. We can get rid of those distractions, or rather God can get rid of them for you. Go to Him in prayer. Tell Him you’ve had enough and that you need His help. Maybe you can use these words from Psalm 51 as a starting point:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Turn, then, and live
God gave us Jesus Christ to die on the cross to make restitution for our sins. We can’t do this on our own, but God doesn’t want anyone to experience death. He wants to be in a relationship with us forever. He gave us a way out of our sinful demise. He saved us with the ultimate sacrifice; His Son. In response to this awesome love and forgiveness, we now must work to turn from our sins and turn back to the Lord. Keeping our focus on Him, that we might live.