For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q84


Several years ago, I was wandering through a little arts and crafts gift shop, and I noticed a miniature rustic country house on display—one of those decorative dust collectors we often buy on impulse. There was a tiny sign attached to the front porch that caught my attention. I drew close to read (in a loose paraphrase), “Jesus is coming, and boy, is he mad.” Well, that was unexpected! I wondered what had caused the artist to make that statement?  It was unlike the usual “happy face” commentaries about God’s unconditional love and unlimited forgiveness that one usually sees adorn gift shop plaques. Whatever his motive, I had to appreciate his theology: when Jesus returns, it will be in judgment, and God is not pleased with our sins. People try to make light of God’s wrath and curse upon sin through unbiblical comments like “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.” But Ps. 1:5 and Ps. 5:4-5 say differently.
As we study this catechism question, may we give prayerful consideration to the lessons presented. May our heart attitude be that of the psalmist in Psalm 5:7ff: “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple…Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, …let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.”
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WSC Q84. What doth every sin deserve?
A.   Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come[a].
[a] Matt. 25:41; Gal. 3:10; Eph. 5:6; Jas. 2:10
Question 84 asks what it is that every sin deserves, and answers that every sin deserves God’s anger and curse, both in this life and in the life to come.
Comments and considerations:
The catechism has just taken us through a complete study of the Ten Commandments, showing from Scripture that no mere individual is able to perfectly keep the commandments of God. Now, even though we understand that there are some sins more hateful to God than others, we must recognized that every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come. For every want of conformity or transgression of the law of God (WSC Q14), there is a temporal and eternal consequence. The catechism is generally considered to have two parts: Qs 1-38 describe what we are to believe and Qs 39-107 describe what God requires. This is a pattern we often observe in Scripture, sometimes called in theological terms the “indicative” followed by the “imperative”—in layman terms, the “what” and the “so what.” But Q84 is actually a return to the “what” (what every sin deserves) and Q85 will respond with the “so what” (what God requires so that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin).
It is said that, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed.” When faced with an obvious and imminent threat, it is assumed that people will take immediate, appropriate action. Likewise, another familiar proverb states, “A word to the wise is sufficient.” That may be true; but so few people are wise enough to give heed, even to warnings of imminent danger. How many people refuse to consider the truth of this very clear catechism question and answer? Human beings have indeed been forewarned. But do they acknowledge their need?
Every sin—minor or major—deserveth—that is, merits—God’s wrath and curse. As pointed out in our last lesson, our infinite God hates sin to the decree that he will never overlook any unrighteousness but condemns every single sin, both in this life, and that which is to come. To be sure, God will not be mocked. The consequences which follow bad decisions and sinfulness are becoming more evident in the many ills that appear to be overwhelming our society and culture; yet man’s perceived unintended consequences are in fact God’s intended consequences as he works out the wisdom of his will in all things. David, a man after God’s own heart, testifies to God’s justice and judgment of sin both in this life, and that which is to come for the violence he did to Uriah in that ugly drama of II Sam. 11-12. That narrative is worth a personal reading and prayerful consideration on this vital topic. It is an excellent example of Eph. 5:6—“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”
Is “A word to the wise is sufficient?” Part of the Good News involves understanding and receiving rightly the bad news: “‘But other [seed] fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.’ When He had said these things He cried, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” (Luke 8:8)
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.        Go back and read WSC Q16 and Q19. What are two reasons that all of mankind has for being subject to God’s wrath and the curse? (1)
2.        Read I John 1:8-10. What facts and promises are stated in this passage?
3.        We might at times overlook a sin against ourselves, or show forgiveness towards another person; we might not think that every sin against us “deserves” anger and justice. But this catechism question teaches that every sin is deserving of God’s anger and curse. What does Ps. 2:1-3 say about this? (2)
4.        What happens when we do not deal with sin in our lives? What is the outcome of ignoring God or not giving him the honor due him according to Rom. 1:28-31?
5.        Read Rev. 20:11-15, which describes that coming day of final judgment before the throne of God. What does it say about those whose names are written in the book of life? How does the scene described here relate to John 3:17-21, 36?
Answers:
1) All sinned and fell in Adam and are also subject to God’s judgment due to their own personal sin.
2) That all sin is an offense against an infinite, eternal, unchangeable, and holy God; that our unsaved sinful hearts are set against his rule over us, and the least sin is a evidence of that fact. Also see Eph. 5:3-7.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q84 and WLC 152
Q.  84. What doth every sin deserve?
A.  Every sin deserveth God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come[a].
      [a]. Matt. 25:41; Gal. 3:10; Eph. 5:6; Jas. 2:10
Q.  152 What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God?
A.  Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty[a], goodness[b], and holiness of God[c], and against his righteous law[d], deserveth his wrath and curse[e], both in this life[f], and that which is to come[g]; and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ[h].
[a]   Jam. 2:10-11
[b]   Exod. 20:1-2
[c]   Hab. 1:13; Lev. 10:3; 11:44-45
[d]   1John 3:4; Rom. 7:12
[e]   Eph. 5:6; Gal. 3:10
[f]   Lam. 3:39; Deut. 28:15-20
[g]   Mat. 25:41
[h]  Heb. 9:22; 1Pet. 1:18-19
Question(s) for further study:

Notice how the Larger Catechism question adds to the question asked in the Shorter, and answers more specifically in making what important point?  The Larger Catechism also provides an answer to the dilemma of sin by adding what other important point?

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