The Age of Accountability
I recall an interesting conversation I once had with a young first-time mom while she allowed me to hold her infant son. I commented, “It’s hard to believe that they are born with a sinful nature.” She protested, and I thought it best not to argue with her. But I would have liked to call her a couple of years later when the boy was a toddler to see if she thought any differently!
At one point or another, all of us have felt a tug to do something that we knew was wrong. As adults and believers, we’ve learned that giving in to temptation is a sin against God. But small children do exactly as their natures dictate. Mother says, “Don’t touch,” but they reach out anyway. Little ones do not yet see the wisdom of following a parent’s rules. Boys and girls must be taught to recognize the difference between good and evil before they can make the wise choice to do right.
In the early years, a child is in a stateof innocence. He is neither righteous nor saved, but he is safe from God’s wrath—if he dies, he goes to heaven. The Bible refers to the innocent period in Deuteronomy 1:39 and again in Isaiah 7:16. The Word of God confirms that there is a period of time when children are not morally accountable for their conduct.
The age of moral responsibility differs from child to child. As little ones grow, they each develop the spiritual capacity to pursue righteousness or knowingly give in to evil. The years of innocence are the time for parents to pour into their offspring sound biblical training and lessons on obedience.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.