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New City Catechism 14.3

Question 14: Did God create us unable to keep his law?

Answer: No, but because of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, all of creation is fallen; we are born in sin and guilt, corrupt in our nature and unable to keep God’s law.

No one relishes the thought that he or she is guilty and corrupt before God and completely unable to do anything about it. The Bible’s teaching on our sin problem indicates that we are completely helpless on our own, held under sin’s power, and in no position to claim righteousness before God when he judges humanity (Rom. 3:9-20). Without a Savior, we are completely doomed.

But once we see how bad our sin really is, we are freed to see how far God’s grace reaches, how lavish he is in forgiving us, and how powerful he is to raise us to spiritual life. The Bible’s teaching on sin is far more extensive that we are naturally inclined to believe about ourselves. But its teaching on grace simply cannot be understood apart from our understanding of sin.

Once we grapple with the reality of our sin, we are prepared to receive God’s grace. This is why the poor in spirit are blessed (Matt. 5:3), because they can see themselves more clearly than those who are deceived about themselves. The poor in spirit don’t look to themselves. They trust in the grace of God. And what amazing grace it is, understood against the backdrop of a biblical view of sin.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Luke 18:9-14. What does this parable teach us about the importance of recognizing our sin? What is the connection between recognizing our sin for what it is and being justified (declared righteous) by God?

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