Sins Of The Fathers | The Institute for Creation Research
Sins Of The Fathers

“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5).

This is the penalty for breaking the first or second of God’s ten commandments—worshipping other gods and making images thereof. There is certainly no salvation in any religion other than the true religion centered in our Creator and Savior Jesus Christ, “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

But does God really condemn even the great grandchildren of those who break this commandment for the same sin? No, of course not. “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” (Ezekiel 18:20). “Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, . . . he shall surely live” (Ezekiel 18:19). There are many examples in Scripture (e.g., good King Hezekiah, son of wicked King Ahaz—see II Chronicles 28:24,25; 29:1,2).

Nevertheless, “the iniquity of the fathers” is indeed often visited on their children through many generations—not the guilt of their iniquity, but rather through the impact and example of their teachings and practices. This is especially true for this great sin of rejecting the true God in favor of the pantheistic nature-gods of the many false religions of the world, ancient and modern. Each had its beginning in just this way. The original ancestor who started it “did not like to retain God in (his) knowledge” (Romans 1:28) and has thus influenced multitudes of his descendants away from God. It is vitally important that fathers teach their children to know the true God through Christ, “bring(ing) them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). HMM

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