Then another message came to me from the LORD:
"Why do you quote this proverb in the land of Israel: 'The parents have eaten sour grapes, but their children's mouths pucker at the taste'?
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, you will not say this proverb anymore in Israel.
For all people are mine to judge -- both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins will be the one who dies.
"Suppose a certain man is just and does what is lawful and right,
and he has not feasted in the mountains before Israel's idols or worshiped them. And suppose he does not commit adultery or have intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period.
Suppose he is a merciful creditor, not keeping the items given in pledge by poor debtors, and does not rob the poor but instead gives food to the hungry and provides clothes for people in need.
And suppose he grants loans without interest, stays away from injustice, is honest and fair when judging others,
and faithfully obeys my laws and regulations. Anyone who does these things is just and will surely live, says the Sovereign LORD.
"But suppose that man has a son who grows up to be a robber or murderer and refuses to do what is right.
And suppose that son does all the evil things his father would never do -- worships idols on the mountains, commits adultery,
oppresses the poor and helpless, steals from debtors by refusing to let them redeem what they have given in pledge, worships idols and takes part in loathsome practices,
and lends money at interest. Should such a sinful person live? No! He must die and must take full blame.
"But suppose that sinful son, in turn, has a son who sees his father's wickedness but decides against that kind of life.
Suppose this son refuses to worship idols on the mountains, does not commit adultery,
and does not exploit the poor, but instead is fair to debtors and does not rob them. And suppose this son feeds the hungry, provides clothes for the needy,
helps the poor, does not lend money at interest, and obeys all my regulations and laws. Such a person will not die because of his father's sins; he will surely live.
But the father will die for the many sins he committed -- for being cruel and robbing close relatives, doing what was clearly wrong among his people.
"'What?' you ask. 'Doesn't the child pay for the parent's sins?' No! For if the child does what is right and keeps my laws, that child will surely live.
The one who sins is the one who dies. The child will not be punished for the parent's sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child's sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own goodness, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness.
But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my laws and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die.
All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.
"Do you think, asks the Sovereign LORD, that I like to see wicked people die? Of course not! I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.
However, if righteous people turn to sinful ways and start acting like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their previous goodness will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.
"Yet you say, 'The Lord isn't being just!' Listen to me, O people of Israel. Am I the one who is unjust, or is it you?
When righteous people turn from being good and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds.
And if wicked people turn away from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives.
They will live, because after thinking it over, they decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die.
And yet the people of Israel keep saying, 'The Lord is unjust!' O people of Israel, it is you who are unjust, not I.
"Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn from your sins! Don't let them destroy you!
Put all your rebellion behind you, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel?
I don't want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)