When John, who ran the biggest brothel in London, was sent to prison, he falsely believed, I’m a good guy. While there, he decided to attend the Bible study at the prison because there was cake and coffee, but he was struck by how happy the other inmates seemed to be. He started to cry during the first song and later received a Bible. Reading from the prophet Ezekiel changed him, hitting him “like a thunderbolt.” He read, “But if a wicked person turns away from [their] wickedness . . . and does what is just and right, . . . that person will surely live; they will not die” (18:27–28). God’s Word came alive to him and he realized, “I wasn’t a good guy . . . I was wicked and I needed to change.” While praying with the pastor, he said, “I found Jesus Christ and He changed me.”
These words from Ezekiel were spoken to God’s people when they were in exile. Although they had turned from God, He longed that they would rid themselves of their offenses and “get a new heart and a new spirit” (v. 31). Those words helped John to “Repent and live!” (v. 32) as he followed Jesus, the One who called sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).
May we respond to the Spirit’s conviction of sin, that we too might enjoy forgiveness and freedom.
Father God, thank You for making me aware of my sinful behavior through Your Holy Spirit. Soften my heart to repent and to receive Your forgiveness.
An inclusio is a literary device in which a word, phrase, or idea is repeated at the beginning and ending of a section. While repetition often signifies an important idea in a text, the main point in an inclusio isn’t contained in the repeated words but in the idea between them. In Ezekiel 18:25–29, verses 25 and 29 form the inclusio. With the exception of a few words, they’re mirror images of each other. This means that the emphatic message of the paragraph appears in verses 26–28. Here God reminds His people of the relationship between sin and death, righteousness and life. He reminds them that He’s just and doesn’t take pleasure in the death of anyone (see 2 Peter 3:9).