A Walk through the 1689 Baptist Confession, pt.13: Of the Fall of man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof


Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof

1._____ Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
( Genesis 2:16, 17; Genesis 3:12,13; 2 Corinthians 11:3 )

2._____ Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
( Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12, etc; Titus 1:15; Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-19 )

3._____ They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.
( Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22, 45, 49; Psalms 51:5; Job 14:4; Ephesians 2:3; Romans 6:20 Romans 5:12; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 Thessalonians 1:10 )

4._____ From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
( Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21; James 1:14, 15; Matthew 15:19 )

5._____ The corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
( Romans 7:18,23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8; Romans 7:23-25; Galatians 5:17 )


Understanding the Confession

I. The Definition of Sin

The first sin consisted  in the transgression of the law. According to the confession, Adam violated both the general obligations and specially revealed commands of the law written on his heart, as well as, the specially revealed command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This strongly suggests that the definition of sin is a rebellion against, transgression of, or disobedience to the law of God. This is confirmed by the rest of Scripture (see Rom. 2:12-15; 4:15; 5:13; 1 John 3:4).

This definition of sin suggests several practical observations. First, is that if sin is the transgression of divine law, then autonomy (desiring to be a law unto oneself; auto – self, nomos – law) is a sure path to sin. This is important because sin may not necessarily always be a self-conscious rebellion against God, it may at times simply be the presumption that in any area of life I may do just as I please without reference to any standard other than my own desires. Sin is the desire to live without reference to any authority outside myself, whether it be the law of God or the law of his appointed representatives: state officials in government, elders in the church, parents in the home. That is to say so long as though representatives laws reflect God’s law in principle. There is one Lord and one Lawgiver, and to that Master and Lord alone we are accountable (Isa. 33:22; Rom. 14:4; James 4:12).

a. Representative Sin

This is the concept that there was a solidarity in sin between Adam and all those descending from him by ordinary generation. Thus when he sinned, we sinned in him. The truth is most contrary to fleshly wisdom because it not only teaches that we are all “bad” people and that we were born that way because of the imputation of Adam’s sin to us. First, we can clearly justify this reality from Scripture (see Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:20-22). Secondly, this concept is vital because it is what allows for the representative and substitutionary work of Christ to be imputed to us (2 Cor. 5:14-21). The doctrine of original sin is directly tied to and can only be understood in light of representative sin and Adam’s federal headship over all mankind (Acst 17:26, Rom. 5:18-19).

b. Actual Sin 

This terminally as used here is not intended to imply that original sin is not real sin, but that in this paragraph we are dealing with sinful actions and not sinful natures. The confession in paragraph 5 makes clear that what it calls “original corruption” is truly sinful apart from any actions it may produce. In paragraph 4, two assertions are made about actual sin. Its source is identified as our “original corruption.” This means that we sin, not accidentally or contrary to our basically good dispositions, but because we are sinners to the core.

c. Remaining sin

Even after we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone, we still have sin that remains in us. This is taught in many of the texts which prove original sin (Ps. 51:4-5; Prov. 22:15; Eph. 2:3). This is seen most clearly in paragraph 5 of chapter 6. The teachings of this paragraph safeguard against two errors: perfectionism and pharisaism. It shows that though the standard of the Christ behavior remains perfection (1 Pet. 1:15-16; 1 John 2:1), yet there are no Christians who attain that standard in this life. This guards the humble Christian against the bondage of feeling that because he still struggles with sin, that he is somehow a second class Christian perhaps. It also exposes pharisaism which concentrates only on external conformity to God’s law and thus avoids really confronting its own depth of depravity.


1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. http://www.rblist.org/1689.pdf.

Waldron, Sam. A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. Durham, NC: Evangelical Press, 1999.

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