Personal Responsibility (9/4/2022)
“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).
Prophesying during the dark days of Israel during the Babylonia captivity, Ezekiel has the instruction to clarify for God’s people the misapplication of the proverb “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
God never intended that this proverb be used for anyone to deflect personal responsibility, especially for sinful behavior. It is true that when fathers sin, their children may suffer as a result; but God has never held children accountable for the sins of their fathers.
Thus, this verse clarifies the need for God’s people at that time to be personally responsible for their own behavior, even during such troublesome times—they could not blame their forefathers.
By establishing the precept that the person who sins shall be accountable for himself, Ezekiel sets forth a principle that would become a foundation for the Gospel Age: we shall all be judged by our own works—we can blame no one else when we fail to measure up to God’s standards (Romans 14:10).