The Soul who Sins Will Die
When interacting with an awakened sinner who insists on pointing to the sins of others and presenting them as causes, reasons or justifications for their condition, we must find an effective way to focus on their sin. As emphasized earlier in this series, they are without excuse (Ro.1:20) before God for their sin, for turning from God to pursue a self-centered approach toward the problems they have and toward life in general. We can see that one’s doctrine of sin has very practical importance in this stage of evangelism. Many Christian workers agree with the sinner, seeing them as a victim of a scheme that locks them up in sin due to the past choices of others (who must have been victims as well, of something God set in motion). A careful study of Ezekiel 18 proves helpful in this regard. Clearly, God was addressing this very misconception as the Israelites complained (Eze.18:25, 29) that God was treating children wrongly because of the sins of their fathers when stating, “The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Eze.18:2). Clearly responding with, “The soul who sins will die,” God makes the point that “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Eze.18:20). Sadly, many Christians still hold a doctrine of sin comparable to the wrong view that inspired the Israelites to accuse God of injustice.
Notice, in Ezekiel 18, God’s recommendation.
“Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?” (Eze.18:23).
“‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies’, declares the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore, repent and live’” (Eze.18:30-32).
In an effort to convince the awakened sinner to experience genuine repentance, we must help them own their own sin. They must know that they are without excuse and will someday stand before God to give an account for themselves, not for their fathers nor for anyone or anything else. When an awakened sinner truly embraces their own sin and guilt, they will experience conviction and will be ready to hear a message of repentance (whether they respond properly or not). Of course, to simply say, “Repent,” in this age would be meaningless to most people so, the Christian worker must be equipped with an understanding of repentance to be able to instruct correctly.
 It is important to distinguish between actual violations they have endured at the hand of others and the responses and choices they have produced which is the source of their guilt. While acknowledging such violations as evil and being sympathetic, the sinner must deal with their sin if they have any hope of conversion, deliverance and transformation.
 The father’s sin has an impact upon his children but is not the cause of their sin nor the source of their guilt.