Devotional Word for Friday, September 25, 2020
Yesterday we spent some time considering whether God was just given the fact that we are called to keep the Law of God even though we are wholly unable to do so. Because God created man with the ability to keep the Law, we concluded that God is not unjust. As we consider our just and righteous God who holds men accountable for not keeping the Law and the fact of our corruption in Adam and ongoing sin, we realize that we are in deep trouble. Not one of us is righteous before God. Not one of us is without sin.
The Heidelberg Catechism question 10 has this topic in mind when it asks, “Will God let man get by with such disobedience and defection?” The answer says, “Certainly not, for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, both against our inborn sinfulness and our actual sins, and He will punish them according to His righteous judgment in time and in eternity, as He has declared: ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.’” This is to say that no one can escape from the punishment of God with their sins.
Psalm 139 comes to minds as I think about escaping punishment for my sins. This Psalm is intended to be a comfort for those as they consider God’s omniscience and God’s omnipresence. That is to say God knows all things and is everywhere. That means he can be a comfort to those who seek to run to Him in faith. However, we also need to recognize that the converse is troubling. Take verses 7-10. They say, WHERE CAN I GO FROM YOUR SPIRIT? OR WHERE CAN I FLEE FROM YOUR PRESENCE? IF I ASCEND TO HEAVE, YOU ARE THERE; IF I MAKE MY BED IN SHEOL, BEHOLD, YOU ARE THERE. IF I TAKE THE WINGS OF THE DAWN, IF I DWELL IN THE REMOTEST PART OF THE SEA, EVEN THERE YOUR HAND WILL LEAD ME, AND YOUR RIGHT HAND WILL LAY HOLD OF ME. Again, when we run to the Lord in faith, this is a tremendous encouragement. We are His children and we can never escape from His blessed presence. However, if we are apart from Him and trying to hide our sins, we need to recognize that these verses are as damning as they are glorious to the believer. If I cannot escape from the Lord’s presence, then I will have to bear my iniquity.
Question 11 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks, “But is not God also merciful?” The thinking is clear. Even a passing reading of the Old and New Testaments show example after example of God’s great mercy and lovingkindness. As I think about the crushing weight of my own sin, I cry out, “Can’t I have just a little bit of your mercy Lord?” Listen to answer to question 11 as it drives home the reality of life in this world. It says, “God is indeed merciful and gracious, but He is also righteous. It is His righteousness which requires that sin committed against the supreme majesty of God be punished with the supreme penalty, that is, eternal punishment of body and soul.” God is merciful. He is gracious. He is also righteous. Were God to overlook my sins, then He would not be righteous, and His Word would not be true. Consider Hebrews 2:2-3a. It says, FOR IF THE WORD SPOKEN THROUGH ANGELS PROVED UNALTERABLE, AND EVERY TRANSGRESSION AND DISOBEDIENCE RECEIVED A JUST PENALTY, HOW WILL WE ESCAPE IF WE NEGLECT SO GREAT A SALVATION? The Lord has declared that sin will be punished. His Word will not change. If it does, then He is a liar and is not righteous. We must recon with our own sin in light of this holy and righteous God. Here Hebrews 2:3 also contains our hope. There is a great salvation. Next week we are going to begin to look at the great salvation believers have in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray.