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Shorter Catechism

𝒬 82. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?

𝒜. No mere man, since the fall, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.1

  1. Genesis 8:21

    And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

    Romans 3:9-23

    What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

    “None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
    “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
    “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    in their paths are ruin and misery,
    and the way of peace they have not known.”
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

    But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (ESV)

Larger Catechism

𝒬 149. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?

𝒜. No man is able, either of himself,1 or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God;2 but doth daily break them in thought,3 word, and deed.4

  1. James 3:2

    For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

    John 15:5

    I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

    Romans 8:3

    For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (ESV)

  2. Ecclesiastes 7:20

    Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

    1 John 1:8

    If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

    1 John 1:10

    If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

    Galatians 5:17

    For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

    Romans 7:18-19

    For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (ESV)

  3. Genesis 6:5

    The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    Genesis 8:21

    And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

    James 1:14

    But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (ESV)

  4. Romans 3:9-19

    What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

    “None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
    “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
    “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    in their paths are ruin and misery,
    and the way of peace they have not known.”
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

    James 3:2-13

    For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

    How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

    Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (ESV)


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Based on Calendar of Readings in the Westminster Standards by Dr. Joey Pipa. Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.