Heidelberg Catechism Devotional Q7 & Q8

Q.7. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from? 

Aš From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve in paradise.  This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners – corrupt from conception on.
Q.8. But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?
Aš Yes, unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God.


If we were created good and in God’s own image, then it is natural to ask, “What happened? How did we become sinful?”  The short answer is Adam and Eve disobeyed God.  Read Genesis 3.  Genesis records humanity’s creation and fall into sin.  When Adam and Eve chose to believe the serpent over God, corruption entered the world.  Sin entered the world, for sin is not only doing bad things, but more importantly sin is failing to believe God and his word.  By refusing to believe God, Adam and Eve plunged all of humanity into sin.  Our corrupt nature comes from our first parents, Adam and Eve.


Has sin really poisoned our nature?  Surely it has.  We were created good and to know God, to glorify him and worship him.  We were created to love our neighbors as well, but sin roots his head in every person.  Every man, woman and child is bound up in selfishness.  Furthermore, no one naturally comes to the knowledge of God.  Read Romans 1:18-23 and 1:28-31.  In these sentences we find that all the evil humans perpetrate against one another is the result of failing to truly know God.  Thus we can conclude that whenever any person engages in any of these activities, they are corrupt.  Furthermore, if they are unable to completely and fully stop such behavior, never to repeat it again, it is sensible to conclude that their nature is poisoned and marred.  This is our situation as people.


Read Psalm 51:5.  David laments the fact the sin clings to every person.  From the very instant we are conceived humans begin living selfishly and for the pursuit of their own desire.  Anyone can look at a child and see very quickly that the world revolves around them.  They demand to be fed, changed, held and cared for.  Their needs are always more important than anyone else’s.  Such is the nature of sin, a selfish preoccupation with oneself.  Sin is narcissism to the nth degree.  We are all sinful and corrupt even when the world thinks we are cute.


Read Genesis 6:5.  Is this really true? Yes, it is.  Every inclination of our heart is evil.  Even the good things we do, are marred by self centered actions and desires, even when we are acting altruistically, deep within us is the desire for something, even if it is the pleasure of knowing we did something good.  That is a form of selfishness and self-serving.  We are evil without God’s spirit in our lives.  This is a hard teaching to accept, so let me point you forward to Question 91, which asks “What do we do that is good?”  The answer, “Only that which arises out of true faith, conforms to God’s law, and is done for his glory; and not that which is based on what we think is right or on established human tradition.”  We must keep this definition of goodness in our mind when we reflect on the biblical teaching of human sinfulness.


So, how does one escape from the evil plaguing the human heart and mind?  We must be born again, or stated another way; we need to be created again by God.  He must remake our heart, mind, soul and body.  He must breathe into us the breathe of life, again.  When a person is born again, God places his Spirit within him or her.  God makes them new again.  He restores them to a position better than Adam and Eve’s original condition, for he pours his Spirit into them and assures them that it will never leave them, or be lost by them.  Read John 3:3-5 where Jesus and Nicodemus discuss this truth.


How can we be assured that the Spirit will never leave us?  Jesus promised.  Read John 14:16-21, and 14:26.  Jesus promises his disciples that they will not be left naked and alone ever again.  And if the Spirit of God dwells in us, can we ever be lost?  Can we ever anger God so completely that he withdraws his Spirit from us?  Certainly not, for that would put us in a position to relive the fall of Adam all over again.  And if that was so, what hope could we have of redemption?  There would be none.  But with the Spirit, we can enjoy God’s leading and guiding, and even more, we can do good.  We can know God, seek his glory and live a life conformed to his will.  This is the joy of the Gospel. God himself reverses the fall of humanity.


About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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