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| The Heidelberg Catechism |
Part 1 Sin and Misery: Lord’s Day 2
By: G.I. Williamson
This is the first chapter after the introduction, from this point we will be exploring both sin and misery. Questions 3-11 will explore these two detrimental aspects of human life. From the time we enter this world until our dying moments we will experience both sin and misery because it’s been a factor since the fall of man. This brings us to questions 3-5:
Question 3: Whence do you know your misery?
Answer: Out of the law of God.
Question 4: What does the law of God require us?
Answer: Christ teaches that in a summary, Matt. 22:37-40, “’Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.’”
Question 5: Can you keep all this perfectly?
Answer: In no wise; for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.
Through these three questions it is quite easy to see that the word of God reveals our true nature. Without it we are oblivious to the fact that our own nature leads us astray from our Creator.
There are many who choose to ignore the judgment that will be placed upon us on the day of reckoning. As Williamson writes “we are under the wrath of God by nature”. If God hates sin then all men are deserving of punishment, but as written by the author “the tragedy is that many people do not realize this as they should.”
In Romans 7:7 Paul writes “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You should not covet’ ” All men have an idea of what their true state is. Roman 2:14-15 reveals to us that even if man is never formally introduced to God’s word he can live accordingly, this is because we naturally know right and wrong to a certain extent. Paul goes on to write “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died”.
Being that Paul practiced Judaism from his childhood he had the privilege of learning God’s law from his youth. The problem was that he didn’t see his own nature, and as the author explains it “Paul came to know, by bitter experience, the truth about his own bondage to sin.” We are all born with a conscience that deciphers right and wrong. The more we sin the more that inner voice becomes faint. Eventually misery sets in causing a larger distance between us and God.
How can the law help us see our desperate position and condition? When we hear the term God’s law, we revert back to the 10 commandments, which God gave through Moses on Mount Sinai (refer to Ex. 20 and Deut. 5). Another way we are able to see our desperate state is through Matthew 22:37-40.
In the prior verse Jesus was asked “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Christ responded by saying “’Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.’”
The Ten Commandments not only show us how we should live, but that it is impossible to live this way single handedly. This is the purpose of Christ; He served as a sacrifice for us sinners. Through this belief we are able to regain salvation. It is the Holy Spirit that inclines our hearts and minds to live in accordance with God’s word (or Law).
Jesus said in short, the first two commandments are the most vital. If we cannot love God whole heartily then loving our neighbors as we love ourselves is impossible. The first two commandments are a key component to following the other eight. The author writes “If you kept the Ten Commandments in the right way, you would love God and your neighbor. Similarly, if you loved God and your neighbor in the way you should, you would keep the Ten Commandments.”
Leviticus 19:2 reads “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” And as Jesus says in Matthew 5:48 “you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”. Of course we cannot uphold God’s Law perfectly, but with belief in Christ we will be given the strength to strive for perfection. As Christians we should be able to see our imperfections through the Law; the only way to uphold the Law with the best of ability is to realize our need for Christ.
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