Q. Since no one in this life can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly, why does God want them preached so pointedly?
A. First, so that the longer we live the more we may come to know our sinfulness and the more eagerly look to Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness (1). Second, so that we may never stop striving, and never stop praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, to be renewed more and more after God’s image, until after this life we reach our goal: perfection (2).
Read: (1) Ps. 32:5; Rom. 3:19-26; 7:7, 24-25; 1 John 1:9; (2) 1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:1-3.
In my family, it was expected for me to be a “good girl”. It was my responsibility to act nicely, be polite, and do good to others. And so I became a moralist. What I mean is that I learned to behave well in every single circumstance even when my heart was harboring bitterness or anger…I became a professional faker that everybody liked…after all I was the poster child for a “good girl”. But I think that this is not only me but us. We have learned to act good, to fit into whatever mold people want us to fit in…and unless we rebel against the standard norms of what is considered socially acceptable, we all know how to fake kindness and put on our best face…even when our hearts are dark. Even with our kids…we want them to be “good kids”. Well behaved moralists and many times we fail to understand that what we should be after is the heart rather than the actions. Moralism is not what we are after. Gospel Transformation is what we should pursue. Let’s understand what this means by examining question 114 of The Heidelberg Catechism.
You and I are master chameleons. We can fit into many social scenarios. We can smile and be kind to someone we dislike. We can say the right words, even when we don’t mean it. We can host people with a resentful heart. We can mask our emotions and keep on moving. But this happens only when we know we will gain something. Whether it is acceptance or praise, a promotion or an accolade, if we can gain something, we will keep the show going.
In “The Nature of True Virtue”, Jonathan Edwards explains the difference from this virtue, this faking it, to the Gospel. God does not want to transform our actions so we can conform to His law externally and make Him look good. He wants to transform our hearts, our motivations so that we can persevere and glorify Him alone and for that, we need to understand the fullness of The Gospel.
When we recognize that we are serial sinners and that all of our actions are marred by sin and we fall on our knees and by God’s mercy put our faith in the atonement or payment that Jesus paid on the Cross for our sins, we are transformed. Our inner being changes from acting in fear or obeying for the sake of earning something, to a heart that simply desires and rejoices in obeying God. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone …but transformation happens as a sign of salvation.
Salvation by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone, produces sanctification. Sanctification is simply the life-long process of becoming more like Christ. Faith without sanctification is not true faith. We are not saved by works but a sign of saving faith is works. And so, we obey not because our obedience saves us or will ever save us but rather we obey because we are saved (Gal. 5:6).
We won’t obey the Ten Commandments perfectly. We won’t obey God’s word perfectly. But sister, we will run. We will walk this path of sanctification because we are in Jesus (1 Cor. 15:10). We work hard because of the majesty of The Gospel. We obey because we are gripped and overjoyed in Christ and all our regenerated hearts can do is obey. We no longer fake it. We no longer need to fake it. Our transformed hearts by the grace of Christ delights in obeying God and so, we become a testimony of Christ’s power and are no longer mere moralists.
Sister, as we finish this teaching, i want to ask you; are you faking it? Do you do what is right even if your motivation is wrong? Are you tired of it? And if you are, will you come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness of your sin that you may experience Gospel transformation that changes the motivations of your heart and now obeys out of delight for God?