2008-01-18 - Heidelberg 5.1
Heidelberg Catechism Series, Part 9
Webservants Note: I may be offline until Sunday evening or Monday morning with some technical issues that must be handled. All the daily devotions will be posted once I'm able to return. Just FYI - Grace & Peace, Mike
Question: Can you live up to all this perfectly?
I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.
We have to appreciate the honesty of the Catechism at this point. We have just had, in question 4, the summary of what the law of God teaches. The passage in Matthew 22:37-39 is given as an example of what God requires of us. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength ... the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." That's the standard, and maybe we can picture adults and children nodding their heads, with us, "Yea, if I could do that ... if I could fulfill that, certainly I would meet the standards God has set for His followers." It is a truth, and when Christ said it, even the teacher of the Law, a Pharisee, could only agree.
In question 5 of the Catechism, we have the natural followup, "Can you do it?"
The answer is priceless, "No." In some ways, I wish the Catechism had ended the answer right there. We can't live up to God's standard. This is the sad reality we experience constantly. It would be a great joy if we could love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and being, but honesty forces us to admit that, no - we don't - and even that we can't. As long as our lungs take in God's air, our sin-riddled bodies will sin. Strive against sin as we do, and as we should, we will always fall for its deceptions, wiles and tricks. "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us,"
1 John 1:8. It is a great truth, but it is a comfort that Scripture tells us that this is our nature. We are even told, in verse 10 of the same passage, that if we say that we have no sin, we make God a liar. We are sinners. "Can you live up to all this perfectly?" "No." The answer is honest. It leaves no room for exceptions. It makes no excuses.
Therefore, let us despair of ever pleasing God. Shall we say this? Certainly not! The realities we have just admitted have a bright side in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ perfectly carried out the Law of God. He is the only one who ever has. He offers His righteousness tp all who will come to Him in faith . When we come to Christ in faith, we are given His perfect fulfilling of the Law of God. It is as if we actually do live up to all God requires perfectly. When we trust in Christ's righteousness, through faith, we have a new answer to Question 5: "Can you live up to all this perfectly?" "Yes, Romans 4:3, 22, and Galatians 3:6 tell me of Abraham who was righteous by faith. I also, in faith, trust in what Christ has done in His Atonement. As Abraham was righteous by faith, so I also, trusting in Christ, have been made righteous. I live up perfectly to God's Law, because Christ has done what I could not do in fulfilling it for me, and I, by faith, have received Christ, personally, as my righteousness."Every sinner who trusts in Christ may say this. By God's grace, may everyone reading this be able to say this.
Soli Deo Gloria,