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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
Title:The Continued Rot in Man
Text:BC 15 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


(Reading: Romans 5:12-21; Psalm 51)


The Continued Rot In Man!



Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ...


     There is something not quite right in this world.

          In fact, we can be quite definite in saying that there is something terribly wrong in this world.

              The events just in South Auckland itself over the last week or so have clearly shown this!


     But think now how that news strikes those unbelievers out there.

          It’s really not very encouraging news for them.

              And that’s not because of the events themselves but because of what such acts say about the human condition.


     Because they cannot really live with that.

          They who believe that humankind can somehow solve the problems of the world are forced to blatantly lie about what’s going on.

              How many of our local and national politicians are trying to assure us that these crimes are just a blip in the overall scheme of things?

     ‘The programs working,’ they say.

          But it’s not, everyone knows!


     You see, congregation, the continued rot in man doesn’t stop.

          What we saw in Article XIV coming into the world because of Adam’s fall into sin is still very much with us.

              In fact, this world should actually be much, much, worse!

                   It’s only thanks to God’s Word and Spirit that it isn’t.


     So this world has got it wrong – seriously wrong!

          And it’s got it wrong for the same reason the church and society just before the reformation had got it quite wrong.


     Now you’re wondering.

          What could be the connection between now and five hundred years ago?


     The common theme, congregation, is that the vast majority of people then and today think that it’s all fixable.

          Whether that’s by passing more legislation - stopping parents being able to punish their children, closing down that anti-Labour website.

              Or whether it’s doing enough good things to make a difference.

     Like that young woman becoming initiated into the Catholic convent who thought that her love was so big only God’s love was bigger.

          That’s why she was marrying Him of course!


     It’s all very, very sad.

          Because it’s only the biblical doctrine of human depravity that truly makes us see us for who we really are!

              And it’s when the Lord Himself makes us realise that, that there is a real change in us and in society.


     This is why we must look at this teaching.

          Because it’s His teaching – His Word.

              So in the first place we consider, WHAT IS ORIGINAL SIN?


     In the Garden of Eden, Adam acted for us all.

          He was our representative.

              So when he sinned he not only affected himself – he infected us all!

     Romans 5 is clear about this.

          In verse 12 Paul says, “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sin….”


     Article XV simply says what Scripture says.

          This is the “corruption of the whole nature.”

              In fact, this is so devastating that it is “a hereditary disease, wherewith even infants in their mother’s womb are infected.”

     Augh, they don’t like hearing this!

          What David says in Psalm 51 verse 5 about being conceived in sin doesn’t agree with them at all.

              Why babies are the most sweet and innocent things!


     Can you see that the struggle the reformers had is our one too?

          It’s not just a small point of theological difference – this is what’s at the heart of everything.

              Because it’s what’s in the heart of everyone!


     Romans 3 verse 10 states it clearly.

          “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

              And there Paul is actually quoting several Old Testament passages.


     Then in Romans 8 the apostle expounds upon this further.

          He declares in verse 7 there, “the sinful mind is hostile to God.”


     So it’s not that part of us isn’t quite right, nor either is it that a lot of us is not right – the fact is that every single part of us is rotten, through and through!

          We are dead set against God.

              And that’s not good.

                   Actually, this is the most terribly evil thing!


     Now, compare that with what the Roman Catholic taught then and now.

          They say the only things lost were the supernatural gifts of the image of God.

              You know, those gifts they say their saints have managed to get back.

     And they could get them back because the natural reflection of God’s image was left untouched.

          So that means you could be that good you’re get to be really good.

              Again, is it any wonder that the Church of Rome teaches salvation through other religions too?


     This is reflected in the belief many people have that they’ve done more good than bad.

          So when God weighs them up on his scales of justice, they’ll tip the scales the right way.


     That’s how pervasive original sin is.

          People don’t even realise how much it really affects them.


     So we have answered the question, WHAT IS ORIGINAL SIN?

          Then, secondly, let’s ask, HOW IS IT ORIGINAL SIN?


     Here we see the consequences of original sin.

          For if indeed original sin is as all pervasive as it is we have to see it as the root of all evil in mankind.


     Whether this is what some may say is a “small” sin or a “big” sin.

          Others uses the words “daily sins” and “deadly sins” to make the distinction between sins.

              But both kinds are poisonous.

     Whether it’s a tagging or a stabbing.

          Whether it’s that nasty loud-mouthed politician or the step-father beating his kid on the clothes line.


     The same goes for the making a difference between sins of omission and sins of commission.

          As though sins we don’t know we’re doing have an automatic excuse attached.

              Well, then, the most socially dysfunctional can get away with anything!


     An illustration from the life of Nero helps us here.

          At the beginning of his reign he did some amazing acts of kindness.

              He was very popular for showing compassion to people and helping them where he could.

                   When once he was presented with a list of names of those convicted and sentenced to die, which he had to approve, he said, “I wish to heaven I could not write!”


     On another occasion, when the Senate had generously praised the wisdom of his government, Nero told them to keep their praises until he deserved them.

          And yet this was the wretch who assassinated his mother, set fire to Rome, and destroyed multitudes of men, women, and children.

              And he blamed it all on the Christians!

     The cruelties he did against the believers was beyond description.

          He illustrated so well these words of Jeremiah 17 verse 9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.

              “Who can understand it?”


     Well, none of us can.

          It’s simply baffling the way men and women can trick themselves into believing that everything is going just fine.

              They fool themselves into believing what even those around them can see is quite wrong.

                   Like the story about the Emperor with no clothes they think they’re wearing the finest and the best and they actually embarrassingly naked!


     But even if they fool most of those around them – and didn’t the Emperor have most of his countrymen believing he was wearing the very best clothes? – they come up absolutely short before God.

          Article 15 describes it sharply.

              For it says that the consequence of original sin “is so vile and abominable in the sight of God that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind.”


     Again Paul in Romans makes this clear.

          In chapter 8 verse 8 he says, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”


     But now you wondering a bit more, aren’t you?

          Because now you’re thinking about where you stand as a Christian.

              You still sin – and don’t you know it!

                   In the words of our third question: WHERE DO THOSE SAVED FIT IN HERE?


     This was another aspect which was a glaring anomaly at the time of the Reformation.

          Indeed, the Roman church still teaches the same today.


     It’s what comes up next in Article XV.

          Because the issue of ‘baptism’ is brought up.


     You see, Guido de Bres has in mind here the Council of Mileve some 1100 years before.

          This Council declared that the free will, which became powerless with the first man, can only be restored through the grace of baptism.

              And de Bres is definite that this is quite wrong scripturally.

     As indeed the apostle Paul testifies.

          In Romans 7, that famous passage about a deep struggle he had as a believer, he says so.

              There he confesses in verses 18 and 19, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.

     “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

          “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”


     Congregation, we are, in this life, far from perfect.

          You only need to notice how many times church leaders fall into the most shameful immorality to realise this.

              And the story is no different for so many of those warming the pews either!

     The cheating, lying, stealing, and murdering, shows breaking God’s commandments is done by God’s people too.

          The difference is that with those saved by faith God’s grace comes through.

              While you and I are far from perfect, we are forgiven!


     This is what Article XV next covers.

          Original sin “is not imputed unto the children of God unto condemnation, but by His grace and mercy is forgiven them.”



          But don’t think that’s a licence to do whatever you want to!

              There is no “easy grace” here!

     Rather, the fact of this sin ought to keep us very, very humble.

          We so much need the Lord!

              In the words of Psalm 130 verse 4, “But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.”


     Dear Christian, you don’t like sin.

          With the apostle John in his first letter you take no delight in it.

              For in verse 9 of chapter 3 he says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”

     Indeed, believer, you are fighting so that one day you will overcome sin.

          With the apostle Paul in Romans 16:20, you know, “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”


     Unbelievers, however, cover up one sin with another.

          Their hearts stay completely opposed to grace.


     On the other hand, how many times haven’t I heard from mature senior Christians the desire to be delivered from this life?

          They want to be free from that curse of original sin.

              Because that curse at their life’s end is such a terrible travail!


     The Bible’s teaching and our own human experience proves the lie that Rome says.

          Two years after de Bres wrote this Confession the Council of Trent finished its work.

              In the Catechism published three years later it made clear it’s condemnation of the reformation teaching about original sin.

     And that Church still holds to that today.

          A teaching which is still very popular – if not more so.

              Just like Pelagius nearly won the day against Augustine so today it does seem that this teaching is widely accepted amongst many Christians.


     And so it is we come to our fourth question.



     Because that’s what Pelagius taught.

          He said each of us starts with a clean slate and we can keep it that way.

              In fact, if we dirty up things a bit we can even do enough good to make it clean again.


     So do you think there’s much assurance in this?

          When can someone believing this know when he’s done enough to get into heaven?

              No wonder the Church of Rome invented purgatory.

     That’s the great waiting room of those who need that little bit of extra help into heaven.

          And, guess what, you can do it!

              You can help get someone else in!


     It is no wonder that Martin Luther wrote so strongly against Erasmus.

          In fact, some of his most famous writings came out of the debate he had with the famous Greek scholar who was defending Pelagianism.


     Now, Erasmus was a clever Dutchman.

          He did us a great service with going back to the original Greek of the New Testament.

              But he did us no service by thinking that there was something in himself to take some credit in.


     In this, he did not truly understand the Scripture he knew so well.

          But Luther, who knew the original languages equally well, did realise.

              He agreed with the Church Father Augustine and what he opposed Pelagius with over a thousand years earlier.


     In fact, it was Augustine who summed up the value of original sin all those years before.

          He said, “In the matter of preaching, one must know about original sin.

              “But when it comes to understanding there is nothing more mysterious.

     “Even the sharpest mind fails to comprehend it.

          “The authority of God’s Word must lead us step by step.

              “We must submit to this authority which does not, and cannot, deceive us.”


     How so different to sin is scripture!

          And how so full of grace!

              The covenant of grace.





Let’s pray…

     O Most Loving Heavenly Father, we bow in humble gratitude for all You have done.

          Because it is alone in Your Son that we stand in this privileged position.

              For our sins have been forgiven us.

     And while we still struggle here below, the fact is we are struggling.

          We are fighting the good fight of faith.

              It’s through Your grace that we’ll see it through.

                   And so it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.








* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2008, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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