This morning I decided to go to the park and enjoy the absolutely beautiful day that God provided to have my Jesus date (you know because in Texas it’s in the 70s in December). In my readings I read Galatians 2 as part of my reading plan with my college ministry, and asked God to show me something else after and happened to flip to Ezekiel 36. God thing-the two related and two and half pages of journaling later, I had a God epiphany.
Galatians 2 discusses how we are justified by faith, not by law. It touches on how God does not show favoritism and uses Paul as an example. Later in the chapter, Paul defends the faith over the law-this is where it gets to the nitty gritty.
Context of this passage: Paul is stating how the Jews believed in the law and that they had to be disciplined in following the law. Paul points out that we are made right through Christ and faith in Him, not because we have obeyed the law (v. 15-16). In verse 19, Paul states, “For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law-I stopped trying to meet all its requirements-so that I might live for God.” In the Old Testament under the old covenant, there were a set of strict laws that you had to abide by, but when God sent Christ to die on the cross, the new covenant was instilled, where Jesus served as our ultimate sacrifice. Now, because of this act of love, we can stop trying to achieve perfection based on the law, and work at being Christ-like and can now die to the law and old ways and live solely for God. Galatians 2:20, probably the most known verse in the passage, paints this picture on dying to old ways for us.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
We die to our old ways and old way of thinking and living. We no longer live for ourselves, but Christ lives in us and we live to make His name great, because as it states, he loves us and gave himself for us.
Ezekiel 36 takes this to a whole ‘notha level. This chapter is about the restoration of Israel. Context of this chapter: Ezekiel was written by none other than Ezekiel. It is based on examining the holiness of God. This book serves as his message to Jerusalem.
The beginning of the chapter is depicting that their enemies have overtaken them and plowed through, but reminds them that God has made a solemn oath with them, cares and is paying attention (v. 7, 9). It repeats the promise that God has made, that God will rebuild them and not let other nations walk over them once again. The middle of the chapter through the end was what really hit home for me.
In verse 22 it states, “I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame”, then in 23, “I will show how holy my great name is-the name on which you brought shame”. Now keep with me, don’t click off the page just yet-my point will be made!
I don’t know about yall, but after reading verses 22-23, its kind of like well…bummer. Like what have we done to God’s name? Don’t we claim him and go around flaunting our “Christianity” but trip up and shame His name on regular basis, uh yep! But we see our redemption and His love in the following verses:
For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:24-27
And can I get Amen?! Hallelujah, thank ya Jesus!
So here’s the deal, we are going to screw up, its inevitable, BUT God will gather us up and bring us home. He’ll pick us up, clean us off and make us into a new person with a new softened heart. Then He will put His little light in us to keep us on track. We screw up and are messy to the core as it states in verse 17 with a hardened and stubborn heart (v. 26), yet God chooses to love us enough to pick us back up and brush us off. He does this not because we deserve, because if we are being honest, we do not deserve it. What have we done to deserve it? What could we even possibly do to deserve it? He does this to make his name great as verses 22-24 reveal. I find it awesome that we get to be a part of making His name great. We get to be a part of making God’s name great and show off His holiness to the world. We’re walking, talking models of the power of God and what was achieved through Christ’s sacrifice.
Reflecting on both of these passages, I got to thinking. We forget sometimes where we started and how far we’ve come in our walk with God. We look at the little strides we’ve made and the temporary mountains we’ve overcome, but we don’t look at the big picture of where we used to be and where God has brought us. As both these passages say, God has literally changed us into a new person. We shouldn’t dwell in the past and feel bad for who we used to be and what sins we may have committed. We should be thankful for who we are now and validate God for his craftsmanship. We were people with dirtied up lives who brought shame to God’s name with how we lived our lives, but now we are new and alive through Christ with a “tender, responsive heart”. We’ve been filled with the Spirit (Ez. 36:27), and we are God’s people (Ez. 36:28).
Before I died to myself and let God change my heart I was a multitude of messes. I worried and over stressed. I took things into my own hands and pushed God to the back seat. I took my stress and frustration out on my siblings. My dreams and life goals were geared toward me, and just took others into consideration. I thought and did things I knew I shouldn’t. I had a tendency to be prideful about being a “good Christian” and a “good girl” and the fact that I didn’t party or drink or anything. I was ashamed to talk openly about the Gospel in certain social settings for fear of what others might think. I cared too much about what society said and what peers might say. I was at times judgmental. I was envious of others. I was not always content with who God had made me to be. How’s that for being a Christian, huh??
Now God has given me a heart for people. He breaks my heart and makes me concerned with others and gives me compassion for people around me. My dreams, goals and days are geared toward finding God’s plan for my life and following what He wants to me do. Now, I just want to love on people and tell them about Jesus, not live the American dream. Where I used to want to make my name known, I’m concerned with making His name known. I know I am a sinner and no longer boast about being a so called “good Christian”, because I am so not. I don’t even know what the means anymore. I screw up, often, like daily. I trip up and fall into old sins every now and then and have found some new ways to be human along the way, but now I see that and know that I want to be different. I am no longer ashamed to claim Christ and am happy to say I am a growing disciple and disciple maker. God has done a number on me and stuck by my side even when I paid Him no attention. God has changed my heart and my old self has been crucified with Christ. I’m not who I was.
How has God made your heart new? Have put your old self to death and now live for God?