The Lord said: Ezekiel, son of man, the people of Israel are complaining that the punishment for their sins is more than they can stand. They have lost all hope for survival, and they blame me. 11
Tell them that as surely as I am the living Lord God, I don't like to see wicked people die. I enjoy seeing them turn from their sins and live. So if the Israelites want to live, they must stop sinning and turn back to me. 12
Tell them that when good people start sinning, all the good they did in the past cannot save them from being punished. And remind them that when wicked people stop sinning, their past sins will be completely forgiven, and they won't be punished. 13
Suppose I promise good people that they will live, then later they start sinning and believe they will be saved by the good they did in the past. These people will certainly be put to death because of their sins. Their good deeds will be forgotten. 14
Suppose I warn wicked people that they will die because of their sins, and they stop sinning and start doing right. 15
For example, they need to return anything they have taken as security for a loan and anything they have stolen. Then if they stop doing evil and start obeying my Law, they will live. 16
Their past sins will be forgiven, and they will live because they have done right. 17
Ezekiel, your people accuse me of being unfair. But they are the ones who are unfair. 18
If good people start doing evil, they will be put to death, because they have sinned. 19
And if wicked people stop sinning and start doing right, they will save themselves from punishment. 20
But the Israelites still think I am unfair. So warn them that they will be punished for what they have done.
Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version ®. Copyright © 1995 American Bible Society. Used by permission.