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June 17 – LD 24, Day 7: A Careless And Profane Christian Is Impossible

Monday the 17th of June

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

Read: Matthew 25:31-46

What about careless and profane Christians? Are there such people? Do anyone of you know of such a person? Are you such a person? Does the doctrine of justification by faith alone make you want to sin as much as you like because you are going to heaven in any case? No matter how much you sin?

I know people who do say this as an excuse for their sins. Young people are sometimes tempted to say this. They go to shows, drink too much alcohol, go to wild parties where ungodly music is played, and live as the world. When they are reprimanded for their sins, they fall back on the excuse: I am justified without my works. I am going to heaven because my sins are forgiven.

What can be said to these people? This can and must be said: If you excuse your sin because of the doctrine of justification alone, you are not a Christian, for a Christian would never say anything like that. You may claim to be a Christian. You may have been baptized. You may have gone to a Christian school. You may go to church every Lord’s Day. But you are not a Christian.

Paul says the same thing in Rom 6. He has developed beyond any fear of contradiction the truth of justification by faith alone. He receives an objection: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”

Some in Paul’s day carried the whole matter to that extreme. They said, “It is better to sin wildly, for the greater sinner we show ourselves to be, the more wonderful is our justification.” There was a woman who claimed to be a prophetess in the church of Thyatira who taught the same thing (Rev. 2:20-23).

But one who is a true Christian does not say these things. The reasons for this are:

First,the sinner who is justified is also sanctified, that is, made holy. A just judge does not declare a prisoner innocent and then let him stay in jail. If a man is innocent, the judge orders his release.

So God, the righteous judge, does not declare us to be without sin and then leave us in the prison of our sins; He delivers us from our sins. Depravity was the punishment for our sins; if our sins exist no longer, the punishment is taken away. We are sanctified. This is Paul’s argument in Rom 6.

But there is more. The justified sinner, in his own consciousness, never can and never will, say: “Now I can sin as much as I like. I have attained justification; I can now eat and drink and be merry.” That is a spiritual impossibility. The justified sinner is so overwhelmed by the wonder of God’s grace in Christ that all he wants to do is please his Savior. And when he sins, he does not say, “I’m justified; it doesn’t matter.” He says, “Lord, Be merciful to me, a sinner.”


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