Question:

Question

Answer:

In light of Ezekiel 18:20, do you feel we are products of our fathers? Can the sin nature be passed down from our fathers to us? I realize there is no punishment from the sin nature of our fathers to us, but the possibility is always there, is it not? Also genetically we are products of our parents in every way. Is this right or not right?


"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.

"But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right; if he has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor's wife, nor approached a woman during her impurity; if he has not oppressed anyone, but has restored to the debtor his pledge; has robbed no one by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing; if he has not exacted usury nor taken any increase, but has withdrawn his hand from iniquity and executed true judgment between man and man; if he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully - he is just; he shall surely live!" Says the Lord GOD.

"If he begets a son who is a robber or a shedder of blood, who does any of these things and does none of those duties, but has eaten on the mountains or defiled his neighbor's wife; if he has oppressed the poor and needy, robbed by violence, not restored the pledge, lifted his eyes to the idols, or committed abomination; if he has exacted usury or taken increase - shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, he shall surely die; His blood shall be upon him.

"If, however, he begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise; who has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor's wife; has not oppressed anyone, nor withheld a pledge, nor robbed by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing; who has withdrawn his hand from the poor and not received usury or increase, but has executed My judgments and walked in My statutes - he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live!

"As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, robbed his brother by violence, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

"Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?' Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." (Ezekiel 18:4-20).

While parents have strong influences over their children, it is not complete. How do you explain that the Unabomber's brother turned his own brother in to the authorities? They both are products of the same parents and the same upbringing, yet one was a mass murderer and the other was a law abiding citizen. How do you explain the righteous King Hezekiah, produced the evil King Manasseh, whom the Bible said, "Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD" (II Kings 21:16). Late in life, Manasseh reformed his ways, but his son, Amon, was described as so evil that his own servants murdered him (II Chronicles 33:24). Yet Amon's son, Josiah, was one of the great kings of Israel. "And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left" (II Kings 22:2). Where is the genetics? Where is the inherited sins? The fact is that each of us are our own person. We are influenced by our parents and our environment, but we do not necessarily follow those influences on our lives.

A good person can raise up an evil son. An evil parent can raise up a righteous son. That is the point of Ezekiel 18:4-20. The remainder of the chapter takes it a step further to show that a person is not locked into one way of behaving the rest of his life. A wicked person can change and become a righteous person. A righteous person can change and become a wicked person. In other words, there is no excuse to claim that sin is out of our control. There is no bemoaning that the results of our actions were not our choices.


See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Sin
Questions and Answers regarding Inherited Sins and Total Depravity