Scriptures

Are Children Born Sinners?

Introduction

There are those in the religious world who sincerely believe that all humans are born sinners and are inheritably evil. They believe that when a child is born, that child is already lost in sin because they have inherited the sin of Adam and Eve, indirectly through their parents.

This is the reason why many people have their children ‘christened’ a few days after birth. Some call this teaching ‘inherited sin’ and others call it ‘original sin.’

Now I don’t believe that the Scriptures teach anywhere that we inherit sin from anyone, we all suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin, whether we ever actually sin ourselves or not, in other words, we all suffer physical death, as well as other things listed in Genesis 3 / 1 Corinthians 15:22, but I do believe that children may inherit the ‘consequences’ of their parent’s sinfulness.

For example, if a child’s parents robbed a bank, and they were caught and sentenced to life in prison, that child will be taken into care and would have to deal with all the consequences of being raised without any parents for the rest of their lives. The child has done nothing wrong, they haven’t sinned, but they will have to pay the consequences of their parent’s sin.

Another example would be if a pregnant mother has been drinking alcohol whilst driving and crashes her car, she may damage her unborn child, again, the child isn’t guilty of drunkenness or any other sin.

Mary

Those who believe in the doctrine of ‘original sin’ believe that Jesus was born of Mary, therefore, Jesus didn’t inherit sin because Mary was sinless. I don’t know how they can claim Mary was sinless because the Bible clearly tells us that she made a sin offering according to the Law, Leviticus 5:7-13 / Luke 2:22-24. Despite there being no Scriptural evidence, they believe that Mary was born without sin because she herself was ‘immaculately conceived’.

Scriptures Which ‘Suggest’ We’re Born Sinners

When it comes to Scripture, we must always be careful how we understand them and more importantly, we must be extra careful not to read too much into them and make them mean something it was never meant to mean. Let’s go ahead and deal with three of the main Scriptures which people use to teach that children are ‘born sinners’.

‘Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.’ Psalm 51:5

‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ Psalm 51:5 KJV

Psalm 51 is a Psalm written by David after his sinful behaviour with Bathsheba but notice it deals with the sin of an adult, and shows the repentance of an adult, Psalm 51:10-13.

If you take the time to read the whole Psalm, you’ll see that he isn’t saying he was born a sinner, he’s saying that his mother, conceived him in sin, his mother was sinful, the KJV makes this clearer.

What David is saying is that he was born into a sinful world, sin was everywhere and all around him from birth. Even Jewish historians teach that David was saying that he was born in a sinful environment.

‘The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.’ Psalm 58:3 KJV

The first thing to notice with this verse is simply this, if these people were ‘born astray’ then they couldn’t ‘go astray from birth’. David again is saying that babies are born into a sinful world with their eyes and ears wide open.

We all know that babies are so inquisitive, they begin to learn immediately through taste, touch, sound, sight and smell. They are watching, and they see evil all around them, constantly from birth. Yes, they don’t know or understand what evil is when they are born, but evil is present, it’s all around them and they’re influenced by it.

David is simply saying that the ones going astray ‘speak lies’, so the going astray has to be accomplished, at the very least, only after the person has learned to speak.

‘Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.’ Ephesians 2:3

Ask yourself this question, what was it that made these people ‘children of wrath’? Was it something they inherited or something they had done? If we read this verse in its proper context, you’ll see that Ephesians 2:1-2 gives us the answer.

‘As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.’ Ephesians 2:1-2

Paul says they were ‘by nature’ what they were, the word ‘nature’ used in Ephesians 2:3, doesn’t refer to an inherited character but rather to habit. In other words, sin became natural, or as some say, ‘second nature’ to them by their long and industrious practice of it.

So, those are the three main Scriptures which some use to teach that babies are born sinners. Like I mentioned earlier when it comes to dealing with any Scripture, we must be careful, otherwise, we’ll end up believing something which totally contradicts other Scriptures.

Scriptures Which Teach We’re Not Born Sinners

‘At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 18:1-3

Read carefully what Jesus actually said, He said ‘we must change and become like little children’. Common sense tells us that He wouldn’t tell us to become like little children if we were born sinners and inheritably evil. If babies are born inheritably evil, this would mean that there’s nothing in them that isn’t evil and therefore, we shouldn’t become like children in any sense.

But Jesus didn’t mean that, He means there was something in children that we need to take as our example, their humility. This passage clearly shows us that children aren’t born inheritably evil,
Psalm 106:36-39.

‘Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!’ Hebrews 12:9

Notice that the Hebrew writer refers to God as the ‘Father of spirits’. While we inherit our physical attributes from our physical parents, our inner person, our spirit, we get from God, Ecclesiastes 12:7, our spirit is created ‘in His image’, Genesis 1:27.

Common sense again tells us, if we’re born inheritably evil, then we’re evil in body and spirit and if that’s the case, then we inherit our sinful, evil spirits from God! But we know that’s not true because in God there is no evil, Psalm 5:4, and therefore there is no evil to pass on to us.

‘If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.’ 2 Timothy 3:13

Think about this verse! If we were born inheritably evil, then we couldn’t get any worse.

‘But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.’ Luke 8:15

Think about this verse! If we were born inheritably evil, then this would mean, there’s no such thing as ‘noble and good’ hearts.

Sin

Before we get into dealing with the above doctrine, let’s look at what sin is, because this will help us understand why no child is born a sinner. Please note that sin isn’t described as something we’re born with, it’s described as something we do or don’t do. When we break God’s law, we sin. Note the following Scriptures.

‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Romans 3:23

‘Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness’. 1 John 3:4

‘All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death’. 1 John 5:17

‘Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.’ James 4:17

Notice that the Romans passage tells us that sin is missing the mark, falling short of God’s expectations. The 1 John 3 passage tells us that sin is transgression of God’s law. The 1 John 5 passage tells us that sin is not doing right and the James passage tells us that sin is failing to do what we know to be right.

Now remember a child, a new-born child, doesn’t have the capability of exercising choice. All of the passages noted above indicate a choice, sin is something that we do either in thought or action. A child can hardly be held accountable for sin, if they aren’t aware what sin is, Romans 7:7-25.

Conclusion

We’ve established that no child is born a sinner or inheritably evil, sin is something we do or don’t do, it’s not something that’s passed on through our genes. We need to ask ourselves a simple question, who is responsible for our sins? Are we going to blame Adam and Eve? Are we going to blame our parents?

Take a moment to read through Ezekiel 18 where we find the children of Israel in Jerusalem being conquered by their enemies, the Babylonians, and they’re are seeking to blame their fathers for their sins. Note the following.

‘For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.’ Ezekiel 18:4

‘The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.’ Ezekiel 18:20

If Ezekiel teaches us anything in these verses, he teaches us that God holds each of us accountable for our own sins, not someone else. It’s very easy to blame God and say, ‘I was born that way!’ It’s very easy to blame our parents and say, ‘I inherited my sin from them!’ Those who believe that babies are born sinners and inheritably evil, need to start taking some responsibility for their own actions.

Instead of blaming God or others for our sins, we should acknowledge our sins before Him, repent and turn from them and be baptised into Christ so that we might have our sins forgiven, Acts 2:38. After we have done this, we need to continue to confess and repent of our sins so we might be forgiven, 1 John 1:1-2:2.

‘God ‘will repay EACH PERSON according to what THEY have done.’ Romans 2:6

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Isaiah 41:10

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