Without a doubt, during this 14 day fast we have all sensed God working in us as we seek Him. Question is, what is an appropriate response to God working in us? A closer look at Ezekiel 36:25-27 will give us insight as to what our response should be.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
– Ezekiel 36:25-27
A quick breakdown of these scriptures shows us a few themes which can be categorized as follows:
Unclean/Idols (Ezek 36:25)
Cleansing (Ezek 36:25)
Walk in God’s statues (Ezek 36:27)
Heart of stone (Ezek 36:26)
New heart & new spirit (Ezek 36:26)
Obedience to God’s rules (Ezek 36:27)
Deposit of God’s spirit (Ezek 36:27)
Our response can be framed in two ways: 1) walking, and 2) obeying. These descriptions of our response are two ways of describing a singular action -- following God. The imperative is that we would walk and obey in such a way that is responsive to God's holiness and reflective of the work that God has done within us by His love for us. In the case of Ezekiel 36:25-27, we give our entire life in response to God. This type of response is still appropriate and relevant for our walk with Christ today.
Too often, we respond to God half-heartedly, as if to say that God is only worthy of part of our lives. We fall into the lie that we can “tithe our life” to God and live the rest of the 90% for ourselves. But these scriptures are clear, our response should be holistic, not holding any of ourselves back from walking with or obeying God.
We may find ourselves either walking or obeying and not walking and obeying. Meaning, we may think that we are walking with God in fellowship, yet we do not obey Him. Conversely, we may think that we are obeying God, yet we have no fellowship with Him. Truth is, we need to walk with God in fellowship and obey Him in His commands.
Question for us now is, are we walking and obeying? Are we simply thinking that we can enjoy God’s fellowship without obeying Him, or are we just simply trying to obey Him without enjoying His fellowship? Fellowship without obedience leads to false romanticism of faith where we only make empty wedding vows to God, and obedience without fellowship only creates a Pharisee within us leaving us with a sense of self-righteousness.
The invitation of Ezekiel 36:25-27 is that we would account for who God is and how He’s worked in our lives, while also taking serious inventory of our response to Him and ensuring that we are appropriately responding in a manner that is worthy of worship unto God.
Heavenly Father, I pray that we would respond to Your holiness and love in such a way that we would walk and obey in our relationship with You. We repent of living a life in dichotomy between walking or obeying. I pray that You would lead us by Your Spirit in Your statues and ways, that we may live in response to Your holiness and love. Amen.
Ministry Director, Christian Union Martus (University of Pennsylvania)
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