However, if righteous people turn to sinful ways and start acting like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their previous goodness will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.
Ezekiel reminds us that it is not the way people start in their walks with God, but the way they finish, that counts. When a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, the righteous things he has done are no longer remembered.
Sitting back and resting on our spiritual laurels is a dangerous posture. How often have people served the Lord for perhaps a year, five years, ten years, or longer . . . and then, toward the end of their lives, thrown it all away?
Moses spent forty years in the wilderness being faithful in God’s house (Numbers 12:7). However, at the very end of the journey, he lost his composure in front of all Israel. “Rash words came from Moses’ lips” and “trouble came to Moses because of them” (Psalm 106:33, 32 NIV).
On the other hand, if there are people who spend their lives in wickedness but repent in the end, “All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done” (Ezekiel 18:22).
Don’t be self-satisfied, thinking you cannot fall, and don’t condemn yourself, believing you cannot rise. Remain in an attitude of repentance, and you will make it to the end. “Put all your rebellion behind you, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31-32).