Certain elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me.
And the word of the Lord came to me:
Mortal, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and placed their iniquity as a stumbling block before them; shall I let myself be consulted by them?
Therefore speak to them, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Any of those of the house of Israel who take their idols into their hearts and place their iniquity as a stumbling block before them, and yet come to the prophet—I the Lord will answer those who come with the multitude of their idols,
in order that I may take hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, all of whom are estranged from me through their idols.
Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.
For any of those of the house of Israel, or of the aliens who reside in Israel, who separate themselves from me, taking their idols into their hearts and placing their iniquity as a stumbling block before them, and yet come to a prophet to inquire of me by him, I the Lord will answer them myself.
I will set my face against them; I will make them a sign and a byword and cut them off from the midst of my people; and you shall know that I am the Lord.
If a prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
And they shall bear their punishment—the punishment of the inquirer and the punishment of the prophet shall be the same—
so that the house of Israel may no longer go astray from me, nor defile themselves any more with all their transgressions. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God, says the Lord God.
The word of the Lord came to me:
Mortal, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it, and break its staff of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it human beings and animals,
even if Noah, Daniel, and Job, these three, were in it, they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, says the Lord God.
If I send wild animals through the land to ravage it, so that it is made desolate, and no one may pass through because of the animals;
even if these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would save neither sons nor daughters; they alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate.
Or if I bring a sword upon that land and say, "Let a sword pass through the land," and I cut off human beings and animals from it;
though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would save neither sons nor daughters, but they alone would be saved.
Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off humans and animals from it;
even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would save neither son nor daughter; they would save only their own lives by their righteousness.
For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four deadly acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild animals, and pestilence, to cut off humans and animals from it!
Yet, survivors shall be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out; they will come out to you. When you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, for all that I have brought upon it.
They shall console you, when you see their ways and their deeds; and you shall know that it was not without cause that I did all that I have done in it, says the Lord God.
The word of the Lord came to me:
O mortal, how does the wood of the vine surpass all other wood— the vine branch that is among the trees of the forest?
Is wood taken from it to make anything? Does one take a peg from it on which to hang any object?
It is put in the fire for fuel; when the fire has consumed both ends of it and the middle of it is charred, is it useful for anything?
When it was whole it was used for nothing; how much less—when the fire has consumed it, and it is charred— can it ever be used for anything!
Therefore thus says the Lord God: Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
I will set my face against them; although they escape from the fire, the fire shall still consume them; and you shall know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them.
And I will make the land desolate, because they have acted faithlessly, says the Lord God.
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?
For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in,
and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet,"
have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?
But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?
Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
For the one who said, "You shall not commit adultery," also said, "You shall not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?
If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food,
and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.
Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren?
Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.
Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God.
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (New Revised Standard Bible Version Online)