Amplified Bible (AMP)
19 Yet do you say, Why does not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son has done that which is lawful and right and has kept all My statutes and has done them, he shall surely live.
20 The soul that sins, it [is the one that] shall die. The son shall not bear and be punished for the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear and be punished for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him only, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon the wicked only.
Ancient tradition held that the sins of the fathers (or mothers) were passed onto their children. These children paid the price of their parents' indiscretion. I think about the verse in Deuteronomy 5:9, which specifically says that the sins of the father will be passed onto the third and fourth generations.
The verses in Ezekiel and Deuteronomy seem to contradict each other, but do they?
We all have sinned and fallen short of the perfection of our Holy (set apart from imperfection) God. Jesus came to take our mistakes, sins, missed marks, bent and crooked nature upon Himself, so they we would not die separated from God.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 He shall see [the fruit] of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; by His knowledge of Himself [which He possesses and imparts to others] shall My [uncompromisingly] righteous One, My Servant, justify many and make many righteous (upright and in right standing with God), for He shall bear their iniquities and their guilt [with the consequences, says the Lord].
So no matter how sin comes upon us, Jesus is the Remedy!
There is no doubt in my mind that the sins of the father do set his son (or daughter) up for potential temptation with that same sin. There is an unseen world at work. Spiritual forces are allowed access to a family line because of the choices of the parent for right standing with God or not.
But laying aside the spiritual realm, think about behavior and think about how a child learns from his/her parent.
A parent models either righteous or unrighteous behavior for a child, and children watch then mimic what they have experienced.
Think about the parent who loses his temper when feeling overwhelmed. The child watches and learns how to react when faced with overwhelm...temper tantrum. A child's behavior then can be reinforced or punished to increase or decrease its occurrence.
So spiritual forces, good or evil go hand in hand with natural means of learning behavior.
The sins of the father or mother are passed to their children in this way, BUT Jesus breaks the cycle IF we give Him access to our baggage (sin issues).
The slate is clean, a fresh start awaits! It doesn't matter how good or evil our parents' behavior. What matters is that sin is washed away because of Jesus, and grace is released in order to empower us against the temptation to follow in the unrighteous footsteps of our parent or to live empowered to walk out the right behavior of our mom and dad!
Ultimately, each person decides his own fate...accept Jesus gift of grace or not. Jesus loves us; that's why he died to make this grace available.
Do we still mess up? Yes, but a heart after God will continue to ask for and require the grace made available by Jesus, transforming our behavior moment by moment. It's a process we ALL go through.
What's awesome is if we accept Jesus gift of grace, we are now seen by God as righteous, even as we are being formed into righteousness.
It's a beautifully, powerful mystery!
Thank You, Jesus, for not holding us accountable for the sins of others. Thank You for empowering us to say, "No" to all forms of unrighteousness. You are AWESOME!!!