To Each His Own
Ezekiel 18:20 through Ezekiel 18:32 (NIV)
20The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.
21“But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. 22None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. 23Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
24“But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.
25“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? 26If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. 27But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. 28Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. 29Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?
30“Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!
Today, people think that others should be left to do their own thing. "To each his own" we say.
*Noah’s message from the steps going up to the Ark was not, “Something good is going to happen to you!”
Amos was not confronted by the high priest of Israel for proclaiming, “Confession is possession!”
Jeremiah was not put into the pit for preaching, “I’m O.K., you’re O.K.!”
Daniel was not put into the lion’s den for telling people, “Possibility thinking will move mountains!”
John the Baptist was not forced to preach in the wilderness and eventually beheaded because he preached, “Smile, God loves you!”
The two prophets of the tribulation will not be killed for preaching, “God is in his heaven and all is right with the world!”
Instead, what was the message of all those men of God? Simple, one word: “Repent!”
We tend to make the Christian message weak. In our scripture today, there is another "to each his own." It is not a weak message to ease our fears of guilt, but it is a strong message of repentance. Though it sounds harsh at the outset, the strength in his message is not only found in the strong word, "repent" but in the personal way that God deals with each one of us.
I. To Each His Own Individual Consideration
A. Not Responsible for Ancestors Decisions
Patrick Reynolds has signed on to help the American Lung Association’s anti-smoking campaign. So what? He is the grandson of the founder R. J. Reynolds. Reason—to “make up for the damage my family has done.”
B. Not Responsible for Descendants Decisions
“Children in a family are like flowers in a bouquet; there’s
always one determined to face in an opposite direction from the way the arranger desires.”
· Marcelene Cox
- Instant Quotation Dictionary_, p. 57.
II. To Each His Own Individual Compensation
A. Charged for Turning From Righteousness
They Wouldn’t Retreat Over His Body
Disheartened by the extraordinary dangers and difficulties of their enterprise, a Roman army lost courage, and resolved on a retreat. The general reasoned with his soldiers. Expostulating with them, he appealed to their love of country, to their honor, and to their oaths. By all that could revive a fainting heart he sought to animate their courage and shake their resolution. Much they trusted, they admired, they loved him, but his appeals were all in vain. They were not to be moved; and carried away, as by panic, they faced round to retreat.
At this juncture they were forcing a mountain pass, and had just cleared a gorge where the road, between two stupendous rocks on one side and the foaming river on the other, was but a footpath, broad enough for the step of a single man. As a last resort he laid himself down there, saying, “If you will retreat, it is over this body you go, tramping me to death beneath your feet.” No foot advanced. The flight was arrested. His soldiers could face the foe, but could not mangle beneath their feet one who loved them, and had often led their ranks to victory, sharing like a common soldier all the hardships of the campaign, and ever foremost in the fight. The sight was one to inspire them with decision. Hesitating no longer to advance, they wheeled round to resume their march, deeming it better to meet sufferings, and endure even death itself, than trample under foot their devoted and patriot leader. Their hearts recoiled from such an outrage.
A more touching spectacle bars our return. Jesus, as it were, lays Himself down on our path; nor can any become backslidden, and return to the practice and pleasure of sin, without trampling Him under their feet. These, Paul’s very words call up a spectacle from which every lover of Christ should recoil with horror: “He,” says that apostle, “who despised Moses’ Law died without mercy...of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God..”—Dr. Guthrie
B. Credited for Turning From Sin
Whitefield’s Brother—Saved In The Nick Of Time
Mr. Whitefield had a brother, who had been like him, an
earnest Christian; but he had backslidden; he went far from the
ways of godliness; and one afternoon, after he had been
recovered from his backsliding, he was sitting in a room in a
chapel-house. He had heard his brother preach the day before,
and his poor conscience had been cut to the very quick. Said
Whitefield’s brother, when he was at tea: “I am a lost man,” and
he groaned and cried, and could neither eat nor drink. Said Lady
Huntingdon, who sat opposite: “What did you say, Mr. Whitefield?” “Madam,” said he, “I said I am a lost man.” “I’m glad of it,” said she; “I’m glad of it.” “Your ladyship, how can you say so? It is cruel to say you are glad that I am a lost man.” “I repeat it, sir,” said she; “I am heartily glad of it.”
He looked at her, more and more astonished at her barbarity. “I am glad of it,” said she, “because it is written, The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.’” With the tears rolling down his cheeks, he said: “What a precious Scripture; and how is it that it comes with such force to me? Oh Madam,” said he, “Madam, I bless God for that; then he will save me; I trust my soul in his hands; he has forgiven me.” He went outside the house, felt ill, fell upon the ground, and expired.—C. H. Spurgeon
III. To Each His Own Individual Call
A. Personal Repentance Desired
* The story is told of a famous rabbi who was walking with some of his disciples when one of them asked, "Rabbi, when should a man repent?" The rabbi calmly replied, "You should be sure you repent on the last day of your life." "But," protested several of his disciples, "we can never be sure which day will be the last day of our life." The famous rabbi smiled and said, "The answer to that problem is very simple. Repent now."
God does not want anyone Left Behind!
B. Personal Restoration Desired
*Billy Graham tells the story of how he and his wife were once invited to the home of some wealthy socialites.
They had gathered together a large group of their neighboring vacationers for a party, and asked me if I would say a few words. I explained the gospel simply and briefly, reminding them that pleasure and possessions are not lasting -- that only the person who knows Jesus Christ as Savior can know true happiness. As I concluded, one attractive woman known for her casual morals and high life style, young and smartly dressed, laughed gaily. “But, Billy,” she protested, “What about those of us who are perfectly happy?”
From God’s point of view, that woman was spiritually wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked, as the years ahead were soon to prove. Christ says to people like her as well, “Repent!”
· Billy Graham, Approaching Hoofbeats, p. 47.
Jeremiah 31:29 through Jeremiah 31:33 (NIV)
29“In those days people will no longer say,
‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
30 Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—his own teeth will be set on edge.
31 “The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
God knows you better than you know yourself. He does Love, and that is why he deals with us as he does. It may seem harsh, but his call to repentance is not to cramp our style, but to set us free. Free to be the person he created us to be.