One claims that it is the consequence of Adams sin we suffer but we are not guilty of his sin. Ezekiel 18:20.21 is given as proof. We are asked how we explain this.
We need to 'rightly divide the word of truth' (2 Timothy 2:15, King James Version), else one can get matter confused. Indeed, many of the so-called "contradictions" many people see in the Bible is due to the fact that they fail to rightly divide what is being said, and thus they get scriptures tangled together that seem to be contradictory. We will here endeavor to try to untangle the confusion step-by-step. The truth seeker should take time out to examine all presented and humbly pray for God's spirit for help in understanding what is presented.
First, we need to realize that Ezekiel 18:20,21 is referring to those under the Law Covenant, providing a picture of the coming judgment day. Second, we need to understand that the children of Israel were already under the condemnation of death through Adam before the Law Covenant had been given, along with all the world of mankind. Thus, Paul wrote: "For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience." -- Romans 5:13,14, World English.
Thus, we need to realize that from Adam up until the Law, all were already dying, although they were not necessarily dying due to personal sin, for we read that "sin is not charged when there is no law." Paul then explains that "by the trepass of the one the many died." Those who died before the Law had been given were thus dying due the trepass of Adam, even though their sins were not due to disobedience of any specific law, as was Adam's. (Genesis 2:16,17) Thus, while individual sin was not charged upon those who died from Adam until the Law, they were counted, or made, sinners due to Adam's sin, as Paul continues to show. -- Romans 5:17-19.
Since all of Adam's decendants are "made sinners" due to Adam's sin, all do indeed share in the guilt of that sin, else there would be no death of embryos, infants, and babies who have never committed any personal sin for which to be condemned. When Adam and Eve disobeyed the just law given to them, through that disobedience mankind came to be condemned to death, and became, by nature children of disobedience, children of God's wrath. (Romans 5:12-19; Ephesians 2:2,6) Having become corrupted, crooked, none of mankind could make straight - justified - that which God had made crooked. - Ecclesiastes 1:15; 7:13.
The Law Covenant through Moses was given to the Israelites with the promise that if anyone could obey that Law, he could live by means of that Law. (Leviticus 18:5; Nehemiah 9:29; Ezekiel 20:11,13,21) Jesus spoke of this as recorded in Luke 10:27,28, and Paul wrote about this in Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12. In other words, if anyone could obey that Law, he would have been justified by the Law, and would no longer be under the condemnation of death in Adam. None of Adam's descendants, however, gained life under the Law; no man can could make himself straight, justified, by means of obedience to the Law. -- Acts 13:39; Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; 3:11.
However, by condemning all in the one man Adam, God could remain just and yet justify mankind (Romans 3:26) by means of the sacrifice of another sinless man for Adam and all who are dying in Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:14) This is the basis of Jesus' paying a debt, a ransom, to God for all. (1 Timothy 2:5,6) When Adam sinned, Adam and all his descendants became in "debt" due to sin; this can be illustrated by a man's own judicial system. If John owes Bill $1,000, and John cannot pay the debt, someone else could pay the debt for John. So if a third party, Peter, paid the debt to Bill for John, John would then be acquitted of any debt owed to Bill. In effect, this is what Jesus did, he came and paid the wages for sin (Romans 6:23) for Adam and all who are dying in Adam (Romans 5:12-19), although he himself was not a sinner. Thus, we should all be glad that all mankind are made sinners in Adam, for it is only by this means that we are provided a means of salvation from death. If any were to die outside of the condemnation, then there would be no sacrifice for their death, since there is only one sacrifice given for sin.
However, getting back to Ezekiel 18, those under the Law Covenant could be put to death for violation of many of its laws. Such a death would have been the death in Adam; others who did not commit a sin that would bring an execution of death under the Law were permitted to live their temporal life, but still eventually died due to Adam's sin. If Ezekiel 18:9 is viewed as saying that one is justified and will live for eternity as a result of doing what is stated in Ezekiel 18:5-8, then we know that no one has obtained such a justification, otherwise we would see Jews today who are thousands of years of age walking around, never committing one violation of the Law Covenant. Paul tells us that no one has been justified by the Law. (Romans 3:20; 8:3; Galatians 2:16,21; 3:11,21; 5:4) Under that law, however, a son could not be put to death for the sin of the Father, nor could the Father be put to death for the sin of the son. Each would die for his own sin. Those who did commit sin that required execution were to be put to death, while others who did not commit such a sin were permitted to continue living.
None of this conflicts with the condemnation of all through Adam, nor with the ransom sacrifice of Jesus for all who are condemned in Adam. -- Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6.
For more related to this, see our studies:
How God's Son Condemned Sin the Flesh
Divine Economy in the Ransom
Jesus' Sacrifice for Sin
The Seed of David