Last week we entered upon the third and final section of the Heidelberg Catechism, which explains the cause of the Christian’s good works. Having been redeemed from the depths of our sin and misery, we delight to show our love for Christ by obeying him in every aspect of our lives. Lord’s Day 33, which we’ll consider today in our URC Psalmody series, fleshes out this doctrine a little more fully.
88 Q. What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?
A. Two things:
the dying-away of the old self,
and the coming-to-life of the new.
89 Q. What is the dying-away of the old self?
A. It is to be genuinely sorry for sin,
to hate it more and more,
and to run away from it.
90 Q. What is the coming-to-life of the new self?
A. It is wholehearted joy in God through Christ
and a delight to do every kind of good
as God wants us to.
91 Q. What do we do that is good?
A. Only that which
arises out of true faith,
conforms to God’s law,
and is done for his glory;
and not that which is based
on what we think is right
or on established human tradition.
47, “Be Thou My Judge” (Psalm 26)
“Two things: the dying-away of the old self, and the coming-to-life of the new.” The author of Psalm 26 expresses both components of sanctification, asking the Lord to be his Judge as he seeks to obey him.
O search me, Lord, and prove me now;
Thy mercy I adore;
I choose Thy truth to be my guide,
And sinful ways abhor.
My hands I wash in innocence
And seek Thine altar, Lord,
That there I may with thankful voice
Thy wondrous works record.
Let not the judgment fall on me
For evil men decreed,
For cruel men and violent,
Inspired by bribes and greed.
But I in mine integrity
Will humbly walk with Thee;
O my Redeemer and my Lord,
Be merciful to me.
Redeemed by Thee, I stand secure
In peace and happiness;
And in the Church, among Thy saints,
Jehovah I will bless.
57, “Ye Righteous in the Lord, Rejoice” (Psalm 33)
“[T]he coming-to-life of the new self…is wholehearted joy in God through Christ and a delight to do every kind of good as God wants us to.” The redeemed sinner looks with joy to the wondrous deeds of the Lord and strives to reflect his glory in all of life.
Ye righteous, in the Lord rejoice;
‘Tis comely that with joyful voice
God’s saints His Name should praise.
With harp and hymn of gladness sing,
Your gift of sweetest music bring,
To Him a new song raise.
For upright is Jehovah’s word,
And all the doings of the Lord
In justice have their birth.
In judgment and in deeds of right
The Lord forever takes delight,
His goodness fills the earth.
187, “Sing to the Lord, Sing His Praise” (Psalm 96)
Our good work is “that which arises out of true faith, conforms to God’s law, and is done for his glory; and not that which is based on what we think is right or on established human tradition.” Perhaps the most striking part of this Catechism answer is the phrase “done for his glory”—as Jesus says in Matthew 5, the motive for our Christ-like behavior is “so that [others] may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16). Psalm 96 calls us to possess this mindset:
Sing to the Lord, sing His praise, all ye peoples,
New be your song as new honors ye pay;
Sing of His majesty, bless Him forever,
Show His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His wondrous works, tell of His glory,
Till through the nations His Name is revered;
Praise and exalt Him, for He is almighty,
God over all, let the Lord be feared.
Give unto God Most High glory and honor,
Come with your offerings and humbly draw near;
In holy beauty now worship Jehovah,
Tremble before Him with godly fear.
Make all the nations know God reigns forever;
Earth is established as He did decree;
Righteous and just is the King of the nations,
Judging the people with equity.
Let heaven and earth be glad; waves of the ocean,
Forest and field, exultation express;
For God is coming, the Judge of the nations,
Coming to judge in His righteousness.