What is Sin?

This entry is part 24 of 44 in the series What are Catechisms?

Adam and Eve Created

Who were the first man and woman?1

The first man and woman were Adam and Eve.

Were Adam and Eve innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God?2

Adam and Eve were innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God.

Which were the chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve had they remained faithful to God?3

The chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve, had they remained faithful to God, were a constant state of happiness in this life and everlasting glory in the next.

Sin Enters the World

Did God give any command to Adam and Eve?4

To try their obedience God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of a certain fruit which grew in the garden of Paradise.

Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?5

Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God (Genesis 3:6; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 5:12).

Who brought sin into the world?6

The devil brought sin into the world by tempting Adam and Eve, who of their own free will yielded to the temptation (1 John 3:8). He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning (Romans 5:12). Sin entered the world through one man.

What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?7

The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6, 12-13).

What befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?8

Adam and Eve, on account of their sin, lost innocence and holiness, and were doomed to sickness and death.

What evil befell us on account of the disobedience of our first parents?9

On account of the disobedience of our first parents, we all share in their sin and punishment, as we should have shared in their happiness if they had remained faithful.

What is sin?10

Sin is every thought, desire, word, and deed which is contrary to God’s Law (1 John 3:4). Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

Note: Other names for sin are disobedience (Romans 5:19 ESV); debts (Matthew 6:12 ESV); wickedness, rebellion, (Exodus 34:7 NIV); fault (Matthew 18:15 ESV); trespass (Romans 5:17); wickedness (Romans 6:13 NIV); and wrong (Colossians 3:25 ESV).

Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?11

The covenant being made with Adam (Genesis 2:16-17; James 2:10), not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22).

What is the misery of that estate whereunto man fell?12

All mankind, by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse, and made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever (Genesis 3:8, 24; Ephesians 2:3; Galatians 3:10; Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:41-46; Psalm 9:17).

Original Sin and Actual Sin

Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?13

The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin (Romans 5:12, 19), the want of original righteousness (Romans 3:10; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24), and the corruption of his whole nature (Psalm 51:5; John 3:6; Romans 3:18; 8:7-8; Ephesians 2:3), which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 53:1-3; Matthew 15:19; Romans 3:10-18, 23; Galatians 5:19-21; James 1:14-15).

What is original sin?14

Original sin is that total corruption of our whole human nature which we have inherited from Adam through our parents (Psalm 51:5; John 3:6; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 4:22).

How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?15

Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

What has original sin done to human nature?16

Original sin has brought guilt and condemnation to all people (Romans 5:19; Ephesians 2:3); has left everyone without true fear and love of God, that is, spiritually blind, dead, and enemies of God (Genesis 8:21; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1; Romans 8:7); causes everyone to commit all kinds of actual sins (Matthew 7:17; Galatians 5:19).

Is original sin the only kind of sin?17

Original sin is not the only kind of sin; there is another kind of sin, which we commit ourselves, called actual sin.

What is actual sin?18

Actual sin is every act against a commandment of God in thoughts, desires, words, or deeds (Matthew 15:19; James 1:15; James 4:17).


Series Navigation<< Who is Man?What are the Effects of Sin? >>

What are Catechisms? (44 articles)


  1. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 39.
  2. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 40.
  3. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 42.
  4. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 41.
  5. Baptist Catechism (1677), Question 17.
  6. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 79.
  7. Baptist Catechism (1677), Question 19.
  8. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 44.
  9. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 45.
  10. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 78.
  11. Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647), Question 16.
  12. Baptist Catechism (1677), Question 23.
  13. Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647), Question 18.
  14. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 81.
  15. Westminster Larger Catechism (1647), Question 26.
  16. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 82.
  17. Baltimore Larger Catechism (1885), Question 51.
  18. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 83.

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