Devotional Word for Friday, September 11, 2020
Earlier in the week I suggested that many folks think of the Law of God as a series of do’s and don’ts. That is not without reason. Within the Law of God there are many commands for God’s people. As we seek to be people who understand the Law of God because it tells us about our sin, it points us to the Lord Jesus our Savior, and it reveals the character of God, it stands to reason that we might want to have a summary of the Law to help us as we reflect upon its importance. Not only do the Scriptures give us just such a summary, it is part of the Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer number 4.
The forth questions says, “What does the Law of God require of us?” The answer is wonderfully strait forward. It says, “Jesus Christ teaches this in a summary in Matthew 22:37-40: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the prophets.”
Basically, Jesus is saying that if we want to keep the whole Law, we need to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. We need to love our neighbors as ourselves. Simple, right? Wrong. The summary of the Law is just as difficult to keep as the whole Law. In fact, it is even easier to see how badly we screw up.
The fifth question and answer highlight this reality. To the question of whether man can keep the law of God perfectly, the Heidelberg Catechism says, “No, for by nature I am prone to hate God and my neighbor.” Before we think that this isn’t correct or couldn’t possibly refer to us, we need to remember the words of Moses and the words of Jesus. The Holy Spirit speaking through Moses in Deuteronomy 5:9 writes, YOU SHALL NOT WORSHIP THEM (OTHER GODS) OR SERVE THEM; FOR I, THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND A JEALOUS GOD, VISITING THE INIQUITY OF THE FATHER ON THE CHILDREN, AND ON THE THIRD AND THE FOURTH GENERATIONS OF THOSE WHO HATE ME. In verse 10 he goes on to describe those that love the Lord as those who keep His commandments. When we think, speak, or do anything which is no in keeping with the Law of God, we are sinning. By our sin, we express hate for the Lord.
Jesus shows us the way in which our sin toward others is often far more severe than we think. In Matthew 5, He says, YOU HAVE HEARD THAT THE ANCIENTS WERE TOLD, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ AND ‘WHOEVER COMMITS MURDER SHALL BE LIABLE TO THE COURT.’ BUT I SAY TO YOU THAT EVERYONE WHO IS ANGRY WITH HIS BROTHER SHALL BE GUILTY BEFORE THE COURT. Here Jesus is highlighting the hatred that is within the heart of people. He is trying to help folks understand that when they hate someone or speak with anger toward someone they are just as guilty as if they murdered the person. While we know that there is additional sin when anger is put into the action of murder, Jesus is saying that we are all sinners and we are all in desperate need of a savior.
Thanks be to God that the Lord Jesus is that Savior who takes away the sin of His people. Let us give thanks and praise Him. Amen.