God deals with us as individuals.
HYMN: WHEN WE WALK WITH THE LORD
Text: Ezekiel 18:1-32
This lesson addresses two classes of people, God’s children and unbelievers. First, as God’s children we must know and be conscious of the fact that we are individually responsible for our actions while alive here on earth. Again, every man is morally responsible and liable to God’s judgement.
An old and common deception from the devil has been the thought that we could inherit Christianity from our parents. Just as the son of a University cannot inherit his father’s degrees and positions by merely being a son, a pastor’s son cannot inherit his father’s faith by merely being a son; and no one becomes a Christian by belonging to a “Christian family”. If a child follows the ways of his father he may live like the father. But primarily, as human beings, the Lord has given a vital law that overwrites an old one.
The old adage described the old law: “The fathers ate some grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Ez 18:2). This saying was stopped and with a divine oath, revealing God’s unalterable intention, the Lord stated that henceforth, the soul who sins is the soul who will die. No more would the children’s teeth be set on edge for sour grapes eaten by their fathers or even forefathers as the case may be. The implications of this are many, and in this lesson, we shall attempt to look at these many implications to the Christians as well as to the unbeliever.
The objectives of this study are:
- 1. To understand that individuals are responsible for their actions before God.
- 2. To know why each must account for his behavior.
- 3. To understand the implications of individual responsibility.
- 4. To know how long the righteous must remain in his righteousness in order to be justified on the last day.
Q1. INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITIES – WHAT IT MEANS?
This phrase simply means that it is for a man’s own sins that he will die. Also, it is for a man’s goodness that he will live. A father won’t be punished for his son’s sins, and the son shall not be punished for his son’s sins. And the son shall not be punished for his fathers. The good person will be rewarded for his own goodness. And the wicked person will be punished for his wickedness.
This reversal of the old situation, the Lord said, is for fairness! (Ez 18:2, 3, 29). The Lord will punish or reward each according to his own actions. He does not enjoy seeing the sinner die. And He does not want people to suffer for the wrong of others, not even people from the same family. In the beginning, a man was made. And man remains a separate, single entity. The awareness of the singleness of man is manifested first at birth, then in many important times in the life of an individual (i.e. in decision-making situations… essentially, an individual has to live his life!) and then at death. Even twin babies are born separately; there is no two individuals that are completely identical. There is usually a difference that makes an individual special to our creator. And just like we came separately, and to further prove that even our parents are separate individuals, we all die one after the other: people do not hold hands to die! Thus, it really makes for fairness for everyone to answer for his deeds whether they are good or bad. The Bible extensively states that this is God’s standard in judgement (See Rom. 2:5,6, Prov. 62:12, Rev. 22:12, Matt. 16:27)
Q2. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY?
First, this shows that everyone is special to God; everyone is unique. We are being looked at…. God’s attention is on us. This means that one cannot hide in a crowd of people! Everyone’s action is attributed to him.
1. If in a mob, Pius throws a stone into the market and it hits and breaks James’ head, it is on God’s record that Pius broke James’ head, even if James or any other person may never know.
2. If Regina joins her friends who are wayward in their waywardness, God sees Regina as being wayward even if the friends say otherwise and no other person sees or knows about it.
3. If a donation is being made and a person does not want to participate but wants people to think he participated, he may be in the crowd of people donating and deceive everybody, but God knows that he did not donate. Similarly, if a group of people achieve a fit without a person’s contribution (morally or otherwise) even if he is counted as one of those people, God knows and holds that he did not take part in the action. This special attention that God has placed on individuals overrules the thought of covering up. Instead, it brings to light the need for repentance, God would forgive him. It does not necessarily require a crowd to repent with one voice before God hears and answers in His mercy.
If a mob burns a house and Bola and Sola were part of that mob. If Sola repents before God and confesses his fault and regrets it and forsakes it God would forgive him. And if Bola doesn’t, he would die for the offence of burning the house while Sola would live if he remains good. The Lord would not count it against Sola anymore.
This is a further warning that everyone is responsible for his/her actions because everyone would account to God. Yet another implication of individual of individual responsibility is the release of children from the repercussion(s) of their father’s sins. Although, the devil still hangs onto the old system by telling people that they are bound by their father’s sins or by even binding people through such links, the child of God should remember: it is the soul that commits the sin that bears the brunt! No one should bear the punishment for his father’s misdeeds. Before God therefore, no matter how sinful a person’s father is, it does not make him/her a sinner if she/he chooses to live righteously. However, if the person follows the sinful ways of his/her parents, they shall all perish in their sins. Similarly, the son’s sins do not make the father a sinner if he continues in righteousness.
Moreover, the son cannot be said to be righteous because the father is/was righteous. The children cannot be said to be Christians because their parents are/were. The son of a pastor may not necessarily be a pastor. The father’s faith cannot be rewarded on the son; the son and the father must individually accept Jesus Christ into their lives in order to be saved. They must individually live holy lives in order to see God!
Prudence is a member of our church. He says that he is a born-again Christian, from a Christian home, so he neither believes he is a sinner nor wants to give his life to Christ. In fact, he feels all his life is covered by the holiness of his godly parents. Prudence is deceived. He is a sinner and needs to repent. The righteousness of his father does not cover him.
Q3. HOW LONG CAN A RIGHTEOUS PERSON REMAIN SAVED?
Matt. 24:13, John 15:6 The righteous man is a man whom God sees as righteous. Anyone who has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, as his Lord and Savior, and abides in Him still, is seen by the Lord as righteous. He may have done terribly evil things in the past but he’s now forgiven; such a person is righteous.
He would remain righteous for as long as he does not leave the path of righteousness for sin. If his mind strays away from the Lord and he stops living for God, minding the things of God, fellowshipping with God; if he resumes sinful life, he is no more righteous. The Bible states that his goodness in the past shall also be forgotten, and he shall die in his sin.
1. No matter how bad, if the individual repents, God can forgive past lifestyle of such individual.
2. Past evil deeds, of repented from, cannot hinder an individual from seeing God. Past good deeds, if discontinued will not be remembered by God. It is the way an individual is living that is important, not how he lived. See again Ezek. 18:21-24.
Q4. WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR TERRIBLE BACKGROUNDS?
This question has become very pertinent considering the number of persons answering it daily unconsciously. So many people have had to make all sorts of sacrifices to atone for the sins of their forefathers, in attempt to be free from their repercussion. While some of these people may be suffering from actual curses resulting from such sins, others may just be imaginary. In either case, the devil is playing his usual tricks on the minds of the naïve! Even if there are curses, there is no place for inheritance of a curse for the newborn child of God in God’s word! Many brethren are languishing in oppression, helped by fantastic analogies of past unknown practices of their ancestors, they have been enslaved into accepting demon portion and all sorts of strange beliefs. The questions:
- What is the relevance of the cross?
- Where is the relevance of the cross?
- What work does faith in God do?
- Where is abundant life place in all these?
- Where is our knowledge of God?
- Exactly what were we saved from at salvation?
- Have we forgotten that the devil is both a thief, a liar, an accuser of the brethren and that he would like to hang on and around with some tricks?
Every believer reading this lesson should now pause and ponder on these seven questions. Let us not make of no effect the cross of Christ by our poor knowledge and lack of faith. At the cross of Calvary, the Lord said it was finished (John 19:30). That is, the relevance of the cross and this is where it is most applicable: Jesus Christ came to set captives free! Who then comes to say it is not finished? And He does this so that they can praise Him and be free. When a person believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, he is given the Holy Spirit who indwells him. The works of his ancestors do not override the works of the Holy Spirit in his life. If a possessed individual accepts Christ, the demon leaves before he can serve God (Matt. 6:24)! This is the relevance of the cross, the power of the Most High! Now faith is believing; it is the confident knowledge that something we want is going to happen. Heb. 11:1). Every child of God lives by faith (no one is a child of God who does not have faith). And by faith we are healed (see also Isa. 53:4-6); we believe the scriptures because we have faith. And we seek also to know what God has done for us. He has given us life in abundance.
What to do:
Dearly beloved, our enemy is not an old fool! He is evil and crafty. He would not back down by a shout or insult; not a jump or even a sacrifice. He wants to steal, to kill, and to destroy. (John 10:10). Let us know who we are in Christ by studying the word of God! Get knowledge, and ask the Lord for wisdom…for the battle is not ours but the Lord’s! Expect the devil to deceive and lie; that has been and would continue to be his work for a while. But not you!
Finally, our salvation is not precious if it only brings us together to clap hands with all our different curses following us. If asking Jesus Christ into our lives does not save us (or what does it save us from?) then, why do we have so much peace and joy? Why are we so sure we are heading to heaven?
The devil’s masterpiece is oppression. Oppression can be defined as punishment inflicted on an individual to hold him under bondage or just for the fun of wickedness, because he fears or lacks knowledge and/or power. Let the redeemed of the Lord say, “I am redeemed” praise the Lord! Redeemed and given life in full, life without bondage; absolute life.
Daily Living Application
Discuss the following true situations and proffer possible solutions: Sister Samantha, after second semester examination packed her belongings to go home for good, because she feels the devil has already made her to fall. She said “I know what the devil is planning, I have already failed”. Sister Pauline only got married last year at the age of 41. They say it has been because of the veil works of her herbalist grandfather who died several years before she was born, that why she hasn’t even conceived.
2 Corinthians 5:10
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”.
Daily Devotional guide
Monday: The Lord will reward each man according to his deeds.
Tuesday: It is the soul that sins that will die.
Wednesday: The righteous man will remain righteous as long as he abides in the Lord. Matt. 24:13, John 15:6
Thursday: By faith in the finished work at Calvary, we are healed from whatever backgrounds we came from.
Friday: The blood of the lamb has redeemed us.
Gal. 3:13, Psa. 107:2, Eph. 1:7, Is. 63:9
Saturday: Let him who is holy be holy still…. The Lord is coming soon.
Rev. 22:11, 12