30 March 2003
Genesis 3:6-8, Ecclesiastes 7:29, 2 Corinthians 11:3 & Psalm 5:4
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.13. Did our first parents remain as they were created?
A. Left to the freedom of their own wills, our first parents sinned against God and fell from their original condition.
1. What was the “estate” in which man was created?
The estate was innocence, the state in which God had placed man and in which he had pure fellowship with God.
2. What is meant by the freedom of the will?
The freedom of the will was a liberty to choose or refuse of its own accord, without any constraint or force from anyone.
3. Were our first parents able to follow the way of perfect obedience unto God?
Yes, they had perfect knowledge and were holy in their hearts for God had made them in this way.
4. How was it then possible for man to sin?
It was possible because at creation man had a freedom both to good and evil. His natural disposition was to good but because he was a mutable (subject to change) creature he, through temptation, submitted himself to evil.
5. What is man’s state today in regard to freedom of will?
A distinction must be made as to the type of man. Unregenerate man “by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation” so that he can neither “convert himself, nor prepare himself thereunto.” (Con. Of Faith, IX, 3). Regenerated man, by God’s grace, has the freedom to do that which is spiritually good, but he does not do it perfectly for he is sometimes inclined toward evil. (Romans 7:15,19,21).
6. Who was responsible for the first sin?
Man was responsible for he freely yielded to the temptation of the devil. When our first parents wilfully chose to obey the word of Satan rather than the word of God, they were guilty of sinning against God. Man had been put on trial, the trial of simple obedience, but man failed the test.
It should be recognised that God is not the cause of sin. This can be proven from the testimony of Scripture, (Genesis 1:31. Psalm 5:4). This can also be proven by the facts taught by Scripture that God is perfectly good and holy and that God punished all sin severely. The fall of Adam is the efficient cause of original sin both in himself and in his posterity.