Heidelberg Catechism Meditations (366)

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January 24 – LD 4, Day 3: God’s Just Punishment of Sin

Sunday the 24th of January

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

Read: Deuteronomy 27:9-26

One more lesson is taught by our teacher as necessary to know our comfort. That lesson is that God will surely punish the sins of which we are guilty. He has to punish them. He would not be God if he did not punish them.

But let us be sure, first of all, that we understand what the lesson is all about. There are people in the church, sometimes very conservative people, considered to be evangelicals, who deny this truth. They are afraid of it, because they are of the opinion that an eternity in hell is too big a penalty to be paid for sin. They are like today’s liberals who think that capital punishment ought to be abolished, even for the most terrible sins, because it is cruel. They do not like what the Bible says, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:8). They seem to know better than God what is just.

God told Adam that the day he ate of the forbidden tree, he would die. God keeps his word. Death includes, you remember, total depravity (If you find it hard to imagine that total depravity is death, read Ephesians 2:1.), physical death and eternal death in hell. And all the misery, pain, suffering and trouble in this world is God’s punishment for sin, because it is a part of death. Every day we die a bit more physically. We cannot avoid it. It is part of God’s curse on man for his sin.

And when at last we (man in his unsaved, totally depraved state) do die and our bodies are carried off to the cemetery, the grave is the door to hell. Our souls go to hell, and our bodies will go when Christ comes back again to judge the living and the dead.

Hell is a terrible place. The wrath of God is totally the experience of those who go there. They can do nothing but suffer, for all their bodies and souls are engulfed by the fierce wrath of God. Read Luke 16:24 and learn how only a drop of water would help ease the pains of hell. Read too how Jesus speaks of hell as the place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quench; where is only to be heard weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13:50).

This is what you and I deserve! Let us confess that.


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