“Therefore, I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, so that iniquity is not your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions by which you have transgressed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore, turn, and live.” Ezekiel 18:30-32 (Read Ezekiel 18)
Ezekiel was a priest and a prophet, sent by God during the years of the exile to call upon God’s people to repent of their wicked ways and look to God for mercy at a time when the judgment of God was falling upon His people for their turning aside from true worship and service to God into idolatry and disobedience to God’s Word. Ezekiel warned of and illustrated the judgment of God which was coming upon the people for their evil doings — a judgment they would not escape unless they repented and returned to the Lord God!
So also, in chapter 18 of Ezekiel, he warns a people who considered God unfair in His judgments, saying they were suffering for the sins of their fathers and not for their own rebelliousness and sin. They accused God of injustice rather than acknowledging their own wickedness and sin.
Ezekiel’s message? “The soul who sins, he shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20). The father who rebels against the Lord and lives in disobedience and sin will die for his sin. So also the son. But those who repent of their wicked ways, whether father or son, will be pardoned and live!
And these words certainly apply to us today. Every one of us will be judged by God according to our ways. If we turn aside from the Lord God and His Word, we will die in our sins and be judged by God. Even if we have lived good Christian lives all our days but then turn aside and live in sin and disobedience, we will die in our sins. All the good we have done will be forgotten!
If, on the other hand, we see the error of our ways and the sin and disobedience in our lives and repent and turn to the Lord God for mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus — trusting in God’s promise of pardon and forgiveness for the sake of Christ and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross for the sins of the world — all our sins will be forgiven of God and we will be counted righteous and holy in God’s eyes for Jesus’ sake. And, if we truly repent, we will, as a fruit of faith, also seek to amend our lives and live for Christ and in accord with His Word.
Again, God calls out to us, warning us that God will judge each of us according to our ways and there will be no escaping His judgment.
But God also tells us: “‘Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, so that iniquity is not your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions by which you have transgressed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him who dies,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore, turn, and live.’”
God does not desire to condemn us to eternal death and suffering in hell. Rather, He desires that we repent of our sinful and rebellious ways and look to Him for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of all! God grant that we heed His voice!
You are holy and just, O God. I have sinned and gone astray. Forgive my sins for Jesus’ sake and move me to walk in Your ways. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version of the Bible.]