Ezekiel 18:20 “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.”
It might seem odd to us today that the principle of personal responsibility would be in any way controversial, but an honest look at current American society would show that we are abandoning that principle ourselves. Anything and everything is being used as an excuse for wrong behavior, and increasingly, the behavior itself is being proclaimed as not wrong. And that’s just wrong! The Bible is very clear throughout on this issue, because without it, grace is no longer grace, but entitlement. God is love and He is gracious and forgiving, but actions have consequences. God’s moral laws can no more be ignored than , for example, the law of gravity. With gravity we have various factors, such as thrust and aerodynamics, which can counteract its effects, but they still don’t nullify gravity itself. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross can, by faith, nullify the effect of our sin in terms of eternal life, but it doesn’t eliminate the fact that sin has to be dealt with. The Cross did not generate a “free ride” thereafter; it must be received personally by faith. Every generation has to face this fact afresh, and that’s what this whole passage is saying. There are generational blessings and generational curses, as the Law of Moses makes clear, but those things are not to be used as excuses. If you are the recipient of generational blessings, you need to be grateful and commit yourself to follow the Lord. If you are suffering the effects of generational curses, you need to place them under the blood of Jesus and walk in personal obedience and commitment. (Galatians 3:13) Parents do need to be concerned with what spiritual legacy they are leaving for their children, but children must recognize their personal responsibility before God.
This has been a huge issue in my life. Raised as I was in a missionary home, with grandparents, even, who were “professional Christians,” I have enjoyed an abundance of generational blessings. However, I allowed that to go to my head and give me a sense of entitlement, and that just about did me in. I made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ at age 7 and was baptized, and had various experiences of intimacy with Him over the years, but felt like it was somehow my due. It was after I was married and a father that, hearing the testimony of another “preacher’s kid,” I realized what I had been doing and repented in abject tears. At this point I am very aware of the riches of my spiritual heritage, but I also identify closely with the younger son in Jesus’ famous parable. (Luke 15) I know very well that I am personally, and totally, dependent on the grace of God, just as much as anyone else. I am to preach and teach both personal responsibility and the grace of God, because no one can receive God’s grace without recognizing and acknowledging that they need it.
Father, this can be a difficult thing to get across, as I know too well. I pray that You would give me Your words by Your Spirit, so that they may penetrate to where they are needed in each heart and life, demolishing the lies of the enemy and setting people free to repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!