Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fatherly Anger Leads to Forgiveness...

I think the point that Calvin is making in the passage below, as he mentions that God is wonderoulsy angry with his children, is not to put fear in his children so that they will shape up and sin less. Of course we should sin less. In fact we shouldn't sin at all. That is the negative teaching of the Moral Law. But this passage is emphasizing the provision that God gives the elect in Christ for forgiveness and cleansing. So then, we are at times (thankfully) convicted of our sin by the Spirit and become aware of the dread penalty that is due us for our sin except for Christ (WLC 97). Calvin explains that this anger of the Father is intended to put a godly fear in us in order to humble us and bring us to repentance at the throne of Grace; that the blood of Christ might wash our consciences from the stain of sin and we might renew our trust alone in Christ and his sacrifice for our sin.

Book 3:2:12, Calvin
"The Spirit of love was given to Christ alone, for the express purpose of conferring this Spirit upon his members; and there can be no doubt that the following words of Paul apply to the elect only: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” (Rom. 5:5); namely, the love which begets that confidence in prayer to which I have above adverted. On the other hand, we see that God is mysteriously offended [wonderously angry] with his children, though he ceases not to love them. He certainly hates them not, but he alarms them with a sense of his anger, that he may humble the pride of the flesh, arouse them from lethargy, and urge them to repentance. Hence they, at the same instant, feel that he is angry with them for their sins, and also propitious to their persons."
In other words, when we sin our need isn't to sin less (it only takes one to condemn) but to be humbled by God so as to avail ourselves of his grace in forgiveness and repentance found in Christ. Sinning less doesn't relieve a troubled conscience and doesn't cleanse one from sin. Turning my eyes of faith to Christ does: but to him who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness (Rom. 4:5). Still sinners, we will still sin. And if we, by the grace of God, do remove certain types of sins from our lives the Holy Spirit will then show us a whole other layer of sins that lurk just under the surface unnoticed by us. Emphasizing the grace of God in his children does not undermine godly living but promotes it through the finished work of Christ.

Thanks to Brad Lindvall for initiating this topic via email.

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