Read: Romans 3:1-20
Our rather stern and insistent teacher now asks the final question. Our teacher wants us to be sure that we know our sins and miseries, for we cannot go on in our studies until we learn this lesson.
“Canst thou keep all these things perfectly?” That is indeed the question that needs answering. We have seen ourselves in the mirror of the law and it was not a very pretty sight. Well, what do you see?
“In no wise; for I am prone to hate God and my neighbor.” I must confess it. It is true. There is no getting around it. I may wear a mask of piety and appear before others as pious and good. I may even try to fool myself. But there it is. The simple fact is that I cannot even begin to love God and my neighbor. And I don’t do it either. Love him? Most of the time I am not even thinking about him!
There are a few things about this question and answer that we must think about.
One is that the question talks about keeping the law “perfectly.” Our first reaction to that might be: “Our teacher is trying to make things as tough for us as possible. Maybe we don’t keep the law perfectly, but isn’t God satisfied with our best efforts? And so what if we slip a little here and there. Do we have to be totally without any lapse, any slip? The answer is, “Yes, we are talking about our relation to God! God demands of us that we be as holy as he is (I Peter 1:16). He has a right to do this as well. If he would permit “little” sins, he would not be the holy God that he is (Isaiah 6:1-4). His holiness cannot tolerate even the tiniest of sins.
The second point is that to some, the word “prone” seems to be weak to describe our sins. If we say, “I am prone to eat too much,” then I mean that that is a danger all right, but I can successfully resist this proneness in me. But that is not the point. Here the word “prone” means that we are totally and completely pointed in the direction of sin.
The third point is that our teacher insists that we understand what this proneness means. The answer we are given is not, “No, I do not do all these things perfectly, but fail here and there;” nor is our answer a simple No: “No, I have to admit that I do not do all these things perfectly.” The answer is horrible to contemplate: “I always do the exact opposite.” It is not only, sadly enough, that I don’t do what is required of me; the problem is that I do exactly the opposite of what I ought to do. I am called to love God, but I hate him. I am called to love God with all my heart and mind and soul and strength. But what do I do? I hate him with all my heart and mind and soul and strength.
That’s how bad it is! Do you confess that truth? When we learn that lesson, we are ready to go on.
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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