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Personal Responsibility before God

Today’s reading: Ezekiel 17:1-19:14

My selection: Ezekiel 18:20

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

My reflections: The people of Israel and Judah erred in their view of the justice of God.  They either took false hope in their standing before God as a right of inheritance or they considered God an unjust judge who would hold the sins of their ancestors against them no matter what they did. Here the Lord, through Ezekiel, spells out clearly the basis on which all will be judged. They would not be exonerated on the basis of their fathers’ righteousness nor would they be condemned for their fathers’ sins. Each one would stand on his own before the God of judgment. In other words, each one would be personally responsible for his or her own sin.

One implication of this truth is that there are limits to what a parent can do to influence his child toward or away from faith in God. At times, we see adult children veer from the truth of God even though they have been taught God’s word from birth. At other times, we see adult children, raised without the gospel, turn to Christ in their youth or adulthood.

My challenge: The first sign of a changed heart is a recognition of one’s own corruption before God. Have you owned your own sin? Do not trust in the good name of your family for acceptance before God. Throughout the Bible, we are taught that there is no one who does good and never sins. See Romans 3:9-20 which quotes extensively from Psalms. Our only hope of acceptance and forgiveness before God is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to save His people from their sin. (Romans 3:21ff).

Are you owning other people’s sin for which you have no responsibility? If you teach and live God’s truth in your home, do not condemn yourself if your family members do not all believe.

Own your own sin. Do not own that of others. Trust Jesus Christ for your forgiveness. Pray that all those you love may do the same.

Tomorrow’s reading: Ezekiel 20:1-21:32

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