Friday, August 06, 2004

Heidelberg Exhortations-Lord's Day 4

Q. 9. Does not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform? A. Not at all; for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, and his own wilful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.

Q. 10. Will God suffer such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished? A. By no means; but is terribly displeased with our original as well as actual sins; and will punish them in his just judgment temporally and eternally, as he has declared, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them."

Q. 11. Is not God then also merciful? A. God is indeed merciful, but also just; therefore his justice requires, that sin which is committed against the most high majesty of God, be also punished with extreme, that is, with everlasting punishment of body and soul.

In the creation man was free to choose life and resist sin. Similarly, in the recreation God has granted us freedom to walk after the Spirit. Our bodies have not been fully made new. That will not happen until the resurrection. Consequently, we have remaining sin in our bodies that wage war with our renewed inner man. This battle is evidence of a man made new. But don’t be deceived. To wage war with sin is not the same as giving in to sin. Sin still lingers in our flesh but God has made a way of escape for us who are in Christ. There is no longer excuse for sin. We are not slaves of sin but rather slaves of righteousness. No sin will go unpunished. Either, God has punished Christ in your stead or He will punish you for refusing so great a salvation.

God is indeed merciful but for those who reject His mercy He is also wrathful to the uttermost. Do not be deceived brothers and sisters. God is not mocked. You will reap what you sow. If you sow to the flesh you will reap the fruit and rewards of the flesh. If you sow to the Spirit then you will put to death the deeds of the flesh and be made alive by and to the Spirit to do the deeds of the Spirit.

We do not rightly see our own sin. We think everlasting punishment is far too harsh. Leave it to man to make light of his own behavior. The reason is that we do not comprehend the majesty, glory and holiness of God. If we did, we would begin to understand why our earthly sins require an eternal punishment. They cannot be paid for by us, ever. Until we see this, we will not have the need for the perfect Christ, who takes away all of our sins for all time. You are separate from God and nothing that you can do will bring you any closer to him. Pergatory is a myth created by men who imagine some goodness in themselves. You must rely upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ or you will be left eternally to pay a debt that you can never pay. You must embrace grace in Christ and forsake your own merits. This is the mercy of God.

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