Heidelberg Catechism Q114

Q. 114.  But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly?

A. No.  In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience.  Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.


Read Ecclesiastes 7:20.  What sobering words.  All men and women are in a state of sin.  As people, we are unable to obey God all the time in every situation.  Even if we wanted to obey God, our sinful nature rears its head and causes us to do what we don’t want to do, as Paul says.  Let us never forget to acknowledge our sinfulness to God and one another, remembering the truth of Ecclesiastes for in our confession the Lord promises there is forgiveness.  Read 1 John 1:8-10.


Many regard Paul as a great apostle; much further along in his Christian walk of obedience that most.  But the Apostle Paul makes a startling statement in his letter to the Romans.  Read Romans 7:14-15.  Paul realizes that as “spiritual” as he is, really there is death still at work in his life.  He wants to obey, but can’t; he doesn’t want to sin, but does.  These are the confessions of a great defender and promoter of the faith, yet he recognized just how far he fell short of the standards of God.  That said, we must take heart, for in this man, the power of God and the Spirit of the Lord worked to cause him to begin to obey the laws of God and that same spirit is alive in you and me today.


Even though it is true that we cannot obey God’s law perfectly, we can begin to make strides in our obedience.  Since we truly love God, He has promised to place His law upon our hearts.   And what is inside our heart will undoubtedly affect our external actions.  In fact, not only will we live into his law, we will love doing it for we will recognize the holiness of God and how each of these laws brings us from death to life.  Read 1 John 5:3.


So how can we begin to obey the laws of God?  Psalm 1 gives us the answer.  Read Psalm 1:3.  By meditating on the law of God we will allow the teachings of the Lord to penetrate our hearts and minds and usher forth in obedience.  Reading and praying the Scriptures are key to being transformed into agents of righteousness.  Consider memorizing Psalm 1.


Obedience to the law is not an option.  Our Lord gave himself up as the perfect sacrifice, fulfilling the requirements of the law perfectly; otherwise he would have required a sin offering for his disobedience.  And since he lived them perfectly and now lives within you and me, we too will find his very Spirit bursting for in animating life to raise our bones from the grave into the newness of covenant obedience.  Read Galatians 2:20.


In Jeremiah 42 the people make a promise to obey the Lord.  Though the story unfolds in a rather sad way, betraying the obedience, which had been promised, the very request of the people could be prayed by Christians today.  Read Jeremiah 42:5-6 and pray for the heart to obey and the strength to follow the Lord wherever he leads.  Truly nothing but blessing can come from walking in the ways of the Lord.


About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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