“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.” – Ezekiel 36:22-27
Many people will quote the New Covenant prophetic promises in this passage; “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you….” Surely, these are precious promises to us.
Quoted far less often are the words preceding these oft-quoted promises. In verses 22 and 23 we have the reason our God will sprinkle us clean as with water, a picture of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The motivation for removing all idolatry from us and placing His Holy Spirit in us is revealed in these verses. We find out why the stony hearts within us, our rebellious minds, wills and emotions, will be replaced by a softened heart of flesh, the mind, will, and love of God the Son in us by His Spirit indwelling us.
The reason is so that He can display His holiness through us.
The original humans were intended to live the holiness of our God for eternity, but they rebelled. The Israelites were intended to be a people who lived by their God’s holiness before the nations, but they rebelled. Now, by the Holy Spirit within us we are to live the holiness of our God before the nations every day of our lives. Not by our strength, our might, our religiosity, or our piety. Only by the life of Christ in us.
The sprinkling clean, the sanctifying work of the Spirit in us is to bring us to the holiness of our God now. If the Holy Spirit lives in us, He does not intend to sin in us. Our choices to sin grieve Him. The cleansing from our idolatries is so the holiness of our God is by all people seen in us. The new heart in us – the mind, will, and emotions of Christ – will not lead us to sin.
“You shall be holy, for I am holy,” said the Holy One who inhabits us. His life in us in the cause for our holiness; it is not simply a challenge to us to try harder. Jesus repeated this relationship equation: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” He stated that we are to be perfect as our God is perfect, then later explained why He said that. “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them” (John 14:20-21).
The purpose of our salvation is so that our God can display His holiness through us to the world. This must come to be foremost in our thinking, the driver for our total submission and surrender to Him and His life lived in place of our own.
The question is, like those before us will we rebel? Or will we submit our all to His all in us?
“Christ died to take away sin – not only, or even most importantly, to secure our pardon. Our pardon, this offer of peace with God, was only the start of God’s purpose in the cross. He died in order to make provisions for a greater end result. The plan of Christ’s death was to make it possible that all mankind would be encouraged to enter into a life of holy obedience…the message of the cross can also make everyone confident that He will supply His grace to support and strengthen our efforts toward living in holy obedience, as well as His unerring providence directing everything that concerns us.” – Gilbert Burnet, from the preface to “The Life of God in the Soul of Man,” by Henry Scougal, 1677.
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