Ezekiel 36: (God said) 27 I will put my spirit within you (people Israel), and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. 28 Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.a
It can be hard to read through some books of the bible, like Ezekiel. The book is mostly words of judgment by God to the various nations that sinned against him – especially Israel. At some point I find myself wondering how many different ways God can say, “You’re toast!”.
But every once in a while there is a word of hope, such as in this passage. God has described in detail the many ways the people failed to honor their covenant with God. By this point in the Old Testament something is painfully clear:
People are in bondage to sin and cannot free themselves.
It’s a part of the human condition to want to do what’s right, then fail to actually do it. (For a pointed description of this situation, read Romans 7:14-25) Left to themselves, God’s people would surely perish. Their only hope was divine intervention, which is precisely what they got.
27 I will put my spirit within you (people Israel), and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.
The hope of the people was not their ability to finally overcome their sinful nature, but God’s ability to overcome their sinful nature – via the sending of the Holy Spirit. It was at the day of Pentecost that God’s people finally had a way to live as the Lord desired all along.
That’s good news for you and me today.
I’ve been teaching a sermon series called “Unstuck” in which we’ve been exploring ways that sin and death hold us back, and how we can be set free. (You can find these sermons on our church app. Just search for “Rejoice Lutheran” in whatever app store you use and download onto your smart device. Press the “sermons” tab along the bottom to listen.) Here are three important truths we’ve discussed so far:
- Everyone gets stuck in our junk
- We cannot fix ourselves via simply trying harder
- A key to freedom is naming specifically how we are stuck
The fourth and final truth we will explore on November 8 is:
4. In the power of God’s spirit, we can finally be set free
Are you stuck right now? Are you frustrated at your inability to free yourself, despite your best intentions? You are not alone dear brothers and sisters. Let’s pray together to the One who can free us forever.
Lord Jesus, on the day of Pentecost you sent your Holy Spirit to live in your people, the church. Thank you Lord that you never gave up on us, despite our sinful ways. Today we acknowledge that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. No point in denying it. Trying harder will never get us unstuck from our junk. Give us grace, Lord, to lay hold of the power of the Spirit you’ve made available to all believers, so we can finally live as designed from the beginning. We ask this in your precious name. Amen.