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.
What is the result of our sin? The catechism identifies “death and the disintegration of all creation.” God made us as his image to rule over his world so that it would flourish. But when humanity fell into sin, leading to exile from God’s presence, God placed over us all the sentence of death. In the Bible death is a spiritual reality of separation from God. It is a physical reality of the end of our bodily life and the separation of the soul from the body. And it is an eternal reality of exile from God’s presence in Hell.
And once humanity came under the sentence of death, there were consequences for creation itself. Paul speaks of the creation itself groaning as though it were a pregnant woman awaiting childbirth (Rom. 8:22). Why would the creation groan? Because it was never intended to become a graveyard. The earth that God created was made to be ruled by humanity, not to cover over the dead bodies of human beings. So creation awaits the day of resurrection, when the graves will be empty and God’s people will be redeemed. When that day comes, creation will be set free from its curse and made completely new. By redeeming humanity, God will redeem the whole creation itself in the end.
Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Romans 8:18-25. What is the connection between our redemption and the redemption of creation that Paul spells out in this passage? How does this passage encourage us in our present sufferings?