"And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear Thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness" (Ezekiel 33:31).
How is it possible for crowds of people to gather together to hear the Word preached but never benefit from it?
In Ezekiel's day, the people came to the Prophet's house to hear him preach. They assumed the attitude of God's people. They came early, constantly, and with great reverence and seeming devotion. They appeared to be attentive, pleased, and delighted with what they heard.
Yet, on closer examination of this verse, we discover that they only came because everyone else was doing it. They didn't come out of conscience before God. On the contrary, they gathered together because "hearing the Word" was to them a recreation, diversion, or petty amusement.
They professed to love God, yet - in all actuality - they loved earthly things. Their hearts were set on the world and the things of it. They were all caught up with secular affairs.
The Prophet described their condition in this way - "...but their heart goeth after their covetousness."
These pretended to be a people who loved God and were interested in pleasing Him. Yet, their hearts told a different story.
What most do not realize is that the greatest rival to the love of God is "covetousness" - the love of the world - or as termed in the Scriptures - "idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). It is considered to be "idolatry" because the heart's affection is transferred from the Creator to the creature - or in this case - the world.
The amazing thing about this is that week after week, people in our day and time are guilty of the same sin as those in Ezekiel's day. Multitudes gather together to hear what the Preacher has to say. In fact, they are oftentimes amused by the preaching. They love to hear it. It is like a sweet melody to their ears. Yet, they have no intention of ever obeying it. Why? Because their heart is after "covetousness."
Our churches are filled with people who are pretending to be God's people when truly they are not! Their hearts reveal that they are pretenders. The truth of the matter is - the love of the world has secretly eaten the love of God right out of their hearts. And they don't even know it!
Where do you find yourself in this picture?
Are you like those in Ezekiel's day who gathered together to hear the Word of the Lord because everyone else was doing it? Perhaps you even get great enjoyment from what you hear. However, you are not persuaded by the preaching to part with sin...apply to any duty...or receive what goes against the grain of your flesh.
Just because you hear the Word of God week after week - and even enjoy what you hear - does not qualify you as one of God's people. They did that in Ezekiel's day, yet their heart was going after "covetousness" or the things of the world.
What makes you one of God's own is the fact that He has your heart - and nothing else does!
Is your heart going after God or "covetousness"?