Since we missed the Heidelberg Catechism this week, I thought I’d post it for you and share some thoughts and a resource for you to prepare for this Sunday.
The Lord’s Day 2 Catechism begins to unpack our estate of sin and misery which explains our need for why a Redeemer. Though not coming out and saying it, the writers of the Heidelberg Catechism are explaining the first use of the Law which is to expose our sinfulness and brokenness. The questions and answers read:
Q3. How do you come to know your misery?
A. The law of God tells me. (Rom. 3:20; 7:7-25)
Q4. What does God’s law require of us?
A. Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Deut. 6:5 Lev. 19:18)
Q5. Can you live up to all this perfectly?
A. No. I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor. (Rom. 3:9-20, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10; Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23-24; 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3)
Question 5 may strike you as a little extreme. You may protest that you don’t hate anyone, and indeed, you may not treat anyone hatefully.
“Hatred” in Question 5 doesn’t mean that you treat everyone equally with the highest contempt, it has more to do with the degrees of love. A wife who feels neglected and ignored by her husband, doesn’t say, “I feel as if you do not love me to the appropriate degree that your covenant promise of forsaking all others would have.” Rather what she says is, “You act like you hate me.” Now she may not mean that her husband actually hates her, rather she may mean and even say, “You love your work, your hobbies, and your car more than you love me.” This is the way hatred is used in the Catechism.
Though we may not be guilty of out and out hostility or contempt of God or our neighbor, there may be indifference, coldness, or unfaithfulness. You may count hatred as the degree that you do not love as you ought. All humanity is not to be indifferent to their neighbor’s needs or to God’s honor, and yet we choose self over others, our will over God’s will. These disordered priorities and devotions are at the root of the hatred of which we speak. How do we do the diagnostic work of hatred? We don’t have to do much, just let Question 4 sink in and that should be enough.
In light of talking about God’s Law, you may be in the need for some good news. In this month’s Christianity Today‘s featured article is by David Zahl on justification and our need to be and feel justified. We’ll get there in the Catechism, but this will help you today!