“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. 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. But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:19-24, ESV)
When considering the way God judges and views mankind, there are different viewpoints man professes. Some hold that we have sin that is handed down to each generation because of the first man. Some say that most everyone is going to be saved no matter what they do because God loves everyone. But what does God say?
Here, through Ezekiel, God tells Israel that each person will be judged on one set of criteria: was that man/woman righteous before God? The sins of the father will not be placed upon the head of the child, nor will the sins of the child be placed on the father. Each person is held accountable for their own life and actions.
These are the same principles taught in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 5:10; Colossians 3:24-25). Nobody is going to be perfect in their own actions, that is readily stated here in Ezekiel. But when we strive for righteousness in everything we do and obey the commands God has laid before us, we are forgiven our trespasses. However, God is also clear that if we leave the path of righteousness and follow wickedness, none of our prior righteous deeds will save us while we follow that path.
Are you seeking righteousness before God? Your family and friends cannot save you, that choice is yours alone; for you will be judged based upon the choices you make in your life, not what anyone else has or has not done.