Which came first, Sin or the Sinner?


I have had the pleasure of meeting all kinds of people from almost every walk of life and from many countries of the world. And, I have meet and had discussions with thousands of who call themselves Christians as well as several adherents to eastern religions and a sprinkling of people who proudly claimed to be either atheist or agnostic. Of all those tens of thousands of people in my experience I have never met one with this problem, “I am to good!”

Have you ever met anyone who complained that he or she was to loving, to forgiving, to patient, to kind, to loyal, to truthful, just to good? Why is that? If, as many believe, that we are sinners only because we chose to sin, why wouldn’t at least a few of the teeming millions who live or have lived on planet earth have chosen not to sin?

It is our nature to sin.

Having observed children all of my life, and especially those who are my grand children, I have learned a truth that cannot be denied. Every child is born with a nature that causes them to want to do wrong. Now you might deny the doctrine of original sin but tell me, which mom and dad do you know who have to lecture and threaten with time out or even a spanking because their kids are just to dog- gone good? You will never hear “I just can’t get this child to be selfish, or to lie, and she insists on sharing everything she has with others. What am I going to do?”

No, the reverse is true. Parents must begin at once to start teaching little ones to do right, doing wrong is original equipment. Kids must be taught to be truthful, to be unselfish, to obey parents, to share, and to be kind to others. Little ones do not know what is right and what is wrong and must be taught, but if left to their own devices they will do wrong.

Everyone who knows right from wrong will choose to do wrong.

It happens at different ages, some children mature faster than others and become aware of what is right and what is wrong. It might be 5 years old for some and preteen ages for others. One thing you can count on, as soon as they know right and wrong they will do what is wrong on purpose. There is no exception to this law. This is why the Bible gives blanket condemnation, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.

Not every person who sins is held accountable to God.

I recently heard a story about a couple who had a son who never matured mentally but lived until he was 45 years of age. I have personally known unfortunate adults who had the mental capacity of infants. They were unable to know the difference between right and wrong. And, I am convinced that small children, too immature to know lying is wrong and not under the condemnation of the wrath of God until such time as they know they are doing wrong.

When is telling a lie sin? When is stealing a sin? Is it at age 5, age 8, or age 13? The correct answer is that sin (lying and stealing, etc.) are sins all the time. When Christ died he bore the sins of the whole of humankind and paid if full the debt the offenders owed. That atonement covers those who come to faith in Christ and those who because of immaturity or infirmity do not have the ability to come in faith.

Our responsibility is to teach our children early and often about Christ and his love for them.

The reason we must teach our children the gospel in age appropriate ways is that they are little sinners. It is not that they might become sinners. It is true that little ones are not guilty before God but we know they will be soon enough. I know of no higher duty of a parent than to make sure their children understand that they are loved by the Saviour and that they need him. Each of them must encounter Christ on his or her own. Don’t make the mistake of  trusting a Sunday school teacher or someone else to share the gospel story with your child!


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