Monday, July 26, 2004

Heidelberg Exhortations-Lord’s Day 2

Q. 3. Whence knowest thou thy misery? “How do we know our misery?” A. Out of the law of God.

Q. 4. What does the law of God require of us? A. Christ teaches us that briefly, Matt. 22:37-40, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and the great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Q. 5. Canst thou keep all these things perfectly? A. In no wise; for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbour.

We know our misery from our failure to keep God’s law.  Jesus taught us that the law requires us to love God and love our neighbor.  We think this sounds easy enough but that is because we have a low bar as to what love is.  We think love is having warm feelings towards someone.  But that is not at all the Biblical definition of love.  Love is doing right by them.  Love is obeying God’s commands.  Love towards God is exhibited by worshipping Him and no one or nothing else.  Love towards God is exhibited by worshipping Him according to His pattern and no other way.  Love towards God is exhibited by honoring His name by the way that you live.  To fail to do so is to have His name placed on you in vain.  Love towards God is exhibited by honoring the Lord’s Day as the Sabbath, pledging every day to God by the way that you live this day.

Love towards your neighbor is not feeling sentimental about him.  It is primarily understood in the way that you honor your parents.  If you do not honor your parents, you cannot love your neighbor as you ought to.  It is here first that you learn what it means to honor.  It means to obey.  You obey God by obeying your parents and you must not obey with reservations.  Your obedience must be cheerful and willful.  You don’t submit because you have to.   You submit because you want to.  And as you leave the immediate authority of your parents, you honor them by continuing to follow God all the days of your life. 

Working down through the law, we find points of failure at every level.  Have you thought ill of another?  The Bible calls this murder in the heart.  Have you lusted after a woman or man who is not your husband?  Have you wanted someone else as wife or husband?  This is unfaithfulness in heart and mind and is spiritual adultery.  Are you honest in all business dealings and transactions of money?  If not, then you have stolen.  Do you always tell the truth, especially in a legal setting or when the reputation of another is on the line?  Are you content with the abundance that the Lord has given you?  If not, then you must surely covet the life and things of others.

It is clear that the law condemns us on every single point.  If we have sinned in one, we have sinned in all. But we have not sinned in just one, we have sinned in all.  And we continue to fall short and sin, even though the Holy Spirit has come to set us free from sin and death.

O wretched men that we are! Who will set us free from the body of this death?  We are here to celebrate the Lord and His kindness to us, so I will not leave you hopeless.  The Lord Jesus Christ desires to lift us out of sin and misery.  He has made the way through His own blood. It is true that by nature we are objects of wrath, but by grace we are objects of mercy. Let all those who love life lay hold of Christ for there is life in no other.

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