Unbelief, the First Sin

Continuing with the discussion of the fall, Calvin writes:

It is now asked, What was the sin of both of them? The opinion of some of the ancients, that they were allured by intemperance of appetite, is puerile. For when there was such an abundance of the choicest fruits what daintiness could there be about one particular kind? Augustine is more correct, who says, that pride was the beginning of all evils, and that by pride the human race was ruined. Yet a fuller definition of the sin may be drawn from the kind of temptation which Moses describes. For first the woman is led away from the word of God by the wiles of Satan, through unbelief…

Therefore, unbelief was the root of defection; just as faith alone unites us to God. Hence flowed ambition and pride, so that the woman first, and then her husband, desired to exalt themselves against God. For truly they did exalt themselves against God, when, honor having been divinely conferred upon them, they not contented with such excellence, desired to know more than was lawful, in order that they might become equal with God. Here also monstrous ingratitude betrays itself.

Again, we see that the root of all obedience is and was always faith. As long as Adam and Eve were delighting in God, temptation was powerless. It was only when the turned their gaze from God’s majesty and contemplated their own abilities that sin crept it.

Their unbelief also exhibited ingratitude, as they failed to note what good they had been given. They wanted more.

And in doing so, they went crazy.

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About Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is a founder and general editor of The Calvinist International. A graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS), a Presbyterian minister, and a classical school teacher, Steven lives in Jackson, MS with his wife and son.

4 thoughts on “Unbelief, the First Sin

  1. Their unbelief also exhibited ingratitude, as they failed to note what good they had been given. They wanted more.

    Thanks for this. Gratitude plays a tricky role in popular Reformed thinking. Often it is portrayed as the engine that grace goes in (like gasoline) that produces obedient work. God was gracious, we were grateful, and therefore we respond in good works. Although I haven’t worked it out tightly with particular scriptural texts, it seems to me that gratitude is a gift alongside and parallel to our good works. It flows from our faith as works do. This post made me think that the reverse also might be true. Not only does unbelief / lack of faith produce disobedience, it produces the specific parallel”ingratitude.”

  2. Which is why rejecting the gospel is such an offense.

    Modern Calvinists have lost Calvin’s category of rejecting what was offered.

  3. Steven,

    While your title certainly has some truth to it (I think all sin can be rooted in unbelief); the comments and even Calvin points to a lack of thanksgiving as perhaps the foundational sin of Adam.

    I think I can trace many of my own sins back to a lack of thanksgiving. What I have is never enough or its too much.

    My car is not big enough and I am paying too much for gas.

    al sends

  4. That should have been from me and not Carl… April fools joke comes back to haunt us.

    al sends

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