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Author:Rev. George van Popta
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Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
Title:Corruption and Innocence
Text:LD 14 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Singing: Hymn 19:1,2,3,4; Hymn 19:5,6; Psalm 51:1,2,3; Psalm 51:4,6; Psalm 150

Reading: Psalm 51;

Text: Article 15, Confession of Faith; Lord's Day 14
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:


1. The extent of our corruption; 2. The extent of Christ's innocence.

1. The last line of LD 14 speaks about the extent of our corruption: "... my sin, in which I was conceived and born." In it is not just that we commit sins (that is bad enough, of course). It is that we are sinful, by nature, from birth, from conception. David wrote in Psalm 51:5, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."

Psalm 51 is David's prayer of confession after he had sinned grievously. After he had offended God terribly. He had committed adultery and murdered his lover's spouse. In Psalm 51 he confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness. Then he spoke about the extent of his corruption: it extended all the way back to when he was in his mother's womb.

I would hasten to add, lest anyone embrace the mistaken notion that scripture teaches the act of conceiving children to be sinful: It does not, of course. God commanded Adam and Eve before they fell into sin to conceive and bear children. It was part of the good command that God originally gave man.Everything involved in the conceiving of children, within the context of holy marriage, is good, holy, and pleasing to God. David does not say that the act of conceiving children is wrong; rather, he says that since the time he was conceived, he was sinful. As BC 15 puts it, we are infected even in our mother's wombs.

We are speaking here of original sin and total depravity. Not the happiest of topics, but things we must speak about because the Bible speaks about them.

The root of original sin is man's desire to be like God. In the Garden, the serpent said to the woman, "...when you eat of it [the forbidden fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." The woman and the man ate it because they wanted to be like God.

Satan lied. They did not become like God; they became like the devil: evil, corrupt. It changed them. They became sinful creatures who committed sins.

When they sinned, they represented the whole human race. Just like the leader of a country can act and speak for all the citizens of the country, so our first parents acted on our behalf. We share in their guilt.

And just as they were changed and became sinful sinners, so we are sinful sinners. Corrupt parents give birth to corrupt children. It is a hereditary disease with a 100% transmission rate. As we confess in Article 15 of our Confession of Faith: the disobedience of Adam original sin has spread throughout the whole human race. It is a corruption of the entire nature of man and a hereditary evil which infects even infants in their mother's womb. As a root it produces in man all sorts of sin. We sin because we are inherently sinful and sinners. Our inherent, constitutional, intrinsic, innate, inborn corruption produces all manner of sins in our lives. In the case of David, it led to the depths of adultery and murder.

To what has it led in us, my brother, my sister? In me? In you?

David admits it. He confesses it: Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. He confesses his original sin and total depravity, and the actual sins he committed because of his corruption: I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight...

When Nathan the prophet confronted him after he had committed adultery and murder, then David said to Nathan: "I have sinned against the LORD." (2 Sam 12:13 NIV)

As in his original and immediate confession the moment the Word of God confronted him, and in his extended confession, there is no hint of minimizing his sin or trying to make an excuse. He does not say to Nathan: Well, hang on a moment, Nathan, are you perfect? Or, how do you expect a man to respond when he sees a beautiful woman? A beautiful woman bathing, no less? No healthy, red-blooded man would have acted any different from me.

Nothing of the sort. He takes full responsibility for his sin.

Neither does he blame his sinfulness. He does not say: Well, hey, we're all sinners, aren't we? What chance do we have? We are sinful from the time we were conceived. We are constitutionally, inherently, sinful by nature. Cut me some slack, man!

No way. In total humility he confessed his sinfulness and his sin. "I have sinned against the LORD." Against you, [LORD], you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight...

Let us learn from King David. How often do we not excuse our sins; minimize our sins; blame others for our sins. When the Word of God confronts us, how often do we not start proposing all sorts of extenuating circumstances? It's not my fault! So and so is equally to blame! The devil made me do it! Or in pure Adamic fashion: Lord, the woman thou gavest me; she led me to sin! Or, Lord, the man thou gavest me; he caused me to sin!

It doesn't wash, beloved. You are responsible for what you do; I for what I do-and that's the beginning and the end of the matter. We can argue extenuating circumstances until Kingdom Come. But the Lord, when he comes, will find us excusing our sins and he will say: What are you talking about? Why did you not repent of your sins?

As David said in verse 6, Surely you desire truth in the inner parts... He is speaking of the need for truth in the context of confession of sin and of prayer for forgiveness. Let us be truthful in admitting our sinfulness, our sins, and then in confessing them without making excuses.

Last week a young man of this congregation phoned a radio station and asked a question about Ezekiel 18. You see, there's this program on the radio where you can phone in with questions about the Bible, and a couple of ministers try to give good, Biblical answers. Ezekiel 18 teaches the personal responsibility each individual has to repent of his sins and to live a holy life. No matter what people around you are doing, you need to repent of your sin and live a godly life. You cannot say: Well, the people around me are living ungodly lives, and therefore there is no sense in me turning to the Lord and living a godly life. Oh yes, there is. If you live in the midst of ungodly people and you live an ungodly life, God will condemn you for your sins (not the sins of the others, but yours). If you live in the midst of ungodly people and you repent of your sins and turn to the Lord, and walk in obedience, the Lord will forgive you your sins. He will accept your confession.

Quit looking at others, those around you. Look at yourself. Repent of your sins.

We can have orthodox confessional statements about original sin and total depravity (very important!), but those orthodox statements will not do anyone any good if they remain in the book. We must each personally confess our corruption, total depravity, original and actual sins. As QA 36 teaches us to do. In A. 36 the believer speaks about " sin, in which I was conceived and born." You see how the catechism, once again, falls into the first person singular: My sin, in which I was conceived and born.

We spoke about the extent of our corruption.

2. We speak, secondly, about the extent of Christ's perfection.

As Q. 36 says, Christ was innocent and perfectly holy. How did that come about? BC 15 says that through the disobedience of Adam, sin has spread through the whole human race. The Lord Jesus is part of the human race. He was born of Mary, of the seed of David, like his brothers in every way.

As A. 35 says, in every way except for sin.

How is it that he was sinless? Through the divine conception. As we confess in the AC and as scripture teaches, he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin. Not conceived in the normal way.

Again, this does mean that there is anything sinful about a husband and wife conceiving a child. Of course not. God commanded Adam and Eve to do so, and God would never command anything sinful.

Rather, that the Lord Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and not by a human father teaches that God had to intervene in the terrible cycle of sinful parents conceiving and giving birth to sinful children. As Job, speaking about how man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble asks: Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one! (Job 14:4 NIV) No one born will be pure. Everyone born is, by nature, corrupt, sinful, a sinner. No person can produce sinless children.

Parents produce all sorts of children. No two are alike. Every individual has his own nature, personality, strengths and weaknesses. But one thing each human being has in common with the rest of the human race-sinfulness and sins.

Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one! No human being! But God can. And He did.

Out of the virgin Mary, a godly yet sinful young woman, God brought the innocent, pure and perfectly holy Jesus Christ. God intervened in the human race. He broke into the cycle of inherited corruption. He reached down into the mess we made and said: Here is my Son. I send my Son to become one of you.

Jesus Christ is our Mediator. One who is both true God and true man. He is and remains true and eternal God. But he became something he was not before-true man from the flesh and blood of Mary.

As the perfect man he came to die for our sins. As true God he came to defeat the power of the devil.

He was born and laid in a manger. His humiliation and life of suffering for our sins began then. He entered into the miserable existence we brought about by our sins. In every respect, except for sin, he became like us.

We wanted to be like God. That was our sin. In the Garden of Eden we wanted to be like God. We believed the devil when he said that if we ate the forbidden fruit, we would be like God. Of course, he lied and we believed the lie. We, rather, became like him.

Our sin was that we wanted to be like God. God's grace is that he sent his son to become like us. That was God's answer to our audacity. When we wanted to be like God, God's answer to us was: "Tell you what; my son will become like you-one of you-to save you from your audacity, your insolence, your impudence, your rudeness.

He came, beloved. The innocent and perfectly holy One came. With his innocence and perfect holiness he covers, in the sight of God, the sin in which we were conceived and born.

Imagine a cesspool, a stinking manure pit. It's ugly, it's revolting, it's offensive, it stinks. Then someone comes and puts a cover over it. The cover fits perfectly. The cesspool, the manure pit is completely and hermetically sealed. You cannot see it. You cannot smell it. You would not know it's there.

That's what our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ does. With his own innocence and perfect holiness, he covers our sin. The cesspool, the manure pit of our sins. He covers it so perfectly, so completely, that it is out of God's sight. God no longer sees it. When God looks at us, he does not see our sin; rather, he sees the innocence and perfect holiness of Christ. If you believe in Christ, he does not see you as a sinner, he sees you as Christ. If you believe in Christ, you have clothed yourself in Christ. You have put on Christ. You are in Christ. And when God looks at you, he sees Christ-the Lord Jesus Christ in whom he was and is well pleased. At the end He will change you, perfect you, so that you will be like Him.

Accept this, child of God. Accept this Mediator. Accept his work done for you. Then your sin will not be imputed to you to your condemnation but by God's grace and mercy will be forgiven you. AMEN

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2003, Rev. George van Popta

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