Heidelbasics: Brief Weekly Reflections on the Heidelberg Catechism by Rev. David Fagrey, Pastor of Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD
6. Did God create man thus wicked and perverse?
No, but God created man good and after His own image, that is, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him.
Question 5 told us that mankind has a natural tendency to hate God and neighbor. Question 6 tells us that God did not create man in this sinful condition. Rather, on the sixth day of creation, God created man good, without any sin at all. “Then God saw everything that He had made and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God created man’s body out of the dust of the ground [Adam means ground]. “And God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). “God created man in His own image… male and female” (Gen. 1:27). Mankind is as much like God as a creature can be–which makes man different from animals and angels. We were created with a mind to rightly know God (John 17:3), affections to heartily love God (1 Peter 1:8), and a will to praise and glorify God in “righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24)–to imitate God in all of life (Eph. 5:1), to work six days for His glory, and to rest one day for His glory, just like He did (Exodus 20:8-11).
7. From where, then, does this depraved nature of man come?
From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise, whereby our nature became so corrupt that we are all conceived and born in sin.
Though God created Adam and Eve good, He created them changeably good, which means they could fall from goodness if they disobeyed God’s command not to eat from the forbidden tree (Gen. 2:16-17). By their fall and disobedience, they separated themselves from God, who was their true life, having corrupted their whole nature. This corruption of the whole nature [original sin] is a hereditary disease which extends to all mankind. We are all conceived and born in sin (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12).
8. But are we so depraved that we are completely incapable of any good and prone to all evil?
Yes, unless we are born again by the Spirit of God.
The corruption of our whole nature is totally depraved, completely incapable of any good in the eyes of God. “There is none who does good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:12); “every intent of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5; cf. Jeremiah 17:9; Eph. 2:1). Fallen man is still made in God’s image. A shattered mirror is still a mirror: a corrupt and distorted image is still an image. Fallen man still has a mind, affections, and a will; but his mind is darkened, his affections hate God and his neighbor, and his will is not free to obey God but is “a slave of sin” (Rom. 3:22); he can give money to the poor, but not out of love for God (1 Cor. 13:3). Only God can cause us to be born again (regenerated), making us spiritually alive, so that our eyes are open to believe the truth, our hearts are clean to love the truth, and our wills are set free to practice the truth (Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:26-27).