Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16)
We Are Accountable For “I”
The ‘Me’ bubble that pervades our world is the idea that no one is responsible for what they have done. In a paradox of accountability, responsibility for individual actions can be blamed on anything but the self-choice of personal action. “I am what I am because nature made me this way” or society bears the burden for making me the person I am. Parents are blamed, failed education is ridiculed and God is vilified as the reason for the way we live our lives. Everyone is innocent it seems. No one is guilty of his or her sins. The margin of responsibility shifts to blame others so that actions can be justified and morality can be judged by what feels good. Children are taught from an early age the world owes them a great debt of gratitude and they grow up expecting it.
Buried deep in the Law of Moses is the reality of God’s view of accountability. There were many laws in the covenant with Israel calling for the death penalty. Measures were in place to judge according to righteousness. In the final analysis, a person put to death for disobedience was guilty of what they had done by personal choice. The will of God clearly defined personal responsibility and judgment would be meted out against all those who sinned. This adjudication would be according to what the individual had done. If a father sinned, they would be punished. The same judgment would be carried out against a son who sinned. The son would be punished, not the father. A person would be put to death for their own sin. This law has not changed.
The Law of Moses was not the first time the law of personal judgment was established. This law began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were each held accountable for their sins. Eve received the heavier judgment because she was deceived; not the man. Every story in the Bible is the retelling of the personal judgment inflicted upon the individual for their sin. As the day of judgment looms ahead of all men we face the same kind of judgment. Every man that dies will stand before the Lord and face God for the sins he or she has committed. There will be no appeal system to shift blame on parents, society, the church or the Lord Himself. All men stand before God bare and naked with the actions of life determining their innocence or guilt. If a person is lost and condemned to eternal torment, they will know the judgement is true and righteous. Parents will not be punished for the sins of their children. Unfaithful church members cannot blame the elders, the preacher, the Bible class teacher or fellow members for being lost. The unrighteous will not blame society, the government, or the passions of the flesh because they will know the responsibility of obedience was an individual choice. There will be no internet to blame. Nothing will be blamed but self.
A great surprise awaits the masses that live life blaming others for their misfortunes. There will be no arguments in the grave. Death will immediately seal the knowledge of truth that every person will bear his or her own sin. The joy of salvation is hearing the words of grace from the Father who says, “Well done good and faithful servant.” These people knew that life was about the choices they made in serving God. They did not blame others. They begged for mercy and walked in the paths of righteousness.
The sins that we should hate most are not those of our neighbor but our own. These are the only sins over which God has given us immediate power. (Raphael Simon, Hammer and Fire, 1959)