The Shorter Catechism, 5
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Q15: What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A: The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created in a righteous estate. But through their transgression, they fell from that state, and became sinners. What was their sin? Their sin was that they ate of that tree, which God had forbidden. "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden." Gen.3:6-8. The woman saw the tree, that it was good to make one wise. Instead of following Godís will, she followed her eyes, and ate of that tree. And the result? Suddenly, they saw all with other eyes. Their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked. They saw that they were naked, i.e. without clothes. But they at the same moment saw that they were naked before God, i.e. without any protection. They had transgressed His will, and had thus deprived themselves of His pleasure, and were now unprotected against His displeasure. That is why they hid themselves from the presence of the LORD. They began to be afraid of Him.
Q16: Did all mankind fall in Adamís first transgression?
A: The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.
God had made the covenant with Adam. In the case he was obedient, he should have life as his reward. But in the case he sinned, death would be his reward. "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of 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.
When God made the covenant with Adam, He did not make it with Adam only. Also the posterity of the first man was included. All the children, which were born later on, descended from Adam, and were reckoned in him. The offence of Adam brought condemnation upon the whole human race. "By the offence of one judgement came upon all men to condemnation." Rom.5:18. Though also everybodyís own sins bring condemnation upon himself, yet, even before that, Adamís sins already made us condemned. By the offence of one, namely of Adam, Godís judgement came upon all of us, to our condemnation.
Q17: Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A: The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.
Mankind, reckoned in Adam, was created in an estate of righteousness and gladness, but through the fall of our father, of Adam, we all were brought into an estate of sin and misery. Sin instead of righteousness, and misery instead of gladness. What has the fall brought about! Through only one sin, the entire human race is brought into sin and misery. "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.5:12. And what makes it still worse it, that, death and misery having once entered the world, we continue therein. Being once made sinful, we continue in that.