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New City Catechism 16.2

Question 16: What is sin?

Answer: Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against him by living without reference to him, not being or doing what he requires in his law—resulting in our death and the disintegration of all creation.

The catechism defines sin, in part, as “living without reference” to God. Did you realize that you can be a “good” person who keeps all the rules of society, who always treats other people with kindness, who never acts selfishly with regard to other people, and who lives in sin all the time because you simply ignore God? Sin is, first and foremost, about God, and it is defined in reference to him. This is why Paul speaks of pagans who are under God’s wrath as those who, “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21).

We were created for the purpose of worship, which includes two major attitudes of our hearts: awe and gratitude. We should be overwhelmed at who God is, and we should be overwhelmed at his goodness to us. Learning how to live in awe and gratitude is what makes us into true worshipers. Failure to do so is following the pathway of sin as we simply ignore God and pursue other things as more valuable to us than him.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Romans 1:18-32. What does this passage teach us about worship, both true and false? What does it teach us about where false worship leads?

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