Finishing Well

Finishing Well

Category : General

Ezekiel 18: 24 (KJV)

24But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.


It is said, “‘Presumption and desperation’ are two dangerous maladies, not more opposite one to the other, than to the health of the soul; presumption over-prized God’s mercy, and undervalues our sins; and on the contrary, desperation over-prized our sins, and undervalues God’s mercy. Both are most injurious to God; the one derogates from His mercy, the other from His justice, both band against hearty and speedy repentance; the one opposing it as needless, the other as bootless Presumption saith, thou mayest repent at leisure, gather the buds of sinful pleasures before they wither, repentance is not yet seasonable; desperation saith, the root of faith is withered, it is now too late to repent.”


The words divide themselves into (first) a supposition, when, or, if the righteous forsake; secondly, an inference, his former righteousness shall not be remembered, etc. The supposition is dangerous, the inference is pernicious.


This is to be understood, not of a truly righteous man; for no man can be so denominated from his own righteousness; but from the righteousness and obedience of Christ; and such a man cannot turn from his righteousness; for that is the righteousness of God, and can never be lost; and is an everlasting one, and will always endure; and with which eternal life is inseparably connected. However, this is to be interpreted of one that is reckoned so from his own righteousness, what he himself has done, and not from another, from the righteousness of Christ, which he has wrought out; he is one that is righteous in his own esteem, and in the account of others; who is outwardly righteous before men; who trusts in himself that he is righteous, and trusts to his own righteousness (Ezekiel 33:13); whose righteousness is not an evangelical one, but either a ceremonial righteousness, or at most a mere moral one, consisting of some negative holiness, and a few moral performances, as appears from Ezekiel 18:5; and from such a righteousness as this a man may turn, commit iniquity, sin and die; (2 Peter 2:20); and is no proof or instance of the apostasy of real saints, true believers, or truly righteous men; besides, this man is represented as a transgressor, or “prevaricator”, as the word signifies; a hypocrite, a man destitute of the truth of grace, and of true righteousness.


It is very important to understand that God has no pleasure in the death of anyone. But if a righteous man turns away from his righteous living and takes up the way of wickedness, following in the abomination of flagrant disobedience of God’s laws, as illustrated in Ezekiel 18:10-12, his past righteousness will not save him. It is not sufficient to begin well unless we proceed: fair beginnings without progress come to nothing. Consider the arguments which lie here in the text, to keep you from falling off, and encourage you to persevere in God.


Have a great and godly day!


Pastor C

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