Will babies/little children be judged?

Exodus 20:5 (NKJV)

5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

First, let’s begin by answering this question: Does God punish children for their parents’ sins? Ezekiel 18 provides answers to this question.

Ezekiel 18:2-20 (NKJV)

“What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying:

‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children’s teeth are set on edge’?

As I live,” says the Lord God, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.

“Behold, all souls are Mine;
The soul of the father
As well as the soul of the son is Mine;
The soul who sins shall die.

But if a man is just
And does what is lawful and right;

9 If he has walked in My statutes

And kept My judgments faithfully—

He is just;

He shall surely live!”

Says the Lord God.

10 “If he begets a son who is a robber

Or a shedder of blood,

Who does any of these things

11 And does none of those duties,

But has eaten on the mountains

Or defiled his neighbor’s wife;

12 If he has oppressed the poor and needy,

Robbed by violence,

Not restored the pledge,

Lifted his eyes to the idols,

Or committed abomination;

13 If he has exacted usury

Or taken increase—

Shall he then live?

He shall not live!

If he has done any of these abominations,

He shall surely die;

His blood shall be upon him.

14 “If, however, he begets a son

Who sees all the sins which his father has done,

And considers but does not do likewise;

15 Who has not eaten on the mountains,

Nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,

Nor defiled his neighbor’s wife;

16 Has not oppressed anyone,

Nor withheld a pledge,

Nor robbed by violence,

But has given his bread to the hungry

And covered the naked with clothing;

17 Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor

And not received usury or increase,

But has executed My judgments

And walked in My statutes—

He shall not die for the iniquity of his father;

He shall surely live!

18 “As for his father,

Because he cruelly oppressed,

Robbed his brother by violence,

And did what is not good among his people,

Behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

These verses show that God is not visiting the sins of the fathers on their children. Men will be judged for THEIR OWN iniquities! Judgment is not inherited. Also, it is clear that if the son does not continue in the evil of his father, he does not bear the iniquity of his father.

Jeremiah also explains;

Jeremiah 31:29-30 (NKJV)

29 In those days they shall say no more:

‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,

And the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

Now, David’s remark in Psalm 51:5 seems to imply that children are born in sin;

Psalm 51:5 (NKJV)

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.

This however, simply speaks of circumstances unique to David’s birth. How he was conceived was in sin (his father had an affair with the maid). This does not mean that EVERYONE is born into iniquity. It cannot be generalized.

Another important text for this study is Romans 9:10-11;

Romans 9:10-11 (NKJV)

10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls).

The word “conceived” in vs. 10 translates the Greek word “koité.” It refers to chambering a child in the womb; conception, not the actual birth. Observe vs. 11; “the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil.” This clearly shows that a baby in the womb could not have done good nor evil.

Also, note Jesus’ commentaries on children:

Matthew 19:13-15 (NKJV)

13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

Matthew 18:4 (NKJV)

4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

From Jesus’ words in the texts above, it can be deduced that little children are innocent.

In John 9:1-3, Jesus also commented similiarly.

John 9:1-3 (NKJV)

1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”3 Jesus answered, “NEITHER THIS MAN nor his parents SINNED, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.

It is impossible for a child to have sinned from the womb.

Observe Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 14:20.

1 Corinthians 14:20 (NKJV)

20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice BE BABES, but in understanding be mature.

Paul says “in malice, be babes (children).” That is, be like children. Paul’s point here is that children are innocent. Innocence is a state which cannot be condemned, the reason being that the knowledge of right or wrong is not yet fully formed in the heart of the child. He cannot give account for his actions and judgment has to do with giving account (see Rom. 14:12, 1 Pt. 4:5, Matt. 12:36). Babies and children, therefore, will not be judged. Neither will their parents’ sins be imputed to them. This is why the children who entered the land of Canaan were regarded innocent as regards their parents’ sins in the wilderness (see Deu. 1:32-29, Num. 1:30-32, Jos. 5:5-8).

Until the child matures to the point that he now understands the import of his actions and can now take responsibility for the same, he remains innocent and will not be judged.


(For a FULL explanation of this, get the sermon “What is Man?” by Pastor Josh Banks.)


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2021.


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