The Justice of God

cross2The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 4

9. Question: Is God, then, not unjust by requiring in His law what man cannot
do?

Answer: No, for God so created man that he was able to do it.[1] But man, at
the instigation of the devil,[2] in deliberate disobedience[3] robbed himself
and all his descendants of these gifts.[4]

[1] Gen. 1:31. [2] Gen. 3:13; John 8:44; I Tim. 2:13, 14. [3] Gen. 3:6. [4] Rom. 5:12, 18, 19.

10. Question: Will God allow such disobedience and apostasy to go unpunished?

Answer: Certainly not. He is terribly displeased with our original sin as well as our actual sins. Therefore He will punish them by a just judgment both now and eternally,[1] as He has declared:[2] Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them (Galatians 3:10).

[1] Ex. 34:7; Ps. 5:4-6; 7:10; Nah. 1:2; Rom. 1:18; 5:12; Eph. 5:6; Heb. 9:27. [2] Deut. 27:26.

11. Question: But is God not also merciful?

Answer: God is indeed merciful,[1] but He is also just.[2] His justice requires that sin committed against the most high majesty of God also be punished with the most severe, that is, with everlasting, punishment of body and soul.[3]

[1] Ex. 20:6; 34:6, 7; Ps. 103:8, 9. [2] Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Deut. 7:9-11; Ps. 5:4-6; Heb. 10:30, 31. [3] Matt. 25:45,46.

The Cause of Our Sin and Misery

Gods GloryThe Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 3


6. Question: Did God, then, create man so wicked and perverse?

Answer: No, on the contrary, God created man good[1] and in His image,[2] that is, in true righteousness and holiness,[3] so that he might rightly know God His Creator,[4] heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness to praise and glorify Him.[5]

[1] Gen. 1:31. [2] Gen. 1:26, 27. [3] Eph. 4:24. [4] Col. 3:10. [5] Ps. 8.


7. Question: From where, then, did man’s depraved nature come?

Answer: From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise,[1] for there our nature became so corrupt[2] that we are all conceived and born in sin.[3]

[1] Gen. 3. [2] Rom. 5:12, 18, 19. [3] Ps. 51:5.


8. Question: But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined to all evil?

Answer: Yes,[1] unless we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.[2]

[1] Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Job 14:4; Is. 53:6. [2] John 3:3-5.

Knowledge of Sin and Misery

Catechism1

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 2


3.Question: From where do you know your sins and misery?

Answer: From the law of God.[1]

[1] Rom. 3: 20;


4. Question: What does God’s law require of us?

Answer: Christ teaches us this in a summary in Matthew 22: You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.[1] 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.[2]

[1] Deut. 6:5. [2] Lev. 19:18.


5. Question: Can you keep all this perfectly?

Answer: No,[1] I am inclined by nature to hate God and my neighbor.[2]

[1] Rom. 3:10, 23; I John 1:8, 10. [2] Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23; 8:7; Eph. 2:3; Tit. 3:3.

Godly Men and Their Daily Surrenders

checkmate-1511866_960_720The Dilemma

No man fails on purpose. Yet, spiritual, and moral failures abound.

A few years ago I taught a lesson to my church’s men’s group which focused on temptations men face. The workbook we were using quoted C.S. Lewis on this subject and was a turning point for many in the group. Lewis wrote,

“It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the person away from the light and out into the nothing… Indeed, the safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

The truth communicated by Lewis rang true. It reminded me of something a former mentor of mine once said. He emphasized repeatedly that compromise comes through the smallness of our daily surrenders.

It’s giving up that little bit of personal conviction each day. It’s the little piece of candy no one will ever know you ate. It’s watching that program or visiting that website when you are all alone. You get the picture.

Usually the first surrender to “small, insignificant sins” makes it easier to fall prey to them again and again. The damage comes from the “cumulative effect” Lewis was pointing to. Few people wake up in the morning planning to sin spectacularly later in the day. Yet those daily surrenders build up over time. Give a little ground here and there and before you know it, you’re in trouble. In fact, you become practically unrecognizable, even to yourself. You didn’t plan for this to happen, but those daily surrenders were enough to do the trick.

The Solution

Therefore, we must be vigilant. We need to work from the foundation of knowing who we are in Christ. We need to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). Those “daily surrenders” needn’t reign over us. The same Spirit who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead dwells in us as well.

Yet, we also need to exercise the self-awareness that recognizes those areas in our lives wherein we are weak. Every man ought to ask himself: Am I being less watchful in some areas of my life than others? Even the small, seemingly insignificant areas? Am I overly confident I would never again fall prey to that particular temptation? A member of my church used to remind me often, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

If you want to avoid those small daily surrenders, then pray for God to deliver you from temptation. But don’t forget to do your part. Name those temptations in advance. Talk with a godly person you trust and ask them to hold you accountable. Renew your mind daily in God’s Word. The Apostle Paul shared God’s wisdom on this point when he wrote in Philippians 4:8-9,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What are you thinking on?


Walking Points

• What are those areas in your life that tempt you the most?
• How do they usually “sneak up” on you?
• What are some ways you can see such temptations before they get to you?
• What are some practical things you can do to resist them once you’re confronted with them?
• Set an appointment today with a Christian brother and ask him to pray for you and to help keep you accountable.


Prayer

Merciful and patient Lord, I don’t want to sin. I don’t want to “fail on purpose.” Yet I confess to you that I have not always put in place or practiced those wise spiritual disciplines that would draw me ever closer to you and protect me from the snares of the devil and my own fleshly weaknesses. Please forgive me and renew me. As David cried out, put a right spirit within me. Give me such a desire for you that turning away from you would be the last thing on my mind. Give me greater Spirit-enabled self-discipline and self-control to practice those means of grace you have given to your children to help us conform more and more to the likeness of your Son, our Lord and Savior. For it’s in his name and for his sake I pray. Amen.


This Week’s Prayer Guide

[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]

Petitions – prayers for yourself

• Spiritual Warfare
• Growth in Christlikeness
• Increasing faithfulness in the spiritual disciplines
• My health
• For my ordinary appointments and activities to become divine appointments and activities.
• Other needs

Intercession – prayers for others

• My Family
• Mercy for those who are poor and hungry
• Justice for those who are oppressed and persecuted
• Love for those who oppress and persecute others
• Peace for those in the midst of war, crime, and violence
• Other needs

John Maxwell on Sexual Temptation

appleSeveral years ago our men’s Bible study took a look at how to pursue godliness in the face of temptation. It was a very helpful study and definitely hit us where we all live. The “relevance” factor was high.

To be sure there are many temptations men face every single day. But certainly sexual temptation appears to be most “in our face” in the culture in which we live. It seems everywhere you turn you are met with temptations in this area of life. As a mentor of mine once said, “Our culture does not cultivate Christian character.” That is the understatement of the century.

To kick off our study we watched a video by John Maxwell speaking on the subject of integrity. It was a great message with a much insight. Below is part of the outline from his message. By the way, if you’re interested in using the study we used, it was entitled, “Being God’s Man in the Face of Temptation,” (and it was a great one). You can learn more about it by clicking here.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

John Maxwell’s ten guidelines for handling sexual temptation

1.) Run

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)

2.) Accept responsibility

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Every time we choose righteousness, we not only become closer to God, but stronger in our ability to resist temptation.

3.) Be accountable: Dr. John Maxwell’s list of accountability questions:

* Are you spending time alone with God?
* Are you in studying the Bible?
* Are you praying?
* Is your thought life pure?
* Have you seen something you shouldn’t see (movies, magazines, Internet)?
* Are you misusing your power on the job? At home?
* Are you walking in total obedience to God? (Remember, partial obedience is disobedience.)
* Have you lied about any of the previous questions?

4.) Listen to your wife

5.) Be on guard. Try John Maxwell’s practical steps:

* Seldom travel alone.
* When you have to travel, call your wife every night.
* Talk positively about your wife to others.
* Choose friends wisely. “Bad company corrupts good character.” ( Corinthians 15:33)

6.) Determine to live a pure life today.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

7.) Realize that sexual sin assaults the lordship of Jesus Christ in your life.

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” (1 Corinthians 6:15)

8.) Recognize the consequences of sexual sin.

“But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.” (Proverbs 6:32)

“For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.” (Proverbs 6:26)

9.) Think about your children.

10.) Get a new definition of success.

John Maxwell’s definition: Success is having those who are the closest to me love and respect me the most.