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“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” ’ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
The cancer support group gathers in a circle in the church basement. They tell their dreary stories of unending fatigue, nausea and pain. Finally a young man who has been listening quietly announces, “I have a brain tumor. The doctors want to do surgery and remove it, but I’m not going to do it.” Support gives way to exasperation. “What?” “How can you do this?” “Don’t you want to live?”
When faced with a cancer diagnosis, our loved ones will most likely make every effort to see to it that we seek out every treatment available. The goal is staying alive.
“Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” The inner, spiritual death caused by sin is cause for deep concern. Too many of us know the agony of watching our loved ones separate themselves from God through careless and persistent sin. God insists that we stand guard and speak out to dissuade our loved ones from their sin.
There is no reason to die because of sin. God “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” He wants us to live so much that his own Son took all of the careless and persistent sins we have committed and removed them by his sacrificial death on the cross. Troubled sinners cry out, “How then can we live?” Our loving God answers, “Turn from sin and trust that my Son’s death is life for you.”
Gracious God, lead us all away from sin and to your loving forgiveness in Jesus. Overcome everything harmful to body and soul with your promises of heavenly glory. Amen.
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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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