Biblegateway Verse of the Day

To Die in Wickedness

By Benjamin H. Liles

          Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have spoken, saying, “Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?”’ Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! 

          Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’ And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, ‘The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.’

          When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die. But when I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he shall surely live.

          “Yet your fellow citizens say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their own way that is not right. When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it. But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways." ~ Ezekiel 33:10-20, New American Standard

          Ezekiel 33:10-20 is saying, in short, that those who are righteous, when they turn and commit sin the Lord marks them as having fallen away and their sin is on them; alongside this, those who are wicked, when they turn and repent of their sins, they become righteous. How can it be so?

          Think of it this way: a man who continually does right, suddenly is told by a doctor he has a terminal illness, suddenly decides to live up his life; he divorces his wife, gives up his children, chases after other women and gets drunk. Is he better off now than when he did right by God?

          Likewise, let's suppose a different man who had been convicted for a second degree murder, comes to and finds Jesus, repents of those sins and wrongs he did and starts living his life for Christ. Is he not redeemed?

          The choices we make in our life shows where our hearts truly lie. Either they belong to the Lord, Jesus Christ wholly, devotedly, and purely, or they live for their own gain. As Christ said, "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?" (Mark 8:36, NLT).

          I may look and seem like a good man just because of how I choose to live, but I give credit to the One who set me free as He took my place while I was still at odds with Him. That's what's changed me; my faith in what He did at and on the cross.

          Father, I know out of everything I have done in my life that there is nothing good in me. I know I go about every single day thinking you have a word for me, and You may have one indeed. But from time to time I recall that You find a certain joy in those who humble themselves. I come before You now, and I see that even the righteousness I think I have can be easily stained. I constantly need You in my life to guide me, to lead me back to You. Show me Your ways, Lord, so I can help others as well. I don't want to be like the Pharisees of old who thought they were better. I am in know way better. I see myself like the tax collector who beat his breast crying out to You, "God save me, a sinner! Have mercy upon me!" I thank You for Your Son who died and gave me His grace and righteousness. In Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

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