WCF 6.1 — Pastoral Comments

Posted on Oct 28, 2018 by admin

6.1 Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit.1 This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.2

1 Gen 3:13; 2 Cor 11:3.  2 Rom 11:32.

One of the greatest mysteries in theology has to do with the origin of sin and the fall of mankind. If Adam and Eve were made perfectly righteous by God and had no desire whatsoever for or inclination towards sin, then how could they sin when tempted by the devil? In fact, how could the devil himself, who was created perfectly righteous, sin against God in the first place? We cannot fully answer these questions in this lifetime and must wait patiently for the answer in the life to come.

We can, however, say a few things about the origin of sin and the fall of man, based on what the Bible tells us; and here in this paragraph, our confession lists two of them.

First, our first parents, Adam and Eve, were tempted and seduced by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit. Satan came to the Garden of Eden and tempted Eve by emphasizing God’s prohibition rather than His provision, by putting a question mark on God’s command, by casting doubt on God’s sincerity and motive behind the command, and finally by openly denying the truthfulness of God’s Word.  It is important to realize that all the while that Satan was speaking to Eve, Adam was right next to her. We know that because Satan used masculine (rather than feminine) and plural (rather than singular) pronouns when speaking to Eve. Sadly though, Adam did nothing to protect his wife from Satan’s temptation, and instead of stopping her from eating the fruit, he ate of it himself. But surely God could have prevented both of them from eating the fruit and yet He did not do so. Why?

This brings us to the second thing which our confession tells us about the origin of sin and the fall of mankind, namely, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit their sin, having purposed to order it to His own glory. Everything that happens in this universe has been ordained by God from all eternity and for His own glory, including the sin of our first parents. We may not be able to understand it all but rather than questioning God’s wisdom and sovereignty, we should humble ourselves to the dust before Him and say, with Nebuchadnezzar of old, “and he (the Most High God) doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35b) And again, we should say with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, “even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Luke 10:21b)

Extracted and translated from:
Westminster Confession of Faith — With Brief Pastoral Comments
© 2018 by Pilgrim Covenant Church
Translation and posted with permission
Chinese version Copyright © 2018 Gratia Dei Sola Media