Exodus 20:5b - Sin Leaves Scars.

Exo. 20:5b: Sin Leaves Scars.

Exo. 20:5b (KJV)  I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting 
the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and 
fourth generation of them that hate me; 

This seeming threat has disturbed the minds of some who see in 
it the manifestation of a vengeful spirit. A distinction should be 
made, however, between the natural results of a sinful course of 
action, and punishment inflicted because of it. God does not penalize 
one individual for the wrong deeds of another (Eze. 18:2-24). Each 
man stands before God, responsible only for his own acts. At the 
same time God does not interfere with the laws of heredity in such a 
way as to protect one generation from the misdeeds of its fathers, 
as that would be inconsistent with His character and His principles 
of dealing with men. It is only through these laws of heredity, 
which were of course ordained by the Creator in the beginning that 
divine justice visits the "iniquity" of one generation upon the next. 
[SDA Commentary] 

It is inevitable that children should suffer from the 
consequences of parental wrongdoing, but they are not punished for the 
parents' guilt, except as they participate in their sins. It is usually 
the case, however, that children walk in the steps of their parents. 
By inheritance and example the sons become partakers of the 
father's sin. Wrong tendencies, perverted appetites, and debased morals, 
as well as physical disease and degeneracy, are transmitted as a 
legacy from father to son, to the third and fourth generation. This 
fearful truth should have a solemn power to restrain men from following 
a course of sin.  PP306 

The ultimate expression of sin is death - because one man 
sinned, all die (Ro 5.12). God commanded the Israelites to be purified 
after touching or being near a dead person to show them the importance 
of separation from sin and its consequences. The washing by water 
not only cleansed physically but also symbolized (as previously in 
cases of leprosy and childbirth) an inward purity and a desire to live 
according to the commandments of God.  It also should be noted that 
defilement lasted for a certain number of days, even in the midst of 
washings. Sin has its consequences which go on for some time, even though 
a person later does what God commands. A person often must live 
with the consequences of his actions, even after forgiveness takes 
place.  Death itself was ultimately defeated when Jesus Christ died and 
rose again. Henceforth, no one who trusts in him need ever fear 
death, for he himself has undergone death and overpowered it. An entire 
generation of believers will not even experience death (1 Co 15.51).  
[Daily Devotional Bible re Num.19:7-21]