“The Lord is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation”
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I would say that the sins of the fathers affect their children not in the sense that God would regard the children as having also committed those same sins, but from the standpoint that the consequences of the sinful actions of an individual can have adverse implications that affect that individual's descendants, even though those descendants were not involved in, or guilty of, their ancestor's sinful actions. An example from Scripture that occurs to me would be the manner in which all of the Israelites (including those who were too young to have had a voice in the matter at the time) were required to wander in the wilderness for forty years because of the adult Israelites' rejection of the report of the individuals whom Moses had sent to spy out the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14).
I believe it used to be the case that the consequences of the fathers' sins were visited on the children. But in the New Covenant, according to Jeremiah 31:29-30 and Ezekiel 18:1-4 God himself has given us a new dispensation. So everyone will answer for his/her sin. But I also believe that one must be accepted into the new covenant by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and following him, in order to escape the operations of the old covenant as mentioned in Numbers 14:18. This means, if you are in Christ you won't be visited with the consequences of your father's sins. When you believe in the Lord Jesus, you are in a safe place to avoid suffering the punishment of sins committed by someone else decades before you were born. The cross takes away every curse and gives us divine exchange. Hallelujah.
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