HCSB Study Bible

Most Bibles are printed in China because of specialty printing processes, like this 2017 Christian Standard Bible (Study Bible edition) produced by LifeWay Christian Resources under its Holman Bible Publishers imprint.

Scripture: Ezekiel 14:2-8

Key Ideas

God speaks to Ezekiel about people who brazenly sin against Him, ignoring and disobeying Him, while continuing to seek His help, guidance protection and blessing.

In the text, three phrases describe the sinful seekers’ situation: (1) setting up idols in one’s heart, (2) separating one’s self from God and (3) putting the stumbling block of one’s iniquity right before one’s face. Those statements describe simultaneous activities. Each one of them uniquely illuminates the same sinful situation.

For emphasis, all three phrases repeat three times (verses 3,4,7).

“Sets up idols in His heart” – Phrase one is the most intriguing of the three. Sin is not merely an activity done with one’s body; it is a matter of the heart, the inner person. Such individuals engage in more than a misstep or accidental behavior. They have given the desire for sinful behaviors a prominent, influential position in their hearts. Like setting up a physical idol in a prominent, special place, these individuals give sinful desire their affection, honor and worship and foster its influence in their lives.

“Separates himself from me” – Phrase two describes intentionally placing distance between or moving oneself away from another person - with person planning and energy. These people place organize things in their life (people, situations, practices, activities) to be nearer to themselves than they allow God, essentially pushing Him away. The separation from Him reflects the placement of an idol in their heart that replaces God, making Him peripheral.

“Puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity” – Phrase three describes an unclouded cognizance, consciousness, awareness, and knowledge of one’s sin. These people know what they are doing. They are not ignorant or oblivious about the effects of their actions. They seek God, to inquire of Him, knowing about their own ongoing, unforsaken, prominent sin. They unashamedly dwell on that sin when they come to hear God, lacking any repentance, contrition, or remorse.

The sin Ezekiel exposes is regular, intentional, and constant. Such sinners internally embrace and accommodate their sin, while its behaviors appear outside to others. They callously come before God, seeking His attention only for their own benefit.

God promises harsh judgement for such sinners. Since they do not reflect Him with obedience, He promises to display Himself in their punishment.

In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus describes how a person in sin seeking God should behave.

Application

To what do I give more honor and attention than God? To what do I give greater loyalty than God?

What desires in my heart seem to draw me more strongly than my desire to seek God?

In what ways do I make allowances for and feed sins in my life?

How does my sin condition affect my relationship with God?

What sins could be keeping me from being close to God right now?

Do I address or ignore my sins when I seek God? What sins do I hold onto boldly or brazenly while acting like my relationship with God is healthy rather than separated?

Of what personal sins am I consciously and constantly aware?

What is God’s attitude toward my sins?

The Takeaway

Persistent, brazen sin damages my relationship with God.

SN5939

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