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. Ezekiel 18:20-21
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7
In Ezekiel’s day, the people had a saying ‘‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge” (18:2). The Lord rebuked them for using this proverb. He said that each person held responsibility for himself as to his obedience or disobedience. Whatever path a person chose, righteousness or sin, was his own and he would enjoy the blessings or suffer the consequences. A parent’s sin could not make his child incur guilt, nor could a parent’s obedience merit forgiveness to a sinful child. Each one stands alone before God with his own record.
But change is possible. No one is locked into a lifestyle of sin or righteousness based on choices in his youth. It’s how you end up that matters. After a life of crime, the repentant thief on the cross pleaded for mercy and found forgiveness at death’s door (Luke 23:39-43). It is also possible that one might prove to be unfaithful at the end of life. See? It’s how you end up that counts. It is never too late to repent, but it’s also never too late to rebel.
The writer to the Hebrews gives his readers an assortment of commands in light of all he has written. Several of them have to do with their relationship with their spiritual leaders, those who had taught them God’s Word (vs. 7, 17). They must observe the outcome of those godly lives and imitate their faith. How did those men’s lives turn out? If they were faithful to the end, the outcome was good. If not, one ought to be forewarned that even those who at one time show some signs of true faith and obedience to God can veer off and prove to be unbelievers. This does not mean that anyone can lose his salvation. It does mean that anyone can act pious for a time and then fail to endure to the end [See Matthew 7:21-23; 13:1-23; 2 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:19].
Think about it
Be on guard against the schemes of Satan. Do not be presumptuous of your ability to resist every temptation and trap. We all know some who have not. May you and I endure faithfully and finish by ending well.
© 2017 John A Carroll Used by permission