- “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him” (Ezek 18:20). This speaks of the personal responsibility we have for sin. We cannot simply blame our failures and mistakes upon the previous generation.
- Jesus says: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin” (Jn 15:22).
Hophni and Phineas turned out to be so evil, however, because of the way their father treated them: “I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons make themselves contemptible, and his failed to restrain him” (1 Sam 3:12-13). “When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice” (1 Sam 8:1-3).
When God revealed himself to Moses, he said, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punished the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation” (Ex 34:6-7). Could the reason the Lord punishes children to the third and fourth generation be that sins are passed down from generation to generation?