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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

A Scripture Catechism
in the
Method of the Assembly's

by Matthew Henry

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

1. Is there a moral difference of good and evil? Yes: for we must cease to do evil, and learn to do well, Isa. 1:16, 17. Is it all alike then what we do? No: for God shall bring every work into judgment, whether it be good, or whether it be evil, Eccl. 12:14. Is there such thing as sin in thought? Yes: for the thought of foolishness is sin, Prov. 24:9. May sin be committed in word too? Yes: for in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin, Prov. 10:19.

2. Does sin suppose a law? Yes: for where there is no law, there is no transgression, Rom. 4:15. and v. 13. Is sin the breach of a law? Yes: for sin is the transgression of the law, 1 John 3:4. Is it God's law only that can make a thing to be sin? Yes: For against thee, thee only, have I sinned, Ps. 51:4. Is every breach of God's law sin? Yes: for all unrighteousness is sin, 1 John 5:17. Are we to judge of sin by the law? Yes: for by the law is the knowledge of sin, Rom. 3:20. Could we discover sin without some law? No: For I had not known sin but by the law. Rom. 7:7. Is the transgression of the law of nature sin? Yes: for they that have not the written law, show the work of the law written in their hearts, Rom. 2:14, 15. But does the written law discover the root of sin? Yes: I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet, Rom. 7:7.

3. Is ignorance of God sin? Yes: He shall take vengeance on them that know not God,. 2 Thes. 1: 8. Is disaffection to God's government sin? Yes: My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me, Ps. 81:11. Is all disobedience to God's law sin? Yes: For the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience, Col. 3:6. Is it a sin to omit the good which God has commanded? Yes: for to him that knows to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin, James 4:17. Is it a sin to do it negligently? Yes: for if thou doest not well, sin lies at the door, Gen. 4:7. Is it a sin to do the evil which God has forbidden? Yes: for he has said, O do not this abominable thing which I hate, Jer. 44:4. Is the inclination to evil sin? Yes: for St. Paul speaks of the sin that dwells in us, Rom .7:17.

4. Is sin the worst of evils? Yes: it is an evil thing, and a bitter, to forsake the Lord, Jer. 2:19. Is the sinfulness of it the worst thing in it? Yes: for sin by the commandment becomes exceeding sinful, Rom. 7:13. Is sin worse than affliction? Yes: for Moses by faith chose rather to suffer affliction than to enjoy the pleasures of sin, Heb 11:25. Is it displeasing to God? Yes: God is angry with the wicked every day, Ps. 7:11. Is it destructive to ourselves? Yes: be sure your sin will find you out, Numb 32:23.

5. Ought we not therefore to take heed of sin? Yes: Stand in awe, and sin not, Ps. 4:4. And of all appearances of it? Yes: abstain from all appearances of evil, 1 Thes. 5:22. And all approaches towards it? Yes: Touch not the unclean thing, 2 Cor. 6:17. And must we hate it? Yes: Ye that love the Lord, hate evil, Ps. 97:10. Must little children take heed of sin? My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not, 1 John. 2:1. Is it folly to make light of sin? Yes: fools make a mock at sin Prov. 14:9. Will our observing the law of God be the best preservative against sin? Yes: Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee, Ps. 119:11. Will an eye to God be the best argument against sin? Yes: How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God, Gen.39: 9.

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