“All souls are mine” says The Lord: Generational Curse Broken

{As I was looking up ideas as to the meaning of the proverb found in Ezekiel and Jeremiah I came across a good and succinct explanation on the blog: Pastor Josh’s Ramblings and share it here}

The Proverb of the Sour Grapes

The Proverb of the Sour Grapes
Ezekiel 18:1-4

Out text begins with an eye-catching proverb that had become popular in Israel and represented popular opinion.
Even today some people hold to the false belief that this proverb represents, but God has seen fit to occupy an entire chapter refuting this false doctrine.
The end result of the chapter is that we find ourselves wholly responsible for our own sins before God and not for the sins of someone else.Let us begin by reading just the first four verses of our text:

READ TEXT
Ezekiel 18:1 ¶ The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,
2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?
3 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. 

The first element of our text that strikes our eye is the proverb about the sour grapes.
Have you ever eaten sour grapes?
Have you noticed the aftertaste?
This is what is referenced in the proverb, that after effect of the sourness.
The people were saying that a man might commit a certain sin, symbolized in the proverb by the sour grape, and his children would be predetermined to suffer under the guilt of that sin and even carry God’s judgment for their father’s sin.

It is a common belief among people even today and is called by different names – Generational Sin among those superstitious Christians who have adopted this doctrine, Generational Curse among the occultist religions from whence this doctrine came.
The result of this false teaching is manifold:
1. It produces a sense of hopelessness in the follower of God regarding real spiritual freedom.
2. It produces a sense of unfairness regarding the nature of God.
3. It produces a lack of self-responsibility among those who hold this teaching.

God debunks Israel’s false doctrine in one powerful sentence:
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

Every man must give an account of himself before God.
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Every man suffers under the guilt of his own sins alone:
Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Every man is determined by his own actions to suffer the eternal penalty for his sins.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death;

The first and foremost truth of this chapter is that every man must answer to God for his own sins.

This is not to say that our sins do not have an impact on those around us, including our children:
Let us take a moment to discuss this.
So often we see a man who is abusive and disrespectful to his wife in the home:
When he has a son, often that son grows into a man that treats his own wife in the same shameful manner.
When he has a daughter, she grows up to marry a man that treats her as her father treated her mother.
Why is this?
Surely we can see that this is learned behavior.
The son takes the role model of his father and follows the pattern that was set for him.
The daughter accepts in her heart that such is the role of a woman and marries an abusive man.

It is the same with other sins that seem to continue from one generation to another.
A son sees the wandering eye of his father and justifies his own lustful heart to act in the same manner.
A girl sees the idolatrous ways of her mother and learns to depend upon idols as well.

Truly our sin does impact the next generation by way of example.

Our kids are watching and learning about how the family is supposed to operate, and they will often carry the same weaknesses and strengths into their own family.

HOWEVER, we must draw a definitive line here:
The son is not guilty of his father’s sins until he commits the same sin himself.
Never in the Bible are we encouraged to confess the sins of our fathers, such an injustice would cast doubt on the fairness of God.

Certainly I have inherited a sinful nature as every man has since Adam, but there is no sin that my father committed that has a generational hold on my life.
I make the decisions and the choices to sin or do right in my life and I bear full responsibility for my decisions.

There is a positive side to this doctrine as well:
The next verses in chapter 18 outline the life of a man that is just and follows the law, living by what is right in God’s eyes.
He does not worship idols or commit adultery.
He is not unclean or oppressive to any.
He pays his debts and lives peaceably.
He gives to the hungry and comforts the needy.
He defrauds no one and is just in his business dealings.
Verse 9
Continues:
Ezekiel 18:9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.

It is clear that just as God judges the individual sinner for his individual actions, so He blesses the individual who lives uprightly before Him.

Now here is a question:
Does that man’s righteousness cover the sins of his children?
Read on:
Ezekiel 18:10 ¶ If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,
11 And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife,
12 Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,
13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.

Clearly the answer is that the son is responsible for his own actions.
The son exercises individual soul liberty and decides to sin – “The soul that sinneth it shall die”

Now, what about that man’s son?
Will he bear the sins of his father?
Read on:
Ezekiel 18:14 Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,
15 That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife,
16 Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,
17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.

Such is the just and fair judgment of God.
The next verse tells us that the father alone will bear the penalty of his actions.

There is much hope here in these verses that I want to point out to you this morning:
Have you had a father whose sinfulness has cast a pall and a shadow across your childhood?
You are not destined to follow in his steps and you are not guilty of his sins.
Have you had a mother whose sinfulness has caused nothing but pain in your life?
You are not guilty of her sins.

This was a shock to the people of Israel who had so bought into the traditional false doctrine of generational sin and generational guilt that they had stepped away from the one-on-one personal responsibility that keeps a man or a woman righteous before their God.
Ezekiel 18:19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
20 The soul that sinneth, it 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.

Now we get to an even more bright and hopeful passage.

What if I have found myself following the pattern of sinfulness set by my father?
What if I have modeled the same weaknesses and poor judgment that my mother laid out before me?
What then?
Am I now destined to follow these proclivities?

Look to the following verses for hope:
Ezekiel 18:21 ¶ But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

Praise the Lord!
Did you hear that?
If I confess my sin now, repent of my ways and follow the Lord, my iniquities will be remembered no more.
He will never even mention them to me!

This wonderful doctrine is consistent throughout Scripture.
It is not just an Old Testament promise to a limited group.
Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
Hebrews 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

How could God be so merciful?
Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

God is much more desirous that you repent than that you suffer the penalty of your sins.
2Peter 3:9 ¶ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Know this, that your past righteousness will not keep you from judgment any more than your past sin will keep you from grace.
Ezekiel 18:24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.

This warning does not indicate that a saved person can lose their salvation, but that we are all under God’s government and will answer for our actions.
Do not think, as some have stated, that your righteous living builds up credits against which you can draw in times of sinfulness.
Righteous living is a requirement not a freewill deposit we make in the bank of Heaven.
The only righteousness that has built up any real value in the bank of heaven is that of Jesus Christ.
He made a deposit there that covers the sins of the whole world for those who will accept it as payment for their sin.

That said, we must understand that He still rules from His throne and chastises the errant and rewards the obedient.

One more time now let us drive this truth home again:
Ezekiel 18:27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.
28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?

Our God is ready now to accept your repentance.
You need never repent for your father’s sins – that Freudian philosophy is not from the pages of scripture nor anywhere affirmed by this book.
You are encouraged to take responsibility for your own actions and revel in the freedom to make the right choices now, for you do have that freedom.

God will judge us for our own actions in this world and reward us for our own actions in the next.
Ezekiel 18:30 ¶ Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

There is one more aspect at which we have only hinted in this sermon:
Your own righteousness could never cover your previously committed sin, and you could never be absolutely perfect from this point on.
You will falter and fall.
There must be a more perfect righteousness that gains us a position in heaven.
This is where Jesus comes in.
When your righteousness was not good enough, He offered his own for you to wear.
Will you accept it today as your only way to have a relationship with God?

Then and only then will you be freed to live a life of purity and holiness before Him.

Author: Alex the Less

B.A. (1976), M.Div. (1983), Journeyman Carpenter (1991), B.B.A. (2009)

1 thought on ““All souls are mine” says The Lord: Generational Curse Broken”

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