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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel

Of the Demerit of Sin.

Q. 84. What doth every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserveth Godís wrath and curse, both in this life and in that which is to come.

Q. 1. Wherein doth the evil of sin principally consist?
A. It. consists principally in the offence it gives, and the wrong it doth to God; Psalm 51:4. Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.

Q. 2. What is the first offence and wrong sin doth to God?
A. It consists in its enmity to God; Romans 8:7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, &c. Expressed in scripture by walking contrary to him; Leviticus 26:40. They have also walked contrary to me. Fighting against God; Acts 5:39. Lest haply ye be even found to fight against God. And resisting his Spirit; Acts 7:51. Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.

Q. 3. Wherein is its enmity to God further discovered in scripture?
A. It is discovered under the names and notions of hatred of God; Romans 1:30. Backbiters, haters of God, &c. Rebellion against God; 1 Samuel 15:28. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, &c. And despising the commandment of God; 2 Samuel 12:9. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord?

Q. 4. What are the attributes of God that sin wrongs?
A. It wrongs all his attributes; for it slights his sovereignty; Exodus 5:2. And Pharaoh Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice, to let Israel go? Resists his power; 1 Corinthians 10:22. Are we stronger than he? Despiseth his goodness; Romans 2:4. Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, &c. Taxeth his justice; Ezekiel 18:25. Yet ye say, the way of the Lord is not equal, &c. And clouds his holiness; James 2:7. Do not they blaspheme that worthy name, by which ye are called?

Q. 5. What doth sin deserve in the course of justice from God?
A. It deserves all temporal and eternal effects of Godís wrath, on the souls and bodies of sinners, all which in scripture go under the name of death; Romans 6:23. For the wages of sin is death, &c.

Q. 6. Can these sufferings satisfy God for all this wrong?
A. No, they cannot; and therefore they must, and shall be eternal on the dawned; Matthew 5:26. Verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Mark 9:44. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Q. 7. Shall all sinners bear the desert of their sins?
A. No, all that are out of Christ shall; but Christ hath freed believers from it; John 3:18. He that believeth on him is not condemned, &c.

Q. 8. But is it not hard, that sinners should suffer eternally for the sins of a few years?
A. No, it is not; for the evil of sin is not to be measured by the time in which, but by the object against which it is committed; Psalm 51:4-5. Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight, &c.

Q. 9. What learn we from hence?
A. Hence in the first place we learn the impossibility of satisfying Godís justice for the least sin that ever we committed; Job 7:20. I have sinned, what shall I do unto thee? &c. Psalm 130:3. If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, 0 Lord, who shall stand?

Q. 10. What is the second instruction hence?
A. Hence we see the necessity of a Mediator betwixt God and us; Psalm 40:6-7. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, &c. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.

Q. 11. What is the third instruction hence?
A. That the greatest suffering is rather to be chosen than the least sin; Hebrews 11:25. Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

Q. 12. What is the fourth instruction hence?
A. It teacheth us what an invaluable mercy the full, free, and final remission of sin is; Psalm 32:1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, &c.

Q. 13. What is the fifth instruction hence?
A. It vindicates God in his severest strokes on sinners; Hosea 6:5. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets: I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.

Q. 14. What is the last instruction?
A. Hence we learn the infinite nature of Christís sufferings; Romans 8:32. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

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