Ezekiel 18:19–32 (NKJV)
19 “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. 20 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.
21 “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?
24 “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.
In this passage, the Lord establishes the principle of personal responsibility. While the sinfulness of a nation or family has an effect on those in those social systems, it is still the responsibility of the individual to find their own way to a place of righteousness. Additionally, the principal of finishing what you start is true as well. Finishing well is essential to eternal salvation. Don’t start and quit. Don’t begin well and end poorly. If you begin well and fail to finish, you lose. But if you begin horribly and then repent and follow Christ, you are redeemed and free of your guilt and shame. Finish well!
25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?
30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”
The definition of repentence is turning. A 180 degree change. Eschewing evil and sin and aspiring to righteousness and holiness. Changing your destination from hell to heaven. Changing your allegiance from Satan and his minions to God and His holy angels. Hating sin and loving God. God is not unfair in requiring holiness all your days. His standard is right! However, in our setting in 2018, we have the glorious privilege to take on the holiness of God through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ. While the Israelites were called upon to perform and offer sacrifices, we are called to commit to holiness and appropriate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The only way to holiness is through Jesus Christ. Therefore, turn and live!