|Volume 21 Number 3 March 2019||
There are many in the religious world today who believe that babies are sinners from their birth (e.g., the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church [Church of England]). Roman Catholics and Anglicans sprinkle little babies for this belief (i.e., they call it baptism) to protect them, but of course it is not baptism.
In addition to believing that babies are born in sin, there are those in the religious world who even teach this as Scripture. What does the Bible have to say about babies—about the innocent—for it is man’s only source of authority for religious practices. “And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done” (Genesis 8:21). Note whether man’s heart is evil from his birth! Is that what Moses wrote? No! He said, “…Man’s heart is evil from his YOUTH…”—from his youth and not from his birth.
Again, this time from the pen of Jeremiah the prophet we see the same truth. “We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God” (Jeremiah 3:25). Jeremiah concurred with what Moses wrote, also guided by divine inspiration, as were all the writers of the Bible.
One of the favorite verses of those who teach the doctrine of babies being born in sin is Psalm 51:5, which reads as follows. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” They claim that this verse is referring to the sins of David, but we know from the New Testament that sin is the transgression of the Law of God. This verse, however, is not referring to David but to his mother. His mother was in sin when she gave birth to David.
Let’s look to one more Old Testament writer—Ezekiel. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20). Now let me ask you, in all honesty, can a newborn baby possibly sin? No! A newborn baby can neither speak nor understand. The only thing that that child knows is that it is hungry, it needs its diaper changed or it is in pain. Anything other than that is beyond its understanding.
Now let’s turn to the New Testament and we will read the very words of Jesus concerning the young children. First, we note Mark 10:13-14. “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” The word “suffer” here means “allow.” However, look more closely at what Jesus said. “…for of such is the kingdom of God.” Jesus was not saying that little children are Christians for the church didn’t exist until after His death. What He was saying is that little children are pure and innocent. This is a far cry from those who believe and teach that a baby is born in sin.
Now turn to Matthew 18:1-4. “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” This is a very interesting passage of scripture. In verse 3 Jesus said, “…Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Here, Jesus was telling His disciples that they were to be converted, and once converted, there needed to be a difference in their lives. They needed to be pure, to be like little children who are pure. In verse 4, He told them that little children are humble, and that whosoever humbles himself like that little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom. That is a very powerful statement is it not?
The Bible verses we have examined provide overwhelming evidence that babies are most definitely not born sinners! There are a number of verses that speak of people sinning from their youth up, including the following from Job. “For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth” (Job 13:26). Again, from Job 20:11, we read, “His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust.” The Psalmist wrote, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD” (25:7). Nowhere in the Bible do we read, “Remember Oh Lord, the sins that I had at my birth.” They are just not there! It is a grave indictment against the Almighty God to accuse Him of creating a person a sinner.
What do we read in the opening chapter of Genesis after God had finished all His creation? “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). We know that God created Adam from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7) and that He created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs (Genesis 2:22), and yet, all mankind is created in the image of God.
We know from Scripture that before one can receive salvation, he needs to repent of his sins (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30). Let us think about this command carefully. Before one repents of sins, he must first believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 8:24). However, can a newborn baby believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? How about a toddler, can he or she believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Of course, they can’t. They are not old enough to understand. Also, they do not need to repent for they are pure and innocent.
When a person reaches the age of accountability, then and only then will he or she need to repent and obey the Gospel. This age will vary from person to person. Prior to this time, babies and young children are not lost, but they are safe in the arms of Jesus!
The late Leroy Brownlow, in his book entitled, Why I Am a Member of the Church of Christ, stated:
David was not of the belief that his child [born out of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, D.S.] died with a corrupted nature and guilty of sin. Contrarywise, he said, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” 2 Samuel 12:23. It is impossible for sin to be inherited: sin is violation of God’s Law, by either commission or omission. Concerning commission: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law“ (1 John 3:4). Relative to omission: “To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Sin is either a transgression or an omission of the law [God’s Law, D.S]. This being true, it is absolutely impossible for a man to inherit it because it is not an inherent quality. The fact that God has not given a plan for saving infants is certain proof that they are not lost, that they are not sinners.
In conclusion, babies are not born in sin, and young children are not sinners, but they are most precious in the sight of Jesus and in the sight of the Father. To teach contrary to this would make God a liar, but Scripture clearly says, “…Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar…” (Romans 3:4). God’s Word is the truth, just as Jesus declared in John 17:17, when He stated in His prayer to His Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Woe to anyone who tampers with the Word of God (Revelation 22:18-19). They will face the wrath of Almighty God! “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).