1A message from the Lord came to me, saying,
2“What's this proverb you people are quoting about the country of Israel: ‘The fathers ate the unripe grapes, but their children got the sour taste’?
3As I live, declares the Lord God, you won't quote this proverb in Israel any more.
4Can't you see that everyone belongs to me? Whether parents or children, they are all mine. It's the person who sins who will die.
5Take the example of a man who is a good person, doing what is fair and right.
6He doesn't go to the pagan shrines in the mountains to eat a religious meal, or worship Israel's idols. He doesn't have sex with someone else's wife or with a woman during her period.
7He doesn't exploit anyone. He gives back what a debtor has given him as security. He doesn't rob others. He feeds the hungry and clothes the naked.
8He doesn't lend with interest or make a profit from loans. He refuses to do wrong and makes sure he's truly fair in his decisions between people.
9He follows my rules and keeps my regulations faithfully. Such a man lives by what's right and he will certainly live, declares the Lord God.
10What if that man has a son who is a violent criminal, who kills and does do such evil things just listed
11even though the father doesn't act like that at all. The son goes to the pagan shrines in the mountains to eat a religious meal. He has sex with someone else's wife.
12He exploits the poor and those in need. He robs others, and he doesn't give back what a debtor has given him as security. He worships idols. He commits disgusting sins.
13He lends with interest and makes a profit from loans. Is someone like this going to live? No, he won't! Because he has done all these offensive things, he will die for certain, and he will be responsible for his own death.
14Now what if this man has a son who sees all the sins his father has committed. He sees them but doesn't do the same.
15He doesn't go to the pagan shrines in the mountains to eat a religious meal, or worship Israel's idols. He doesn't have sex with someone else's wife.
16He doesn't exploit anyone. He doesn't demand security for a loan. He doesn't rob others. He feeds the hungry and clothes the naked.
17He refuses to do wrong and does not charge interest or make a profit on loans. He keeps my regulations and follows my laws. A man like that won't die because of his father's sins, he will certainly live!
18But his father will die for his own sins, because he exploited others, robbed his relatives, and did wrong to his own people.
19You ask, ‘Why shouldn't the son pay for his father's sins?’ If the son has done what is fair and right, keeping all my laws, then he'll live, he won't be punished.
20It's the person who sins who will die. A son won't pay for his father's sins, and a father won't pay for his son's sins. The good consequences of living right will come to those who are good; the evil consequences of wickedness will come to those who are evil.
21However, if someone who is wicked stops sinning and keeps my laws, doing what is fair and right, they will certainly live—they won't die.
22None of their sins will be held against them. Because they are now doing what's right, they will live.
23Do I like it when wicked people die? declares the Lord God. Of course not—I would be delighted if they stopped sinning and lived!
24But if someone who is living according to what's right stops and does wrong, doing the same offensive things as the wicked, will that person live? Of course not! In fact, all the good things they did previously will be forgotten. That person will die because of their betrayal of me and the sins they've committed.
25Even so you say, ‘What the Lord does isn't right.’ People of Israel, listen to me! Is it what I'm doing that isn't right? Isn't it what you're doing that isn't right?
26If someone who lives according to what's right stops doing right and does wrong, they will die. They will die because of wrong things they've done.
27But if someone wicked stops doing wrong and does what is fair and right, they will save their life.
28Because they thought about it and gave up their wicked ways, they will certainly live—they won't die.
29But the people of Israel say, ‘The Lord's way isn't right.’ Are my ways unfair, people of Israel? Isn't it your ways that aren't fair?
30Consequently I'm going to judge you, people of Israel! I will judge each of you depending on what you've done, declares the Lord God. Repent and stop rebelling so that your sins won't bring you down.
31Get rid of all your rebellious sins! Change your way of thinking and have a new spirit. Why do you want to die, people of Israel?
32I don't like it when anybody dies, declares the Lord God. So repent so you can live!”