Few people are brave enough to speak the truth when it could cost them their reputation. Even fewer have the courage to speak the truth when it could cost them everything. The prophets, however, set a different example.
“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, make known to Jerusalem its detestable things’ ” (Ezekiel 16:1–2). The Lord commanded Ezekiel to confront his people about their evil behavior and demand they repent. Most people aren’t happy to be criticized; many respond with open hostility. Charged with speaking on God’s behalf, the prophet must be courageous in the face of anger.
In Ezekiel 16:3-5 the Lord acknowledges the painful times his people have endured, but his description hints of disdain. The Israelites should have acted on their own to break from the Canaanites, the Amorites, and the Hittites—as they were commanded in earlier texts (e.g., Deut 1; Josh 1; compare Josh 10; Josh 24; Judg 1–2; Num 34–36). The people from these nations were leading the Israelites to follow other gods and to commit evil acts. But the children of Israel allowed the others to live among them. Instead of strengthening their borders and adhering to their worship of Yahweh, they allowed the outsiders to compromise their borders, and they adopted the religious practices of other nations time and time again (e.g., 1 Sam 10–11; 1 Kgs 13).
The same could be said of many Christians today. God commands us to walk away from temptation, yet we wander back, looking for gaps in the border between right and wrong. Such situations are even sadder when other believers excuse the sin, leading many to live lives of perpetual disobedience. God not only wants us to separate ourselves from sin, He wants us to be victorious over it. He calls us to speak against the evil of our generation rather than excuse it. Through the power of God’s Spirit in us, we can fight sin inwardly, openly and courageously—despite what it may cost us.