Lesson 24: Tom Tickletrout Twiddles His Thumb

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

Man, when God made him, was “very good,” like the rest of Creation.

Then sin came into the world (Genesis 3, 1 to 6).

So the beautiful world, and everything in it (including human beings), was spoiled and injured - as a clock, dropped on the floor, still tells the time, but gains or loses, is unreliable.

Because of sin came pain, weary old age, sorrow, war, death. Because of sin, Adam and Eve were driven out of the beautnul garden, and had to live in a world of sorrow (Genesis 3, 23).

But this was not God’s fault. When he made man he gave him what nothing else in the world has ever had, Free Will, the power to choose between right and wrong. God said to him, “There is one thing that you who live in Eden must not do.” Man could obey him, or not, as he liked, sin is disobedience.

Thomas Tickletrout (whose hair, incidentally, needs cutting; and who has lost his gasmask) goes to Epping Forest on the Catechism Outing. He has the whole forest to play in except one part. A notice-board tells him quite plainly that he is not allowed there. He reads it, twiddles his thumb, says to himself, “Shall I?” He can, if he wants to; he has free will, the power to choose between right and wrong. But if he does, and is caught, he must not be surprised if he gets into trouble. The notice-board tells him that he will; but it is not the notice- board’s fault if he does.

We are all descended from Adam and Eve. So each of us is bom in the state of sin and misery which they brought on themselves. This is called Original Sin, Birth Sin. It is not our fault; we inherited it (like, perhaps, our parents’ large noses, squints, ginger hair). It was washed off us in baptism.

But it has left in each of us a fairly frequent wish to disobey what we know is God’s Will, an inclination (“leaning,” like a swerve on a cricket-ball) towards sin, a difficulty to listen to conscience and do what we know is right.

Often, like T. Tickle-trout, Esq., we think of sin and wonder, “Shall I?”