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Q.6–8 Origin of Man's Wickedness #48712
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Question 6. Did God then create man so wicked and perverse?

Answer. By no means; but God created man good, and after his own image, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God, his Creator, heartily love him, and live with him in eternal happiness, to glorify him and praise him.

Re: Lord's Day 3—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48713
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Exposition
Having established the proposition that human nature is depraved, or sinful, we must now enquire, did God create man thus? and if not, with what nature did he create him? and whence does this depravity of human nature proceed? The subject of the creation of man, therefore, and of the image of God in man, belongs properly to this place.
It is also proper that we should here contrast the misery of man with his original excellence: first, that the cause and origin of our misery being known, we may not impute it unto God; and secondly, that the greatness of our misery may be the more clearly seen. In proportion as this is done, will the original excellency of man become apparent; just as the benefit of deliverance becomes the more precious in the same proportion in which we are brought to apprehend the magnitude of the evil from which we have been rescued.

Of the creation of man
The questions to be discussed, in connection with the creation of man, are the following:
What was the state or condition in which God originally created man?
For what end did he create him?

What was the state in which God originally created man? [Re: chestnutmare] #48714
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I. What was the state in which God originally created man?

This question is proposed almost for the same reasons for which the whole subject itself is considered, viz.: That it may be manifest, in the first place, that God created man without sin, and is therefore not the author of sin, or of our corruption and misery.

2. That we may see from what a height of dignity, to what a depth of misery we have fallen by sin, that we may thus acknowledge the mercy of God, who has deigned to extricate and deliver us from this wretchedness.

3. That we may acknowledge the greatness of the benefits which we have received, and our unworthiness of being made the recipients of such favors.

4. That we may the more earnestly desire, and seek in Christ, the recovery of that dignity and happiness which we have lost.

5. That we may be thankful to God for this restoration. As touching the state and condition in which God originally created man, we are here taught, in the answer to this sixth question, that God created man good, and in his own image, &c., which it is necessary for us to expound somewhat more largely.

Man was created by God on the sixth day of the creation of the world. His body was made of the dust of the ground, immortal if he continued in righteousness, but mortal if he fell; for mortality followed sin as a punishment. His soul was made out of nothing. It was immediately breathed into him by the Almighty. It was, therefore, rational, spiritual, and immortal. "And God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." (Gen. 2:7.) He created, and united the soul and the body, so as to constitute, by this union, one person, performing such internal and external functions and actions as are peculiar to human nature, and which are just, holy, and pleasing to God. Man was also created in the image of God; by which we mean that he was created perfectly good, wise, just, holy, happy. and lord of all other creatures. Concerning this image of God, in which man was at first created, more will be said a little further on.

For what end did God create man? [Re: chestnutmare] #48715
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II. For what end did God create man?

To this the catechism answers: "that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him, and live with him in eternal happiness, to glorify and praise him." The glory of God is, therefore, the chief and ultimate end for which man was created. It was for this purpose that God created rational and intelligent beings, such as angels and men, that knowing him, they might praise him forever. Hence, man was created principally for the glory of God; that is, for professing and calling upon his holy name, for praise and thanksgiving, for love and obedience, which consists in a proper discharge of the duties which we owe to God and our fellow-men. For the glory of God comprehends all these things.

Obj. But the heavens, and earth, and other creatures are also said to glorify God. Therefore this was not the end for which man was created.

Ans. When creatures destitute of reason are said to praise and glorify God it is not that they acknowledge or celebrate his praise, but because they furnish the matter and occasion of glorifying God, which belongs properly to intelligent creatures. Angels and men, by the contemplation of these works of God, discern his wisdom, goodness, and power, and are thus stirred up to magnify and praise his name. To glorify God, therefore, is the work of creatures possessed of reason and understanding, and if there were not beings of this description to discern the order and arrangement which is manifest in nature, unintelligent creation could no more be said to praise God than if it had no existence. Hence, we are to regard those declarations in the book of the Psalms, in which the heavens, sea, earth, &c., are said to praise God, as figurative expressions, in which the inspired writer attributes to things, void of reason, that which belongs properly to intelligent creatures.

2. There are other reasons for which man was created, subordinate to the glory of God. His knowledge, for instance, contributes to his glory, in as much as he cannot be glorified if he is not known. It is, moreover, the proper work of man to know and glorify God; for eternal life consists in this, as it is said: "This is eternal life, that they might know thee, the only true God." (John 17:3.)

3. The happiness and blessedness of man, which consists in the enjoyment of God and heavenly blessings, is subordinate or next in order to the knowledge of God; for his goodness, mercy, and power are manifest from these.

Obj. But the felicity and happiness of man, his knowledge, and glorifying of God, are properties or conditions with and in which he was created; that is, they are a part of the image of God and of the proper form of man. Therefore, they are not the ends for which man was created, and belong more properly to the first question, which we have already considered, than to this second, which treats of the end of our creation.

Ans. They are a part of the proper form and end of man, but in a different respect; for God made man such a being, that, being blessed and happy, he might rightly know and glorify him; and he created him for this end, that he might henceforth and forever be known and praised by him, and that he might continually communicate himself to man. Man was, therefore, created happy, knowing God aright, and glorifying him, which was the form he received in his creation; and, at the same time, he was created for this end that he might forever remain such. It is, therefore, correct to include both these things in speaking upon this subject; because man was created such a being, and for such an end. The first refers to the question what, in respect to the beginning; the other, to the question for what, in respect to his continuance and perseverance therein. So in Eph. 4:24, righteousness and true holiness, which constitute the form and very being of the new man, are said to be the end of the same. Nor is it absurd that the same thing should be declared the form and end in a different respect; for that which is the form in respect to the creature, is declared the end in respect to the purpose of the Creator.

The fourth end, for which man was created, is the manifestation, or declaration, of the mercy of God in the salvation of the elect, and of his justice in the punishment of the reprobate. This is subordinate to the knowledge and enjoyment of God; for in order that he may be known and communicate himself unto us, it is necessary that he should make a revelation. of himself.

The fifth is the preservation of society in the human race, which, again, is subordinate to the manifestation of God; for if men did not exist, God could not have those to whom he might reveal himself. "I will declare thy name unto my brethren." (Psalms 22:23.)

The sixth, is a mutual participation in the duties, kindness, and benefits which we owe to each other; which, again, contributes to the preservation of society; for it is necessary to the continuance of the human race, that peace and mutual intercourse exist amongst men.

This first creation of man is to be carefully compared with the misery of mankind, and with our departure from the end for which we were created; that by this means, also, we may know the greatness of our misery. For our knowledge of the greatness of the evil into which we have fallen, "will be in the same degree in which we are brought to apprehend the superior excellence of the good which we have lost. This brings us to consider what the image of God was, in which man was created.

Of the image of God in man [Re: chestnutmare] #48716
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Of the image of God in man

Concerning this, we are chiefly to enquire:
• What is it, and what are the parts thereof?
• To what extent is it lost, and what remains in man?
• How may it be restored?

I. What is it and what are the parts therof?
The image of God in man, is a mind rightly knowing the nature, will, and works of God; a will freely obeying God; and a correspondence of all the inclinations, desires, and actions, with the divine will; in a word, it is the spiritual and immortal nature of the soul, and the purity and integrity of the whole man; a perfect blessedness and joy, together with the dignity and majesty of man, in which he excels and rules over all other creatures.

The image of God, therefore, comprehends:
1. The spiritual and immortal substance of the soul, together with the power of knowing and willing.

2. All our natural notions and conceptions of God, and of his will and works.

3. Just and holy actions, inclinations, and volitions, which is the same as perfect righteousness and holiness in the will, heart, and external actions.

4. Felicity, happiness, and glory, with the greatest delight in God, connected, at the same time, with an abundance of all good things, without any misery or corruption.

5. The dominion of man over all creatures, fish, fowls, and other living things. In all these respects, our rational nature resembles, in some degree, the Creator; just as the image resembles the archetype; yet we can never be equal with God. Paul calls the image of God "righteousness and true holiness," (Eph. 4:24,) because these constitute the principal parts of it; yet he does not exclude wisdom and knowledge, but rather presupposes them; for no one can worship God if he does not know him. Neither does the Apostle, in this passage, exclude happiness and glory; for this, according to the order of divine justice, follows righteousness and true holiness. And wherever righteousness and true holiness are found, there is an absence of all evil, whether of guilt or punishment. This righteousness and true holiness, in which, according to the Apostle, the image of God consists, may also be taken for the same thing; or they may be so distinguished, that righteousness may be considered as referring to such outward and inward actions and motions as are in harmony with the law of God, and a mind judging correctly; whilst holiness may be understood as referring to the qualities of these actions, &c.

Obj. Perfect wisdom and righteousness are peculiar to God alone, nor is there any creature in whom they are found; for the wisdom of all creatures, even of the holy angels, may and does increase. How, then, could the image of God in man embrace perfect righteousness and wisdom?
Ans. That which is here called perfect wisdom, does not mean such a wisdom as is ignorant of nothing, but such as is perfect according to the being in whom it is found, or which is such as the Creator designed should be in the creature, and which is sufficient for the happiness of the creature; as, for instance, the wisdom and felicity of the angels is perfect, because it is such as God designed and willed; and yet something may be continually added unto it, or else it would be infinite. So man was perfectly righteous, because he was conformable to God in all things which were required of him; and yet he was not equal with God, nor was his righteousness perfect in that degree in which God is righteous; but because there was nothing wanting to that perfection in which God created him; which he desired should be in him; and which was sufficient for the happiness of the creature. There is, therefore, an ambiguity in the word perfection. And it is in the sense just explained, that man is said, in the Scriptures, to be the image of God, or that he was made after his likeness.

When Christ, however, is called the image of God, it is in a far different sense, which is evident: 1. In respect to his divine nature, in which he is the image of the eternal Father, being co-eternal, consubstantial, and equal with the Father in essential properties and works, and as being that person through whom the Father reveals himself, in creating and preserving all things, but especially in the salvation of those whom he has chosen unto everlasting life. And he is called the image, not of himself, nor of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father; because he is eternally begotten, not of himself, nor of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father. 2. in respect to his human nature, in which he is the image of God, created indeed, yet transcending infinitely angels and men, both in the degree and number of gifts, such as wisdom, justice, power, and glory; and, at the same time, resembling, in a peculiar manner, the Father, in doctrine, virtues, and actions, as he himself said to one of his disciples, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father." (John 14:9.)

But angels and men are said to be the image of God, as well in respect to the Son and Holy Ghost, as in respect to the Father, where it is said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." (Gen. 1: 26.) This is not to be understood, however, of any likeness or equality of essence, but merely of certain properties which have a resemblance to the Godhead, not in degree or essence, but in kind and imitation; for there are some things in angels and men which bear a certain analogy and correspondence with what we find in God, who comprehends, in himself, all that is truly good. Those things, on the other hand, concerning the image of God and man, which were formerly discussed, and denied by the Anthropomorphites, and recently by Osiander, may be found in Ursini Vol. I. pages 154, 155.

Re: Lord's Day 3—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48717
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II. To what extent is it lost and what remains in man?

Such, now, was the image of God in which man was originally created, and which was apparent in him before the fall. But after the fall, man lost this glorious image of God, on account of sin, and became transformed into the hateful image of satan. There were, however, some remains and sparks of the image of God still left in man, after his fall, and which even yet continue in those who are unregenerated, of which we may mention the following:

1. The incorporeal, rational, and immortal substance of the soul, together with its powers, of which we would merely make mention of the liberty of the will, so that whatever man wills, he wills freely.

2. There are, in the understanding, many notions and conceptions of God, of nature, and of the distinction which exists between things proper and improper, which constitute the principles of the arts and sciences.

3. There are some traces and remains of moral virtues, and some ability of regulating the external deportment of the life.

4. The enjoyment of many temporal blessings.

5. A certain dominion over other creatures.. Man did not wholly lose his dominion over the various creatures which were put in subjection to him; for many of them still remain subject to him, so that he has the power of governing and using them for his own benefit. These vestiges and remains of the image of God in man, although they are greatly obscured and marred by sin, are, nevertheless, still preserved in us to a certain extent; and that for these ends :

1. That they may be a testimony of the mercy and goodness of God towards us, unworthy as we are.

2. That God may make use of them in restoring his image in us.

3. That the wicked may be without excuse.

But those things which we have lost of the image of God are by far the greatest and most important benefits; of which we may mention the following:

1. The true, perfect, and saving knowledge of God, and of the divine will.

2. Correct views of the works of God, together with light and knowledge in the understanding; in the place of which we now have ignorance, blindness, and darkness..

3. The regulation and government of all the inclinations, desires, and actions; and a conformity with the law of God in the will, heart, and external parts; instead of which there is now a dreadful disorder and depravity of the inclinations and motions of the heart and will, from which all actual sin proceeds.

4. True and perfect dominion over the various creatures of God; for those beasts which at first feared man, now oppose, injure, and lie in wait for him; whilst the ground, which was cursed for his sake, brings forth thorns and briers.

5. The right of using those things which God granted, not to his enemies, but to his children.

6. The happiness of this and of a future life; in the place of which we now have temporal and eternal death, with every conceivable calamity.

Obj. The heathen were distinguished for many virtues, and performed works of great renown. Therefore it would seem that the image of God was not destroyed in them.

Ans. The excellent virtues and deeds of renown, which are found among heathen nations, belong, indeed, to the vestiges or remains of the image of God, still preserved in the nature of man; but there is so much wanting, to constitute that true and perfect image of God, which was at first apparent in man, that these virtues are only certain shadows of external propriety, without the obedience of the heart to God, whom they neither know nor worship. Therefore, these works do not please God, since they do not proceed from a proper knowledge of him, and are not done with the intention of glorifying him.

Re: Lord's Day 3—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48718
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III. How the image of God may be restored in us

The restoration of this image of God in man, is effected by him alone, who first conferred it upon man; for he who gives life, and restores it when lost, is the same being. God the Father, restores this image through the Son; because he has "made him unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30.) The Son, through the Holy Spirit, "changes us into the same image, from glory unto glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18.) And the Holy Ghost carries forward and completes what is begun by the Word, and the use of the Sacraments. "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation." (Rom. 1:16.) This restoration, however, of the image of God in man, is effected in such a manner, that it is only begun, in this life, in such as believe, and is confirmed and carried forward in them, even to the end of life, as it concerns the soul--but as it concerns the whole man, it will be consummated in the resurrection of the body. We are, therefore, to consider who is the author, and what is the order, and manner in which this restoration is effected?

LD 3—Q7 Man's depravity [Re: chestnutmare] #48719
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Question 7. Whence then proceeds this depravity of human nature?

Answer: From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise; hence our nature is become so corrupt, that we are all conceived and born in sin.

Genesis 3. Rom.5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Rom.5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Rom.5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Ps.51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Gen.5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

Re: Lord's Day 3—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48720
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Exposition

Here we are to take into consideration, in the first place, the fall and first sin of man, from which the depravity of human nature proceeds; and secondly, we are to consider the subject of sin in general, and especially original sin.

Of the fall and the first sin of man

In relation to this, we must enquire:
What was the sin of our first parents?
What were the causes of it?
What were the effects of it?
Why God permitted it?


Re: Lord's Day 3—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48721
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I. What was the sin of our first parents?

The fall, or first sin of man, was the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise; or the eating of the forbidden fruit: "Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." (Gen. 2:16, 17.) Man, by the instigation of the devil, violated this command of God; and from this, has proceeded our depravity and misery.

But is the plucking of an apple such a great and heinous offence? It is indeed a most aggravated offence; because there are many horrid sins connected with it. such as:

1. Pride, ambition, and an admiration of self. Man, not satisfied with his own dignity, and with the condition in which he was placed, desired to be equal with God. This, God charged upon him, when he said, "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." (Gen. 3:22.)

2. Unbelief; for he charged a lie upon God, who had said, "Thou shalt surely die." The devil denied this, by saying, "Ye shall not surely die ;" and accused God of envy, saying, "But God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3 :5.) Adam believed the devil rather than God, and ate of the forbidden fruit; nor did he believe that any punishment would overtake him. But not to believe God, and to believe the devil, is to regard God as though he were no God--yea, it is to substitute the devil in the place of God. This was a sin that was horrible beyond measure.

3. Contempt and disobedience to God; which appears in the fact that he ate of the fruit contrary to the command of God.

4. ingratitude for benefits received. He was created in the image of God, and for the enjoyment of eternal life; for which benefit he made this return, that he harkened to the devil more than to God.

5. Unnaturalness, and the want of love to posterity. Miserable man that he was! He did not think that as he had received these gifts for himself and his posterity, so he would also, by sinning, lose them for himself and his posterity.

6. Apostacy, or a manifest falling away from God to the devil, whom he believed and obeyed, rather than God; and whom he set up in the place of God, separating himself from God. He did not ask of God those things which he was to receive; but, by the advice of the devil, he wished to obtain equality with God. The fall of man, therefore, was no trifling, nor single offence; but it was a sin manifold and horrible in its nature, on account of which God justly rejected him, with all of his posterity.

Hence, we may easily return an answer to the objection: No just judge inflicts a great punishment on account of a small offence. God is a just judge. Therefore, he ought not to have punished so severely, in our first parents, the eating of an apple. Ans. It was not, however, a small offence as we have already shown; hut a most aggravated sin--comprehending pride, ingratitude, apostacy, &c. Hence, God justly inflicted a severe punishment, on account of this act of disobedience. And if it be still further objected, that God ought to have spared the posterity of Adam, in as much as he himself has declared, "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father ;" (Ez. 18:20.) we would reply, that this is true only where the son is not a partaker of the wickedness of the father; but we are all partakers of the sin of Adam.

Re: Lord's Day 3—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48722
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II. What were the causes of the first sin?

The first sin of man had its origin, not in God, but was brought about by the instigation of the devil, and the free will of man. The devil tempted man to fall away from God; and man, yielding to this temptation, willingly separated himself from God. And although God left man to himself in this temptation, yet he is not the cause of the fall, the sin, or the destruction of man; because, in this desertion, he neither designed, nor accomplished any of these things. He merely put man upon trial, to show that he is entirely unable to do, or to retain aught that is good, if he is not preserved and controlled by the Holy Spirit; and with this, his trial, God, in his just judgment, permitted the sin of man to concur.

The wisdom of man reasons and concludes differently, as is evident from the objection which we often hear: He who withdraws, in the time of temptation, that grace, without which it is not possible to prevent a fall, is the cause of the fall. But God withdrew, from man, his grace, in the trial through which he was called to pass, so that man could not but fall. Therefore, God was the cause of the fall of man.
Ans. The major proposition is true only of him who withholds grace, when he is obligated not to withdraw it; who takes it from him who is desirous of it, and does not wilfully reject it; and who withholds it out of malice. But it is not true of him who is not bound to preserve the grace which he at first gave; and who does not withdraw it from him who desires it, but only from him who is willing for him so to do, and who, of his own account, rejects the grace that is proffered him; and who does not, therefore, withhold it because he envies the sinner righteousness and eternal life; but that he may make a trial of him to whom he has imparted his grace. He who thus forsakes any one, is not the cause of sin, even though it necessarily follows this desertion and withdrawal of grace. And in as much as God withheld his grace from man in the time of his temptation, not in the first, but in the last manner just described, he is not the cause of his sin and destruction; but man alone is guilty for wilfully rejecting the grace of God.

It is again objected, by men of carnal minds: He who wills to tempt any one, when he certainly knows that he will fall, if he be tempted, wills the sin of him who falls. God willed that man should be tempted by the devil, when he knew that he would certainly fall; for if he had not willed it, man could not have been tempted. Therefore, God is the cause of the fall. Ans. We deny the major, if it be understood in its naked and simple form; for he is not the cause of sin, who wills that he who may fall should be tempted for the purpose of being put upon trial, and for the manifestation of the weakness of the creature, which was the sense in which God tempted man. But the devil tempting man, with the design that he might sin, and separate himself from God; and man, of his own free will, yielding to this temptation, in opposition to the command of God; they are both the cause of sin, of which we shall speak more hereafter.

Re: Lord's Day 3—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48723
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III. What are the effects of the first sin?

The effects of the first sin are:
1. Exposure to death, and the privation and destruction of the image of God in our first parents.
2. Original sin in their posterity, which includes exposures to eternal death, and a depravity and aversion of our whole nature to God.
3. All actual sins, which proceed from original sin; for that which is the cause of a cause, is also the cause of the effect. . The first sin is the cause of original sin, and this of actual sins.
4. All the various evils which are inflicted upon men as punishments for sin.

The first sin, therefore, is the cause of all other sins, and of the punishments which are inflicted upon the children of men. But whether it is in accordance with the justice of God to punish posterity for the sins of their parents, will be hereafter explained, when we come to treat the subject of original sin.

IV. Why did God permit sin? [Re: chestnutmare] #48724
Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:34 PM
Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:34 PM
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Annie Oakley
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IV. Why did God permit sin?

God had the power of preserving man from falling, if he had willed so to do; but he permitted him to fall, that is, he did not grant him the grace of resisting the temptation of the devil, for these two reasons: First, that he might furnish an exhibition of the weakness of the creature, when left to himself, and not preserved in original righteousness by his Creator; and secondly, that by this occasion, God might display his goodness, mercy, and grace, in saving, through Christ, all them that believe; and manifest his justice and power in punishing the wicked and reprobate for their sins, as it is said, "God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all, and that every mouth might be stopped." "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory." (Rom. 11:32; 9:22.)

Of sin in general [Re: chestnutmare] #48725
Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:35 PM
Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:35 PM
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Annie Oakley
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Of sin in general

The questions which are usually discussed, in relation to sin in general, are chiefly the following:
From what does it appear that sin is in the world, and also in us?
What is sin?
How many kinds of sin are there?
What is the origin of sin, or the causes of it?
What are the effects of sin?

I. From what does it appear that sin is in the world and that it is also in us?

That sin is in the world, and also in us, may be proven by a variety of arguments. First, God declares that we are all guilty of sin, which declaration ought especially to be believed, in as much as God is the searcher of the heart, and an eye-witness to all our actions. (Gen. 6:5; 18:21. Jer. 17:9. Rom. 1:21; 3:10; 7:18. Ps. 14 & 53. Isaiah 59.) Secondly, the law of God recognizes sin, as we have already shown, in our exposition of the third and fifth questions of the Catechism, where these declarations of the law were referred to: "By the law is the knowledge of sin." "The law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression." "The law entered that the offence might abound." "I had not known sin, but by the law." (Rom. 3:20; 4:15; 5:20; 7:7.) Thirdly, conscience convinces, and convicts us of sin; for God even apart from his written law, has preserved in us certain general principles of the natural law, sufficient to accuse and condemn us. "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them." "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these not having the law, are a law unto themselves; which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts, the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing, one another." (Rom. 1:19; 2:13-14.) Fourthly, punishments and death to which all men are subject; yea, our cemeteries, grave-yards, and places of execution, are all so many sermons upon the evil of sin; because God being just never inflicts punishment upon any of his creatures unless it be for sin, according to what the Scriptures say: "Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." "The wages of sin is death." "Cursed is every one that confirmeth not all the words of this law, to do them." (Rom. 5:12; 6:23. Deut. 27:26.)
The benefit of this question is:
That we may have matter for constant humiliation and penitence.

That we may turn away from, and not be ensnared by the errors and corruptions of the Anabaptists and Libertines, who deny that they have any sin, in contradiction to the express declaration of the word of God, which affirms that, "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves." (John 1:8.) And also in contradiction to all experience; for they themselves frequently do many things which God in his law declares to be sins, but which they affirm, although most falsely, to be the workings of the Holy Spirit. They also live in misery, being subject to disease and death, no less than others, which, if they were not sinners, would certainly be in opposition to the rule, and law, Where there is no sin, there death is not.

Does any one ask, whether we may not also obtain a knowledge of sin from the gospel, since the gospel, in exhorting us to seek for righteousness, not in ourselves, but out of ourselves in Christ, declares us sinners? We reply, that the gospel does indeed pronounce us sinners, but not in particular as the law does; neither does it avowedly teach what, and how manifold sin is, what it deserves, &c., which is the proper work of the law; but it does this in general by presupposing what the law affirms, just as an inferior science assumes certain principles which are taken from another that is higher, and superior to it. After the law has convinced us that we are sinners, the gospel takes this principle as established, and concludes that in as much as we are sinners in ourselves, we must, therefore, seek righteousness out of ourselves, in Christ, if we would be saved.

We may, therefore, conclude from these five considerations, that we are all sinners in the sight of God: From the testimony of God himself—from the law of God in particular - from the gospel in general-from the sense of conscience, and from the various punishments which God, being just, would not inflict upon us, if we had not sinned.

Re: Lord's Day 3—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48726
Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:35 PM
Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:35 PM
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chestnutmare Offline OP
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II. What is sin?

Sin is the transgression of the law, or whatever is in opposition thereto, whether it be the want of righteousness (defectus), or an inclination, or action contrary to the divine law, and so offending God, and subjecting the creature to his eternal wrath, unless forgiveness be obtained for the sake of the Son of God, our Mediator. Its general nature is a want of righteousness, or an inclination, or action not in accordance with the law of God. To speak more properly, however, it may be said that the want of righteousness is this general nature of sin, whilst inclinations and actions are rather the matter of sin. The difference, or formal character of sin, is opposition to the law, which the Apostle John calls the transgression of the law. The property, which necessarily attaches itself to sin, is the sinner's guiltiness, which is a desert of punishment, temporal and eternal, according to the order of divine justice. Sin has, therefore, what is usually termed a double form, or a two-fold nature, which may be said to consist in opposition to the law, and guilt; or it may be regarded as including two sides, the former of which is opposition to the law, and the latter desert of punishment. The accidental condition of sin is thus expressed, unless forgiveness be obtained, ic., for it is not according to the nature of sin, but by an accident, that those who believe in Christ are not punished with eternal death; because sin is not imputed to them, but graciously remitted for Christ's sake.

This want of righteousness, which is comprehended in sin, includes, as it respects the mind, ignorance and doubt with regard to God and his will; and as it respects the heart, it includes a want of love to God and our neighbor, a want of delight in God and an ardent desire and purpose to obey all his commandments; together with an omission of such actions as the law of God requires from us. Disordered inclinations consist in a stubbornness of the heart, and an unwillingness to comply with the law of God, and the judgment of the mind, as it respects actions which are proper and improper; together with a depravity and propensity of nature to do those things which God forbids, which evil is called concupiscence.

That this want of righteousness and these disordered inclinations are sins, and condemned of God, may he proven: First, from the law of God, which expressly condemns all these things, when it declares, "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law, to do them"; and "Thou shalt not covet." (Deut. 27:26, Ex. 20:17) The law also requires of men the opposite gifts and exercises, such as perfect knowledge and love to God and our neighbor, saying: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c." "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, &c." "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Deut. 6:5. John 17:3. Ex. 20:3.) Secondly, the same thing is proven by the many testimonies of Scripture which condemn and speak of these evils as sins, as when it is said: "Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually." "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." "I had not known lust, (that is, I had not known it to be sin,) except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Gen. 6:8; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:7) See also John 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:14; 15:28. Thirdly, by the punishment and death of infants, who, although they neither do good, nor evil, and sin not after the similitude of Adam's transgression, nevertheless have sin, on account of which death reigns in them. This is that ignorance of and aversion to God of which we have already spoken.

Obj. 1. That which we do not will, as well as that which we cannot avoid, is no sin. But we do not will this want of righteousness, neither can we prevent disordered inclinations from arising within us. Therefore, they are no sins.
Ans. The major proposition is true in a civil court, but not in the judgment of God, before whom whatever is in opposition to his law, whether it can be avoided or not, is sin, and as such deserves punishment. The Scriptures clearly teach these two things, that the wisdom of the flesh cannot be subject to the law of God, and that all those who are not subject thereto, stand exposed to the curse of the law.

Obj. 2. Nature is good. Our inclinations and desires are natural. Therefore, they are good.
Ans. Nature is, indeed, good, if we look upon it as it came from the hands of God, and before it became corrupted by sin; for all things which God made, he declared to be very good. (Gen. 1:31.) And even now, nature is good as to its substance, and as it was made of God; but not as to its qualities, and as it has become corrupted.

Obj. 3. Punishments are no sins. Disordered inclinations and a want of righteousness are punishments of the first sin of man. Therefore, they are no sins.
Ans. The major proposition is true in a civil court, but not in the judgment of God, who often punishes sin with sin, as the Apostle Paul most clearly shows in Rom. 1:27; 2 Thess. 3:11. God has power also to deprive his creatures of his spirit, which power none of his creatures possess.

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