Q. Are  we then incapable of  doing any good of  ourselves, and prone to
all manner of wickedness?
A. Indeed we are: unless we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.

We  are  indeed incapable  of  doing  any good  of  ourselves.  Then the
question may arise: Why  then makes the  Scripture mention of  righteous
people? For example,  Abraham was  righteous. Also  Noah was  righteous,
like is wr itten: "Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations, Noah
walked  with God."  (Genesis  6:9)  How is  it  then  said that  we  are
incapable of doing any good of ourselves?  This seems untrue. The answer
is  easy: We  are  indeed  incapable of  doing  any  good of  ourselves,
*unless* we are regenerated by the Spirit of God. Look again to Noah, of
whom is said, that he walked with God. He walked with God, and therefore
he was  righteous. But people,  who lack  God, or even  reject Him,  are
unable of doing any good. Further, it is said, that we are incapable  of
doing any good *of ourselves*. The good, which we do, is worked in us by
God. To repeat it, the natural man is not able to do any good.
   Many do not believe this. They look to themselves, and to others, and
they see that many good things happen. But their error is, that they not
distinguish between things which are good in the eyes of men, and things
which are good in God's eyes. A natural man can do much good  in natural
things, but he cannot do any good,  like it ought, namely to do  well in
God's eyes. Even when we do some  good, it is always defiled with  spots
of sin. For example, when we help an old woman passing the busy street ,
that is good. But, while  helping her, we hope  that the people see  it,
and that they think by themselves: "Look that man, how humane he is." We
do good, yet, it is defiled with pride; we hope to be seen  of men. Even
our best works are defiled with such kinds of spots.
   Let we also listen to David, the king and prophet. He said: "They are
all gone aside,  they are  together become  filthy: there  is none  that
doeth good, no, not one." (Psalms 14:3)
   This doct rine of the impossibility of doing any good, must abase us.
The doctrine prevents  us  from becoming  proud,  thinking that  we  are
rather pleasant in God's eyes. Let that pride be abased; for when we  do
any good, it is flowing from the one good Source: from God.

Q. Will God suffer such disobedience and corruption to go unpunished?
A. By no means: but in his just judgment will punish them, both in  time
and eternity, as it is written: Cursed is every one that continueth no t
in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them."

The disobedience, which we see around us,  and which is in us, will  God
suffer  that unpunished?  Surely  not,  but  we  may expect  His  severe
punishment. And that corruption of the flesh,  which we perceive both in
us and around us, how is it with that? Also this will not go unpunished,
but God wi ll punish it,  both in time  and eternity. All  the miseries,
which are  in the world,  are God's punishments  in this life.  How much
more the s evere must be the eternal punishment!  When even in this time
many have  lack of the  most elementary  means of living,  who will  not
tremble at God's  coming judgements?  We see  the  fulfilment of  Moses'
saying: "Cursed be he that  confirmeth not the words  of this law to  do
them."(Deuteronomy 27:26) And also Paul  says the same as  Moses: "It is
written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are
written in the book of the law  to do them. (Galatians 3:10) Paul  cites
Moses, who said that we have to  do all the words of the  law. When not,
we are cursed. And on another place, Paul says that God's wrath is ove r
the human corruptions: "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against
all  ungodliness and  unrighteousness  of  men, who  hold  the  truth in
unrighteousness." (Romans 1:18)

When this is the human state, how  much do we need God's grace.  When we
not sleep, like nearly the whole world does, and when we see the  truth,
we are very  amazed  at God,  that  He still  bears  the world  and  its
inhabitants. Why does He not make an  end with us, because we daily  ask
for  it  by  our sinning?  We  are  amazed at  God's  goodness!  He, the
Righteous, daily sees us, the unrighteous. Let we then better our lives,
and prostrate ourselves in true worship before His feet. Maybe, there is

Teus Benschop  |  t.benschop@pobox.ruu.nl  |  editor of the list Chr-Exp

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