By Kenton Spratt, Pastor Christ Church, Spokane, WA
- 14. What is sin?
Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.
- 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.
It is tempting to see the first sin as rather innocent, almost quaint: “eating the forbidden fruit.” To the addled mind, it is of no more consequence than a toddler with his hand in the cookie jar. And what is sin? Our catechism answers, “any want [lack] of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” To those without ears to hear, it sounds like a celestial speeding ticket: something easily contested or at least paid off. Satan salivates to see you trivialize sin.
But there is a way to trivialize sin even when your views are far more substantial and serious than this. The temptation is to spread sin thin. No matter how large the pat of your initial sin sensibility, once you smear it all around with the misapplication of the Biblical truth “we all sin,” you have still ended up in Satan’s sandwich.
It’s a serpentine sophistry which transforms “we all sin” from the disquieting horror of God’s universal condemnation of sinners into a comfortable comradery. And when you offer up those words in this way—when they’re offered up not as universal condemnation but as universal congregation; when they’re offered up not in preaching but in posturing; when they’re offered up not from the pulpit to sinners but to the pastor from sinners —Satan starts smacking his lips. Trivializers too easily dismiss the subtlety and deceptive power of the one who is “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
Our first parents’ sin brought death. And everything began disintegrating and falling apart, from our bodies to our marriages, from our thoughts to our politics. And this death sentence leads not just to the grave, but face-to-face with the vengeance of a holy God. God’s law is no arbitrary speed limit. It is His own character written into the fabric of His creation. And as lawbreakers, we have attempted to take a hatchet to His face. All stand condemned.
This universal condemnation, “all have sinned,” must never be tendered by sinners, but only preached to sinners. And it’s preached to sinners so that they might be gloriously broken at the foot of the cross—so that they might cry out “Woe is me,” with no awareness at all of anyone else’s sin in the whole world. God offers the cross in its saving power to those whose attention is fixed on nobody’s sins but their own.