Q/A Friday: Does the Bible Teach Intergenerational Sin?

There are 2 different verses that come to mind regarding this question.

First, there is Ezekiel 18:20, which says, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall NOT suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” Every sin must be judged. Because God is a just God (Exodus 34:7), He must punish sin. But each sin is judged according to the one who sinned.

Now, it is certainly true that sometimes we are part of God’s judgment for the previous sins of others. For example, a parent may choose to commit adultery and thus the broken marriage and family will hurt any children present. Those children will feel the effects of their parent’s sinful choice. And while those children are not directly responsible for the sin(s) of their parent, they will likely suffer in some way because of it.

It is also true that we are paying for the sins of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). But we are not innocent, because we still choose to sin (Romans 3:23).

But the bottom line is this: if we sin, we will be judged for that sin. If another sins, we will never be directly judged for their sin.

Then, there is II Corinthians 5:21, which says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” What we learn from this statement is that Jesus (who was perfect) gave Himself as our propitiation to appease the justice of God. He did what we could not. We could not have died for our own sins, because we are sinners. We do not have to bear the sins of others or ourselves, because Jesus already did that for us – that is, if you know Christ as Lord and Savior.

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please email it to charlesheck@cox.net or post your question in the comments section.

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