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June 16 – LD 24, Day 6: Good Works, The Fruit of Justification

Sunday the 16th of June

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

Read: Romans 6

Never, never ought we to make our good works the ground or reason for our justification. Many may do that very thing, as they have done it throughout the new dispensation. But to make our works in any way a contributing factor to our salvation is to lose our salvation.

Put yourself once as standing before the judgment seat of Christ at the end of the world, where Christ sits blazing with all the holiness of God Himself, in dazzling garments of white. It is your turn to be judged as worthy or unworthy of heaven. You are commanded to produce your works, which would then be judged to determine whether you ought to go to heaven or hell.

You pull a book from your pocket and say to Christ: “On February 10, 1989 I prayed three times during the day. On June 5, 1997, I took care of one of the sick members of my church. On November 2000, I brought a cake over to a friend in the block next to ours.” Do you think that Christ will order the angels to escort you into heaven?

Our best works are corrupted and polluted by sin. What then can we say about the myriads of our other works? We will, I am sure, try to hide our best works behind our backs so that Christ cannot see them.

But what about these good works? We surely do them. And we are admonished in Scripture, again and again, to do them. We do pray. We do sing praise to God. We do visit the sick. We do hate sin and struggle to walk in obedience.

Yes, we do these things, and many more. But we do them not to be justified because we do them; we do them because we are already justified. They are the fruits of justification, not the grounds.

Consider a prisoner who is put in prison for the crime of theft. He is sentenced to prison for he is guilty. So the sinner is sentenced to the prison of spiritual depravity and death because of his sin.

But someone pays the debt for the thief. He is then innocent of his crime. Can a just judge, nevertheless, keep him in prison for that crime? No, he must let the prisoner go free. So, Christ paid our debt, and we are justified; that is, we are declared by the Judge of all the earth to be innocent.

Can God then keep us in the prison of depravity and death? No! He who has justified us, now delivers us from the slavery of sin and death. That is, He sanctifies us. We are made holy as He is holy.

It takes us a long time to be made holy; all our life. Our souls are made holy when we die, and our bodies in the resurrection from the dead.

But we are holy in principle. And because we are holy in principle, we do good works. They too are of God.


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