Q. 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 (1).
Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments (2).
Read: (1) Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 7:14-15; 1 Cor. 13:9; 1 John 1:8-10; (2) Ps. 1:1-2; Rom. 7:22-25; Phil. 3:12-16.
I don’t know about you but when I read The Bible, I am often discouraged. Every single verse of the Bible condemns me. I can not follow and obey God’s commandments perfectly. I fail every single day. And I get discouraged. I bet this happens to you too. See sister, many days, we come to the Bible in our flesh and read it as a to do list, as an instructive to life and we miss the Message that we need to preach to ourselves every single day… that we cannot obey God without God. Let’s expound this thought as we study question 113 of The Heidelberg Catechism.
Studying the 10 Commandments have been tough! If we read them as the standard that God has called us to live by, we will probably end up discouraged because every single time we will fall short. And yet, they are not kind suggestions of our Maker for us. Rather, they are commands. Martin Luther in his book “The Bondage of The Will” writes: The passages of Scripture you cite are imperative; and they prove and establish nothing about the ability of man, but only lay down what is and what not to be done” (161). Luther’s words are kindness to my soul because it reminds me to come to The Bible with a different lens…the Jesus lens because every single verse in The Bible implies my complete and total inability.
But God…God knew that no human being would be able to keep the Law on His own! God understood that sin had completely separated us from God. And so, in His mercy He intervened that we would be able to obey Him. We cannot obey God apart from God. So when we read The Ten Commandments and the Bible as a whole, we need Him. We need Jesus.
When God grants us His mercy and by faith we trust Jesus as Lord and Savior, something amazing happens. Your heart regenerates because of Jesus’ once and for all, sufficient payment for your sins on The Cross. And your heart is healed. And what you once thought impossible to obey is now your desire “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Sister, the Bible condemns us. We are unable to approach God. Our sinful nature accuses us. We are guilty. But God, in Christ has forgiven us. But God, in Christ has enabled us. But God, in Christ propels us. And so, in Christ, everything changes. When we read The Bible with a Christ lens we are able to approach God humbly. With a heart that wants to obey Him fully but with the sober mindedness that we will still fail. We come to God expectant and eager to hear His Word and meditate upon it and obey it because our now regenerated heart allows us to. And when we fail, we come in a humble yet peaceful way, knowing that in Christ we are forgiven. When we read the Bible we know that we were once condemned but now we are forgiven and that allows us to obey God, even when we fall…because now we are obeying God with God.
So sister, as we close this teaching, I want to ask you; are you trying to obey God without God? Do you come to The Bible in your own strength without Jesus? Or are you in Jesus coming to The Bible in expectant humility, knowing that you can now obey God because you are doing it with and in Him?
May you be blessed.