2008-01-08 - Heidelberg 3
Heidelberg Catechism Series, Part 6
Question 3: How do you know your misery?
Answer: The Law of God tells me.
That's fairly simple - but is it? Believe me, we can muddy the waters greatly in both this question and answer, but before we do so, let us not lose sight here of the very simplicity of what we have before us. How do we know our misery? How do we know we are sinners? The answer is that the Law of God is found both in His Word and written on our hearts ("...the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them," Romans 2:15). This tells us of our sin and misery. "For through the law comes the knowledge of sin," Romans 3:20.
The Commandments and the Word of God are the ruling edicts of our lives. In believing and following these, we experience true life physically and spiritually. We prepare ourselves for eternal life. Our conscience is a guide in our following God's Law. The commands of God have an effect upon the conscience, and our conscience can both accuse and defend our actions. One function of the conscience, in respect to the Law of God, is that we are forced to give up all hopes or beliefs of obtaining eternal life through our obedience to God's Law. We don't measure up to the standard of God's Holy Law, and this forces us to rely on the grace of Jesus Christ, in His Atonement, as our only hope. The Law only condemns. Grace brings life.
We seek to be married to the Lord Jesus Christ, but when we try to earn His favor by keeping God's Law, we only find that we cannot earn mercy. The Law of God tells us of our misery, because we constantly fail to keep it. Daily, hourly - yes, even moment by moment - our thoughts, propensities, actions and desires all fall short of the standard of perfectly keeping God's Holy Law. We could be driven to despair, but we should be driven to Christ. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way out, the only answer to our predicament. The Creator, God, Ruler, and Lord of the universe sets a standard for us to keep, and we fail to measure up, not once in a while, but constantly. We are in a great difficulty. Our dilemma is of an eternal nature. Our despair and sorrow because of our sin are like an eternal weight holding us down. Our condition is helpless, and it is in view of this that we flee as fast as we can, to Christ. He fulfilled the Law for us, and offers us His righteousness by faith. Our misery is great, but Christ's mercy is greater to all who seek Him in faith.
Soli Deo Gloria,