‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace”, when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash’ (Ezek. 13:10).
In Ezekiel 13 God is exposing false teachers who lead people astray with wrong teaching that gives men and women a false sense of security. They do a whitewash job, because they always bypass the question of God’s holiness and man’s sin.
God uses a picture of people building a wall-probably the city’s wall to protect against an enemy. They build flimsy walls, that is, walls easy to erect, cheaply and quickly, but useless. The builders know this, but they cover up the deficiencies of their work with whitewash.
This makes it look attractive, but it is still useless and God says it will fall.
Today people are encouraged to build flimsy walls of their own self-righteousness. Easy religion and sentimental doctrine are popular. There must always be a feeling of well-being and so sin and hell are never mentioned. People think of the church as some sort of emotional aspirin to make them feel good. It is all whitewash. It is a refusal to face the reality of the situation that the way people are building their lives is flimsy and unacceptable to almighty God.
How do we whitewash our lives? By trusting our own goodness and efforts; by comparing ourselves with others and concluding that we are better than they are, therefore we are O.K.
All this is the age-old doctrine of salvation by works, which the New Testament vigorously denounces. But if you accept it, then it is inevitable that you will reject the true gospel call for repentance. How many whitewashed souls there are! They look nice and respectable, and probably are, but their sinful hearts remain unchanged.
Jesus likened them to white tombs – outside white and sparkling, but inside full of dead men’s bones. What is God’s answer to whitewash? When I was a boy, I lived the first ten years of my life in a decaying old terraced house. We had two rooms upstairs and two down, but could only use one up and one down because the other two were too damp. The back yard was about three metres square, with high walls all around. The walls, like the house, were crumbling and decaying. To keep the back looking tidy, the walls had to be whitewashed every year. When it was done it looked lovely, but we knew it only covered up the decaying walls.
That went on for years; then the local council condemned the house and moved us into a new house. After that, there was no need for whitewash. Is that not like many lives? They are spiritually decaying and crumbling. God says, ‘I condemn that life. In my eyes it is foul and polluted with sin, and no amount of moral or religious whitewash will change it.’ That is terrible, but the message of the gospel is that the God who condemns is also willing to move us out and provide a new life for us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is a God who does not do whitewash, but blood-wash. He deals with our sin, laying it upon Jesus and allowing the Saviour to bear not only our sin and guilt, but also the punishment due to it. He died on the cross in our place to purchase for us a full and free salvation.
The Bible tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ alone can cleanse us from sin.