“The person who sins is the one who will die.”
Ezekiel 18:20a (NLT)
People who take personal responsibility for their own choices are a rare breed today. Since we are all part of the Adam’s family, it’s easy to pass the buck and blame others, our circumstances or whatever we can find to shift the responsibility somewhere else. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. Who are you blaming for your present situation? In Ezekiel’s day, many of God’s people were in trouble. Like him, many had been deported from Jerusalem and were living in captivity in Babylon. It was only a matter of time before the final blow would come and Jerusalem would be completely defeated, the Temple destroyed and the city burned to the ground. Those who survived were trying to deal with how and why it all happened. Many came to the conclusion that they were being punished for the sins of their ancestors and not their own. They thought this way because of their understanding of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:5 said, “…I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.” That belief led to fatalism and irresponsibility. Rather than looking at their own choices, they settled into the belief that it was the problem of those who came before them; and there was nothing they could do about it. Recognizing their error, Ezekiel gave God’s new policy because the people had misunderstood the old one. The reality was that although they were affected by the decisions and behavior of those before them, God would judge each person individually. Even today, we may suffer for the sins committed by others who came before us, but God does not punish us for someone else’s sins. Each person is accountable to God for his or her own life. On the flip side, there were those prior to the final destruction of Jerusalem that thought God would never judge their sin since they were the people of God and possessed the Temple of God. They thought that because of their righteous ancestors and the blessings God had given them that they could do whatever they chose with no consequence and used that as an excuse for disobeying God. To both groups God said, “The person who sins is the one who will die.” Ezekiel 18:4, 20 (NLT) If they would only take responsibility and turn to God for forgiveness, they would have hope and a new beginning. God’s appeal couldn’t have been more clear. “…Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!” Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NLT) Isn’t that true for us today? Responsibility is really “responding to His ability” to forgive us and give us that new heart and new spirit.