Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Scots Confession, Chapter XIV

The Scots Confession, Chapter XIV

The Works Which Are Counted Good Before God

We confess and acknowledge that God has given to man his holy law, in which not only all such works as displease and offend his godly majesty are forbidden, but also those which please him and which he has promised to reward are commanded. These works are of two kinds. The one is done to the honor of God, the other to the profit of our neighbor, and both have the revealed will of God as their assurance. To have one God, to worship and honor him, to call upon him in all our troubles, to reverence his holy Name, to hear his Word and to believe it, and to share in his holy sacraments, belong to the first kind. To honor father, mother, princes, rulers, and superior powers; to love them, to support them, to obey their orders if they are not contrary to the commands of God, to save the lives of the innocent, to repress tyranny, to defend the oppressed, to keep our bodies clean and holy, to live in soberness and temperance, to deal justly with all men in word and deed, and, finally, to repress any desire to harm our neighbor, are the good works of the second kind, and these are most pleasing and acceptable to God as he has commanded them himself.

Acts to the contrary are sins, which always displease him and provoke him to anger, such as, not to call upon him alone when we have need, not to hear his Word with reverence, but to condemn and despise it, to have or worship idols, to maintain and defend idolatry, lightly to esteem the reverend name of God, to profane, abuse, or condemn the sacraments of Christ Jesus, to disobey or resist any whom God has placed in authority, so long as they do not exceed the bounds of their office, to murder, or to consent thereto, to bear hatred, or to let innocent blood be shed if we can prevent it.

In conclusion, we confess and affirm that the breach of any other commandment of the first or second kind is sin, by which God’s anger and displeasure are kindled against the proud, unthankful world. So that we affirm good works to be those alone which are done in faith and at the command of God who, in his law, has set forth the things that please him. We affirm that evil works are not only those expressly done against God’s command, but also, in religious matters and the worship of God, those things which have no other warrant than the invention and opinion of man. From the beginning God has rejected such, as we learn from the words of the prophet Isaiah and of our master, Christ Jesus, “In vain do they worship Me, teaching the doctrines and commandments of men.”


I believe it's important to notice that in the section above, sin is defined not only as things we do but also as those things we fail to do, such as turn to God alone when we are in need. Sin is every instance in which we fail to rely upon and worship God alone. It is so easy for me to label and notice those things in my life which are definitely sin, but it can be so difficult to notice the sins of omission I commit, the times when idols stealthily replace the worship of God.

And so I begin again in grace, hoping that my feet might not find the edges of the path, trying to humbly walk in the light of Christ, moving forward on the paths of Truth and righteousness. Trying to love God, trying to love neighbor, always serving both before self. It is so easy to say, yet so hard to walk. As Paul says at the end of 1 Corinthians 12: But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

In God, there is always more. The depth of his love and the wideness of his mercy exceeds our capacity to test them. We live in the richness of eternal love. How great is our God!?!?

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