Christian leaders are hit with many concerning issues within the modern church. Church attendance is in a state of decline in many areas. Even in the Bible Belt, the culture is becoming post-Christian. As a Christian leader myself, I have had great anxiety over these issues. One of the important truths that has helped me cope is the doctrine of divine sovereignty, realizing that God is in control. Quite honestly, as one can see in Revelation, it may be that God himself is removing the light of many churches from their lampstands due to a loss of their first love (Rev. 2:5).
Yet, another area that I have struggled with is the idea that I, as a pastor, am personally responsible for the actions of others. If a person doesn’t respond to the gospel or if someone has caused issues, I thought that I was responsible for their actions, or the lack thereof. However, I recently came across a wonderful chapter that illuminated many beautiful truths that have brought me hope. Ezekiel 18 teaches three important truths one must remember when ministering in this culture.
The Beautiful Truth of Personal Accountability. The first truth that must be considered in Ezekiel 18 is the issue of personal accountability. Ezekiel gives three test cases that notes how God holds each person responsible for his or her own actions.
Test Case #1: The Righteous Man (Eze. 18:5-9). Ezekiel considers the righteousness of a man who probably lives in a sinful area. The man lives according to God’s standards and “does what is just and right” (18:5). The man trust God as he does not commit idolatry (18:6a) and treats others justly (18:6b-8). The man of faith is not held accountable for the actions of the society around him. Rather, God holds him accountable for his own actions (18:9).
Test Case #2: The Wicked Son (Eze. 18:10-13). The son is nothing like his father. One can assume that the father was a good parent. The wicked son has chosen his path. He is guilty of violence (18:10), idolatry (18:11a), adultery (18:11b), and abuses others (18:12-13). The judgment of the son is not the father’s fault. Instead, as Ezekiel states, “Since he has committed all these detestable acts, he will certainly die. His death will be his own fault” (18:13).
Test Case #3: The Righteous Grandson (Eze. 18:14-20). The wicked son has a son who is the righteous man’s grandson. The grandson sees the evil deeds of his father and chooses to live in faith according to God’s laws. This individual is not held responsible for the deeds of his father. Rather, “the righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him” (18:20). No matter where a person comes from and no matter how bad a person’s parents are, God does not hold the child responsible for the actions of his or her parents. Each person is held accountable for their own actions.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brian G. Chilton