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Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 83.
Q. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
A. Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.
On its face, it seems that all sin is the same. James wrote, “if we fail in keeping one part of the law we are guilty of all of it” (James 2:10) and John phrases it simply, “sin is the breaking of God’s law” (1 John 3:4). Yet we also see in Scripture, places where some offenses are seen as greater than others. Most notably, the statement from Jesus, “he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:11).
It is important before expounding this Question 83 that we affirm clearly: we are accountable for all our sin and there is no sin that isn’t either counted to us or dealt with by the blood of Christ. That being said, there are some that are more offensive than others. This should seem obvious. We can sin by coveting or we can steal the item we covet. We can be angry with no cause or we can murder. One is greater than the other. (more…)
82. Question: Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
Answer: No mere man, since the fall, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in though, word, and deed.
Meditating on the Law of God (as we have) is a humbling exercise. Reflecting on the Law and all that it demands, forces our mouths shut before God. Who of among us has perfectly kept this Law? The demands of the Law, in its summarized form of the Ten Commandments, at first appearances may not seem too much to ask. Yet it’s upon careful self-examination that we come face to face with a heavy revelation. First, we encounter the standard of God’s righteousness and secondly our inability to meet the demands of the Law. (more…)
Q. 79. Which is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Q. 80. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.
Q. 81. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.
The tenth commandment brings the decalogue back full circle to the prologue (I am the Lord God who delivered you out of Egypt) by reminding the godly of the freedom they have been received by the power of God’s hand. Most clearly the tenth commandment also looks behind the sins condemned in the previous commandments. The tenth commandment exposes our hearts and reveals that adultery, theft, and murder are sin and so is the desire behind those sins. To put it another way “at all times we shall hate sin with our whole heart and delight in all righteousness”. (Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 44) (more…)
Is the civil government today obligated to enforce the Mosaic civil codes? This is a topic that has brought out a number of debates. Most recently the Theonomy Debate I attended in Tempe AZ between JD Hall and Joel McDurmon. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading through The Westminster Assembly Readings Its Theology in Historical Context (Westminster) by Robert Letham for a while. When I say “a while”, I mean that I read it then set it down for a few months then pick it up later and read it some more. I’ve always enjoyed Letham’s books since I was exposed to his work on the Trinity during my time in seminary. As an aside, I strongly recommend his book The Holy Trinity to those who are curious about the historical context of the doctrinal formulations of the Trinity. (more…)
This week I have been reading through the book of Romans with my son. I have found myself repeating a phrase to really get the idea into his mind. It comes from the first chapter in verse 5. Here is the prologue in its entirety:
Rom. 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
Rom. 1:7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The phrase is this. “That Christ delivers rebels and brings us into his kingdom that we would be obedient and no longer rebellious”. We struggle as we work to be obedient and are no longer slaves to sin but have power over sin through the gospel (1:18).
I think this is an important idea to understand about Romans. Christ brings reconciliation between rebellious citizens and their King. Now as we are members of the kingdom of heaven, we are called to a renewed obedience to our Sovereign.
Paul writes the epistle of Romans wanting to make sure that we understand two things.
- The law for Christians reminds us how to respond to God’s kindness (2:4).
- The law is not obeyed for salvation; only faith in Christ brings salvation (3:25).