A Case Study in Sin

The following long, tedious post is a small way of demonstrating just how comprehensively God’s law condemns the sin of man. It highlights the depth and breadth of our fallen nature that is bent on violating God’s law in every conceivable manner, and shows just how much we all, believer and unbeliever alike, deserve God’s eternal anger and torment.

 The following extensive description of what it means to keep God’s law also shows us just how thoroughly successful the Lord Jesus Christ was in keeping God’s law in every conceivable manner for his elect—those who come to believe.

 Finally, it shows the many-faceted way in which we who believe and have been forgiven for such egregious, heinous sin, can express our gratitude for the active obedience of Christ in perfectly keeping God’s law for us, and for his passive obedience in suffering the penalty of divine wrath which such deep, dark, extensive sin deserves.

 The church my family has been attending for the past year or more, has recently been going through the Heidelberg Catechism. Last Lord’s Day evening we recited, received instruction on, and discussed Lord’s Day 40, which consists of Question & Answer numbers 105-107, regarding what is required in the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.”

 Last night, the Lord showed me just how easy it is to violate the spirit of God’s command against murder. Several ladies converged on my house to carpool to a ladies meeting. One of those ladies brought her husband with her to stay with me and share a pizza and a movie while they are away. My wife and I used to attend another church with this couple, which church has a distinct reputation for hurting many of its members, and used to be a little more legalistic than it is today. In fact, in some ways, it appears to be changing into the very kind of church it used to stand against. Being a wounded former member of such a church provides many temptations to violate the spirit of God’s command against murder, namely by “dishonoring” and “hating” it in our “thoughts,” “words,” and “gestures” and “deeds,” as we neglect to “lay aside all desire of revenge.”

 This kind of sin has become such a habit for me, in particular, that it didn’t dawn on me that this was what we were doing, not even when one of the other members who were in attendance last Sunday evening during the catechism discussion walked in, and I felt compelled to jokingly explain that we were having a little fun at our former church’s expense. It didn’t dawn on me until several hours later. Hence the occasion for the following post.

 While it may appear so, this is not an exercise in self-flagellation, but, as I explained above, an amplification of the Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of what the Bible teaches about what all God requires of us in the sixth commandment. May it open your eyes to the depth of your sin, the extent of Christ’s righteousness and grace, and may it guide you in expressing your loving gratitude for his free gift of righteousness which can only be received by faith in Christ.

 

Question 105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?

Answer: That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonour, hate, wound, or kill my neighbour, by myself or by another: (Matt. 5:21-22;26:52; Gen. 9:6) but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: (Eph. 4:26; Rom. 12:19; Matt. 5:25; 18:35) also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger. (Rom. 13:14; Col. 2:23; Matt. 4:7) Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder. (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:14; Matt. 26:52; Rom. 13:4)

 

Question 106. But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?

Answer: In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, (Pr. 14:30; Rom. 1:29) hatred, (1 John 2:9,11) anger, (James 1:20; Gal. 5:19-21) and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder. (1 John 3:15)

 

Question 107. But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

Answer: No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves; (Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Rom. 12:10) to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, (Eph. 4:2; Gal. 6:1-2; Matt. 5:5,7,9; Rom. 12:18; Luke 6:36; 1 Peter 3:8; Col. 3:12; Rom. 12:10,15) and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; (Ex. 23:5) and that we do good, even to our enemies. (Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21)

 

What does God require in the sixth commandment?

 In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hurt myself;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not willfully expose myself to any danger;

 For this reason, God has granted the right to human government alone to put murderers to death, as the just punishment of murder, and as a deterrent to murder by others.

But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?

 In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors envy as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors hatred as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors anger as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors desire of revenge as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

 No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy;

 

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy;

 

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy.

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4 responses

  1. Hello Captain,
    The watcher finds this subject very interesting, as you are well aware. We see what you illustrate here as more of a thoughtcrime than an actual sin. I would like to hear more concerning the gentleman who was left with you to share food and a movie. Did you commit this thoughtcrime against him? If so, why? Also the hurtful church you spoke of, could you elaborate on how a “christian” church could fall so far from grace?
    Till we meet again, I remain…
    The Watcher

    1. First of all, “thought crime” is just a euphamism for sin. Here’s Jesus on the sins of thought expressed in the forms of anger and hatred (so-called “thought crimes”), and sins of word expressed in the form of insulting. These Jesus explains are condemned just as actually murdering another is.

      “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire (Matthew 5:21-22 ESV).

      Thought crimes are sins. Those who don’t trust the Christ of the Bible haven’t had these sins forgiven, and stand in danger of judgment, just as much as does a murderer.

      In my anecdote, I wasn’t criticizing my friend, we were discussing and laughing about certain changes going on around our old church. One neither of us have attended for years. Sins of thought and word because it is borne out of animosity toward the leadership of that church.

      The church hasn’t “fallen from grace.” That phrase is a reference to believing in being justified by the law, rather than being justified by the grace of God (Galatians 5:4). It still preaches justification by grace alone received through faith alone in Christ alone. They are the recipients of God’s grace just as I am, which is what makes my criticism of their flaws unloving and sinful.

      Rather than “falling from grace,” the leadership of all churches, my own present one included, are less than perfect. Some so much so that members are sometimes provoked to resent the treatment they’ve received. Christians are sinners who have confessed their sins (rather than euphamizing and excusing them) and been forgiven by God, and they struggle to forgive those who sin against them as they have been forgiven by God. Our sanctification (our growth in holiness and obedience) will remain incomplete until the Second Coming of Christ. Then we will be glorified and will no longer sin against each other at all. In the meantime, we’ll need to continue hearing God’s Word expounded as clearly and thoroughly as it is in the Heidelberg Catechism and the preaching of sound Christian ministers who are faithful to preach God’s law to convict us and onlooking unbelievers, and to preach the gospel of the forgiveness of sins that sinners may believe and be saved from God’s wrath against sin.

  2. Thanks John! We’ve been there. It’s amazing how deeply a church can hurt you!!! And yes, bashing them is a sin; thank you for the reminders. Because we don’t see our “Old” church friends often, anymore, we’ve finally kind of gotten over it, but it will be a nice reminder for the next time we see them. I guess, it’s finally time to start praying for that church. It was nearly impossible at first. I prayed for individuals to come to their senses and situations to resolve, but I think I may finally be able to pray for that church’s ministry – that God would steer them back to the course that is best for his work! THANKS! Hadn’t thought about it all, in a while.

    1. I’d say, “You’re welcome,” but that doesn’t sound quite right. But thanks for subscribing. Looking forward to your interaction on future posts.

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