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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 3.




* Before you begin. Read Genesis 3.

6. Did God create man thus, wicked and perverse?
No,[1] but God created man good and after His own image,[2] that is, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him.[3]

[1]Gen. 1:31. [2]Gen. 1:26-27. [3]II Cor. 3:18; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24.

7. From where, then, does this depraved nature of man come?
From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise,[1] whereby our nature became so corrupt that we are all conceived and born in sin.[2]

[1]Gen. 3 (The whole chapter). Rom. 5:12, 18-19. [2]Ps. 51:5; *Ps. 14:2-3.

8. But are we so depraved that we are completely incapable of any good and prone to all evil?
Yes,[1] unless we are born again by the Spirit of God.[2]

[1]Jn. 3:6; Gen. 6:5; Job 14:4; Isa. 53:6. [2]Jn. 3:5; *Gen. 8:21; *II Cor. 3:5; *Rom. 7:18; *Jer. 17:9.

“I’m a good person!” It was another heated conversation, when I was a young Christian and full of enthusiasm for witnessing, but without the theological or biblical knowledge to do so wisely! I had been trying to impress upon a very self-righteous churchgoer that her good, charitable works and her polite, banal religion were not enough to keep God’s law perfectly. “You can’t tell me that I’m a bad person” was her response. “I’m a good person – I do good things! Think of all the doctors and nurses and charity workers who care for the sick… surely you are not going to tell me that they won’t be rewarded for all that loving care?”

Our catechetical instructor reminds us here that we are completely incapable of any good, and prone to all evil, unless we are born of God! But is that not God’s own fault, for it was he that created us? If we point out sin to anyone, perhaps their sexual proclivities, or their inbred desires that are sin, and we remind them that such activities are evil, we will hear a response like, “This is the way I am. This is how I was made, God must accept me for he made me this way.” Is this so? Is God responsible for making us as we are, wicked and perverse sinners? Such a thought, that a pure and holy God is in any way would surely be repulsive to us. That could be why the Catechist states this so emphatically: No! (Sometimes translated ‘By NO MEANS.’)

The catechist reminds us then, of how God created us. He made us in his own image, and he looked at his creation and he declared that it was good – good enough to have perfect fellowship with God Himself, in righteousness, and true holiness, equipped to perfectly love God, to do so heartily and willingly, and made to spend eternity in blessedness with the Lord. The Westminster Shorter Catechism uses more familiar words to establish this in our minds, when it makes its opening statement:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

So, how then did our present state arise? How come, then that we are now sinners, whose sins completely condemn us and make us deserving of being cast into the lake of fire for ever?

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

The catechist reminds us of the fall of man – that catastrophe of pride and disobedience to God’s Word, which we find in Genesis 3. It was there, through man’s wilful disobedience, that sin entered into the world, and along with it came death, and sorrow and sickness and misery. Our present depravity stems from the depravity of our first parents. It comes to us by way of our conception and birth. Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. The catechist comments, ‘our nature became so corrupt that we are all conceived and born in sin.’ That corrupt nature is complete and entire. It affects and afflicts every aspect of our human existence.
Our MIND is affected by sin.
Our HEART is affected by sin.
Our SOUL is affected by sin.
Nothing short of being regenerated, made anew by God can change that fact, and only a work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner’s inmost being can bring that work about.

Think about it.

‘God will have to accept me into heaven as I am, for he made me this way. Is that a true statement?


Can I not do enough good works to outweigh my sin, and earn my place in heaven?


Were Adam and Eve created as sinners?

Is there any area of my life that has NOT been affected by sin?


If we are ‘totally depraved’ does that mean we are all as bad as can be, like murderers, thieves etc?’


If we are sinners from conception, are new born babies sinners too?’


What needs to happen to make me ‘fit for God’s purpose?’


What does the catechist mean by ‘born again by the Spirit of God (sometimes trans. ’regenerated’)?’


The BBC coat of arms has the line, “Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation” Is this a realistic prospect?

Pray. Heavenly Father, I am a sinner, and my sin affects all of my life. Thank you that by your Holy Spirit, you have revealed that truth to me, and the truth also that only through a work of God can my sin be purged. Now assure me that Christ can truly deal with my sin, through cleansing me with His own precious blood, and declaring me forgiven, before God His Father. Amen.

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