“Now, son of man, say to your people: The righteousness of the righteous person will not save him on the day of his transgressions; neither will the wickedness of the wicked person cause him to stumble on the day he turns from his wickedness. The righteous person won’t be able to survive by his righteousness on the day he sins. When I tell the righteous person that he will surely live, but he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, then none of his righteousness will be remembered, and he will die because of the iniquity he has committed.
So when I tell the wicked person: You will surely die, but he repents of his sin and does what is just and right — he returns collateral, makes restitution for what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without practicing iniquity — he will certainly live; he will not die. None of the sins he committed will be held against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live.” -Ezekiel 33:12-16
It is interesting to be reading through Ezekiel and come to this passage. He spent several chapters detailing the annihilation of entire nations for their iniquity, not as it had happened, but as it was going to happen. It was intense. Then he turns in this chapter and tells Israel how they can have hope for restoration…in verse 11 with loud emphasis Ezekiel says REPENT, and follows with the above verses.
These verses struck me because they are so focused on the moment of an encouter with God. There is no reward for past righteousness of an individual or that of his family, nor is there condemnation for ones past wickedness or that of his family. “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” says the Lord. REPENT.
For us today, there is that moment when God is present and we know He is there and He is saying repent. It has nothing to do with how we are defined, known, veiwed, etc., righteous or wicked….it has to do with that moment. God does not delight in the death of the wicked and is calling us to repent. Likewise, I may know personally that I am saved, but I need to tread lightly if I start viewing my righteousness as my salvation because at the moment of iniquity I will fail miserably.
Jesus Christ had not yet come when Ezekiel wrote, but the truth that we are not saved by our own righteousness was already being proclaimed. As a follower of Jesus, His blood is what makes me righteous, at the moment of iniquity I need to cry out not claiming to be righteous but that I am covered in the blood of Christ.
Yesterday, I was sitting with an 87 year old woman in a community where we build houses. Five of her twelve children were sitting with us. She can’t do much but sit anymore, but it was a great moment to be sitting there with her on her porch. She told us how the other day she fell out of her chair backwards and smacked her head on the floor. She was sure it was the end. Then she heard a voice telling her, cry out “the blood of Jesus”. She cried out. She didn’t die, where she thought she had a huge gash their wasn’t one, she was able to get up. She said she didn’t even go to the hospital or anything. One of her sons added “Satan was trying to take her, but she is still here with us”.
Now I know her story is not in the same vein as our culpability for sin/righteous not being able to save us. But all the same, for Maria de los Santos, Jesus’ blood sustained her when she was pretty sure she was going to die. For those who are saved, the blood of Jesus has such great significance, it is so powerful.
The blood of Jesus is what makes us righteous at the moment of iniquity.
Thank you Jesus for dieing for me! You are my righteousness, my hope, my salvation, my all.