As parents, how often have you heard, “Don’t blame me,” or “It’s not my fault?” Oh, when our children do something special, they are quick to take the credit. They love to tell us how they earned an “A” in a particular class. However, when their performance is sub-par, they are not so quick to accept the responsibility. They like to moan and groan about the teacher who gave them the “F.”
Well, as the saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Taking too much responsibility for our successes, and minimizing our responsibility for our failures is something we all tend to do regularly, and this is nothing new. Such was the tendency for the religious folk in Ezekiel’s day:
Ezekiel 18 The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. “If a man is righteous and does what is just and right … he shall surely live, declares the Lord God. “If he fathers a son who is violent … he shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself. “Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise … he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; 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. “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? … Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
From this chapter we learn four truths regarding man and his standing before the Judge.
1. God does not condemn children for the sins of their parents. Scripture makes it clear that the sins of the fathers affect the children. (Exodus 20:5) It is true that what parents sow, their children seem to reap. However while children do suffer the consequences of their parents sin, they are not condemned or damned due to their parents sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16)
2. God grows weary of sinners who blame others for their sin. The Israelites quoted a parable; it is found in both Ezekiel 18 and Jeremiah 31. According to this parable, the teeth of the children were ruined by the sour grape consumption of their parents. The current generation was not responsible for their bad oral hygiene. The current generation was not responsible for their rebellion before God. It was not their fault; it was the parents the Lord had given to them. Well, God had heard their excuses and this parable long enough. Chapter eighteen begins with God commanding Ezekiel and the Israelites to utter this untruth no more. One cannot blame God for one’s sin. One cannot blame one’s parents. One only has himself to blame. A person may be sinned against by others, but that does not require the individual to respond with further sin.
3. God is a holy, just and fair judge. He proclaims himself to be no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34) He gives men exactly what they earn. It is really very simple; the righteous he will bless; the unrighteous he will condemn and punish. Those who do more good deeds than others, they will receive more crowns. Those who have more light and yet sin more, they will receive a hotter hell than others.
4. God is ready to forgive those who change themselves. (Please friends, don’t throw your computer or handheld device yet.) Ezekiel preaches, “Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.! Why will you die?” (Ezekiel 18:31-32) God encourages men to repent; they need to create within themselves new hearts; they need to create within themselves new spirits; perhaps if they do so they can enjoy communion with God.
However, while this is true news, it is not good news. None does good, no not one. (Romans 3:23) None can blame another; you stand or fall on your own merit or demerit. None can escape the watchful gaze of God; he is omniscient and omnipresent; he sees it all before it happens. None can clean his own heart. The Ethiopian cannot change his color. The leopard remove his spots. (Jeremiah 13:23) God is holy. He cannot turn a blind-eye to sin and pretend it did not occur. He cannot lie, and he promised, “The soul that sins, it shall die.” Such is life under the Law. Such is life under the just and fair God. But now, for the rest of the story.
God has determined to show justice and fairness to some, and mercy and grace to others. Some will be treated fairly and given exactly that which they deserve. Others will be treated mercifully and receive nothing that they deserve. The Gospel is as follows — Jesus Christ took all my sin and was treated as my sin deserved. The wrath of God was poured out upon him for the sin I committed. Jesus Christ then gave me all his righteousness, and I am treated as his righteousness deserved. Jesus willingly received what he did not deserve so I could receive why I do not deserve.
So, I conclude with this thought. Those on earth who take responsibility for their merit, and take no responsibility for their demerit; they will receive justice from the fair Judge. When they are found in hell, they will be forced to state, “It’s my fault.” However, those on earth who take responsibility for their demerit, and take no responsibility for their merit; they will receive grace from the fair judge who takes the substitutionary atonement of Jesus into consideration.
Therefore, let us all take the credit for our unrighteousness. This is called confession!
And let’s take none of the credit for our righteousness. This is called faith, and it results in humble adoration and worship.
We who do so, will find ourselves enjoying paradise with Jesus. And when the question is asked to us, “How did you get here in the Kingdom of Glory?”, we will get to gloriously respond by saying, “It’s not my fault.”
It is time to spend a few moments in confession and adoration!
Scripture Reading Plan
Tuesday, November 19, 2013: Ezekiel 17-19; Hebrews 13
Wednesday, November 20, 2013: Ezekiel 20-21; James 1
Thursday, November 21, 2013: Ezekiel 22-23: James 2
Friday, November 22, 2013: Ezekiel 24-26; James 3
Starting January 1, 2014, this blog will most likely follow a Chronological Reading Plan that will read through the Scriptures in one year. If you have never done this before, it will help your grasp of biblical history to read the Bible in this manner. More information will be coming regarding the particular plan.