Recently, I met a young man who suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of his mother as a baby. Apparently, his drug addicted father was neglectful and selfish. With his mother serving a jail sentence for the abuse she had inflicted upon him, he was left to care for himself when his grandparents passed. Living on his own, he has had a hard life and as a result of bad choices, has even spent time in jail. By any standards, this person, through no fault of his own, was born into a bad set of circumstances. The sins of his parents caused him monumental pain and suffering, but again, through no fault of his own.
What do you do when you were born into a family that doesn’t care and love you the way that God intended? How do you keep from repeating the cycle of abuse, addiction, and neglect when you’ve seen nothing but that all of your life? This young man feels that he has been punished all of his life for the choices of his parents, but I also listened closely as he spoke. He also seemed to suggest that those terrible circumstances were justification for his present poor choices and any future bad ones that he would make.
The book of Ezekiel gives a good example of this type of thinking. The people of Judah knew that the destruction of Jerusalem was because of the sins of their ancestors. As a result, they did not take responsibility for their own sins. They felt justified to sin. The prophet Ezekiel informs the people that each person is responsible for his or her own sins. He tells them, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4).” In the past, you would bear the sins of the father. However, Ezekiel tells them, “doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.” Because of God’s grace, He would send the Messiah, His Son, to restore man back to God. No longer does the son have to bear the sins of the father—each person is accountable for his own sin.
Without a doubt, our family’s influence can be very powerful, but Ezekiel reminds us that, regardless of what mistakes have plagued a family, each person will be accountable for the choices that he or she makes. He says, “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. . . But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my [God’s] statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:20-21).
While some of us have had to suffer consequences from the sins of our family or others, we are not bound or punished by God because of them. We cannot use the sins of other’s to excuse our own sin. Again, we each have to accept responsibility for our present and future choices. My parents would say, “When you know better, do better.” Don’t allow the past mistakes of others or your past mistakes cause you to justify or wallow in sin.
Conversely, some people of Judah thought because their ancestors were blessed and favored by God that this also excused them of having to do right. I know some people think that because their mother, father, grandmother, wife, etc. is saved and praying for them, that this will cover them and their sins. This is equally wrong. You have to live a righteous life your self; no one can do it for you. You need to be saved and live a holy life, separated from sin. When and if you do sin, you need to be quick to repent. In other words, go and sin no more.
There is an escape if you’ve suffered unjustly s a result of someone else’s sin. You have to choose to break the bondage of sin in your own life by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior. If there is no one else saved in your family but you, you can be the person in your family to start a new lineage of faithful believers. Then, you must allow God’s Holy Spirit to empower you to live a victorious life. Read His Word daily, always praying and meditating on His Word. Get involved and committed to a good solid Bible-believing church. Surround yourself with saved, spirit-filled believers, who will positively speak words of encouragement in your life.
When negative thoughts try to overcome you, choke them out with the Word of God and prayer. There is no condemnation in Him, but there is hope, joy, love and peace. As the Word says, those who hunger and thirst shall be filled.
I am praying a special prayer for those who feel bound because they have had to live with the consequences of another person’s sins. I am praying that the Lord will comfort you and empower you with His Holy Spirit. I pray that the Lord will remove any guilt, pain, anger, shame, and or bitterness from your heart and fill it with joy, love, peace, and forgiveness. You are not alone.
Blessings and Love,
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