“The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children’s teeth are set on edge.” Judah was accusing God of being unfair. Their fathers had sinned and they felt that they were being punished for those sins. Not so! They were being held accountable for their own lives. A person may be affected for good or evil by the life of another, but he will not be saved or lost due to that person’s deeds. The Lord instructed Ezekiel to explain His policy of each individual being responsible for his own life.
If a person lives a righteous life according to all of the commands of God, he shall live. However, if that person has a son who is completely devoid of any righteousness, that son shall die because of his own actions. If an unrighteous man has a son who shuns the evil deeds of his father and lives righteously, he shall live and his father shall die.
Our merciful God has a way of escape from the consequences of unrighteousness. If one who has lived an evil life will repent and turn to righteousness, he shall live. Likewise, if a righteous person turns to evil, he shall die. Once a person is saved, he can still return to sin and be lost.
Those principles were spoken in a physical sense regarding the impending destruction to come upon Judah at the hands of Babylon. The same principles apply in a spiritual sense regarding the eternal salvation of one’s soul. Unrighteousness leads to eternal spiritual death; righteousness to eternal spiritual life. God does not take pleasure in the death of His people. However, “The soul who sins shall die.”