In this section of the Baptist Larger Catechism, we discuss sin, which is defined as transgressions against the law of God. This section consists of an expansion of questions 88 and 90 in the Keach Catechism and the Baptist Catechism. The expansion of these questions below is based on questions 149-151 in the Westminster Larger Catechism. As before, feel free to comment on the expanded questions below.
Q. 138: Can anyone perfectly keep the commandments of God?
A: No mere man, since the Fall, can perfectly keep the commandments of God, either on His own1 or from any divine gift received in this life,2 but breaks them every day in thought,3 word, and action.4
Q. 139: Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
A: All transgressions of the law are not equally heinous, but some sins in themselves and others by reason of the harm that results from them are more heinous in the sight of God than others.1
Q. 140: What sins are more heinous because of the harm that results from them?
A: Sins become more harmful:
- From those who commit the sins:1 if they are older,2 have a longer experience of God’s grace,3 are well-known for their faith,4 clearly know better,5 hold a prominent position or office,6 are teachers,7 and whose example will influence others.8
- From those sinned against:9 if directly against God,10 His attributes,11 and worship;12 against Christ and His grace;13 against the Holy Spirit;14 His witness15 and work;16 against those above us,17 and especially those to whom we are related or owe allegiance;18 and against any fellow believer,19 particularly those who are weaker in the faith,20 their souls or anyone else’s,21 and the general good of everyone.22
- From the nature and quality of the sin:23 if it is against the exact letter of the law,24 breaks more than one commandment or includes many separate sins;25 if it is not only planned in the heart, but is expressed in words and actions,26 scandalizes others,27 and cannot be made right;28 if it is against the means of God’s grace,29 His mercy,30 or His judgments,31 against our natural understanding,32 convictions of conscience,33 public or private warnings,34 condemnation by the church,35 and civil punishment;36 and if it is against our own prayers, purposes, promises,37 vows,38 covenants,39 and commitments to God and men40 – if made deliberately,41 presumptuously,42 boastfully,43 maliciously,44 repeatedly,45 obstinately,46 with delight,47 continually,48 or as a result of falling back into it after repenting from it.49
- From circumstances of time and place:50 if on the Lord’s day51 or other times of divine worship,52 or immediately before53 or after these54 or other religious activities that help to prevent or be a remedy for such failures;55 and if publicly or in the presence of others, who consequently may very well by aroused to or defiled by the sin.56
1. Jeremiah 2:8
11. Romans 2:4
15. Ephesians 4:30
16. Hebrews 6:4-6
32. Romans 1:20
34. Proverbs 29:1
45. Numbers 14:22
47. Proverbs 2:14
51. Ezekiel 23:37-39