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Ridgefield, WA 98642
Survey of the Westminster Confession of Faith
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and the Punishment thereof
IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
The sins we commit in our lives, whatever their nature, flow from this original corruption. They are called “actual sins.” The nature we inherit from Adam is “inclined to all evil.” Therefore, it manifests itself in various acts of disobedience, all of which are patterned after Adam’s first sin against the command of God.
V. This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
Paragraph five calls attention to the ongoing struggle against sin that every Christian faces. The believer must continue to deal with his corrupted nature even after coming to faith in Christ. Those who are regenerated are not freed from the presence of sin. However, the guilt for our corruption is pardoned and mortified (i.e., put to death) in Christ. So while we are delivered from the penalty of sin and from sin’s mastery in Christ, we are not delivered from sin’s influence. As long as we remain in this life, we will have to deal with our sinful flesh.
The classic Biblical expression of the contest that rages between the mind and flesh of the believer is found in Rom. 7. In that chapter, the apostle Paul describes his own experience. While contrasting God’s righteous Law, which he came to understand through regeneration, and the remaining sinful tendencies of his own flesh, he makes several points:
The Law of God exposed sin
The flesh took that “opportunity” to tempt Paul
A struggle raged between Paul’s mind and flesh
This passage alone establishes the accuracy of the Confession’s statements about sin remaining the one who has been regenerated. The whole doctrine of sanctification is built around the idea that sin’s dominance is broken in the believer, but he must labor to overcome sin’s remaining influence throughout the rest of his earthly life.
VI. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, does in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.
The last paragraph of this chapter warns about the consequences of yielding to the influence of sin. The Confession seems to have in mind the unregenerate sinner at this point. It states that every sin brings guilt upon the sinner because every sin is a violation of the righteous law of God. The consequences for transgressing the law of God are most serious. The sinner faces God’s wrath, death, spiritual miseries, both now and in eternity.
(To be continued)