Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 44
Lord's Day 44
What does the tenth commandment require of us?
That not even the slightest thought or desire contrary to any
of God's commandments should ever arise in our heart.
Rather, we should always hate all sin with all our heart,
and delight in all righteousness.
But can those converted to God keep these commandments
In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning
of this obedience.
Nevertheless, with earnest purpose they do begin to live not
only according to some
but to all the commandments of God.
If in this life no one can keep the ten commandments
perfectly, why does God have them preached so strictly?
that throughout our life
we may more and more become aware of
our sinful nature,
and therefore seek more eagerly
the forgiveness of sins and righteousness in Christ.
that we may be zealous for good deeds
and constantly pray to God
for the grace of the Holy Spirit,
that He may more and more renew us
after God's image,
until after this life we reach
the goal of perfection.
Q. & A. 113 My Soul Longs for God
- The tenth commandment occupies a special place. We sometimes call it the key to the law. For this commandment gives us clear insight into the demand of the law. It speaks about the same matters as the seventh and eighth commandments. But those words of the covenant forbade a particular sinful deed. This might give the impression that the Catechism is concerned solely with our actions. But that impression is radically rejected in this Q&A. It states that not even the slightest thought or desire contrary to any commandment may arise in our hearts.
- The tenth commandment, therefore, deals with desire. Desire can be natural, such as hunger and thirst. It can also be spiritual, such as that described in Ps 84:2: "My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord. . . ."
This kind of desire is not sinful; God himself put it in man.
Desire is sinful when it is contrary to God's commandment or his direction for my life.
- The commandment Forbids: All sinful desire. It is not sufficient to suppress our sinful desires as soon as they arise in our hearts (as the Roman Catholic church teaches). Not even the least desire contrary to any of God's commandments may arise in us. For therein already our depravity through sin is evident. The commandment also forbids all apathy and passivity.
- The commandment Requires: That we have delight in all righteousness. Further, that we desire to attain a richer development of the talents given to us.
- The Buddhist doctrine of the extinguishment of all desire.
- The class struggle (Marxism).
- What do we sometimes call the tenth commandment? What does it teach us?
- What does this commandment deal with? Are all desires sinful? When is desire sinful?
- What does the commandment forbid?
- What does the commandment require?
Q. & A. 114 The Converted and the Law
- We already confessed in LD 2, Q&A 5, that those who are not converted cannot keep the law. How about those who are converted to God? Can they keep the law perfectly? Scripture teaches clearly that also these cannot do so. Jas 3:2 says: "For we all make many mistakes. . . ."
1 Jn 1:8 states: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
And Paul says in Phil 3:12: "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect. . . ." (See also CD V, 1-8).
- Is there, then, no distinction between the converted and the unconverted? Yes, there is! In fact, the difference between them is greater than that between night and day. For the unconverted say: Depart from me; I have no delight in knowing thy ways. But the converted say: I take delight in the law of God in my inmost self (cf. Rom 7:22; Ps 119:47).
- There are differences among the converted. The one loves the Lord more and serves him with greater zeal than the other. There are those who are holiest! Think, for example about Abraham, who sacrificed Isaac, and of Job's patience. But not even Abraham was sinless, and at the end Job cursed the day of his birth. Even the holiest have only a small beginning of the obedience which God demands. Gal 5:17 says: "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit . . . to prevent you from doing what you would."
- But it is true of the converted that they, with earnest purpose (i.e., they have set their whole heart to do this!), begin to live according to God's commandments. Paul says in Phil 3:12: ". . . I press on to make it my own. . . ."
That is why they do their utmost to keep not only some, but all the Lord's commandments. For although they are still imperfect, the Lord perfects them.
- Can those who are converted keep the law perfectly? What do Jas 3:2 and 1 Jn 1:8 say?
- Is there no difference between the converted and the unconverted? What is the difference?
- Are there distinctions among the converted? What is true of the holiest?
- What is true of all the converted?
Q. & A. 115 The Purpose of Preaching the Law
- God has the law preached to us. The books of the prophets and the letters of the apostles, as well as Christ's instruction, clearly show this. Further, he causes the law to be preached “strictly,” i.e., accurately and precisely, as well as rigorously and seriously. The preaching of the law in the church may never take the form of a broad outline, or be superficial. It must call a spade a spade! But one might object: What benefit does that have? For we cannot keep the law perfectly anyway. Why, then, is it necessary to have it preached so “strictly”?
- That is how the Lord works our salvation. We become aware of our sinful nature (not just our sins, but our sinful nature) more and more through the preaching of the law. The Lord works this in us so that we might the more eagerly seek forgiveness of our sins and righteousness in Christ. That is how the Lord teaches us to say with Paul in Rom 7:24-25: "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
- The Lord also wants us to understand what pleases him through the preaching of the law, so that we may be zealous to do those things. This zeal can only be effected by praying for the grace which the Holy Spirit confers; such prayer must always be accompanied by works.
That is how the Lord wants to fulfil the promise of Jer 31:33, which is still being fulfilled: "I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts."
The CD V, 2, state that through this preaching of the law the saints learn, ". . . to flee to the crucified Christ, to put the flesh to death more and more through the Spirit of prayer and by holy exercises of godliness, and to long for the goal of perfection until at last, delivered from this body of death, they reign with the Lamb of God in heaven."
- Does God have the law preached? How does he have this done?
- What do we learn more and more through the law? Why does this happen?
- What else does the Lord want to work through the preaching of the law?
- What does Jer 31:33 say?