Is there Personal Responsibility?

By Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.

There are many passages that teach personal responsibility as regards decisions and actions of the individual. Let us open to two sections of the Book of Ezekiel. We quote from the NKJV.

Ezekiel 14 v.3 “these men have set up their idols in their hearts.” Who makes the choice of setting up idols?

v.13. “When a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness” and is punished says God. Who decides to do sin?

v.14, 16, 18,21. “…Noah, Daniel and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness?”

Did the three righteous men exercise their free will to live a righteous life? Yes. Could their righteousness be imputed upon their sons and daughters? NO. Is there free will here? Yes.

v.11, 23. God ‘s penalty is based on a cause or transgression. Who chooses to transgress? The individual.

Ezekiel 18:

v.4. “The soul who sins shall die.” Does this prove free will and individual responsibility? Yes.

vs. 5-9. Is there free will to do what is just? Is walking in God’s statutes and keeping God’s judgments the free will of a person? Yes. Or is a person forced by God? No, not forced.

vs. 10-13.Does the father pass on to the son his righteousness? No Is there free will on the part of the son? Is the choice of the son his own responsibility? Yes.

vs. 14, 17. “If, however, he begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does NOT DO LIKEWISE… He shall not die for the iniquity of his father.” Is there free will here? Yes. Is the unrighteousness of the father automatically imputed on the son? No. (So the unrighteousness and the spiritual consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin should not be imputed on their off springs). But are the physical and biological consequences suffered by the off springs? Yes. Just as it is true today. For example, a father drinks and drives and runs over a person on the highway. The guilt and penalty of drunken driving and killing a person is on the father, but not imputed on the son. However the physical consequences like the lack of bread and other physical needs that should be supplied by the father would now be suffered by the son. This is true in the case of Adam and Eve. The spiritual consequence of their sin is not imputed on us. But the withdrawal of the protective shield of God’s grace against physical aging, physical pain, destructiveness of nature like typhoons and bacteria exact their toll on the off spring.

vs. 14-17. Is there free will here? Yes. Does the son reap the fruits of his own deeds? Yes. What is the basis of God’s favorable impression on this son? His avoidance of the prohibited acts and his proactive observance of God’s judgments and statutes.

v. 18. “As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, robbed his brother by violence, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.” Is there free will here? Yes.

Does God hold the father personally responsible for his own deeds? Yes. Is the iniquity of the father automatically passed on to the son? No.

v. 19. Does the son bear the guilt of his father? No. What is the basis of God’s favorable acceptance of the son? His acts that are lawful and right, keeping and observing God’s statutes.

v. 20. The son does not bear the guilt of his father; the father does not bear the guilt of his son. Each individual is answerable for his own decision and action. (This should apply in the case of Adam and Eve).

v. .21. Is repentance possible? Yes. Is free will exercised in repentance? Yes.

v. 22. Is there value of free will obedience? Yes, there is. Should a person boast about his obedience? No.

Does his obedience earn and demand reward? No. Reward is volunteered by God. Is it against the nature of God to give rewards to the obedient? No. That is sovereign exercise of grace.

Read vs. 23-32 and observe the exercise of free will in the choice of either direction: obey God or disobey God.

The proof given by the Bible is clear. Proof should not be based on the philosophizing and wild imaginations of some people religious leaders and essayists.