Ezekiel 18 is an important chapter that deals with free will and destiny.
The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right—if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord GOD.
“If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.”
Ezekiel 18:1-13 (ESV)
Some may wish to dismiss this word to Ezekiel as “old covenant works righteousness,” but this is not the case if we take it in context. Notice the opening verses. God is specifically speaking out against a variant of predestination—a sort of spiritual caste system where if your father was wicked, you are going to be wicked as well.
Of course, we don’t have to look too far to see that generational sin is still with us. We are influenced by our family and its patterns and habits. But, the good news in this passage is that we don’t have to follow in our father’s footsteps. This, however, could also be bad news. We can stray from righteousness and commit evil even when it is not modeled for us. No matter our background, we have the capacity to sin and we need to be careful.
“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.”
Ezekiel 18:21-24 (ESV)
We can repent, turning from our own selfishness toward God. We can also fall away, becoming ensnared in our pride and selfishness and becoming estranged from God. It’s our choice.