In part 2 of this series, I gave you a run down of my “sins” and what I believe was a progression to sin against God. Sins against God are deliberate choices made in rebellion or disobedience to his word, then culminated by rejecting Jesus. I do not believe doing wrong things without knowing right or wrong. and making mistakes in judgment are sins that turn the wrath of God against us.
So how old is one when he becomes accountable to God for his sins? I cannot say, I know no one who purports to know. Most believe the culture in which one lives has a large bearing on that question. I do too. I was raised in church by Christian parents who taught me right from wrong. I can well believe I would be asked such questions as “Do you think that made Jesus happy for you to do that?”
I joined the church when I was ten; I think I knew joining the church would not make me a Christian. I think I knew I was a Christian before I joined the church. I made my choice—choose Jesus or choose sin; I chose Jesus.
But if I had been raised by parents who taught me to go shoplifting with them, to lie for them, and who taught me by example that cursing, abuse, and such things were “normal” I believe God’s amazing grace and Jesus’ blood sacrifice would have covered me with mercy for a longer period of time.
Many look at the story of Jesus in the temple at twelve and see that as a possible model to consider. But I know of no one who teaches that as a definite time. Jewish Bar Mitzvah is set at 13, perhaps providing a bit of insight.
I am adding this paragraph because the issue was brought up in comments. I don’t think it applies to the age of accountability, but it is significant that, aside from Joshua and Caleb, only those below twenty were allowed to go into Canaan, so does that apply to our question? I’m not sure how but it does appear to show that God saw the later teens as fulfilling mens’ jobs. They must have been the fathers, teachers, and leaders of families and tribes. Certainly “accountable” for passing on Jewish faith.
Another issue. The grace of God that he bestows on the innocent children, is also bestowed on those who do not have the mental capacity to make a rational choice regarding accepting or rejecting Jesus. Jesus said we are to come to him as a little child. Little children respond to knowing that Jesus loves them. It is easy for most of them to learn that. So one does not have to have a lot of “Biblical” knowledge and understanding to realize they need/want to follow Jesus. UNLESS there has been wrong teaching going on. In that case, the message bearer not only has to show the truth of serving Jesus, he/she also has to tear down the strongholds that have been placed on that child. Praise to the Lord because he is the One who knows how much “accountability” to place on the person.
So these are some of my considerations as well as considerations/conclusions of others regarding the “Age of Accountability” in regard to chronological age as well as mental age.
Coming next. What about those who have never heard a gospel preacher nor read a gospel message?