Exodus 18 has the prophet responding to the exiles complaints that it was unjust that they should suffer because of the sins of the previous generation. God makes it clear – that is true – we pay for our own actions. “The soul who sins will die”. Their present captivity had resulted from the continuing decay of the nation over several generations, but the exiles could not deny that they too had sinned. There could be no excuses. They are individually responsible for their own choices and they will be punished accordingly.
God makes it pretty clear that each of us will answer for our own actions. “If he walks in My statutes and My ordinances so as to deal faithfully—he is righteous and will surely live”. It’s not our father nor mother that will determine our standing with God. It’s not our sister or brother. It’s not our son or daughter. Each of us will stand before God on our own merit. God is paying attention. He does keep score. And that score is not a group tally – it is yours and mine. God makes it clear that our future depends on what we do in living: “his blood will be on his own head”. Bad choices will lead to a bad result.
Ezekiel talks about a lot of different scenarios – parents and kids and good and wicked – but the outcome is always the same. We reap what we sow. “The person who sins will die”. That hasn’t changed since Ezekiel’s time until today. We all bear personal responsibility for our eternity based on how we live. “The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself”. The one change is that Jesus Christ came to this earth and gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin – He made it possible for us to be freed from our sin through His death on the Cross and the grace of His gift of Salvation.
God will call us to account. That hasn’t changed. “I will judge you….each according to his conduct”. We will stand before a holy and righteous God some day and have to explain our lives. Sin will be a problem if we haven’t dealt with it through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. God has given us the formula to have eternity with Him. “Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you….make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit….repent and live”. We can know with confidence that we’ll spend eternity with the Father. It’s a matter or repenting and receiving the saving grace of Jesus to cover our sins. God has made a way. All that’s left if for us to receive it and make it our own.