March 30 : WSC Q. 14 and Sin’s definition

This Day in Presbyterian History:  It Cannot Get any Simpler than This

Perhaps we missed something (please let us know!), but having found nothing significant on a national level with regards to Presbyterian persons, places, and events, we turn instead on this March 30 date to a succinct definition of sin in Shorter Catechism No. 14.  We are reminded that “Sin is any want (lack) of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”

First, we are reminded that sin is defined as being contrary to God’s law.  Indeed, unless we have a high and holy divine law which is the standard for our lives as created beings, and much higher, as redeemed individuals, we will not understand sin at all.  Adam and Eve, our first parents, had God’s law given to them in the covenant of works, to not partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We have God’s law presented in a summary way in the Ten Commandments.  And certainly, in a wider sense, we have the law of God in the entire Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

Then, our Confessional fathers reveal two specific definitions of sin.  That consists of the phrases, “any want of conformity unto,” and “transgression of.”   It is interesting to me that the first part of the definition deals with that sin — the sin of omission — which is not recognized today by many people, even among the household of faith.  But Scripture is not silent about this sin of omission.  In James 4:17, we are told “So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.” (Amplified)   Here is the sin of omission.

The second specification of sin is found in the phrase “or transgression of.”  This  word speaks of passing over the boundary of something.  And 1 John 3:4 in the Amplified Version reads “Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violation of God’s law by transgression or neglect — being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will). – (Amplified)

Now, when you come to the evening of any day, or during the day, you have a reminder of those sins of which you can claim the promise of God and receive forgiveness upon your repentance and confession.  Solomon in Proverbs 28:13 writes, “He who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will obtain mercy.” (Amplified)  And 1 John 1:9 agrees by stating “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. (Amplified)

Words to Live By:  A powerful and effective means of repentance and confession is to get alone with God, write your sins on individual pieces of paper, repent and confess each one to God, and then tear them up and thrown them away.  As the Psalmist David says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Amplified)

Through the Scriptures: 1 Samuel 14 – 16

Through the Standards: Application of Redemption

WCF 8:6 
“Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ until after  His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein He was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and for ever.”

WCF 8:8
“To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, he does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation; effectively persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by his word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.” 

WLC 57 — “What benefits has Christ procured by his mediation?
A. Christ, by his mediation, has procured redemption, with all other benefits of the covenant of grace.”

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