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News for Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Explore the Bible
June 15: When You Want to Blame Others
By Shawn Allred
6/9/2014
pastor, FBC, Bruceton


Focal Passage: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 21-23, 25-27, 30-32 

Remember the game hot potato? In this game the players try to get rid of the potato before the music stops. They pass and throw the potato with speed and urgency not wanting to be the one holding the speeding spud when the time of reckoning comes. Our world today is much like the game of hot potato when it comes to being accountable for one’s actions. People seem to want to “pass the buck,” evading responsibility for their own actions and passing it on to others and even God.

In the 18th chapter of Ezekiel we find the Lord God once again coming to Ezekiel with a message for the Israelites. The Israelites had been using a proverb familiar to them to characterize their current plight of exile in Babylon. The proverb is found in Ezekiel 18:3, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” This proverb used by the Israelites was their way of stating that the place they found themselves, in the captivity of the Babylonians was simply not their fault. They were the ones experiencing the sourness of the grapes eaten by their fathers. They were fully engaged in playing the blame game.

God, in no uncertain terms, speaks to the use of this proverb by the Israelites and calls them to accountability for their own actions. The accountability for sin, their sin, was to a Holy God. God says this to His people; “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul who sins shall die.” This places the blame for sin directly on the sinner and the accountability for their sin directly to God. The final verdict on sin, by the Holy Judge, is that the consequences of sin are borne by the sinner and the sinner alone. Those consequences are stated clearly in Romans 6:23, “for the wages of sin is death.” The Scriptures also give this clear explanation of a sinner in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Having cleared the air of who was to blame for the Israelites current captivity, God instructs Ezekiel what to tell the Israelites to do in order to accept responsibility and receive forgiveness.

Accepting responsibility for their sin must have been difficult for the people of Israel. For too long they had placed the blame on others and now God was holding them personally accountable. But Ezekiel had good news from God. In Ezekiel 18:21-23 we see the call to repentance and to restoration. If the Israelites would accept personal responsibility for their sin and turn away from blaming others then life eternal would be theirs. God takes no delight in people receiving death for the wages of their sin. In II Peter 3:9 the Scriptures tell us that the Lord is patient with us not wanting us to perish in our sin but rather wishing all would come to repentance. 

The Lord’s offering of forgiveness and life for personal accountability and repentance of sin is gracious and merciful. It has been said that grace is getting what we don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what we do deserve. How true this is of God. The Israelites deserved death and hell for their sin yet God granted them everlasting life in exchange for repentant hearts. 

Today God’s grace and mercy are still being extended to the whole world of those who would repent and turn to follow God through Christ. How wonderful it is to know that God offers salvation to people who accept responsibility for their sin, turn their hearts in repentance and faith to Christ, and trust in Him and Him alone for their salvation. This is the Good News! It was good for the Israelites in Ezekiel’s day and it remains Good News for our world today. 

— Allred is pastor of First Baptist Church, Bruceton.

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