Marvin L. Weir
It never ceases to amaze me as to what those who claim to be Bible believers will falsely declare. Calvinism and its damnable doctrine of hereditary total depravity is more precious to countless thousands of professing “Christians” than a “thus saith the Lord.” The false teaching that one is “born in sin” is not a new, “Johnny come lately,” doctrine. God charges His people in Ezekiel’s day with misrepresenting the facts. He says to His people of old, “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? As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel” (Ezek. 18:2-3). It could not be clearer that the fathers eating sour grapes did not set the children’s teeth on edge. The obvious conclusion is that the children would also have to eat the sour grapes to be affected by them. Who can deny such? Hereditary and environmental influence may be great, but neither negates the personal responsibility of the individual. There is no escape from this truth: “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” (Ezek. 18:4, emph. mlw). God continues to deny the false doctrine of inherited sin in saying,
Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins, which he hath done, and feareth, and doeth not such like; 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 neighbor’s wife, neither hath wronged any, hath not taken aught to pledge, neither hath taken by robbery, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; that hath withdrawn his hand from the poor, that hath not received interest nor increase, hath executed mine ordinances, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live” (18:14-17).
Let us now learn some Biblical truths about sin and death.
All Souls Belong to God! God is the “Creator” of all life (Isa. 40:28; 1 Pet. 4:19). He is the Father of “spirits” (Heb. 12:9). Every soul then belongs to God, and “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4).
Each Soul Is Individually Responsible and Accountable to God! Even a casual reading of Ezekiel 18 impresses one with the truth that it is impossible to inherit another person’s sins. Sixteen verses after verse four God again says, “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” (18:20). A son of a just and lawful man who chooses to sin will die in his sins, but the father will live (vss. 5-13). The righteous son of a sinful and wicked father will not die because of the iniquity of the father (vss. 14-17). The Bible consistently teaches that every person will give an account of himself unto God. Paul preached this to the brethren at Rome and also to congregations located elsewhere: “So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12; cf. 1 Cor. 4:17). Adam did sin, and sin entered into the world, but people die spiritually not because they have inherited Adam’s sin, but because “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Righteousness Is The Condition of Life! “If a man be just…he shall surely live” (Ezek. 18:5, 9). A just man is a man who keeps the Word of God (a lawful or law-abiding man). One is righteous who chooses to do what God declares to be right. John said, “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one also that doeth righteousness is begotten of him” (1 John 2:29). The righteous man is the one who chooses to live in complete harmony with God’s Word (see Psa. 119:172) and be guided by that Word in all things.
Wickedness Is The Condition of Death! “The soul that sinneth, it shall die …” (Ezek. 18:20). Wickedness is literally lawlessness and is the very opposite of those who are just and lawful. The KJV says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Note the ASV rendering of the same verse: “Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” Enmity to God’s Word will lead to lawlessness and eventually spiritual death!
Sin and Spiritual Death Are Inseparable! Again, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:20). The New Testament makes it clear “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). One will most assuredly reap what he sows (Gal. 6:7-8). Just as the absence of light means darkness, the presence of sin means death! Isaiah said, “Behold, Jehovah’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). “Wages” are something duly earned, and the just payment for impenitent sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
God Has No Pleasure in the Death of the Lawless! “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? saith the Lord Jehovah; and not rather that he should return from his way, and live” (Ezek. 18:23)? God’s will is that all men might be saved by coming to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). The problem is that many people “have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2-3). May we learn to trust the Word of God instead of the wisdom of man. Let us learn well the lessons of sin and death before we meet the Word of the Lord at the judgment (John 12:48)!