A Few Comments on Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 28
Q. 28. What are the punishments of sin in this world?
A. The punishments of sin in this world, are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections: or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sake; and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments; together with death itself.
Eph. 4:18; Rom. 1:28; 2 Thess. 2:11; Rom. 2:5; Isa. 33:14; Gen. 4:13; Matt. 27: 4; Rom. 1:26; Gen. 3:17; Deut. 28:15-68; Rom. 6:21, 23.
In Question 28 of the Westminster Larger Catechism, the punishments of sin in this world are divided into two categories: inward and outward. This exposition will explore each assertion and provide Scripture references to support them.
Inward punishments of sin:
a. Blindness of mind (Ephesians 4:18): Sin leads to a darkening of understanding and an inability to perceive spiritual truth. People who are spiritually blind cannot see the beauty and importance of God's truth or the gravity of their sinful condition.
b. A reprobate sense (Romans 1:28): A reprobate sense refers to a debased, depraved mind that is morally corrupt and unprincipled. Sin has the power to warp our thinking, leading us to rationalize and justify sinful behavior.
c. Strong delusions (2 Thessalonians 2:11): Sin can cause us to believe lies and be deceived by false teachings. When we reject God's truth, we become susceptible to deception and falsehood.
d. Hardness of heart (Romans 2:5): Sin leads to a stubborn resistance to God's will, causing us to refuse His grace, mercy, and forgiveness. A hard heart is unresponsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
e. Horror of conscience (Isaiah 33:14, Matthew 27:4): When our conscience is awakened to the reality of our sin, we may experience guilt, shame, and even terror. This horror of conscience can be a painful reminder of our separation from God.
f. Vile affections (Romans 1:26): Sin can lead to unnatural, dishonorable desires and passions that are contrary to God's design for human relationships and sexuality.
Outward punishments of sin:
a. The curse of God upon the creatures for our sake (Genesis 3:17): As a result of human sin, the natural world is subject to decay, suffering, and death. The curse affects every aspect of creation, including the environment, animals, and human relationships.
b. All other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments (Deuteronomy 28:15-68): Sin's consequences manifest in various ways, such as physical illness, damaged reputations, loss of wealth, broken relationships, and difficulty in our work.
c. Death itself (Romans 6:21, 23): The ultimate punishment for sin is death, which is both physical and spiritual. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, while spiritual death is eternal separation from God.
In summary, the Westminster Larger Catechism's answer to Question 28 identifies the punishments of sin in this world as both inward and outward. The inward punishments include blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections. The outward punishments encompass the curse of God upon creation, the various evils that impact our lives, and death itself. These punishments serve as a stark reminder of the devastating effects of sin and our need for redemption through Jesus Christ.
A Few Thoughts on God's Involvement in Temporal Judgments
(The outward punishments of sin in the above exposition)
The concept of outward punishments for sin can be a challenging one for many Christians to accept. There are many Christians in this day and age who seem uncomfortable with the idea that God can be involved in any way with disasters, sickness and other consequences of sin. But it is crucial to remember that the Bible does not always link specific sufferings or disasters directly to particular sins. In Luke 13, Jesus points out that those who experience disasters or tragedies are not necessarily worse sinners than others. Rather, such events serve as a reminder of the pervasive nature of sin and the universal need for repentance.
We must also recognize that the consequences of sin have impacted the world at large. The Fall in Genesis 3 brought about a curse on creation, and the effects of sin extend far beyond individual acts. This means that even when disasters, sicknesses, or other misfortunes occur, they can be understood as consequences of humanity's fallen state and our collective rebellion against God.
It is essential to approach the topic of God's involvement in temporal judgments with humility, recognizing that His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). We must trust in God's sovereignty and goodness, even when we cannot fully comprehend His purposes in temporal judgments that bring about suffering and hardships.
It is worth noting that some individuals readily accept the concept of divine punishment for sin in the world to come, yet find it difficult to believe that God might enact temporal judgments in this world. However, it is essential to remember that any consequences we face in this life are ultimately less severe than what we deserve. By adopting a more open and humble perspective, we can better appreciate the intricate workings of divine justice and mercy in our lives.
Ultimately, our focus should be on the grace of God in Jesus Christ, who has provided redemption and hope for all who believe in Him. Through faith in Christ, we can be delivered from the eternal consequences of sin and look forward to a day when God will "wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).