WCF 6.4 — Pastoral Comments

Posted on Dec 31, 2018 by admin

6.4 From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good,1 and wholly inclined to all evil,2 do proceed all actual transgressions.3

1 Rom 5:6; 8:7; 7:18; Col 1:21. Gen 6:5; 8:21; Rom 3:10–12. 3 Jas 1:14–15; Eph 2:2–3; Mt 15:19.


According to Dr RC Sproul, if he had to choose one statement in the entire confession that crystallizes the distinctive characteristics of historic Reformation theology, it would be this one. And the reason is that it is here that Reformed theology differs from the other theologies, namely, on the degree to which human beings have fallen from their original state prior to the fall.  

Our confession teaches that as a result of inheriting this original corruption from our first parents, we become utterly disinclined, disabled, and antagonistic to all that is good, and entirely inclined to all that is evil. This truth is sometimes known as the doctrine of total depravity.

Now one might think that our confession is being too extreme at this point by painting such a terribly bleak picture of fallen humanity. However, this is what the Bible itself teaches and one of the clearest passages we see this is found in Romans 3:10-12, which reads, “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

We learn at least two things from this passage. First, not only are there no good people in this world but every single person has never done a single good thing in his or her entire life – every single person, including you and I! Second, we all sin and we sin all the time because we are all sinners by nature. This is why verse 10 says, “There is none righteous” while verse 12 goes on to say, “there is none that doeth good.” Or to say it in another way, all our sinful thoughts, words, and deeds proceed from our sinful nature. The reason we are sinners is not because we sin. Rather, we sin because we are sinners. It is who we are as totally depraved sinners that leads to what we do – actual transgressions.

As mentioned earlier, this is a very bleak picture and assessment of the whole human race and not many are willing to accept it. However, unless we truly recognise and receive this doctrine of total depravity, we will not be able to see the full brightness and glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of what He has done for us.

Extracted and translated from:
Westminster Confession of Faith — With Brief Pastoral Comments
© 2019 by Pilgrim Covenant Church
Translation and posted with permission
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