We covered question and answer #9 yesterday,
Question 9. Does not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?
Answer: Not at all; for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, and his own wilful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.
And so it is on to question 10 today.
Question 10. Will God suffer such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?
Answer: By no means; but is terribly displeased with our original as well as actual sins; and will punish them in his just judgment temporally and eternally, as he has declared, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law,to do them.”
Note how this answer flies in the face of much of contemporary Churchianity.
1.) It asserts that God is just.
If modern Christians think of God as being just at all, more often than not they think of His justice being reserved for the other guy. It seems that they take the attitude of one author who famously wrote regarding God’s disposition towards sin he was being forewarned against, “God will forgive. That is His nature.” Of course God will forgive and it is His nature to forgive those in Christ, but such a cavalier attitude towards sin communicates the our author, and people who think in his terms, don’t understand God’s justice.
God’s justice is functionally denied by folks who believe that God will ignore the little sins without realizing that God never ignores any sin. Not one. They seem not to comprehend that the death of Christ was the justice of God against all sin for those who trust in Christ. In all of time, the God of justice has never ignored one sin. He has never let bygones be bygones. All sin is justly punished, either as born by a substitute or as born by the sinner who has no substitute. God’s justice is of such a exalted and honorable nature that even if a person could be perfect in word and deed their whole life (and of course no one can) that still would not have them escaping God’s justice, for His justice rightly addresses the sin nature that we received from Adam (God is terribly displeased with our original sin…). God is just Caleb, and will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:7) and there are none who are not guilty.
2.) It asserts that God is terribly displeased with our disobedience and rebellion.
This is another aspect of God’s character that many modern Christians can’t seem to get their minds around. In our contemporary setting God is seen as a “God of love.” How many Christians think of God being “terrible displeased?” I’ve spoken to any number of people concerning any number of sins and often what the conversation will revert back to when I press the issue that God is just, is that “Well, my God is a God of love and He wouldn’t punish ________ .” (Fill in the blank with whatever sin you might imagine). God is a God of love, and it is precisely because He is a God of love that he is terribly displeased with our disobedience and rebellion. You see, while it is true that God is a God of love, the love of God is first and foremost for Himself, and if He loves Himself as the highest good and as that which His love has nothing more excellent to pursue then the love of God necessitates that He be terribly displeased with all that which is contrary to Himself. For God to not be terribly displeased with our disobedience and rebellion would be the most unloving cut of all. The Scripture that is cited regarding God’s disposition toward the rebellious and disobedient here is even stronger than the idea of “terribly displeased.”
Psalm 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Nah.1:2 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
Rom.1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Eph.5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
Keep in mind what the Catechism is attempting to do in this Lord’s Day #4 is to shut every door against the sinner that would argue for some solution to their rebellion and disobedience that is other than the solution held out in the Gospel. They do this in hope that the sinner will see that there is only one door through which they must walk if they are going to solve the problem of a Sovereign God who is terribly displeased with their rebellion and disobedience.
Just a few more words on the idea that a God of love would never hate workers of iniquity, or would never be storing up wrath against the sinner, or would never be furious against the sinner. When we deny these realities we turn the love of God into the love of a harlot. When we deny that God is terribly displeased with the rebellious and disobedient we affirm that God has no moral standard and so we deny God’s Holiness. If we lived in an age where all that was ever said about God is that He is a consuming fire we would need to emphasize properly the love and grace of God. However, we live in an age of moral degeneracy and so it really is the case that the truth that God is terribly displeased with our rebellion and disobedience needs to be repeated. One of my five star Theologians put it this way,
“From the fact that to a generation which knew God only as a righteous Judge, and in an atmosphere surcharged with the sense of retribution, He (Jesus) made the sum and substance of His preaching the love of God, it does not follow that, if He were in person to preach to our present age so strangely oblivious of everything but love, His message would be entirely the same.”
Redemptive History & Biblical Interpretation
The Scriptural Doctrine Of The Love Of God
One final observation on this score. It is commonplace among Evangelicals to insist that, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” Bunk! Psalm 5:5 above teaches that “God hates workers of iniquity.” God doesn’t just hate the iniquity. God hates the worker of iniquity. It is an odd abstraction that allows us the ability to extract how a person behaves from the person themselves. At that final day, it will not be sins but sinners that God throws, body and soul, into hell. But even here, God hates the elect worker of iniquity on the basis of His love for them. Because God loves the elect, even while he hates them as workers of iniquity, God hatred has as its end that they will be awakened to His personal opposition against them so that His opposition might instill in them a fleeing to Christ so as to find a refuge from God’s wrath and hatred against them. So, for the elect, God’s hatred upon them before conversion, while they are workers of iniquity, is serving His love for them as those eternally set apart for salvation.
3.) The catechism teaches that God is terribly displeased with two types of sin.
The two types of sin that God is terribly displeased with are,
a.) our original sin (our sin nature as received from Adam) (Romans 5:12)
b.) our actual sins (Romans 3)
We’ve talked about our sin nature and original sin previously so I will only say that our sin nature refers to the essence of who fallen man is. Birds fly, and fish swim because of their “nature.” Just so humans sin because of their sin nature as inherited from Adam.
Our actual sins are merely the instantiation or demonstration of our sin nature. Before we can be cured of our actual sins we need to be cured of our sin nature.
An important point here to keep in mind is that it is not the case that I am a sinner because I sin. It is rather a case that I sin because I am a sinner. Actual sins are only symptomatic of a sin nature that needs to be cured. This is why, unless men are born again (given a new nature) they can never stop sinning, even if they, comparatively speaking, clean up their sinning.
4.) The catechism teaches that God will punish sins and sinners temporally and eternally.
A.) Note here that the God the catechizer’s present to us is a God who will punish sins (Matthew 10:28). Again, this flies in the contemporary view that God is a harmless old grandfatherly type chap that would never hurt a fly. Unless some kind of solution to this sin problem is found God will punish.
B.) Note also that God’s punishing of sins and sinners is both in the here and now and during unending eternity. This portion of the catechism reminds us that to the sinner outside of Christ, God stands in relation to them as only a condemning Judge. God is opposed to the wicked 24-7 and while He does extend common grace to them (rain, sunshine, family life, etc.) that in no way diminishes the fact that God is the enemy of the wicked outside of Christ. God is not a Father to those outside of Christ but an avenging deity.
C.) Note also here that with the statement that God will punish eternally their is a hint of the doctrine of hell. The doctrine of hell as fallen on some hard times and is denied by a goodly number of Christians these days. We will deal with the issue of hell later when it comes up more directly in the catechism.
5.) The final Scriptures that the catechism cites in the answer are drawn from,
Deut.27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Gal.3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
The importance of this citation is found in the reality that God is not terribly displeased only with those who have perfectly filled all that His just law requires. God does not grade on a curve Caleb. God grades on a straight scale and if someone isn’t 100% perfect with all that His just law requires and forbids God is terribly displeased with them.
This question and answer can cause people to flinch. Remember, the purpose of the first section of the catechism is to reveal how black our situation is. Because these truths cause people to cringe many Evangelicals no longer want to state these truths, preferring to try and give the good news (Gospel) to those who are yet clueless about the bad news that requires Good news.
Question #11 in the next entry.
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” –
— Thomas Jefferson