3.Q. From where do you know your sins and misery?
A. From the law of God.
Having read yesterday that it is a divine mercy to know of our sins and misery, how is it that we come to the knowledge of them? Standing on Romans 3:20, today’s catechism points directly to God’s law. The apostle Paul writes, “For by the works of the law no human being will be justified in [God’s] sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
Every human born into this world exists as an image-bearer. That is to say, we all bear the image of God. One of the ways in which God fashioned us is by naturally imposing his law upon us. People’s consciences testify that this law is written on their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15). Everyone strives for morality. The unbelieving heart, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, shows this principle at work by attempting to create a pseudo-law apart from God’s law. Sadly, the professing atheist Christopher Hitchens has displayed this principle by proposing some “better” commandments. Even though his attempt appears to be to get a rise out of Christians and to blaspheme God, his actions still point to this principle in a more visible way.
Today’s Q & A is concerned with one of the functions of the law. It brings us to the knowledge of our sin. “What sin is is finally determined not by the church (Rome), nor by the state (Hobbes), nor by an autonomous moral law (Grotius), nor by the autonomous Self (Kant), nor by humanity as a whole (Comte), nor by social instincts (Darwin), but solely and exclusively by the law of God” (Bavinck). Tomorrow’s question will address what God’s law requires of everyone.