The Soul that Sinneth
Ezekiel chapter 18:1-2...
>Now let me tell you what that means.
First of all, it is a man-made proverb.
Now there are many proverbs that are God-inspired.
As a matter of fact, we have a book in our Bible called Proverbs...
And they are worthy sayings of God.
They are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.
The book of Proverbs is not just a collection of old wivesí tales or Aesopís fables.
The proverbs in the Bible are the word of God.
But there are also many proverbs that men live by that are man-made...
And this is one of them.
It is a proverb that was very common in that day.
The old proverb is, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes and their childrenís teeth are set on edge."
Now you and I would say that today like this:
We would say, "Like father, like son."
In other words, the reason that the son is doing what heís doing is because of his father.
The father ate the sour grapes, but the childrenís teeth are set on edge.
>Have you ever seen anybody suck a lemon?
When you see somebody suck a lemon, donít you begin to pucker and just get dry mouth real quick?
Well, thatís what heís talking about here.
He says, "There is commonly spoken in your land of Israel a proverb...
That because the father eats sour grapes the teeth of the children are set on edge."
In other words, it is a proverb that denies personal responsibility.
We live in a day when people want to blame anyone and everyone for their dilemmas.
And thatís not anything new.
Itís as old as the Garden of Eden itself.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and fell in their estate before God...
God confronted them with their sin.
Adam said, "Well Lord, itís not my fault...itís the fault of that woman you gave me."
And then when the Lord confronted Eve, Eve said, "Lord, itís not my fault...
Itís the fault of that serpent you made."
You see, while Adam was blaming Eve and Eve was blaming the serpent...
What they were really doing is blaming God himself.
"Lord, youíre the one who made that woman...
Lord, youíre the one who made that serpent...
Lord, our sin is really your fault."
And that same cry is heard today.
>Today we want to blame our parents.
Today we want to blame our government.
Today we want to blame other influences in our life.
And we have forgotten that God holds us personally accountable for the way we live.
Itís not the fault of our parents or the government or anybody else.
Sometimes Iíll hear people say, "Well, Iíll tell you preacher, the reason I donít go to church...
Is because years ago I knew a preacher who ran off with another manís wife.
Therefore, that preacher is the one who is keeping me out of church."
Well I want to tell you, that may sound good in the ear of the man who is speaking that...
But it is totally unacceptable to God.
There is no such thing as blaming somebody else for our sin.
>I heard about that little boy who went to the store...
And there was a sign over some pamphlets that said, "Free, take one."
And so he reached out his hand to take one.
And his mother slapped him on the hand.
Well not to be discouraged, he reached out again to take hold of one.
And again, she slapped him on the hand.
Thirty years later he pushed his mother over a cliff and said it was because...
"When I was a little boy, she slapped my hand and that warped my personality."
We cannot blame other people for our sin, and thatís what this proverb means.
And look what God says about it in verse 3.
>God says, "Iím fixing to tell you something that is forever going to settle the idea of personal responsibility.
You are personally accountable to me."
God says, "For your life."
>Now beginning in verse 4.
God says, "For every living soul belongs to me."
Now that doesnít mean that all people are saved.
The universalists like to use verses like this and say, "See, I told you. Everybody is saved...
God said, ĎEvery living soul belongs to me."í
That doesnít mean that God is the father of everybody.
That is just an expression that God says, "All souls are accountable to me."
Weíre not accountable to one another...
Weíre not accountable to a priest...
Weíre not accountable to a pope...
Weíre accountable directly to God.
"All souls are accountable to me."
Thatís what that means.
>Verses 4-9, 10...
Now this is the son of the man just talked about.
He talks about a saved man.
Heís a man that does not do all of those things that are described in those verses.
And some of those sins are social sins.
Some of them are ceremonial sins.
Some of them are just outright vile sins.
But he says, hereís a man.
Heís a godly man...heís a just man...
Heís a saved man and his life is evidence that heís a saved man.
But if he gives birth to a son through his wife, if he has a son...
>So here is a godly man who through his wife gives birth to an ungodly son.
But now his ungodly son marries and through his wife another child is born.
So you have a grandfather and a father and now a grandson.
You have three in a line here.
>You see what God is saying?
The man who was born to the saved man is not saved automatically because his daddy was saved.
And the man that is born to the ungodly man is not lost and going to hell because of the sins of his father.
A man can have a saved daddy and be lost...
And a man can have a lost daddy and still be saved.
The childrenís teeth are on edge because the father eats sour grapes.
Like father, like son, is not of God.
You are personally accountable to God.
>What a statement of personal accountability to God!
If a man is righteous, righteousness shall be credited to him.
If a man is wicked, wickedness shall be credited to him.
It doesnít matter what your father did.
It doesnít matter what your grandfather did.
You alone stand before God personally accountable for your life.
(Verse 23) "Do I"...
Now hereís a question God asks.
"Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked?"
God says, "Do you think I get delight, do you think I take pleasure...
Do you think that I get full of joy when lost people die?
Do you think that I take pleasure in the death of ungodly people?
The death of the wicked, the death of lost people?"
>You see, friends, you and I have a tendency to want to measure God by our standards.
And God says, "That is sheer foolishness."
What difference does it make what we think about God?
There are some who say, "God doesnít exist."
Well does that mean he doesnít exist?
The Bible says, "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God."
And when a person says there is no God, they are simply identifying themselves as a fool.
I donít care how many degrees they have hanging on their wall.
There are a lot of people that have gotten lots of degrees and very little temperature spiritually speaking.
Ph.D. means "phenomenal dud" without the spirit of God.
I want you to know that.
God says, "you donít have a right to sit in judgment upon me.
My ways are not the ones called into question.
I am the one who judges you, and I tell you that you are unequal...
And you cannot judge me on the basis of the way you think and feel and live and act."
Back up there in verse 23 God asked a question...
"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked?"
And now in verse 32 God answers the question.
>"For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone," declares the Sovereign Lord, "repent and live".
>You remember two weeks ago we looked in chapter 17 of Ezekiel and Ezekiel 17 was a very difficult chapter.
It was not obvious what the meaning was, and it took us a while to get the real meat of what it was about.
But I also want you to know that in Ezekiel 18, it is the very opposite.
Where chapter 17 was a very difficult chapter to understand...
Chapter 18 is a very simple chapter to understand.
There are two major themes that run through chapter 18.
>#1 Ė the soul that sins shall surely die.
The soul of the sinner is going to die.
Look in verse 4 of Ezekiel 18: For every living soul belongs to me, the soul who sins is the one who will die.
>Look in verse 13.
The last part of verse 13 says: he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head.
Look in verse 18.
The last part says: his father shall die for his own son.
Look in verse 20: the soul that sins is the one who will die.
Look in verse 26: If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it.
Verse 31: Rid yourself of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.
>Over and over and over again we find that theme running through this chapter...
"The soul that sinneth shall surely die."
>But there is a second theme that runs through this chapter.
Not only is it true that the soul that sins shall die...
The second theme is, "the soul of the righteous shall live."
Look in verse 17...
Look in verse 19...
Look in verse 21...
And in verse 22 and 27 and 28, he says the same thing:
He will surely live, he will not die.
>Now when the Bible talks about death, what is it talking about?
There are three kinds of death mentioned in the Bible.
First of all, there is spiritual death.
There is a present reality in the life of every unsaved person.
The Bible teaches that when we come into this world we are born spiritually dead.
You remember what God said to Adam and Eve?
God said in the Garden of Eden, "There is a tree in the midst of the garden...
And the day you eat of the fruit of that tree that very day you are going to die.
If you eat the fruit of that tree youíre going to die."
Now the Garden of Eden was full of fruit trees...
And of all the rest of the trees those people were given the opportunity to eat and eat as much as they want.
Adam and Eve could eat from any tree in the garden.
But God said, "There is one tree you must not eat of that tree."
Now it happened to be in the center of the garden.
But friends, it could have been at any location because you see, that tree was not any different from any other tree.
That tree did not have sweeter fruit.
That tree did not have fresher fruit.
That three did not have better fruit.
It was just like the other trees of the garden.
God could have picked a tree in this corner.
God could have picked a tree up in that corner.
But God reached right down into the middle and said...
"There is a tree in the middle of the garden, and you must not eat of it."
It was a tree of Godís sovereignty.
God was being sovereign over the man that he had made and he said...
"You must not eat of that tree, and if you do you are going to die...
The very day you eat of it you are going to die."
>Well what happened?
They ate of it.
They ate of the fruit of that tree.
The Bible tells us that Eve was tricked by the devil, the serpent.
Eve ate it because she was deceived.
She was tricked into doing it.
But the Bible makes it very clear that Adam was not deceived.
Adam did it willfully and deliberately and maliciously and intentionally.
He rebelled against God.
And when he did God said, "In the day you do it you are going to die."
Well Eve ate of the fruit of the tree, and Adam ate of the fruit of that tree.
What happened? Did they fall over dead?
In the book of Acts, the Bible tells us about Ananias and Saphira.
The church was making up an offering and Ananias and Saphira said...
"Weíve got a piece of land and weíre gonna sell that land.
Weíre gonna give everything we get off the sale of that land to the church."
Well when they sold the land, guess what?
It brought a whole lot more money than they thought.
They thought it was just a worthless piece of ground.
It turned out to be a very valuable piece of ground.
It brought a very high price, and so they kept part of it back for themselves.
And they went ahead and gave a portion of it to the church.
>Now if they had said, "You know, folks, we have some needs.
And this land, we really didnít think it would bring this much...
But it brought a whole lot more than we thought it would.
So weíre gonna still be able to give more than we ever thought we could...
But we need to keep some of it to take care of some of our own personal business."
If they had done that, there would not have been any question about that.
That would have been fine...but they didnít.
Instead of saying to the church, "Listen, weíre going to give just a portion and keep back part of it for ourselves"...
They gave the portion and said, "This is all we got for it."
What did they do?
Well the Bible says they lied to the Holy Spirit of God.
And what happened?
Immediately Ananias fell dead...immediately he fell dead.
And Peter went to Ananiasí house and Ananiasí wife, Saphira, came and answered the door.
And Peter said, "Are you the widow Saphira?"
And she said, "Well my name is Saphira...but Iím not a widow."
Peter said, "You want to bet?"
And he said, "Not only are you a widow, but the same pallbearers that carried Ananias to his grave...
Are coming down the steps to your house."
God allowed Ananias and Saphira to just fall over dead.
>Now is this what happened to Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God?
God said, "The day you do it youíre gonna die."
Did they fall over dead? No.
Their eyes continued seeing...their ears continued hearing.
Their mouths continued speaking...their legs continued walking.
Their hands continued handling.
But spiritually they died.
And every person that has ever been born as a result of their dying spiritually has been born spiritually dead.
Now always people say, "Well Bro. Joe, what about little babies? When they die, do they go to heaven?"
Yes. They go to heaven. Why?
Because they are safe under the blood of Jesus because theyíve not reached the age of personal responsibility.
They are not old enough to make choices.
They are not old enough to know what sin is.
Theyíre not old enough to repent and receive Jesus Christ.
>Now what is the age of personal responsibility?
I donít know.
For some it might be four...for some it might be ten...for some it might be a little older than that.
But there comes a time when a boy and a girl, they know right from wrong...
And theyíre able to make choices based upon right and wrong.
And when they are old enough to know right and wrong and old enough to do right and wrong...
Then they are old enough to be saved.
>But Adam and Eve died spiritually, and every person ever born into this world is born spiritually dead.
>What about us?
Well you see, when you were born, you were born spiritually dead.
Maybe you had ears that could hear, eyes that could see, lips that could talk...
A tongue that could taste, hands that could handle, feet that could walk...
But when you were born you were born dead to the things of God.
Now thatís why Jesus said to Nicodemus, "You must be born again."
And Nicodemus was very perplexed.
He said, "Am I supposed to re-enter the body of my mother and be born?"
Jesus said, "Oh, no, Iím not talking about a physical birth.
Iím not talking about being born of a woman...
Iím talking about being born of God.
You have to be born again spiritually.
If you could be born again physically, youíd still be just as spiritually dead as you were the first time.
What needs to happen in your life, Nicodemus, is not something inside the womb of your mother.
Itís something inside your heart that needs to take place.
You need to be born again spiritually."
Why? Because youíre dead spiritually.
Youíre not dead physically...youíre dead spiritually.
Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus and he said...
"And you hath he quickened (or made alive) who were dead in sins."
You see, before you and I became a Christian we were spiritually dead.
Thatís why the Bible says that as Christians we have passed from death into life.
And so the Bible identifies spiritual death.
>But also the Bible talks about physical death.
There is physical death.
Weíre all aware of that.
Some of you have parents in heaven.
Some of us have grandparents that have already died.
Some of you have spouses that have died.
Some of us have children that have died.
Some of you have nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles that have died...neighbors or friends or work associates.
Most of us have experienced the physical death of someone either in the family or among friends.
Most of us have already been to more funerals than we ever wanted to go to in our entire life.
And the older we get the more funerals we go to.
Thatís just the natural course of life.
Physical death is when the body and the soul are separated.
Right now that spiritual part of you, your soul, lives inside of your body.
But one day the spiritual part of you is going to leave the body.
That soul will either go to heaven or hell.
If itís saved it goes to heaven.
If itís lost it goes to hell.
And the body is buried away out in the cemetery.
One day the body is going to come out of the grave.
The Bible teaches that in I Corinthians 15.
And the body and soul will be reunited.
The child of God will be reunited with his body in heaven...
And the unbeliever will be reunited with his body in hell.
Thatís what the Bible teaches.
There will be a resurrection of the body.
>But right now our spirits live inside our bodies.
Now when death comes, the only thing that happens is the soul leaves the body.
Now you may die as a result of a heart attack or cancer or leukemia or AIDs...
You may get run over by a truck or you may just grow old and wear out.
But when death comes the only thing that happens is the spirit leaves the body.
Thatís physical death.
>But the Bible talks about a third kind of death and that is eternal death.
And eternal death is to be cast into hell where the soul will live in punishment forever.
Spiritual death means to be lost, separated from God.
Physical death means the soul and the body become separated.
Eternal death is when a lost person is cast into hell forever.
Spiritual death...physical death...eternal death.
Thatís what the Bible calls death.
>Now who is going to die?
Well there was a time when all of us were spiritually dead.
But those of us that are saved, thank God weíre not dead to the things of God anymore.
Weíve been made alive in Jesus.
We have been born again.
Now we may still face physical death.
But why should we be afraid of that?
Iím not afraid of dying.
Now I donít know how Iím going to die.
I donít know where Iím going to die.
I donít know when Iím going to die.
But if Jesus delays his coming, I know Iím going to die.
But Iím not afraid of that.
I donít lie awake at night wondering about that.
Iím not morbid...
Now if I were not a Christian I would.
If I were not a Christian, I sure wouldnít get out on the streets of this city in an automobile.
I promise you that!
I donít know when Iím gonna die...
But I can tell you this.
I used to be spiritually dead, but Iím not anymore.
I still have physical death looking at me in the face...
But Iím not ever gonna have to worry about eternal death...
Because that was settled for me at the cross when Jesus gave his life.
When I trusted him, his righteousness was imputed to my life...
And now Iím a child of God.
What a joy to be saved!
>What is Godís response to death?
Well it depends on whether or not you belong to him.
If youíre a Christian, you know what Godís response to your death is?
Over in Psalm 116:15, hereís what David said.
He says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
Isnít that something?
God says the death of a Christian is precious.
The death of a saint is something very special, very precious, very rare, very blessed.
Itís precious to him.
But you know what Godís response is to the death of an unbeliever?
God says, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked."
God has great pleasure in the death of the saved.
That means we get to go home to be with him face to face forever.
Itís precious to him.
But God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
The soul that sinneth shall surely die.
>But the second theme of this passage of scripture is, the soul of the righteous shall surely live.
The Bible talks about different stages or different kinds of life.
Thereís physical life.
Thatís what Jesus talked about when he said to Nicodemus, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh."
We have physical life.
Iím glad for physical life.
I enjoy seeing things...I enjoy hearing things...I enjoy going places.
I enjoy this physical life.
I enjoy hearing the choir sing.
>But there is also eternal life.
Now interestingly enough, eternal life in the Bible has nothing to do with time.
It has to do with quality.
You see there is no way that you and I can ever be eternal.
Weíre not eternal creatures, and we never will be eternal creatures.
"You mean to tell me, Bro. Joe, thereís gonna be a time when we cease to exist?"
No, but there was a time when we did not exist.
You see, if youíre eternal you have to have always been and always will be.
Now folks, we always will be.
Youíll either be in heaven or hell, but there will never be a time when you cease to exist.
But there was a time when you did not exist.
Eternal is a word that applies to God.
And when we say, "We have eternal life", that means we have the life of God inside of us.
Iím not an eternal being because I wasnít back there in eternity past when God created the heavens and earth.
I wasnít there...I didnít exist.
I was born on September 23, 1959, but I was conceived about nine months before that.
When I was conceived in my motherís womb, thatís when I began to exist.
I had no prior existence before that.
But I have eternal life, not because Iím an eternal being but because God who is eternal lives inside of me.
>So thereís physical life...thereís eternal life...
Oh, but then there is an everlasting life.
Now while the word "eternal" speaks of quality...
The word "everlasting" speaks of quantity.
Everlasting means that it lasts forever.
You and I who are saved have everlasting life.
Oh, we may get old...brown spots may cover our hands...
Our hair may turn gray...our hair may turn loose...
Our teeth may fall out...our body may become stooped.
But I want to tell you, when this life is over, everlasting life just keeps on going and weíll be eternally young.
>"Bro. Joe, what do you think weíll look like in heaven?"
Well I donít know. I know this.
The Bible says in I John, "We shall be like him."
When Jesus went to heaven he was 33 years old.
When a person is 33 years old, he or she is in the very zenith of their physical strength and abilities.
And so there are some preachers who think that when you get to heaven weíre all going to look like weíre 33 years old.
Now if youíre a teenager that may not excite you.
But if youíre on this side, itís getting pretty exciting and it gets more exciting as the day goes by.
I donít know...I just speculate once in a while.
But I know this...whatever itís gonna be like, itís gonna be all right.
>One last thing and Iím through.
The soul that sins will surely die.
The soul of the righteous will surely live.
But what makes the difference?
Youíd almost get the impression if you did not know the word of God...
Youíd almost get the impression that Ezekiel 18 is saying that you are righteous because you do this...
And you donít do that and donít do that...
Or you are unrighteous, youíre wicked, because you do this, this and this...
And because you donít do this and this and this.
Youíd almost get that impression.
But you see thatís not really what this book is talking about.
>What heís talking about is something happening in your life that you cannot do yourself.
Now we have a part in it because God says in these verses at least five times weíre to repent.
Weíre to turn...weíre to cast off the old...
You see? If youíre going to be saved, you have to repent of your sin.
You have to turn away from it.
You canít hold on to those old sins and just go strutting into the house of God when you die.
No, youíve got to turn away from that.
You have to repent.
>But then God has a part in it.
Twice he says, "You say the ways of the Lord are unjust."
That little expression, "the ways of ", that speaks of Godís part in this matter of being saved.
Iím supposed to repent, but I can repent and still be lost.
But when I repent and trust Christ, God does his part and his part is listed right there in verse 31.
Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.
>You want to know what God does in your life when you come to him?
He gives you a new heart and a new spirit.
You had a heart for sinning, but when God gets through you have a heart for serving him.
You had a spirit that was dead, but when God gets through you have a spirit thatís been made alive in Christ Jesus.
The soul that sins will surely die.
The soul of the righteous shall surely live.
And the only thing that makes a difference is...
"Have you repented of sin and allowed God to create in your life a new heart and a new spirit?"
Thatís what it means to be born again.