2008-04-03 - Heidelberg 9.1
Heidelberg Catechism Seires, Part 19
Question 9.1: "But doesn't God do us an injustice by requiring in his law what we are unable to do?"
Answer: No, God created humans with the ability to keep the law. They, however, tempted by the devil, in reckless disobedience, robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.
We were created with the ability to keep the law. If you know your heart like I know my heart - it rarely feels that way. This is to our shame, and we know it all too well. We find that our situation is no better, maybe even worse, than the Apostle Paul described it in Romans 7:15, "For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate." All too frequently, this is our experience; that the good that we wish to do, we do not do, but we practice the very evil that we do not wish to do (7:19). It is part of the fall, and it is easy to detach ourselves from our sin by thinking this is just how we were created - but question 9 takes that right away from us. We were created with the ability to keep the law. We are without excuse. Our sin is reckless. Our failure to obey the law is disobedience. It stems from our first parents, but in their sin, because Adam stood as our representative, we also sinned. His sin has been imputed to us.
The business of the imputation of Adam's sin seems to some unfair. After all, they say, "I didn't eat the forbidden fruit." Imputation accounts to one, either what he has done, or what another has done in his place. It is a neutral concept, in that what is imputed can be either a reward or a punishment. For the follower of Christ, imputation has a positive side. Yes, Adam's sin is imputed to all his posterity - but in Christ, Christ's righteousness is imputed to the Child of God, and the sin - both of Adam, which was imputed - and the personal sin of the individual - is covered, expiated, forgiven, in Christ's death and resurrection. Imputation works to the believer's advantage, when the obedience and propitiation of Christ are given to us guilty sinners.
In the creation, we had the ability to keep the Law of God. This ability was lost in the Fall into sin, but is restored in the Savior Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are renewed to what Adam was, and more. We have put on the new self, "Which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness and truth," Ephesians. 4:23, 24. This is because of our union with Christ. Imputation implies union. We were united with Adam in the Fall, but are also united to Christ in our recovery, Romans 5:12-21.
These are not always easy concepts to grasp, but what the catechism is telling us here, is that God has not done us harm or wrong in requiring us to fulfill His Law. He created us, and He set rules. We are the rebels. The wonder is that He still loved us, and provided for our recovery in Christ. In Christ, we have not only the recovery of what was lost in the Fall of Adam, but also we have the overplus of all Adam would have had, had he not fallen into sin. We have a better righteousness imputed to us, because the righteousness imputed to us by faith is that of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,