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New City Catechism 18.2

Question 18: Will God allow our disobedience and idolatry to go unpunished?

Answer: No, every sin is against the sovereignty, holiness, and goodness of God, and against his righteous law, and God is righteously angry with our sins and will punish them in his just judgment both in this life, and in the life to come.

After David had committed the sins of adultery and murder, he prayed to the Lord in confession, “Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). It seems odd that he would say such a thing when there were clearly other people against whom he had sinned. Most notable of all was Uriah the Hittite, the man whose wife David stole and whom he then had killed. David doesn’t mean here in Psalm 51 that he had not sinned against any other people, but rather that by comparison, God was most offended by his sin. God, who created Uriah the Hittite in his own image and blessed the marriage of Uriah to his wife Bathsheba, was the actual focus of David’s sin, for the sanctity of life and marriage are themselves dependent on God. Any assault on those who bear God’s image is ultimately an attempted assault on God himself.

This is why all sin is fundamentally about how we are responding to God. And it is also why only God can forgive all sins. When Jesus declared to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” his opponents rightly noted that only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:5-7). They took offense at Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sins because they thought he was a mere man. But in making that claim, Jesus clearly and deliberately put himself in the place of God.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Psalm 51. What does David teach us in this psalm about sin? How is he a good model for us about what we should do when we have sinned?

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