The Shorter Catechism, 6
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Q18: Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A: The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adamís first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called Original Sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
Through the sin of the first parents, the whole human race fell with them in a certain sinful estate. Wherein does that estate, wherein we fell together with Adam and Eve, consist? It consists of this four things.
1. The guilt of Adamís first sin.
2. The want of original righteousness.
3. The corruption of our whole nature.
4. The actual transgressions resulting from that.
Firstly, the sinfulness of the estate wherein we fell, consists of the guilt of Adamís first sin. Scripture clearly states that, when it says: "By one manís disobedience many were made sinners." (Romans 5:19) Through the one disobedience of Adam, we all were made sinners, and were thus made guilty before Godís face, and in His judgement.
Secondly, the sinfulness of the estate wherein we fell, consists of the want of original righteousness. Adam, after he was created, was righteous, without any blemish. But we, after the fall, are unrighteous, from head to foot. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Romans 3:10) When nobody is righteous in Godís sight, let then also nobody imagine to be so. As David said: "They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy: [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one." (Psalms 14:3)
Thirdly, the sinfulness of the estate wherein we are fallen, consists of the corruption of our whole nature. The corruption of our nature is so great, that there is no part left, which has even the least semblance of goodness in Godís sight. We are totally dead in sins and trespasses, as is written: "You, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" (Ephesians 2:1) Like a dead body has no life in it, not even the least part, so also we are spiritually dead, and without any living part in us. "We were dead in sins," (Ephesians 2:5) said the apostle. And also God said to Adam, that, when he ate of that tree, he would die on the same day. We, being his children, daily sinning, are dead as a result of that. It may be that our body lives, but in Godís sight we are dead in trespasses and sins.
Fourthly, the sinfulness of the estate wherein we fell, consists of the actual transgressions resulting from the corruption of our nature. Our nature, and all our desires, being corrupt, cannot bring forth any good; only sins and actual transgressions proceed from us. As Jesus said: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are [the things] which defile a man". (Matthew 15:19,20)
Q19: What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A: All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.
Man fell in that estate of guilt, of want of original righteousness, of total corruption, and of the inevitableness of continual transgressions. But how do we experience that state of sin? How do we feel that? What is the misery of it? The woe of that estate consists of:
1. Lost communion with God.
2. Being under His wrath and curse.
3. Being liable to all miseries of this life.
4. Being liable to death.
5. Being liable to the pains of hell forever.
Firstly, we lost communion with God through our fall. Adam, before his fall, daily conversed with God. But when he had done the forbidden thing, then he felt the guilt, and he hid himself from the presence of God. "Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:8) After that, God drove them away from His presence, and so they lost the communion with Him. "He drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." (Genesis 3:24) They had lost the direct communion with God. And we daily experience the same, that we lost it.
Secondly, we are under Godís wrath and curse. God is too holy then that He ever can see sin, or have communion with the sinners. He so much hates sin - and sin is so much against His holy nature, that His wrath burns against sin and sinner; they lay under His curse. As is written: We "were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." (Ephesians 2:3) Like the sinners are children of wrath, we were the same. And, everybody who does not keep the law of God, is cursed. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Galatians 3:10)
Thirdly, we are liable to all miseries of this life. The miseries are not shapen by God, but we have subjected ourselves to them by our daily sinning and by our corrupted nature. "[Is it] nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted [me] in the day of his fierce anger. From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate [and] faint all the day. The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, [and] come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into [their] hands, [from whom] I am not able to rise up. The Lord hath trodden under foot all my mighty [men] in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men: the Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, [as] in a winepress." (Lamentations 1:12-15) And why all these miseries? Because of our transgressions.
Fourthly, we are liable to death. Death is not something naturally, but it entered the world upon sinning, like is written: "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." (Genesis 2:17) And also, "The wages of sin is death". (Romans 6:23)
Fifthly, we have to expect the pains of hell forever, if we continue in these sins. After this life, all wicked will be gathered together, and thrown in the lake which burns of sulphur. "Then shall he (namely the Judge, God) say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."(Matthew 25:41)