Monday, June 18, 2012

The Creation and Fall of Humanity

The Belgic Confession of Faith

Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Humanity

We believe that God created human beings from the dust of the earth and made and formed them in the divine image and likeness—good, just, and holy; able by the divine will to conform in all things to the will of God.

But when they were in honor they did not understand it (Ps. 49:20) and did not recognize their excel- lence. But they subjected themselves willingly to sin and consequently to death and the curse, lending their ear to the word of the devil.

For they transgressed the commandment of life, which they had received, and by their sin they separated themselves from God, who was their true life, having corrupted their entire nature.

So they made themselves guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all their ways. They lost all their excellent gifts which they had received from God, and retained none of them except for small traces which are enough to make them inexcusable.

Moreover, all the light in us is turned to darkness, as the Scripture teaches us: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it" (John 1:5).  Here Saint John calls the human race “darkness.”

Therefore we reject everything taught to the contrary concerning human free will, since humans are nothing but the slaves of sin and cannot do a thing unless it is given them from heaven (John 3:27).

For who can boast of being able to do anything good by oneself, since Christ says, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me” (John 6:44)?

Who can glory in one’s own will when they understand that “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God” (Rom 8:7)? Who can speak of one’s own knowledge in view of the fact that “those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit” (1 Cor 2:14)?

In short, who can produce a single thought, since we know that we are “not able to think a thing” about ourselves, by ourselves, but that “our competence is from God” (2 Cor 3:5)?

And therefore, what the apostle says ought rightly to stand fixed and firm: “For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). For there is no understanding nor will conforming to God’s understanding and will apart from Christ’s involvement, as he teaches us when he says, “Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

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