2009-01-09 - Heidelberg 12.2
Heidelberg Catechism Series, Part 29
Romans 8:3, 4, "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."
Question 12: According to God's righteous judgment, we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God's favor?
Answer: God requires that his justice be satisfied. Therefore the claims of his justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or another.
The above verses need to be memorized. They are at least worth taking a moment and meditating upon. Christ has fulfilled the Law, which we have broken, and what we could not do: God did. It is as if we have fulfilled the Law, because Christ has, and He has given us His righteousness. He has given the Spirit as a pledge (2 Cor. 5:5, Eph. 1:13, 14) for those who no longer walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
One of the things I emphasize in my sermons is that if you have come to faith in Christ, "You cannot be the same." You are changed. You must be changed, or it is evidence that you have not come to faith in Christ. He changes lives, because He gives all His children a new heart, a clean heart, at the same time that He gives pardon from sin. You cannot be the same. The two, pardon of sin (forgiveness) and a new heart (regeneration) are partners; where there is one, there is also the other. They work in the believer simultaneously, and they always work thus. How can we know, as our question asks, that we have escaped "this punishment" and returned "to God's favor?" The evidence is in our lives. They must be changed. We must really be new creatures in Christ.
Why does the Christian flee from sin? We flee from sin for two reasons: We love Jesus Christ, and we hate our sin that nailed Him to the cross. Because we love Jesus Christ, we hate the things that put Him to death; namely, our sin. Even more, the Holy Spirit tells us through Paul that we have been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). It is not we who live, as if we lived after the flesh, but Christ lives in us, and we live by faith. Shall Christ die for my sin, and I not live for Him? If He gave His life for me, and gave me His righteousness in place of my sin - taking my sin upon Himself - then I will live for Him. I cannot be the same. Christ has changed me, and there is no going back from the blessings of forgiveness, once we have known them by experience.
As our question answers, Christ "paid in full" the claims of God's justice, by taking our sin upon Himself. What is our response? There can be only one. We take the new-ound freedom that forgiveness gives, and we live for Christ. Our lives cannot be the same.
Soli Deo Gloria,