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January 23 – LD 4, Day 2: It is Our Fault That We Cannot Keep the Law

Tuesday the 23rd of January

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

Read: Romans 3:1-19, Romans 5:12-21.

Our teacher is now going to tell us why God is not unjust in insisting we keep the law, even though we are unable to do it.

The reason is that it is our own fault that we cannot keep the law. We are to be blamed for this inability. You will recall that I used the figure of a builder who contracted to build a house for someone, but needed the money before he started to build. But, given the money, he squandered it on a round-the-world cruise with his wife. So, on his return, he was not able to build the house; but the one who gave him the money had the perfect right to demand of him that he do it, even if he could not.

But why is our sin our own fault? Here too, our teacher has an important lesson for us to learn, taken right from the Scripture. Our sin is our fault, because God created us good – in Adam. And so we sinned by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We committed this act of disobedience, and God punishes us with death for our sin.

But how did we eat of the tree when we were not even born? We ate of the tree in Adam, for we were in Adam when Adam sinned; and it is as if we ourselves truly disobeyed.

There are different names given to Adam because we were in him: federal head, legal head, representative head. Whatever name is used, it all means that Adam’s sin is the sin of all those who came from Adam – the whole human race.

This is the teaching of Scripture. Read Romans 5:12 -14 once again: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned . . . . Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”

This is a difficult doctrine, not to understand, but to confess. Almost no one in our day believes it any more. But we must remember that if we deny that we sinned in Adam, then we deny too that we are saved in Christ. Adam “was the figure of him that was to come” (Rom. 5:14).


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