21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
22 None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live.
23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
It is a wonderful thing when we read God’s word and see that His desire for us to turn away from sin and live in eternity with Him. God only wants the very best for His children and this passage is a promise to all who choose to accept Him into their hearts. The promise that is made to us in in two parts.
The first promise is if we turn away from our sins, follow after Christ, we will be spared eternal punishment and live with Him in heaven forever. That promise is so crucial because we are not deserving of forgiveness and grace. Our sins are what separate us from God, yet because of the work on the cross, we are forgiven and offered a new life in Him. Before coming to Christ, we were essentially spiritually dead. We were in need of a Savior who could take the fault for our sins and give us new life and a hope that is only found in Him.
The second promise is after we choose to confess our sins and pursue living a life or Him, our past sins are no longer held against us. They will be completely erased and forgotten. Confession of sin means to say that we are sorry for turning against God and our hearts desire is to follow after Him. In that moment, God extends His hand of forgiveness and Grace, makes us whole again and erases the sins that we committed. That is a God who is full of love and is fair and just. He does that because in verse 23, He desires that we should live and not die in eternal punishment.
These two promises encompass what the Gospel is all about. Repentance of our sin leads to God’s forever binding forgiveness and Grace. There is nothing that can undo, outweigh and overturn that promise. He is a God that loves and our response ought to be to turn from our sin in pursuit of loving Him with our whole hearts.
The book of Hebrews dedicates large portions to demonstrating that God has always justified those who believe by their faith, even when the law was in place. The law alone could not save one’s soul. We see from the revelation given by Ezekiel that God will accept any who will turn from their sins. As it was once said, the law was given as a demonstration of the Hebrew’s salvation not as salvation itself.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)
As Christians who are called to walk by faith we must be careful that we do not revert to old modes of thinking, that somehow our obedience to religion will bring us salvation. Only faith can save us. However, we must also remember the words of James, the brother of Christ, when he said that faith without works is dead.