Previously in the Heidelberg Catechism we’ve seen we can have only one true comfort in life and death – that we are not our own, but we belong to Jesus. And last time we saw that, to know this truth and comfort, we need to be made aware of our guilt and sin, know God has saved us by grace, and in response live a life of gratitude (that devotion can be found here http://newtownevangelical.org/guilt-grace-gratitude/).
So the first step we mentioned is to be made aware of our sin. But how do we do that? That’s the third question and answer in the Catechism.
Question 3: How do you come to know your misery (sin)?
Answer: The law of God tells me.
I know this isn’t very encouraging to look at now, but this section on guilt is the shortest part of the Catechism. The overwhelming feeling from the Catechism is comfort, not condemnation.
But the truth is, the first thing we need, if we are going to know the comfort of the gospel, is to be made uncomfortable with our sin. Our society and generation keeps telling us “Just be who you are! You are the best version of yourself!”
But God’s Law, which is good (1 Timothy 1:8), tells us ‘You’re not the best version of yourself! Don’t be who you are! Because you are an absolutely mess!’ The problem isn’t with the law, the problem us with us. The Bible is filled with loads of wonderful ethical commands, which are all very inspiring if it weren’t for the fact we are not very wonderful ethical people.
We often hear that all religions are the same. Many religions encourage to love neighbours, to help the poor, forgive others and generally be kind and compassionate people. But the point is, Christianity isn’t about a religion which is mainly about a moral code for us to keep. Christianity is about a God who saves people who don’t keep a moral code.
The law doesn’t inspire us, the law puts us to death (Romans 7:10). Psalm 51:3-4 says;
“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned.”
We can often hurt our friends, our family members. We often treat those who are nearest and dearest to us the worst. But Psalm 51 is saying that, primarily, the being we’ve hurt the most is God. Perhaps this isn’t the happy devotion you wanted to get you through the day. But let this make you lean on Jesus all the more today. Once again, our friend Spurgeon says:
“The law never came to save mankind. It never was its intention at all. It came on purpose to make the evidence complete that salvation by work is impossible, and thus to drive us to rely wholly on the finished salvation of the gospel.”
Kevin DeYoung on this question in the Catechism says:
“My own efforts to be a good person are, in comparison to what God requires of me, positively miserable. I’ll be damned, discouraged and dismayed if being a follower of Jesus means nothing but a new set of things I’m supposed to so for Him. Instead, my following Jesus should be, first of all, a declaration of all that He has done for me.”