In discussions with more than one World Mission Society Church of God member about their claims that all people on earth must have sinned in heaven prior to being born physically on earth, I still come up empty on any solid Biblical support for this pivotal part in the WMSCOG doctrine. Thus far, the WMSCOG’s claims that there is Biblical support for their theory, their arguments have been refuted in Parts 1-5 of the Are We Angels That Were Kicked Out of Heaven series of articles. I would like to take the opportunity to examine an additional claim for support to their theory. I have been told by more than one WMSCOG member that the reason that infants die at birth is because they must have sinned in heaven. The WMSCOG members then cite the following verse:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
The WMSCOG members that I have spoken to conclude that because the wages of sin is death, if an infant dies at birth or shortly thereafter, the infant must have sinned prior to being born since the infant has not yet had the opportunity to sin here on earth.
In order to examine the WMSCOG members’ claims, I would like to note additional verses in Romans chapter 6 in order to gain a better understanding of the context.
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his…15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!..21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:1-23
First, I would like to note that Paul says in verse 3 that those that were “baptized into Christ were baptized into his death”. What death did Jesus Christ suffer? Christ suffered a death of the physical body but was resurrected 3 days later. Verse 5 says that we have been united with Jesus in a death like his (a physical one) and also united with Jesus in a similar resurrection.
Second, the apostle Paul advises that as believers in Jesus Christ, we should not continue to sin just because we are no longer under the law but under grace. Paul says that the sins committed under the law “result in death”. The old covenant law identified sin but did not provide the forgiveness that we receive under the grace of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1-4).
Third, Paul uses the affirmative tense when he states “now that you have been set free from sin”. He explains that as we die to sin (v.2), are baptized in Jesus Christ (v.3), are united with Jesus in (physical death) and (spiritual) resurrection (v.5) we receive the gift of eternal life (v.22).
Do the above verses support the WMSCOG’s idea that there is no other explanation for infant deaths, except for them having committed sin in heaven prior to being born?
Absolutely not. The apostle Paul clearly does not refer to physical death as being the wages of sin. All humans on earth will experience physical death regardless of sin. Which death did Jesus save us from? Jesus saved us from eternal death by giving us the free gift of eternal life. A sinner goes to hell because he deserves it, but a righteous person goes to heaven because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Since infants that die at birth or shortly thereafter have not lived long enough to have had the opportunity to sin, one can conclude that their spirits go to heaven and not to hell as the WMSCOG’s theory would conclude.
Thus, Paul is not talking about physical death, but about spiritual.