The Age Of Accountability
Most people, who begin reading this, might be wondering if I intend to discuss the age at which a person becomes accountable towards God. They would be partly right. To determine the exact age has been questioned for generations. The simplest way to explain when a person becomes accountable towards God is when they know something to be wrong, and they choose to go ahead and do it. Infants and toddlers do not fit in this category. While they might realize that they will get a spanking for certain behavior, they are not choosing to sin. They just do things without thinking about the consequences. As the young grow older, their behavior is modified by the actions of others around them. That is not unusual because we can modify the behavior of the family pet or work animals. Whether a young person comes to realize the existence of God or not is not the factor either. When a person has a mind capable of processing the possible consequences of an action, and their selfishness moves them to violate what they believe to be right, or do what others have taught them is wrong, they sin by doing so.
Infants and toddlers are incapable of sin, so it eliminates them from candidacy for baptism. For only people who recognize that they have sinned and need a savior are the only ones eligible for baptism. People must know why they are being baptized for it to do them any good.
The second part of this discussion is brought about because of some things I've heard on the radio recently. In listening to talk radio, there is usually a lot of discussion about politics and many times certain behaviors are brought up. Not only the talk show hosts brings this up, but some of the callers to the program bring up the fact that it seems that people are not held accountable for their own actions.
In a politically correct society, there is the fear of labeling someone as less than perfect in comparison with others. Many sports allow children to run around with no idea why they are doing it. They tell the little boys and girls to hit the ball with a stick, and then run the path that someone guides them to. There is no need for competition because everyone wins and there are no losers in these games. They continue to grow up in life, and they never learn the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. Everything always works out for the best. Then they enter the real world, and whoa!; life hits them and they are unprepared. All of a sudden people start holding them accountable for their actions. This is new territory for them. They don't like it, and determine that things need to change. In a way, it has changed. Very quickly, our world has begun to remove accountability from people. Many years ago, we saw this when children started bring guns to school and shooting their classmates. Almost immediately, people were blaming things other than the boys who murdered their classmates. We began to hear that their society and culture were to blame. Their economic conditions were to blame. The movies and "rock" music were to blame. Everything was blamed except the persons who pulled the triggers. Things have not improved.
Listening to the talk radio people we learn that even though things go wrong in our society and in government, nobody should be held accountable. People on the job are not supposed to be measured by a standard. Unions have done a great disservice over the years. While there was a need for the unions, they quickly started to expand their power over their employers. You would not believe the number of people who commit crimes, but are not allowed to be fired for their actions. It is frustrating trying to get a crew to accomplish a task in a timely manner when you have no control over them.
Recently there have been several scandals in our government. Many of these come about because someone did something they should not have done, or they did not do something they should have done. When questioned about things, the usual response is to lie and cover your tracks, and cover your superiors. When everything is said and investigated and done, we have the result that "somebody" is guilty, but we cannot determine who needs to be charged and what penalty they need to be charged with. So is the political machine that has been built. This political machine of our society has found its way into the churches of our land.
There is constant teaching that people are not going to be held accountable towards God. While listening to the doctrines of men, one can determine that there is no accountability for anything. Yet the Bible teaches that we will stand before God and give an account of the way we lived our lives. The fact that we will give account is proof enough that God holds us accountable for our sins. God does not hold us accountable for the sins of others even though we may lead them to sin. Each person must give an account for themself. Much of what takes place in our society is leading people away from the knowledge that they will have to give an account because they are accountable before God.
Additional clarifying remarks:
It is a sin to become an occasion for stumbling
of others. Our command is to do everything we can to help our brethren get to
heaven. And if we fail in trying to help them get to heaven, we are guilty of
sin that can cause us to lose our own souls.
When Eve ate of the fruit, who was guilty of the sin, and who was accountable to God for her soul? She was. Though Satan tempted her, she is the one who chose to violate the command of God. She is the one guilty. She handed the fruit to Adam, thus causing him to sin. Yet Adam chose to violate the command of God, and thus he is guilty for his own sins. Eve is guilty for her own sins. She is not held accountable if Adam chose to sin against God. That is on him.
Remember the scripture teaches that each person will stand before God to give an account of their own actions. I will not stand to give account for the actions of another, even if I did something to cause them to stumble. They will answer for their own actions. The sin of being a stumbling block to others will keep me out of heaven if I do not repent and try to fix the problem.
Also the scripture speaks of the responsibility that elders have and it mentions that they will give an account for how they lead the flock. If one of the members chooses to sin, that is not on them (the elders). If they (the elders) saw it (the sin of a member) and refused to do anything about it, that is on them. The passage speaks of the responsibility and duty of the elders as they are supposed to feed them (the members) the truth and guide them by example. If they (elders) allow error to be taught to the flock, God holds them accountable just as much as the one doing the teaching of error, and any member that violates the command of God by following error.
By Carey Scott
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