Listen:  112.4

This is a question that is troubling to many.  How will a just and fair God judge someone with a limited capacity to understand?  While this question is not directly addressed in the scriptures, we can find certain principles that would apply to this situation.  But, before we do that, let’s consider this truth found in Genesis 18:25, “…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”  We can rest assured that our fair, just, and loving God will always, in every situation, do the right thing.

Let’s begin now, by considering the words of the Apostle James in James 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  This is where the responsibility before God begins; understanding what is good and rebelling against it.  The previous verses in this chapter speak of living our lives in dependence upon the Lord.  Among other things, we’re told not to be friends with the world; we’re told to be humble; we’re told to draw near to the Lord; we’re told to depend on the Lord for our daily plans.  Understanding that these are things that are good for us to do; if we refuse to do them, we are in sin.  To sin against light and knowledge is a serious offense.  If one is so limited in their understanding to know the Lord and obey His Word, would they be held accountable for this?  In light of this scripture, I think not.

In 2 Samuel 12, we have the account of the young son of David and Bathsheba that died.  After his son’s death, we have the words of David in 2 Samuel 12:23, “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”  David had the understanding that this baby, who was far too young to understand good and evil, was with the Lord and that he would go to him one day.  We learn from this that those who cannot yet understand the truth of the existence of God, and to obey Him are considered innocent and are not accountable to Him.  This is sometimes referred to as the age of accountability.  It might be said that some, because of diminished mental capacities, will never reach the age where they become accountable before God.

Let me include a couple of cautions.  While the Lord knows the heart of every man, He certainly knows the brain, also.  It is the Lord who knows if a person’s diminished capacity has kept that person from understanding and obeying Him.  I know several people of limited ability that have a good understanding and great love for the Lord.  Just because a person is limited, I suggest you still speak to them of the Lord.

Secondly, if a person has lived a life with no mental problems, but then is stricken with a stroke, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease, or has suffered brain injuries, and now has limited brain functions, that person would still be held accountable because of all the years with no mental disorder.  That is one reason why it is so important to come to the Lord today.  I visit many people in rest homes, and some of them are beyond being responsive.  I often think of these people and wonder if they ever had accepted the Lord as their savior before they lost the ability to process proper thoughts.  As we read in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  (112.4)