“The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin”

Johannes G. Vos wrote a series of excellent lessons on the Westminster Larger Catechism in his Blue Banner Faith and Life magazine back in the late 1940s. In 2002 G. I. Williamson edited those lessons, added an introduction by W. Robert Godfrey, and published The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary. This is a book that every pastor should have on his shelf because, in a sense, it provides a “catechism on the catechism.”

In the section on Question 152: What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God? We find in the following series of questions and answers, an excellent description of the sinfulness of sin in man’s life.

1. How evil is sin? The catechism asserts, and the Scripture references prove, that sin is absolutely evil; that is, that sin possesses an absolute character, and even the least sin shares in that absolute character as a repudiation of the authority of God. Some sins are more heinous than others, but even the least sin is a total rejection of God’s authority over us. This principle is well illustrated by the first sin committed by any human being, the sin of Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit. In itself what can seem to us a slight and apparently unimportant action, the eating of the fruit nevertheless involved a total rejection of God’s authority over the human race. It involved believing Satan’s lie in preference to God’s truth, and trusting human reason rather than God’s revelation. The same is true, essentially, of every sin; every sin involves believing a lie rather than the truth, and following our own reason or desires rather than the revealed will of God. Thus every sin is absolutely evil and deserves God’s wrath and curse both here and hereafter.

2. How can a finite being, such as man, commit a sin which is absolutely or infinitely evil? Sin is infinitely evil because it is committed against God, who is infinitely perfect. We must always guard against the modern humanistic way of thinking about sin, which tends to regard sin primarily in relation to its effects on human beings. The primary fact about sin is that it is an offense against God. Since God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his sovereignty, goodness, and holiness, every sin, even though committed by a finite creature such as man, is infinitely evil.

Those Biblical truths make me rejoice that the following is also true:

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)


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