Thursday, July 7, 2022

Man's Ability to Obey God

Q. 82: Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God? 
Answer: No mere man, since the fall, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed. (WSC)

Notice that this question begins with two qualifications: (1) “No mere man,” which excludes Jesus, the Son of God who became man, and (2) “since the fall,” which excludes Adam and Eve before the fall. After Adam’s sin plunged humanity into an estate of sin and misery, mankind has been unable to meet the requirement of the covenant of works, which is perfect obedience. His nature is corrupt and his desires are hostile to God's law (Rom. 8:7-8). 
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
“‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one’ … For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...” (Romans 3:10–12, 23) 
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
Not only is no mere man able to keep God’s commands perfectly, but all of us break his commandments daily. Is it fair to say we break his commands daily? Yes, because Scripture teaches us to ask for the forgiveness of our sins daily. The Lord’s Prayer, whether as a prayer or a pattern, is designed as a daily prayer (“our daily bread”) and includes the petition, “forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12). How much more was this the case for us in our unregenerate state! Even as those who are delivered from the dominion of sin, we are engaged in a constant struggle between the flesh and the Spirit (Gal. 5:17) and have need to mortify sin and live in grateful dependance upon God’s mercy and grace. Those with faith in Christ will be able to obey God perfectly, not in this life, but in the estate of glory. 

If anyone has a hard time seeing his sin, let him remember that God’s law requires conformity in thought, word, and deed and in motive, manner, and purpose. Let us not rely upon our works for salvation, but upon our Savior, Jesus Christ.

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