Friday, January 14, 2011

Daily Devotions from the Heidelberg --- Original Sin and Actual Sins: Root and Fruit


Original Sin and Actual Sins: Root and Fruit


1) Heidelberg Catechism:

5 Q. Can you live up to all this perfectly?

A. No. I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.

2) Scripture

Psalm 51:1-5, 17:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


David sinned in a terrible way. First, he committed adultery with his neighbor’s wife, breaking the seventh of the Ten Commandments. Second, he tried to cover up his sin before the eyes of others by having the husband, who was named Uriah, put to death. Thus, he broke the sixth commandment as well!

It appears as though David managed to keep his sins somewhat hidden from human eyes. But though people don’t always see the sins of others, God does. The Bible tells us that the Lord knew about David’s sin, and it displeased him. In 2 Samuel 11:27 we read: “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”

Psalm 51 was written by David as his confession to the Lord. The Lord is great in grace and mercy, but he does require that we judge ourselves by confessing our sins humbly before him. As long as we remain unconcerned and unrepentant about our sins, there can be no forgiveness.

One of the things David learned in his life is what he tells us in Psalm 51:5:

“Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

David learned that he sinned because he was a sinner. Just as an apple tree produces apples, and a peach tree produces peaches, so sinners commit sin. In other words, David learned that his actual sins were produced by his original sin.

What do we mean by actual sins and original sin?

Actual sins are the sins we actually commit. David actually committed the sins of adultery, deceit, and murder. But original sin is the tendency we are born with and possess when are conceived in our mother’s womb. Original sin is our tendency to dislike God’s authority in our lives. Original sin is our tendency to follow our own minds and hearts, rather than God’s will and word. David learned that his actual sins, like adultery and murder, were produced by the original sin in his heart.

Which is worse, our actual sins we commit or the original sin within us? Surprisingly, our original sin within us is worse in God’s eyes, for it is the cause of our actual sins. A good example of the relation of original and actual sin is the flu. When you get the flu you have symptoms like vomiting, headaches, achiness, and chills. But the symptoms are actually caused by a virus. The virus is the real problem and the cause of all the symptoms. In God’s sight, our original sin is the worst sin in our lives.

How humbling for us is this doctrine of original sin! But thankfully, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:7 and 1 Pet. 5:6).

Discussion: Describe actual sins and original sin. What is the deepest cause of our actual sins ? (look at verse 4)

Prayer Starter: In your prayer, thank the Father that through the work of his Son on the cross all of your sin, both actual and original are forgiven and blotted out according to his abundant grace and mercy in Christ.

Hymn for Lord’s Day 2

How Do You Come to Know

To the tune TRENTHAM (Breathe on Me Breath of God or Based on Lord’s Day 2 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A’s 14, 42, 18-19). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
How do you come to know
your sin and misery?
The holy, righteous law of God
points out my sin to me.

v. 2
What does God’s law require?
Wholehearted love for God,
with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength,
while on this earth we walk.

v. 3
What does God’s law require?
Love to our neighbor too.
Love him as you do love yourself.
Love him for God’s sake too.

v. 4
Can you live up to this?
No one can perfectly.
The law condemns my lack of love,
it shows my guilt to me.

v. 5
What then can sinners do?
Flee to the God of grace.
God sent His Son to bear our guilt
and take the sinner’s place.

v. 6
What does the gospel show?
It shows God’s gracious will.
It shows how we may live with Him
bless’d on His holy hill.

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