This is a provocative chapter. Here we see great argument for the responsibility of man. Ezekiel, and God, is quite clear here about the responsibility of each individual. Where then does the Cross of Christ come in? It comes in here.
The New American Commentary says that …”God is righteous yet loving, just yet merciful”. It is true, as John Piper says, that no sin ever goes unpunished. And so for every wicked sinner that sins…and punishment must be enacted. This is what it means to be just. And God is the just, the purely just. God must exact penalty for sin, for holy transgression.
And so the principle we see largely in Eze is this one, and it is echoed throughout Proverbs, Psalms and Ecc. There are consequences for actions. Now, when one repents and turns to God and forsakes sin, he is righteous, he will be given life. How is this possible? By our own power? By no means, just spend some time in Roman 7. What was the purpose of the Law? To show us our sin. What is the answer to sin…Jesus Christ, dead and raised.
And so a transaction takes place on the Cross of Christ, our sinfulness for his righteousness, and then immediately by the power of His Holy Spirit, whom he has given us, we have the ability, through the Spirit to respond to God in worship…in all of life. Now we are able to truly repent.
And something else happens. The consequence for sin remains, ie death on a cross, and also the consequences we will experience. But the reason for this consequences has utterly changed. We are no longer being “punished” for our sin, but rather Chastened, or disciplined (Heb 12:8), and this is done in Love…so that the truth of Rom 8:28 rings loud in our souls…yes truly all things are working together for good….for those who love Christ Jesus and are called according to his purposes!
So this chapter should bring immeasurable joy as it magnifies the work of Christ in our life! We truly are free, from God’s law, and yet we fulfill it out of our new hearts. And Ezekiel has already taught us about that in Eze 11:9 and will repeat it in Eze 36. God will give us a new heart and cause us to love him, he will give us desires for him.
Why all the fuss about sin in the first place then? Why not just make us perfect? One word…Humility. So that he who boasts, will boast only in the Lord.