“Whoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.” – The Athanasian Creed
Over the summer we have been doing a brief overview of several of the Historic Creeds of the faith. We are going to be wrapping up this series with a brief look at the Athanasian Creed. We’ll take a couple weeks to get a birds eye view of what is said here.
This Creed was originally said to be the work of Athanasius, who was one of the great defenders of the faith in the early church. Athanasius spoke out vehemently against Arianism, that heresy we’ve mentioned a couple of times through the summer: where Jesus was not God per se, but was God’s highest creation.
While a lot of what is said here would no doubt have been backed by Athanasius, most scholarship today does not see this as a product of Athanasius’ pen. We still call it the Athanasian Creed though, for tradition’s sake.
What I’d like us to focus on this morning is the first line of the creed. It starts off with a wallop when it says “Whoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.” It also ends with a similar statement: "This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved."
These are sometimes called the “damnatory clauses” of the Athanasian Creed because these statements pronounce an anathema on anyone who does not hold to the tenets of this creed.
I’d like us to think about that for a second. It might sound a little forward to you to say that if you do not hold to everything that is spelled out in this creed, you are damned. As a matter of fact, you might very well be offended that anyone would have the audacity to say such a thing. To our postmodern ears this sounds rather stringent (or even strident). The idea of making any particular document the boundary marker for one’s salvation is something we’re not used to hearing.
But you have to understand what the creed is saying. We do not mean that you have to understand every single iota of what is said here to be saved. Salvation is not by knowledge. Salvation is by grace through faith. But there is a particular God who saves, and it is important that you believe in the right God. If you do not, then you are not saved.
So you might not know exactly what is said here, but if you believe in the one true God, this is the one you’ll believe in. This is the God of the Bible.
Or, maybe a Christian is not educated well enough to speak exactly right about the trinity. Perhaps you speak of God in modalistic terms. Modalism is the belief that God existed in three forms at three different times: he was the Father at one point, then later on he turned into the Son, and now he has transformed into the Holy Spirit. That is a heresy that is corrected by this Creed.
But if you are a young Christian (or one that is not trained well) you might speak of God that way. If you do, it doesn’t means you are damned. It just means you don’t know God well enough at this point in your life.
The creed isn't talking about that kind of ignorance. It is talking about those who outright reject the truth. It condemns those who ought to know better and intentionally follow after another god.
Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness would be an example of who is anathematized by the Creed because they disavow any belief in the Triune God. They specifically reject Trinitarian doctrine and embrace a different god.
Another example would be TD Jakes. Jakes is a modern day preacher who has a huge following. Despite his radical popularity in the church today, TD Jakes confesses to be a modalist. I might clarify by saying he is wittingly a modalist. He does not believe that the Father, Son, and Spirit are eternally existent (as the Creed defines them to be). Rather, he believes that the Father existed for a little while as the Father, then he existed as the Son for a little while, and then he turned into the Spirit. That is a specific and forthright denial of the nature of God.
Such a person stands condemned by this creed, even as the Bible itself condemns the one who would create such an idol. Paul himself said,
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:8-9 ESV
Last week we started looking at the Definition of Chalcedon and Mark talked about what it meant that Mary was the “Mother of God” or the “God bearer.”
This morning we are going to start focusing on the person of Christ and how his divinity and humanity relate. We believe that Jesus is both God and man. But one of the questions that has arisen in history is “How do these two natures relate to each other?” There have been a lot of questions (and a lot of wrong answers to this question) through history.
But the Definition of Chalcedon has been called “the watershed decision” when it comes to the relation of the two natures (sometimes referred to as the hypostatic union).
The creed states that we believe in “One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.”
This morning we want to focus on the fact that these two natures are “without confusion.”
Some of you, when you wake up, drink cranberry juice. Some of you might drink apple juice. But there are still others who might drink cran-apple juice. Cran-apple juice is two fruits in one bottle. But it is a mixture of the two fruits. You cannot distinguish which part is cranberry and which part is apple. So, if you think about it, the two are so unidentifiably mixed it ends up being neither cranberry or apple juice. You’ve basically created a new fruit called. The two are so interfused (or confused) that you now have a hybrid fruitjuice.
This is a crude analogy to how some have understood the two natures of Christ. Some believed that they were mixed together and so interlocked that they became actually one nature. So Jesus becomes neither God or man, but he becomes a third kind of being.
There were two specific heresies in the early church that did this. The first is Eutychianism. Eutyches said that the human nature was fused into the divine nature. We might say it was swallowed up by the divine nature. Eutyches said that it was like a drop of honey in the sea. You know that a drop of honey is going to dissolve and become part of the sea. So basically it is indistinguishable.
That’s what he said happened to the human nature. It fused with the divine and got all mixed up in it to the point that it is basically lost.
The other heresy is called Apollinarianism. Apollinarius believed that Jesus had a human body but a divine soul. So the divine nature took over the soul (or the mind).
In both cases, what you have is something that is neither divine or human. Jesus becomes a third kind of being. He’s not man (who has a human body and soul), and he’s not God (because his divine nature has changed).
So, we confess that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. He has two distinct natures and they are not mixed or confused.
And the reason why we confess this is because we need Jesus to “become like us in every way.” If he does not possess a true human nature—if it is swallowed up or changed, then he cannot be the Savior of humanity. And if he is not human, we are still in our sins.
But thank God that he is human and that his two natures are not mixed.
Here is what I've been thinking: OT Israel and early America didn't have strict border control. They invited people to come and work. That was part of the pathway to greatness.
Of course, rampant social programs mean this is not possible as people are coming for handouts. Thus, amnesty & crazed border control is just a symptom of a larger issue: the stupidity of the welfare state.
Moreover, guys with guns on the border not only can keep people out, they can keep people in. That means that when you do want to escape the clutches of tyranny you can't...at least not wiz out your papers!
In sum, big borders is still big government, and it is still dangerous.
Review of the Covenants to this Point
For the last several weeks we’ve been tracing the Covenant of Grace through the pages of Scripture. We’ve been emphasizing that each particular covenant we meet in Scripture enlarges and expands the original gracious covenant made in Genesis 3. Rather than introducing a change in God’s plan and a distinctly new epoch of history, we see fluid development God’s gracious plan of redemption.
Adam, having broken the first covenant (i.e. the Covenant of Works/Covenant of Life), was given a second chance. God entered into a second covenant, wherein he promised life and salvation through a Savior.
After the flood, God reaffirmed his covenant with Noah. God furthered this covenant by promising to never send another flood. God demonstrated his kindness by rescuing Noah & his family and by ensuring that the promised Messiah would come (i.e. all life would continue).
In time the earth seemed to have run amok again. It also appeared that God had given up on man by his dispersing the nations in his wrath. In that dark hour God appeared to Abraham & entered into a covenant with him. In this covenant we see with greater clarity to the scope of this covenant. God established this covenant with Abraham and his children.
To reiterate this, the Lord instituted circumcision. This rite had a twofold purpose: it served as a sign, pointing to our need for cleansing (life & salvation), and it served as a seal, confirming to each child & person the fact that they belonged to God.
The Covenant at Sinai & the Giving of the Law
A person standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai would have been amazed and grateful. They had been in bondage for a long time, and it might have seemed like God had given up on them. Now, they had witnessed some of the greatest miracles of all time. Millions of people had been freed, protected, and assured of God’s loving-kindness.
How should they respond to God’s kindness? How could they do to show their gratitude? God showed them exactly what would please Him most in the publication of His law.
It is important to recognize the continuity in the covenant that is established at Mt Sinai. For what happens here is a significant movement forward in the unfolding of God’s plan. The giving of the law is so significant that some have seen it as a break of God’s plan up to this point and an initiation of a new era whereby God’s people now gain salvation by keeping the law. This, however, is not true. The continuity with the overall plan of God is seen in a number of ways:
1) God’s promise to Abraham was that he would become a great nation, as numerous as the sand on the shore. The throngs camping out at the bottom of this mountain are a realization of this (or at least a partial one).
2) The people are standing on the very edge of the land which was promised to them through Abraham.
3) God had just graciously delivered the people out of Egypt solely because He had “remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob.”
4) The requirements of the covenant were still the same: God required perfect obedience. To Abraham God said, “Walk before me and be blameless.” To Israel God gives his moral law and they respond by saying, “All that the Lord has said we will do.”
Instead of being a new era, the covenant at Sinai simply reiterates God’s promise to save His people and clarifies how the redeemed should live in light of it.
Why did God give the law?
Up until this time the rules that governed God’s covenant had been defined by the “eternal truths.” God was a spirit, so they were not to make images. God had rested on the Seventh day of creation, and set it as a pattern to be observed by the people. Man was made in God’s image, and the one who harms the image bearer was worthy of death because it is essentially an attack on the One whose image he bore.
Although the moral law of God had been set forth since the creation, they were easily blurred by the corruption of man. At Mt. Sinai God publishes his 10 words to specifically spell it out so that there could be no blurring of the line. (Note: The law is good, it still is applicable today--3 uses of the law)
A blood bath
At the foot of Sinai the people vow to follow God and the law God had given (Ex 24:3, 7). Immediately after a most gory ceremony commences. Moses sprays the people with blood drawn from the animals that had been sacrificed. Why does he do this? Think of it as a blood shower; they are, for all practical purposes, “washed in the blood.” God knows that their devotion will not measure up, but He has provided a covering of blood.
1. God gives both the law and sacrificial system at Mt Sinai.
2. There is a distinction between covenant failure & covenant rejection
3. God begins to “dwell” with his people after this covenant in the form of the tabernacle. The law facilitates the relationship.
The Davidic Covenant: The covenant of kingdom
The author of the book “The Lord of the Flies” was once given an interview about his classic work. During the interview he commented that his intention was to write a book that gave a real depiction of what kids would be like if they were left to themselves. His book depicts how a bunch of boys devolve into raw pagans who have no sense of civility. It is only when the captain from a rescue boat shows up that the children regain a sense of morality.
Anyone who has kids knows exactly what William Golding had in mind. If you leave the room for a few minutes, it will not be long before your children start fighting.
Both Golding’s book and your regular home life illustrate the need for a righteous authority figure. It also illustrates part of the reason why God raises up David and establishes His covenant with him. If the law given in the mosaic covenant was going to be obeyed, it requires a king would administer it (Davidic covenant).
Israel was “prone to wander” and “do what was right in their own eyes.” This was much owing to the fact that “there was no king in Israel.” So, get a king and all will be well, right? Nope. Israel wanted a king like the “other nations.” They chose for themselves a robust looking fellow named Saul. He was the very picture of military might. But, in the end, Saul turned out to be an evil tyrant who oppressed the people and became to them a source of agony. God gave them what they wanted, a king like the other nations.
The people of Israel needed a unique king: a righteous one. God rejected Samuel and raised up David, a man after His own heart. He would be the Shepherd of God’s people who would go on to usher in and establish the kingdom of God.
In 2 Sam. 7 we read how David wanted to build a house for God. But these plans are halted. Instead, God says he will build a house out of David. In sum, the Lord vows to enter into a special covenant with David, promising him that he shall have an eternal dynasty.
The king though, is not just one who ensures righteousness within his land. He also is one who fights. Thus, the king of Israel was one who subdued nations and fought God’s battles.
It is easy to see how the king then becomes a messianic figure. It is easy to see how the covenant of David finds its fulfilment in Christ. He is the only Son of David who ensures an eternal dominion of perpetual peace.
The last post spoke of the ministry of the Spirit in the OT. In reading it, one may wonder if the Spirit of God dwell in the people of Israel like it does today?
The OT does not typically use language that is quite frequent in the NT, such as walking in the Spirit and living by the Spirit. For the most part “The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times was selective and temporary.” Perhaps the only real OT passage that may indicate the Spirit’s indwelling of the redeemed is found in Psalm 51, where David sings, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”
The light of the New Testament helps us though. The NT reminds us that regeneration is only accomplished by the inward working of the HS. It is the HS who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. So, for this reason the Spirit must have indwelt all of the OT saints.
Nevertheless, the OT’s view of the HS is mainly anticipatory. It looks forward to the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh and the new covenant wherein the law of God would be written on the heart. This, of course, comes to its fulfilment in the Pentecost outpouring.
Thus, in theological terms, it is said that the Spirit dwells in NT believers in a qualitatively different way than he does in the OT believers. It is not a quantitative difference, as all believers everywhere have the Spirit’s presence. It is a qualitative difference.
John Piper gives a good illustration:
Picture a huge dam for hydroelectric power under construction, like the Aswan High Dam on the Nile, 375 feet high and 11,000 feet across. Egypt's President Nasser announced the plan for construction in 1953. The dam was completed in 1970 and in 1971 there was a grand dedication ceremony and the 12 turbines with their ten billion kilowatt-hour capacity were unleashed with enough power to light every city in Egypt. During the long period of construction the Nile River wasn't completely stopped. Even as the reservoir was filling, part of the river was allowed to flow past. The country folk downstream depended on it. They drank it, they washed in it, it watered their crops and turned their mill-wheels. They sailed on it in the moonlight and wrote songs about it. It was their life. But on the day when the reservoir poured through the turbines a power was unleashed that spread far beyond the few folk down river and brought possibilities they had only dreamed of.
Pentecost is like the dedicatory opening of the Aswan High Dam. Before Pentecost the river of God's Spirit blessed the people of Israel and was their very life. But after Pentecost the power of the Spirit [increased significantly and] spread out to light the whole world. None of the benefits enjoyed in the pre-Pentecostal days were taken away. But ten billion kilowatts were added [and now enables] the church to take the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ to every tongue and tribe and nation.
Ordination is a doctrine that needs to be revived if we are going to see the church revived in our day. It is all but neglected because any old slub thinks he can do something for Jesus by becoming a campus parachurch worker or by jumping up in pulpit and "preaching." However, standing in a pulpit does not make one a preacher.
Preaching is an act only of the officially ordained (or licensed) man. In Romans 10:14-15 it says, "How are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'"
The preaching in this passage is done by someone who is officially "sent." The OT quote emphasizes this as it references an official messenger who has been given the special charge to go announce a victory.
Therefore, when a man is ordained, he assumes an office. He becomes God's ambassador with the specific charge of formally declaring God's message, which is the gospel. That is what preaching is: The official declaration of God's Word by the man who is distinctly appointed by God for this solemn affair.
In the ordination service the church publicly testifies that this particular man who they are ordaining has been raised up and equipped by God for that role. Then, as they lay hands on him, they formally recognize that God has invested him with the authority that specifically pertains to this office.
It is not until that has happened that he actually preaches. Anything that happens before that moment is not what is technically known as "preaching." This is why theologians have differentiated between preaching and exhortation. Preaching is what preachers do (that is, ordained men). Everyone else who speaks biblical truth exhorts his brethren (i.e. encourages or instructs).
This is not to say that what a non-ordained person says is not effective or that God cannot use this person to convert people or edify the church. It's just not technically preaching.
Why is it important to consider this? For one, we are required to sit under the preaching of God's word from week to week. Paul tells Timothy to "Preach the Word." As a result, the people to whom he is to preach are to submit themselves to that word. So when we gather together for worship, we are mandated to listen to the officially appointed man declare what God has to say.
What's the big deal? Isn't that what any non-ordained person does? The truth is that there is a large difference. It is one thing to hear a brother speak to us and teach us truth from the Scripture; it is another to hear someone who has the authority of the office preach.
Let me illustrate: Suppose you are driving down the highway and your speed exceeds the set speed limit. The person in the passenger seat can tell you that you are going too fast and need to slow down. That would be a useful exhortation. However, it is quite a different thing to have a police officer pull you over and tell you that you were going too fast. Both said virtually the same thing, but they were vastly different as to their nature and power.
Secondly, understanding this doctrine will help us sift through the scads of men who wish to serve as pastor (funny, I almost said "who wish to play pastor", which is a blog in and of itself!). Men who do not have the skills required to preach ought not to preach. If they cannot speak well, put together a coherent message, or interpret Scripture with any sort of meaningful intelligence, they should not act in the capacity that requires them to do so.
Similarly, men who have not the theological acumen for this work ought to leave well enough alone. Men who are ordained ought to be thoroughly examined as to their knowledge and beliefs. We would not want any old schmo walking off to some foreign country to act as a representative of our country. We want someone who has some intelligence and expertise in his area of work to act in that capacity. Ought then we not to expect the same of those who will serve as God's ambassadors.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, after worship the congregation should be able to walk away saying, "I heard from God today." The words might have had the intonations of a man, but the message most certainly had the authority and weight of God's very word.
And when a man preaches, that's exactly what happens.
The Nicene Creed was modified by the Latin Church, adding the word “Filioque” (i.e. and the Son). The Western Church wanted to be clear regarding the third person of the Trinity and His spiration. The Eastern Church, however, never accepted the term, and to this day continues to use the original form of the Nicene Creed. Thus, the controversy of the Spirit's procession
The Latin Church added the term because they thought it best represented the teaching of Scripture: The Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.
The difference between the Western and Eastern Churches' understanding may be depicted like this:
You may ask, “What’s the big deal?” The difference is significant. The Eastern and Western churches have developed quite differently over the last 1000 years.
Before we get into more pragmatics, let’s examine the dynamics of filioque. The question comes down to this: How does one relate to the Father? In the Eastern church one is said to have communion with the Father by means of the Spirit only. In the Western church one relates to the Father by means of the Spirit and the Son. On the one hand, you have almost a direct access to the mind of God the Father. The Spirit brings it straight to you. One the other hand, the knowledge you may gain from the Spirit about God the Father includes the Incarnate Son (thus, this knowledge is mediated by means of what the Son reveals about the Father).
In sum, the Western Church will have both an incarnational aspect to it and it will be greatly influenced by the Word of Christ. In the Eastern Church, one does not necessarily have an incarnational aspect and may not need any relation to the Son to gain knowledge of God. For the Eastern Church then, the focus then tends to be on a mystical experience of God.
1. We can see some of the practical outworking of this through the writings of various people associated with the Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC). One Eastern writer sums up the Greek Church’s views well this way, “The premise of all mysticism is that experiential knowledge of God takes preference over doctrinal understanding of the character and being of God because of the transcendent nature of God.” (Italics added for emphasis).
Another Eastern writer says, “None of the mysteries of the most secret wisdom of God ought to appear alien or altogether transcendent to us, but in all humility we must apply our spirit to the contemplation of divine things.”
One more quote ought to suffice. This one from a contemporary youth who converted from Protestantism to the EOC, “This is how we worship, to stay concentrated in prayer. We believe that, during the service, God pours himself out. If you get quiet enough in your mind, you can feel, palpably, his presence.”
One can see how this radically differs from Western Christianity, especially Reformed Western Christianity. In the West we know God through the Bible alone and we admit that there are some things God has not chosen to reveal. Thus, for the West, “The secret things belong to the Lord” and we try not to pry curiously into them.
In the East, there are no secret things. All God's truth, even that which is not revealed in Scripture, is fair game because the Spirit grants us free and unhindered access to it.
To put it another way, in the West, we “experience God” by the Spirit’s illuminating our minds to the teaching of Christ in His word. In the East, one experiences God without this word and almost directly (save the mediation of the Spirit).
You might say that some of the Eastern Orthodox mysticism is parallel to some of the Pentecostal and charismatic churches today in that it seeks to have a definite, physical experience of God and gain knowledge of God without the Son. The Pentecostal inclination to seek mystical experiences of God apart from the Son and the truth He gives centers isan implicit denial of the filioque. Though Pentecostals might not openly reject the filioque clause, in practice they do.
2. Another practical expression of the filioque is highlighted by Bojidar Marinov. Marinov says that the Eastern countries do not have an adequate understanding of the “rule of law” as the western countries do. This is because their religious experience was framed by the Spirit’s direct interaction with the Father and had no incarnational aspect. Western Churches have fought tyranny because the word of Christ dealt with our physical, everyday life and not just our spiritual relationship with God. The law of God (i.e. the Bible) impacts both our relation to the world as well as our relation to God.
Eastern churches did not see this incarnational aspect. God only spoke (so it is said) to our spiritual lives. When it came to normal, everyday life another source of truth was needed. It became the state. Government leaders were the ones who gave law to direct the affairs of this world. So man was to be governed by two laws: one which was spiritual (life with the Father, mediated by the Spirit), and one which was physical/temporal (life on earth, mediated by bureaucrat).
3. Another expression of the practical implications of denying the filioque may be seen in the EOC’s focus on deification. The EOC says that the goal of human redemption is to be so united with God that one actually becomes divine.
For many Church Fathers, theosis [i.e. deification] goes beyond simply restoring people to their state before the Fall of Adam and Eve, teaching that because Christ united the human and divine natures in Jesus' person, it is now possible for someone to experience closer fellowship with God than Adam and Eve initially experienced in the Garden of Eden, and that people can become more like God than Adam and Eve were at that time. Some Orthodox theologians go so far as to say that Jesus would have become incarnate for this reason alone, even if Adam and Eve had never sinned.
In Western theology this is repudiated. The goal of Western theology is justification and being made right with God. This occurs through the atonement and the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us by the Spirit's application. In Eastern theology, there is essentially no need for atonement because union with the Father is not dependent upon the Son's activity.
Something of this is seen in the liberalism of the West. Liberalism says that God can be known apart from Christ, that there are “many roads to God,” and that all people will be saved (universalism). Such views say that the Spirit lives in us all and allows us to know God apart from Christ and the preaching of His word.
The phrase [filioque] in the creed can lead to a possible misunderstanding. It can threaten our understanding of the Spirit’s universality. It might suggest to the worshiper that Spirit is not the gift of the Father to creation universally but a gift confined to the sphere of the Son and even the sphere of the church. It could give the impression that the Spirit is not present in the whole world but limited to Christian territories. Though it need not, the filioque might threaten the principle of universality- the truth that the Spirit is universally present, implementing the universal salvific will of Father and Son. One could say that the filioque promotes Christomonism. -Clark Pinnock, Flame of Love, p. 196. (Underlining added for emphasis)
Pinnock's description is a clear renunciation of the fact that the Spirit is bound to “reveal the Son.” Instead, the Spirit is “universal” and “threatens…the universal salvific will of Father and Son.” In other words, Pinnock says that the way to God does not depend on the Spirit working in and through the word of God (which is the message of the Son, Rom. 10). Rather salvation is the working of the Spirit alone apart from God the Son & His word.
All this radically denies the Bible's plain teaching on the exclusivity of Christ for salvation.
 Understanding this is difficult. To say the least, it is not an ontological merge, where you become one with God physically. However, you are increasingly becoming god-like. The goal is not to become like Adam and Eve, as they were in the garden. But to become more than Adam & Eve were to the point where you are made divine.
Yesterday in my class at the prison we began discussing the eighth commandment (Thou shalt not steal). The men there were greatly intrigued by the thought that God's word lays down a perfect system of economics and provides the means for for wealth and prosperity.
The teaching and discussion that ensued was so good that they asked if we could continue to studying the subject next week. I thought that I would post my notes, which are based on the Westminster Larger Catechism, just in case others might benefit from them.
Unfortunately, these notes are not as complete as I'd like them to be. A good deal of my teaching and illustrating was "ad lib." (Here is a printable version)
Question 140: Which is the eighth commandment?
The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.
Question 141: What are the duties required in the eighth commandment?
Answer: The duties required in the eighth commandment are, truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between man and man; rendering to everyone his due; restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners thereof; giving and lending freely, according to our abilities, and the necessities of others; moderation of our judgments, wills, and affections concerning worldly goods; a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose these things which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition; a lawful calling, and diligence in it; frugality; avoiding unnecessary lawsuits and suretyship, or other like engagements; and an endeavor, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own.
Question 141: What are the duties required in the eighth commandment?
The duties required in the eighth commandment are...
truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between man and man;
rendering to everyone his due;
restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners thereof;
giving and lending freely, according to our abilities, and the necessities of others;
moderation of our judgments, wills, and affections concerning worldly goods;
a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose these things which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition;
a lawful calling, and diligence in it;
avoiding unnecessary lawsuits and suretyship, or other like engagements;
and an endeavor, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own. Lev. 25:35, Phil 2:4; Deut 22:1-4
Question 142: What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment?
Answer: The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, theft, robbery, man-stealing, and receiving anything that is stolen; fraudulent dealing, false weights and measures, removing land marks, injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust; oppression, extortion, usury, bribery, vexatious lawsuits, unjust enclosures and depopulations; engrossing commodities to enhance the price; unlawful callings, and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbor: What belongs to him, or of enriching ourselves; covetousness; inordinate prizing and affecting worldly goods; distrustful and distracting cares and studies in getting, keeping, and using them; envying at the prosperity of others; as likewise idleness, prodigality, wasteful gaming; and all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate, and defrauding ourselves of the due use and comfort of that estate which God has given us.
Question 142: What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment?
The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are...
theft, robbery, man-stealing, and receiving anything that is stolen;
false weights and measures,
removing land marks,
injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust; oppression, extortion, usury, bribery, vexatious lawsuits,
Unjust enclosures and depopulations;
engrossing commodities to enhance the price;
unlawful callings, and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbor: What belongs to him, or of enriching ourselves; covetousness; inordinate prizing and affecting worldly goods; distrustful and distracting cares and studies in getting, keeping, and using them;
envying at the prosperity of others;
as likewise idleness, prodigality, wasteful gaming;
3. Examples of "wasteful gaming": Slot machines, raffles, lotteries, games of chance, sporting pools, card games. (Discuss: What do you think is the difference between these and a pop machine?)
and all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate, and defrauding ourselves of the due use and comfort of that estate which God has given us.
James 3:2 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways.”
It is that last part that I would like you to take note of. “We all stumble in many ways.” James employs a metaphor here to describe our sinfulness. When he says we "stumble in many ways" he is likening our lives to someone who is perpetually tripping over things and falling down.
Understanding what is said here is good because t helps us to understand how much sin is a part of our lives.
When it comes to the law of God, we are all clumsy fools. We are constantly blundering about and lacking any sort of spiritual agility or elegance.
In all reality, our lives might be compared to an episode of the Three Stooges or some other slapstick comedy. If it were not so terribly sad, it might be funny because of how klutzy we are spiritually. James says we stumble in many ways, and the idea is that you have a guy who is so clumsy that he trips over one thing, and—as soon as he regains his composure—he tumbles over something else. It’s just this constant roll of bloopers.
Perhaps you can even see this in your own life. Even on a good day you’ll see how there was a long list of sins (pride, coveting, your spiteful or mean spirited). Or, you might have caught yourself doing something right after you got done repenting of it!
It is true that every intention of our hearts is only evil continually. And for this reason we must come before the Lord and seek his grace. Let us pray.
Father in Heaven,
We confess that we do not deserve the least good thing, but indeed we have forfeited all rights to your benefits by virtue of our sins and shortcomings. We recognize that hell ought to receive us and the pains of eternal damnation should fall upon us because of the guilt we have incurred through our having violated your law.
We confess that we are sinners before you and we acknowledge the depth of the corruption. Our iniquity is both frequent and willful. It has been conceived within the dark chambers of our hearts. It has festered in the foul halls of our minds. And like vomit it has cascaded forth to our public deeds.
To be sure, there has been a perpetual flow to our offenses and we continue to heap hot coals upon our heads by the works of our flesh.
And it is because we have no merit of our own of which to speak that we come to you. We cast ourselves upon your mercies and rest ourselves solely in the promise of your Son, who was crucified for sinners and condemned in his flesh.
Father we plead the blood of Calvary, and cling to the offer of salvation that is in him. And we ask that you would by no means cast us out. But let instead our guilt be taken away and may you cause our sin to fall from us like dead branches lopped off, for we do sorrow and mourn our ungodly waywardness and the evil that we do.
Hear us as we pray, not for our sake, but only for the sake of Christ and the glory he receives through it. Amen
Kindled Fire is dedicated
to the preaching and teaching ministry of
Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.