Explaining Ezekiel 18:21
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
I’ve often seen Christian missionaries who in trying to defend Paul’s doctrine of salvation in Christianity, use the following verse:
“But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die.” – Ezekiel 18:21.
What they mean to say by quoting this verse is the following:
- No one person can fulfill all the laws of God – it’s impossible. This however is a logical dilemma, why would God command us to do the impossible? It’s also quite possible, as Paul himself did claim to obey all the laws, and so were Zechariah and Elizabeth.
- We all die because we sin.
What does it mean by they will not ‘die’? Clearly, this is the main point of their argument. In Christ you will not die, for you will attain eternal righteousness by his grace. To the contrary, the verse isn’t stating that one would actually die due to their sins, rather the verse’s meaning of ‘dying’, is explained not more than 10 verses after:
Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? – Ezekiel 18:31.
It’s a spiritual death that Ezekiel is referring to here. It does not mean that God has a new plan of salvation in mind, nor does it mean that humans cannot follow God’s law or that God will not forgive us for sinning. Clearly, isolating the verse has its benefits for many missionaries, but while they ignore its immediate context, we will always seek to highlight it as much as is possible.
wa Allaahu ‘Alam.
The missionaries lie as usual, their own Bible tells them it is not difficult to keep the laws: Deut 30:10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 11 Now what I am commanding you today is NOT TOO DIFFICULT for you OR BEYOND YOUR REACH.12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.