Part 4 - Where Did It All Go Wrong?
Welcome back to our series on the Westminster Confession of Faith. This time around we are going to be looking at sin, the fall and its repercussions. This is an important part of the confession as it lays out our natural state before God.
The confession teaches than mankind was created by God after his own image. We were created with immortal souls. We were gifted with intelligence, understanding and the ability to reason. Humanity was created with “the law written in their hearts”, but also with free will. In the beginning, humanity lived in perfect communion with God, obeying his commands. This didn’t last though.
Our “first parents”, the original representatives of humanity, the first of our line, fell for Satan’s lies, believing they knew better than God. They disobeyed God and ‘fell’ from grace. In doing so they not only broke God’s commands, but broke communion with Him. they also brought death into the world, although they did not die immediately. The confession makes it clear that any sin, however trivial we might think it, is a breach of relationship with God and the result of this is death and the opening up of our lives to corruption.
As the root of humanity, our first parents brought this curse down not only on themselves, but on all their descendants. This means that we are born already sinners, corrupt and subject to death, at odds with God. This becomes a vicious cycle, from the corruption brought about by sin, our desire to sin flows forth. The confession teaches that every aspect of our life is tainted by this corruption (this does not mean that we are incapable of doing good, but that there is no area of our being which escapes this taint.) It is in our nature to be at war with God.
No amount of good works, religious behaviour or acts of our will can change this state, or “balance the ledger” between us and God.
This is true even of those who are saved by grace through faith in Christ. Although God, by liberating us from bondage, enables us to will and act in accordance with what is good, the corruption that remain in our natures means that we will not always do this and, even at our best, we remain imperfect sinners.
The good news, however, is that for those God calls to faith, the penalty for our sin has been taken by another, and we will look more closely at this good news in our next issue.