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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of Sin.

Q. 14. What is Sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God.


Q. 1. What is meant by the Law?
A. The commands and Rules flowing from God's Sovereignty, whereby his will is manifested, and the Creature bound to obedience.

Q. 2. Where is this Law written?
A. It is written either in the heart. Romans 2:15. Which shows the work of the law written in their hearts, which we call the law of nature. Or in the Bible, which we call the written Moral Law.

Q. 3. What conformity is due to this Law of God?
A. A twofold conformity is due to it. First, Internal, in our hearts. Secondly, External in our lives; and the want of either is sin. 1 John 3:4. Whosoever commiteth sin, transgresseth the also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.

Q. 4. How doth it appear that the want of internal conformity is sin?
A. Because the law requires it. Mark 12:30. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength; for this is the first commandment. And condemns the want of it. Romans 7:7. What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid: nay, I had not know sin but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Q. 5. Is nothing a sin but what is against God's law?
A. No, nothing can be a sin but what God hath either expressly , or by consequence forbidden in his word.

Q. 6. Wherein lies the evil of transgressing God's law?
A. The evil of sin principally lies in the offence and wrong done to God, whose sovereignty it labours to shake off, and despises his will. Psalm 51:4. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.

Q. 7. What further evil is sin?
A. It highly wrongs the Sinner's Soul, by defacing, defiling, and damning it. Proverbs 8:36. But he that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul, all they that hate me, love death.

Q. 8. Wherein is the evil of sin manifested?
A. It's manifested in the death of Christ, the Terrors of Conscience, and Torments of Hell.

Q. 9. What course must the sinner take to recover himself out of his misery?
A. Repentance towards God, Faith towards Christ; and both evidenced by new obedience. Acts 20:21. Testifying both to the Jew, and also the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

Q. 10. What may we infer from hence?
A. That we have infinite cause to bless God for Christ's Satisfaction of the Law for our sins.

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