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New City Catechism Question 16
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New City Catechism Question 16


 Q16: What is sin?


A: Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against him by living without reference to him, not being or doing what he requires in his law—resulting in our death and the disintegration of all creation.


KIDS’ ANSWER: Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, not being or doing what he requires in his law.



1 John 3:4 "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”


ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES TO READ: Jeremiah 13:23; James 4:11-17


LIFE APPLICATION: When we think of defining sin, our minds typically go immediately to actions such as evil deeds, impure thoughts, hurtful words, or acts of violence. However, sin is far more far-reaching than that. It is deeper and more subtle. It runs to and from the very core of our being, as part of the nature we inherited from the father of the human race, Adam. As this week’s answer reminds us, sin is not only doing what God forbids, but also neglecting to do what God requires (James 4:17).


This is very important for us to realize because how we define sin impacts what we then think about God’s remedy. In other words, if sin is merely all about our behavior then most of us can do something about that, at least to some degree. We can muster up enough will-power to “be good” or “do better next time.” And religion could even help us. Good deeds done in the name of God, or for the good of others, could potentially outweigh the bad we’ve done if, and only if, sin is only about behavior.


But if sin is ultimately a heart problem then there is nothing we can do to change ourselves (Jeremiah 13:23). Instead, we need a heart surgeon to go to work on us. If we could turn our own life around then Jesus would not have had to come (Galatians 2:21). And that is the good news of the gospel. In Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit creates within us a new heart, a heart for God, a heart for His Word, a heart for others. This is the miracle of the new birth, which we will learn more about in the coming weeks.



We believe that man was created in the image of God, but fell into sin, and is therefore lost, and that only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained.  (Gen. 1:26, 27, 2:7, 22, 3:1-6; Rom. 3:9-12,23, 5:12,18, 6:23Jn. 3:3, 5-7)


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