The Shorter Catechism, 25
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Q82: Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A: No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.
Are we able to keep Godís commandments? The law of the ten commandments should be kept. Are we able to do that? To answer this question, one must keep in mind that, since God is perfect, He also requires a perfect observance of His will. Are we able perfectly to keep the commandments of God? We may sometimes do some outward works that look like the keeping of one commandment. Some now and then say a kind word to their parents, and think to have fulfilled the commandment "Honour your father and your mother". Some steal not, and imagine to have fulfilled "You shall not steal". When you esteem the commandments so lightly, yes, then one may think to be able to keep some commandment. But is any man able - perfectly - to keep the commandments of God? The answer is that no mere man, since the fall in paradise, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God. He daily breaks them in his thought. He daily breaks them in his words. And he daily breaks the commandments in his deeds. We all break the law in thoughts, words and deeds, "for there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." Eccl. 7:20. We further read in the Word that "the imagination of manís heart is evil from his youth." Gen. 8:21. So, if the beginning of manís heart is evil, even in his very youth, what will become of that evil heart during the rest of his life? We see here that the Word draws our attention not merely to a manís deeds, but to his heart. The heart is evil, so how evil will the deeds be? Further, we offend and transgress the law in our words. We use our tongues to commit several sorts of evil. "The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." Jam. 3:8. The conclusion is: "In many things we offend all." Jam. 3:2. When one has transgressed but one commandment, then he is guilty of the whole law. So how guilty will we be when we not only offend in one thing, but in many things? We all may pray with David: LORD, "enter not into judgement with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." Ps 143:2.
Q83: Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
A: Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.
Is there difference in the horribleness of sins? Are they all equally heinous, or is there difference between them? The answer is that all sins are heinous, but there are some that exceed the rest. Some sins are in themselves more heinous than others. Other sins are by reason of several aggravations worse then the others. Though all sins are very heinous in the sight of God, yet, there are some sins greater then the rest. "He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." Joh. 19:11. One, for example, that knows something to be forbidden, and yet transgresses, sins more vilely then one that commits the same sin, but in ignorance.
Q84: What doth every sin deserve?
A: Every sin deserveth Godís wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.
What does every sin deserve? The Scripture is very clear in this: Every sin deserves Godís wrath and curse. The sinner shall die. Blessed are those that are righteous, but the sinners are accursed, and are under Godís wrath. Not only are they deserving Godís wrath in this life, but also in that which is to come. "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Gal. 3:10. "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them." Deut 27:26. Sin is so great an evil in Godís sight, that He can but burn against both sin and sinner. God is so holy, that He cannot have anything to do with sin or sinner. Godís holiness and our unholiness perpetually war. Godís judgement of the sinner will be accomplished at the last day, the day of judgement. "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matt. 25:41.
Sin is so heinous that it ruins all and everything. By our daily transgressions, we ruin not only ourselves, but also our environment. Giving bad examples may lead others into the same vices. And if there was somebody that had no bad examples before him, yet he would sin of himself, because there is nobody on earth that sins not, says the Word. Through our spiritual blindness we pay no attention to Godís holiness, and to our sins. Crowds sleep on, and at the end will awake in the flames. God had created everything good and well, but the first sin ruined all. God cursed the earth, that it might bring forth less fruit and also much thorns and thistles. Death also entered the world. Our sins and Godís holiness are everlasting enemies.