How is it that Moses and Isaiah suggest children are innocent from birth (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15), but David says they are wicked (Psa. 58:3)?


Psalm 58:3 Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.

Deuteronomy 1:39 And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad - they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it.

Isaiah 7:15 He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.

As precious as babies are, all children are born with a sin nature (Psa. 51:5; see Was man brought forth in iniquity or was he created upright?). They are not innocent. Original sin is universal (save for the birth of Christ, who was born of the virgin Mary - Matt 1:18-25). All are by nature the children of wrath (Eph. 2:3; 5:6; Col. 3:6). This is more than a mere potential or inclination to sin; it is our nature. A lion is born as a lion, a leopard as a leopard, and a sinner as a sinner. Parents through natural generation produce children in their own images (Gen 5:3). Since the Fall (Gen. 3), all are regarded as having sinned in Adam, such that we are guilty of his sin (Rom. 5:12-19). All have polluted and sinful natures. Beginning with our first parents and continuing throughout redemptive history, we reproduce and bring forth descendants possessing sinful natures (Rom. 5:12; Heb. 7:7-10). Man is born with a rebellious heart that loves sin and hates God (Rom. 8:5-8; 1 Cor. 2:14). All are totality depraved.

In essence, we are not sinners because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners.

So, as a result of our father Adam, we all enter the world with a fallen sinful nature. Original sin is something inherent, innate, inbuilt, inborn, and natural in all of us. Because we are sinners, we have sinful tendencies, desires, thoughts, motivations, and dispositions. Original sin manifests itself throughout our lives in actual sins that violate God's commands. Though infants may not initially understand their sins, ignorance of the law is no excuse - sin is still sin; it still must be atoned (Lev. 4:13-21; Num. 15:22-26; cf. Luke 12:47-48).

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).