Question 14 - Did God create us unable to keep his law? - Romans 3:9-18

QUESTION:  Did God create us unable to keep his law?

ANSWER: No, but because of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, all of creation is fallen; we are all born in sin and guilt, corrupt in our nature and unable to keep God’s law.

The old saying “a common enemy [danger] unites even the bitterest of enemies” can apply to this catechism question.  What does this quote mean? Do you have any personal examples of a commonality, equalizer, or common threat bringing two opposing groups/people together in understanding? Explain the circumstances or tell the story.


  • We were created in God’s image and in His likeness: upright, innocent, and holy; capable of serving and glorifying God.
  • Because of Adam and Eve, we fell into a state of guilt, depravity, and ruin.
  • We are born into sin and guilt. This does not mean that we are incapable of doing good, but we have been corrupted in such a way that sin and selfishness sit underneath even our good actions. 
  • Since our nature has been corrupted, this affects our desires, choices, and motives. 

Romans 3:9-18
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.”

All humans are born of the same nature in sin and guilt. Two major truths present themselves because of this. (1) When we fight, despise others, and use hate-filled speech, we forget an essential aspect of who we are - that all humans share this same nature. (2) It also means that we can’t seek God, do anything that is completely good, and that we have all turned away from God. Because of this, the gospel is not a message to start doing good but that we need a new nature altogether so that we can do good.

  • Where have you seen our culture or society not realize that all humans share in this same nature?
  • Do you have any personal experience where understanding one of these two truths would have made a situation better, given you more wisdom, or let you understand someone/something in a better way?
The Gospel is more than just “you are forgiven of your sins.”  It is both that we are forgiven of our sins AND given a new nature. This new nature means that in Christ, we can do good to the fullest extent possible.

  • In the examples/stories that were shared in the “old self” section, where might God’s grace in giving us a new nature provide solutions? Try to balance both personal and cultural responses. 
  • Or, think of it this way, if the gospel penetrated our entire society, how would a “new nature” provide solutions to our political division, racial tension, systemic poverty, or injustice?  Try to balance both personal and cultural responses.
Bonus Question:  Can you think of any examples where it might be a relief, comfort, or bring reassurance to humans to know that we all share in this same nature inherited from Adam and Eve?

This week, try to audit your motives. What is driving the decisions you make or for what purpose are you doing things? Are the good things you do for God or something else? This might give insight into where you have the opportunity to let Jesus continue to work on your nature! Ask God to do so!

Merciful Lord, we are corrupt in our very natures. We are sons and daughters of the first Adam who desire what you forbid. Give us a new nature through new birth in Christ, the second Adam, that we might be able to keep your law in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.