2007-01-23 - Heidelberg 5.2
Heidelberg Catechism Series, Part 10
Question 5.2: Can you live up to all this perfectly?
Answer: No. I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.
Last time we looked at the first part of the answer that we cannot live up to God's standard perfectly. Most of us will admit this is true, and even if we will not admit it, our denial does not change the reality that it is our sad experience. The second part of the answer puts legs on the simplicity of the first part. Our natural tendency is to hate God and our neighbor. Hate seems like such a strong word, but again, our experience only confirms the truth of this.
Rather than dwell on our experience, however, let us look at what God's Word says about our condition. Romans 8:7 tells us that our minds are naturally set as "hostile toward God." We do not subject ourselves to the Law of God, for we are "not even able to do so." Early in Genesis, it is recorded that the wickedness of man was great. In Genesis 6:5, we read that "every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." This is the universal analysis of Scripture. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick," Jeremiah 17:9. This is not only true of our thoughts toward God, but also to our neighbor. Titus 3:3 speaks of unregenerate persons as "hateful, hating one another." Our natural tendency is to downplay the truth that God's Word expresses of our natural condition, but this only increases our guilt. We only lie to ourselves. We compile our guilt by adding to it our denial of truth, and our refusal to agree with what God tells us is true.
One of the joys of the Christian life is loving those who share our condition as fallen sinners, possessors of eternal souls, and being created in the image of God. There is a natural attachment that one child of God feels toward another, but our love extends even beyond the household of faith, since we know that God set His love upon us long before we ourselves were lovable. Not everyone we meet is pleasant company, but we willingly love them because we have known the love of Christ unto us, which, when we were aliens, united us to Him. Our neighbor, follower of Christ or forsaker of His free offer of mercy, is to be the object of our love and care. In resisting our natural tendency to hate our neighbor, we articulate our love both to God, and to them. Perhaps we cannot preach, but we may speak with our lives. Depend upon it, Christian: love to God and love to our neighbor is not the natural inclination of any heart. It says wonders about Christ, and the change He has upon His children. If we would strive after God's standard, we must first be made new, and having been made regenerate, our desire is, and will be, to please Him. "Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him," 2 Corinthians 5:9.
Soli Deo Gloria,