Question 13. Can we ourselves then make this satisfaction?
Answer: By no means; but on the contrary we daily increase our debt. (a)
Now after having given a glimmer of hope in terms of returning to God’s favor in question and answer # 12
“God will have his justice satisfied: and therefore we must make this full satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another.”
the catechism, methodologically speaking, begins to do the same thing it did in the first division when it shut all doors against man finding favor with God except the door through which one must walk through in order to find favor. The catechism hinting at another who can make satisfaction proceeds to shut the door to all potential providers of satisfaction except the only one who can provide satisfaction. If the one caught in sin and misery is to find his satisfaction in another he must move through the only door the catechism allows him to move through.
And so, the Heidelberg Catechism shuts the door to any idea that fallen man can make satisfaction to God’s righteous law. Notice again here though, the legal aspect of Christianity Caleb. Law broken. Law must be satisfied. Christianity is a faith founded on legal categories. If one doesn’t know that, one will struggle their whole Christian life.
Tis folly to think that we can provide satisfaction for our sin Caleb, and yet that is what mankind apart from Christ universally does. Man, apart from Christ, enters into all kinds of spurious satisfactions in order to ameliorate their inescapable sense of sin and misery. Fallen man has this guilt he can’t get rid of and so he does all kinds of contorted things in order to rid himself of his guilt, thus thinking he can satisfy the sense of God’s opposition.
Nah.1:6 Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
Typically in order to satisfy his guilt before God fallen man will either turn to greater or lesser degrees of sado-masochism. Either he will seek to satisfy his guilt by rolling that guilt on another thus inflicting harm on others who are serving as providers of satisfaction (sadism) or he will seek to satisfy his guilt by rolling that guilt upon himself thus inflicting harm on himself thus punishing himself for his sin (masochism). This mad desire to find a false satisfaction as opposed to a true satisfaction that can only be found in Christ, as the one who provides satisfaction, explains a great deal of the psychological twisted-ness and the abnormality that we find in the human condition. If one will not look to Christ as the only one who can provide satisfaction unto God’s just justice against us, one will become psychologically bent in their seeking to unload and satisfy their guilt upon someone else.
Indeed, I would go as far to say that the greatest preponderance of the whole “psychological – psychiatry complex” that is so prevalent in our culture exists only as a means to provide men false satisfactions that can never satisfy. Men go to their counseling sessions to receive a temporary declaration of absolution from their Shrink as satisfaction for their sin. But, as the Catechism teaches, this Shrink absolution can never really satisfy, because we daily (minute by minute) increase our debt.
Job 15:16 How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?
The greatest majority of the psychological – psychiatry complex was invented as a means to rationalize evil behavior and to provide a false satisfaction. True satisfaction can only be found in Christ as our satisfaction, but fallen man will not have Christ’s satisfaction because they will not surrender the authority of their fiat word to legislate reality. The psychological – psychiatry industry, in its majority report, is thus a sham science but it can exist and flourish because so many people want a satisfaction other than the satisfaction found in Christ.
So, fallen man plays this huge game of pretend in order to try and ease from himself this inescapable sense that God’s justice is not satisfied.
Ps.130:3 “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?”
Fallen man will confess his sins to a Shrink or in public but his confession will be qualified. “I confess though I didn’t really do anything wrong.” Ever notice the explosion of talk shows Caleb? People go live on television or radio to confess their sins, while at the same time often defending themselves that their sins weren’t really sinful. What else is this but fallen man trying to make his own satisfaction? As a pool of guilt grows in any society, the need to seek to satisfy for that guilt through pseudo confessions, through sadism, through masochism will grow exponentially. People are bent by their lack of satisfaction and as long as they refuse to go to the only one who can make satisfaction for them their guilt will eat them up and make them do the oddest of things. This mockery of satisfaction finds the soul trifling with itself — trifling because it can not find the permanent satisfaction for its sins it so desperately needs.
So, the catechism teaches that we can not provide our own satisfaction.
Job 9:2 “I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? Job 9:3 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.”
Instead, the amount of satisfaction that fallen man needs grows daily because his debt grows daily. And experience teaches us the contortions fallen man will go to in order to evade the gnawing sense of guilt that he can not satisfy. Fallen man will damage his relationships, he will conspire against himself, he will make all manners of false confessions, and he will allow himself to be manipulated by those who hold out the brass ring of non-Christ satisfaction for his inescapable sense of guilt that he longs to be satisfied at any price except the price of permanent and eternal satisfaction.