Behold, all souls are mine… (Ezekiel 18:4).
The issue raised in the verse above is fundamental. To whom do we belong? Are we our own, or not? This was the issue in the Garden of Eden. That the Lord would give a charge to Adam in the Garden to work and keep it, and a command not to eat the fruit indicates that, even in Creation, man was not his own. Yet Adam and Eve’s disobedience in eating the fruit indicates that, in the end, they decided that they were their own. As Paul would write later, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Romans 1:21). It was the issue in Ezekiel’s time. And it is the issue today, for you and for me.
The opening statement of the Bible—“in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”—is not just a statement of origins, it is a declaration of possession. God made the heavens and the earth, and therefore “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). The implication is clear. I am not my own. And neither are you. Depending on who we believe the Lord to be, this is either grossly offensive, or unspeakably comforting.
The more we mature in Christ, the more we see that, in the end, our sin is not so much the things we do wrong, but the attitude of heart that insists that we are our own. Jesus’ words get to the heart of the matter: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but however loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” We do not belong to ourselves. We were created for God, and redeemed for God. In Christ, we are not our own, but we have been bought with a price. Life isn’t found in doing the right things and forsaking the wrong ones, but firstly in recognizing that we belong to God.