4 May 2003
Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:22, Ephesians 2:1-3 & James 1:14
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate wherein man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s 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.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.18. What is sinful about man’s fallen condition?
A. The sinfulness of that fallen condition is twofold. First, in what is commonly called original sin, there is the guilt of Adam’s first sin with its lack of original righteousness and the corruption of his whole nature. Second are all the specific acts of disobedience that come from original sin.
1. What is original sin?
A better way of expressing this would be “inherited sin”. This sin is the guilt and pollution connected with our origin, in and through the first Adam.
2. Is there not another type of sin besides original sin?
Yes, there is actual sin. This is any breach of God’s law, whether it be by omission or commission, whether it be by thought, word or deed.
3. How are all men guilty because of Adam’s first sin?
All men are guilty of Adam’s first sin by imputation, (Rom. 5:19). This is so because Adam represented his posterity, as we learned in Question 16. As the righteousness of Christ, the second Adam, is imputed to all believers, so the sin of the first Adam is imputed to all the natural seed.
4. What is meant by the “guilt of Adam’s first sin”?
It means the debt, the punishment to which we are exposed because of that first sin, committed by our head and representative, Adam.
5. What is the teaching involved in “the want of original righteousness”?
The teaching here is that two things are involved: (a) The lack of true spiritual understanding in the mind (1 Corinthians 2:14). (b) The lack of the power and inclination toward good (Romans 7:18).
6. What is included in the statement “the corruption of his whole nature”?
Included in this statement is the universal depravity present in every part of man since the fall. Calvin states, “Therefore all of us, who have descended from impure seed, are born infected with the contagion of sin. In fact, before we saw the light of this life we were soiled and spotted in God’s sight.” (Institutes, II, 1,5).