By Clifton Angel
Children are precious. They are so precious that Jesus references how that immediately after a mother gives birth to a child, “she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world” (John 16:21). Children truly are a gift from God (Psalm 127), and though I am yet to be a father, my heart is made merry by observing their simplicity, energy, and seeming innocency.
With that said, none of the above proves that a child is sinless. If we reference a child’s preciousness and seeming innocency, we are only making an emotional appeal and not a Biblical one. On the other extreme, if we reference a child’s seeming disobedience, crying, and strain on the parents to try to prove that they sin, we are only making an emotional appeal and not a Biblical one. And yes, I have heard of some referring to a infant’s crying as evidence for that infant having sin. Maybe you are reading this, and you believe that. The question is, what does the Bible teach?
Some say that a child has sin because it was passed down from his parents. Others say that a child has sin because it was passed down from Adam. But the Bible says this: “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). Sin is not transferable; it is one’s own transgression of God’s laws (1 John 3:4). Can a young child transgress God’s laws?
Implied in the act of sinning is the mental ability to understand God’s laws. Implied in the Gospel plan of salvation is the mental ability to believe that one has sinned and that Jesus bore our sins on the cross, which faith comes from hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17; Mark 16:16). Implied in the Gospel plan of salvation is the mental ability to repent—determining in one’s mind that he will abandon a life of sin and embrace the Savior (Acts 2:38); many adults do not understand this one, much less a child. Implied in the Gospel plan of salvation is the mental ability to submit oneself to immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3–4). Sprinkling an infant is not Biblical immersion, nor is it the infant’s decision.
According to the Bible, the title for this article is an oxymoron—contradicting words used in conjunction. Infants are not born with sin, nor do they sin. “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” (Matthew 18:2–3). When a person is converted, he is made pure—free from sin—just as a child (Acts 3:19). Have you been converted?
- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website.