(Kersten, The Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2, Part 15)

The Sanctity of Marriage

Lord's Day 41

Psalter No. 236 st. 1, 2
Read Ephesians 5:15-33
Psalter No. 322 st. 1-4
Psalter No. 384 st. 5
Psalter No. 389 st. 1, 5


    When John baptized Jesus, his disciples came to him and said,
"Rabbi, He that was with Thee beyond Jordan, to whom Thou barest
witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him."
Apparently John's disciples were not pleased that Jesus made more
disciples than their master.
    But John, instead of nourishing the thought they advanced, showed
them that Christ must have the preeminence, saying, "I am not the
Christ, but I am sent before Him. He that has the bride is the
bridegroom, and I am the friend of the bridegroom. This my joy
therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."
    In these words, John refers to his ministry, and the ministry of
all God's servants, who are as friends of the Bridegroom. Their work is
to bring the bride to the Bridegroom, the church to Christ. They must
not seek their own interests. They must stand aside. He must increase,
but they must decrease. Christ is preeminent; so that God's chosen
church may be placed in true communion with Christ by faith and by that
faith find all things in Him. There is a tender relationship between
Christ and His church which is often spoken of in God's Word as a
marriage relationship. In John 3 Christ is called the Bridegroom Who
has His bride; Who accepts His bride, Who delivers His church from
under the law and gives Himself in the greatness and fulness of His
mediatorial ministration, thus fulfilling all the service of the
shadows and all that the prophets had spoken of Him. He is the heavenly
Bridegroom to Whom God, the Father, gave and entrusted His church
before the foundation of the world.
    That Bridegroom had to pay the dowry, and He did so in His bitter
suffering and death. Thereby He paid the debt of His church, took away
her iniquity and brought her back into communion with His Father. He
takes His church as His bride in order to exercise communion with her,
and the church exercises communion with the Bridegroom of her soul by
faith. Thus Christ is all and in all. The apostle Paul tells us that
the fellowship between Christ and His chosen church serves as an
example for us, even in this life, particularly in married life, in
order that, as Christ loved His church, we, too, shall be bound
together by the bonds of matrimony, and the husband shall be the head
of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church.
    How much value is put upon marriage when we see it in this light!
How firmly does the Lord demand sanctity in marriage, according to the
law of the ten commandments of which we shall now consider the seventh,
according to the explanation given us in the forty-first Lord's Day.
    Lord's Day 41
Q. 108. What does the seventh commandment teach us?

A. That all uncleanness is accursed of God; and that therefore we must
    with all our hearts detest the same, and live chastely and
    temperately, whether in holy wedlock, or in single life.

Q. 109. Does God forbid in this commandment, only adultery and such
    like gross sins?

A. Since both our body and soul are temples of the Holy Ghost, He
    commands us to preserve them pure and holy; therefore He forbids
    all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and
    whatever can entice men thereto.

    The law of matrimony must be kept holy
      I. In honour of God's ordinance,
     II. By reason of a holy aversion to sin,
    III. Because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
    In the first place marriage is an institution of God. It is not an
invention of man which, if it fails to satisfy, may be broken. A
marriage may not be broken, because it is a divine institution, and not
a human agreement. In the beginning God gave the woman to the man as a
help says God's Word, according to the description of Moses. The Lord
caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and God took one of his ribs and
made a woman out of it. The woman was created as a creature of God in
the state of rectitude in God's image, after His likeness. The Word of
God describes the woman in these terms so that she shall not be
despised nor disregarded. It is an exposure of wicked Lamech where we
read that he terrified both his wives by saying he had slain a man for
his wounding and a young man for his hurt. The Word of the Lord teaches
us that the woman was made of Adam's rib, formed as it were from under
his heart, so that the man shall not despise or disregard her.
    The woman is a creature of God. In the second place the Word
teaches us that the Lord Himself brought the woman to Adam. The first
marriage was performed in Paradise. God Himself performed it. He not
only created the woman, but with His own hand He brought her to Adam.
Marriage therefore is an institution of creation, an institution from
Paradise, when there was no sin as yet. Now because of sin, we are
subject to the judgment of God in every aspect of our lives.
Nevertheless, in spite of the judgment which we have brought upon
ourselves, God wants us to honour His own institutions.
    The Form for the Confirmation of Marriage states plainly that God,
as with His hand, brings unto every man his wife, sometimes by very
wonderful and remarkable ways. It is true for everyone that the Lord
still does what He did in Paradise, and brings to every man his own
wife. Therefore we must notice very particularly the leadings of God in
marriages. While we are young, we must seek earnestly that the Lord may
lead and guide us in declaring His goodness and mercy, so that we may
not enter the marriage state carelessly, and unrestrained, yield
ourselves to the lusts of the flesh. We may indeed seek matrimony, but
we should be concerned whether we can discern God's hand in it. How
much concern did Abraham have to find a wife for Isaac, not among the
daughters of the land, however high their station in life might be; but
he sought a woman who feared God, so that with Isaac she might walk in
the ways of the Lord. He made Eliezer swear that he would not take one
of the daughters of the Canaanites for a wife for his son, as he would
not have his son return there. The Lord Himself showed Eliezer the way,
and caused him to understand how that certain woman was destined to be
Isaac's wife, and that she would dwell in the house of Isaac. It is
still true, therefore, that the Lord brings the man his wife as it were
with His own hand. For this reason we must respect and honour marriage
so that we do not yield to the notions of our wicked hearts, but
preserve those bonds all the days of our lives. Moreover, the Lord
Jesus honored it highly with His divine presence in Cana of Galilee
when He performed His first miracle, changing water into wine. He did
so in order that the bridegroom might honour His Father's institution
of marriage. Is this not a clear token, in spite of sin, in spite of
the fact that we have subjected ourselves throughout our lives to the
judgment of God, the Lord still maintains the sanctity of His own
institution of marriage and crowns it with His favour and high
approbation? He does so for the purpose of building a generation of
men, wherein He shall glorify His sovereign good pleasure by justice
and grace. The angels were created by the Lord in large numbers in a
moment, but in the beginning God made but two people on earth. He
brought the woman to the man and instituted marriage, to bring forth a
generation in which His divine attributes would shine forever, a
generation of people created for eternity. God has given marriage a
value which holds for the whole life of man on earth, for family, civil
and political life. He especially gave to marriage a value for
eternity. Scripture tells us that man has both soul and body, a soul
which can not be killed, even though the body can. But the body shall
arise from the dead, to be reunited with the soul eternally. God's
institution, which He had given in Paradise and which He maintained
after the fall is valid for every man, whether He reckons with it or
not, whether he considers it or not; but in that institution God
executes His providence, His direction and His government, to fulfill
His eternal counsel.
    How ought we then to oppose all those who are against matrimony! In
olden times there were such, and there are still people who despise
marriage. But marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled. We
may not neglect it, even if we fear adversity and cares and worry how
we shall get through the world. As the Lord leads, we ought to enter
matrimony when the Lord awakens a desire for it in the heart, so that
man and wife may live together as one, bound by that bond of love which
the Lord Himself still gives in natural kite as a fruit of His common
grace. God the Father maintains all things in the way of His divine
providence, and therein are His acts of preservation, cooperation and
government. We conclude then that God the Father, in His common grace
and by His work of providence, has laid natural love in the hearts of
men. He awakens natural love in the hearts of persons whom He makes one
in the closest bond of matrimony. For shall not they two be one flesh?
The divine blessing rests upon the wife who knows how to do her work.
Just read what is written about the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.
Contrary to all who despise marriage as an institution of God; contrary
to those who seek to withdraw themselves from the bonds of matrimony;
contrary to those who wish to live in iniquity without restraint and
claim that free marriage consists of companionship; God in His Word
shows us that marriage is His institution. If Christ has shown that He
was willing to sanctify marriage; if marriage was sought by the saints
in the Bible, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Peter (hence both in
the old and the new dispensation); if the godly have sought and honored
it; moreover if the Lord has given His approval of it, then we are told
that the Lord will bless marriage if we walk in His ways. Despising of
marriage leads to the undermining of a nation; the entire nation
weakens and sinks away. Why must we keep the law of matrimony? In the
first place because marriage as an institution of God must be
sanctified and honored, and because we must submit ourselves to that
which God has given for the maintenance of the human race.
    In the second place the law of matrimony must be kept holy
    By reason of a holy aversion to sin. This is our second main
thought. Read what the Catechism says about this. The seventh
commandment teaches us that all uncleanness is accursed of God,
therefore we must with all our hearts detest the same, and live
chastely and temperately. When we undertake to speak about sins in
relation to this commandment, only a few of which can be mentioned, we
speak in the first place of uncleanness. I have already stated that
matrimony is an institution of God for our entire life. It may not be
terminated except by death, or adultery, in which case the marriage is
broken by sin. Adultery, as God's Word teaches us, is the only cause
for which marriage may be dissolved and a new marriage made. Although
the civil authorities think differently, God's Word says there is only
one sin for which a marriage may be dissolved: the sin of adultery or
fornication, by which contact is had with others. Thereby the close tie
of marriage is broken. The Lord's displeasure rests upon such persons
and He will show them His holy indignation. But then there is no
obligation to obtain divorce. If the marriage is dissolved because of
adultery, it does not mean that person may not marry again. It is
indeed written, "Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth
adultery", but this word does not apply here. In the days in which the
Lord spoke these words, conditions were such that a man often sent away
a wife because he hated her. The law of Moses says, "Then let him write
her a bill of divorcement", and do not merely put her out. Moses
permitted them to give a bill of divorcement, but from the beginning it
was not so." Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for
fortification, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and whose
marrieth her which is put away does commit adultery." The Lord means:
If you take a woman to wife, you can not at will give her a divorce,
but you are bound to her for life. Breaking the bond of marriage so
easily is an evil, and ignoring it to enter into another marriage may
not be done. Let us give this our attention. Remember that we may never
seek divorce except for the reason God has given us, and then I must
repeat what was said before, that there is no obligation to obtain
divorce, but in this case it is permitted. This means that if a man and
wife can forgive and again accept each other, it is not forbidden to
prolong the marriage; in fact, the Lord may even grant a return of
marital bliss. But if one or the other cannot overlook the injury, then
God's Word permits divorce and a right given to sue for it. When
anyone, contrary to God's institution, obtains divorce for any other
reason, he may not enter into another marriage. In this connection
God's Word speaks of "her that is put away", who must leave though
there is no ground for divorce. Let us take this matter seriously. May
the Lord prevent us from ever coming to such a separation. Yet if there
is a falling into adultery and continuing in it, this is the only
reason for dissolving the marriage bond.
    At this point we must also consider incest. In Leviticus 18 and 20,
we are given the rules governing forbidden marriages. As we read these
chapters to which our fathers adhered strictly, we must remember one
thing, namely, that what is written there belongs to the ceremonial
laws, and all that is commanded there contains a standard of conduct
which still holds true and renders a given sinner guilty, but the rules
are not applicable in every case. For instance, the church formerly
ordained on the basis of Leviticus 20 that the marriage of a man to his
deceased wife's sister is forbidden because that they shall be
childless. However, this judgment does not hold true. We have many
examples to the contrary, as they do have well-born children. If the
Lord Himself does not literally bring to pass what is written in
Leviticus 20, it is a proof among other things that this rule does not
apply to the time of the New Testament. Therefore the church has made
other regulations in this matter, regulations which state the
relationships which are too close for marriage. We must always use
caution, even though certain close relationships are permitted. For
example, think of marriage between cousins. We should not easily
consent to it, lest we contribute to the weakening of the generation.
Let us remember that the Lord keeps a watchful eye upon the marriage
    I ask your attention for one more matter, that of mixed marriages.
We find in Scripture the example of Esau, who took a wife of the
daughters of the land. This was a source of much grief to Isaac and
Rebekah. Jacob went out to find a wife from among a family that feared
the Lord. Sometimes our young people act so inconsiderately that you
know nothing of their plans until they have been carried out. They seek
no advice and say not a word, but proceed without the marriage being
confirmed in church. They marry without notifying the Consistory of
their intentions. Can they expect the Lord's blessing upon such a
course? They keep company with persons who do not live under the truth
and show no concern for God's Word. What is to be expected from such
marriages? Some marry Roman Catholics, which causes much grief, and
ends in separation. Let us avoid mixed marriages. Read your church
manual and see how our fathers sought to prevent it. I will go a step
further. Let us avoid marriages with people of other denominations,
because such marriages cause so much quarreling and trouble in
families. Be sure to lay a good foundation at the outset and say
firmly: "I want to remain under the truth where it is heard, and I will
never forsake it."
    I am saying these things from experience. It happens occasionally
in the congregations that one marries a person of a different faith. It
causes untold grief and one thing leads to another. There is much
quarreling in such families, because one will not give in to the other.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers", but considering
the cases I mention here, be not yoked together with anyone of another
    We have also the sin of adultery which is committed when married
persons have intercourse with others. Thus David committed adultery
with Bathsheba. What sorrows it bore for David! First he tried to
shield himself by placing Uriah in the front line of battle so that he
fell and died. God saw it and charged David with it, then visited him
with much grief. Think of the adultery committed by Herod the Great.
John the Baptist admonished him because he had his brother's wife.
God's own institution was involved. If marriage were an institution of
man, the violation would not be so serious, but a divine institution
was attacked. Therefore we must enter into marriage in order to lead a
married life. The Apostle Paul says in I. Corinthians 7:5: "Defraud ye
not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may
give yourselves to fasting and prayer." Some have given a pious tint to
this defrauding, but it is a false colour for if you bring in arguments
that are contrary to the ordinance of God, they are false, and you can
expect no blessing in this way. Others defraud one another because they
want no cares, troubles or burdens. It is an evil that is creeping into
our congregations. I have my fears when I see how many children are
baptized in a year. When we see the ratio between the number baptized
and the size of the congregation, then we must take these things to
heart. Our women ought to be concerned about it. Withdrawal has often
been the beginning of deep misery, when the close life of marriage was
marred and the responsibilities of marriage were neglected. Is it not
written, "And they shall be one flesh?" The eyes of the Lord are upon
us and He knows our most secret thoughts, also when we are alone and in
our inner chamber. Let us not heap sin upon sin.
    There is much more that the Lord brings to our attention in this
Catechism, based on the seventh commandment which we shall touch upon
briefly. All uncleanness is accursed of God. God forbids not only
adultery, but also all unchaste actions. Read Deuteronomy 25 and note
what judgment God brought upon touching another. Further, unchaste
gestures are forbidden, wanton eyes, tripping feet, of which Scripture
speaks. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but let
your words be few and seasoned with salt, lest they stir up lusts in
our heart. Finally the instructor says that the seventh commandment
forbids whatever can entice man to uncleanness. In this commandment God
forbids all that which we meditate upon in our hearts and in which we
secretly find delight. In this connection think also of the books that
are read. There is a popular kind of books that are called love
stories. Do our boys also read them? Let us also watch our clothing.
Notice how the styles of our day prescribe clothing that arouses evil
lusts in our hearts. Compare what is written about Jezebel. Let us wear
simple clothing and remember that God gave us clothing to cover
ourselves. Let us take heed lest we follow the world in hair styles.
Let us not be the first to follow a fashion. Let our heart be set upon
being adorned with the garments of righteousness and holiness and
humility. Oh, that this garment were the ornament of our women. Let us
not walk in the way of vain amusements as in theaters and dance halls.
Why are they so dangerous? Because our hearts are evil and so little is
needed to bring us upon the wrong way.
    There is an aversion against sinning which the Lord lays in the
heart. We would say, there is still a natural aversion to sin,
sometimes even a natural fear of impurity, and we must seek to nurture
it. There is also a holy abhorrence of sin, which flows from the fact
that The Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. This is the third point for
which I ask your attention.
    In question 109 of our Catechism it says that our body and soul are
temples of the Holy Ghost, so He commands us to preserve both of them
pure and holy. We read in Exodus 29 where the Lord says, "I will dwell
among the children of Israel." The Lord still dwells in the
congregation when His Word has dominion and His testimony is bound upon
the conscience so that we hate and flee from sin. When God had His
dwelling among the people of Israel, were the people then not greatly
obliged to walk according to God's commandments? Has He not said that
it would be a double judgment upon Israel if they forsook His ways? Let
us not think it a small matter that the Lord still dwells among us.
    In a very special sense it is true of God's children that they are
temples of the Holy Ghost. The Lord dwells in their hearts to their
salvation. In regeneration, God the Holy Spirit enters into their
hearts and renews them, drawing them out of sin and iniquity. I am here
speaking of sanctification, based upon Exodus 29, for certainly it is
God Who sanctifies His people and works in their hearts a loathing of
all that displeases Him. From this flows the upright desire of heart to
live perfectly before God and to destroy sin, root and branch. It is
the work of God to sanctify men, and by way of sanctification to wash
and cleanse them from iniquity. If God's work is lacking in our soul
and the Lord has not taken up His abode in us, then there cannot be a
true zeal to keep God's commandments; we transgress against them in
words, in thoughts and in deeds. There is a passive and an active
sanctification. The passive sanctification is that in which we are
acted upon and in which God glorified His work in the heart of sinners.
What flows out of passive sanctification? The active sanctification in
the exercises of faith by the people of the Lord. The will being
renewed becomes itself active. The Lord has no passive people who say,
"The Lord has to do it", but they have exercises and are zealous to
keep God's commandments. The will thus renewed longs to live and walk
according to God's commandments. God is the renewer of the will, but in
dependence on the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, God's people
receive exercises in active sanctification and in the keeping of God's
commandments. What do they experience then in their own heart? That all
evil dwells in it and frequently to their sorrow, that the old man
still has very much power. The old man is the corruption which has
spread itself over the whole man. That corruption is not taken away
from them, for sanctification in this life is only in part and the old
man rules whenever the Lord withholds a little of His protecting grace.
How many examples do we have in Scripture, which show that God's
children sometimes plunge into the worst evil and sin. In that way they
must learn to be exercised continually to seek shelter under the Lord's
wings, and to be preserved by Him, so they may not be given over to the
fitness of their evil hearts and that the flesh may not have dominion
over them. When in our Catechism it is written that we must preserve
our body and soul as temples of the Holy Ghost, the reference is to the
exercises of God's people, so that they may withdraw themselves from
all that which might stir up sinful lusts, and walk conscientiously
according to the commandments of the Lord, continually employing Christ
as Prophet, Priest and King.
    Thus they learn to need Him for instruction, for guidance and as a
continual propitiation for their sins, so that He may increase in
stature more and more in their hearts. They continually sigh to be made
temples of the Holy Spirit in which God Himself has His abode; for when
they forsake His commandments, God hides His face from His people, and
visits them with chastisements. "But if my children e'er forsake My law
appointed, then truly will I chastise them with rods for all their
provocation." Therefore the constant prayer of God's upright people is
what we shall now sing from Psalm 139:
         "Search me, 0 God, and know my heart,
         Try me, my thoughts to know;
         0 lead me, if in sin I stray,
         In paths of life to go."
                    Psalter No. 384 st. 5
    Do you not perceive how profitable it is that we examine the law of
the Lord together year after year, and examine ourselves thereby?
    It is profitable for old and young, for the families and for so
ciety, for parents and their children. The whole world is concerned
about the rising generation, and especially in our days the church is
giving all its attention to the youth. Also in our congregations we
hear the cry, "0, our young people, our young people!"
    There is one thing I could wish, namely, that the labor bestowed
upon the youth would be directed into the right channels and that the
direction would be tested by the Word of God. I should like to impress
this upon your hearts, young people, that you try these directions by
the old writers. I commend them to you with so much liberty because
they agree with God's Word. If it were not so, I would say so, but I
want to preserve our young people. I should like to advise, "Boys, come
together." I have no objection to young people's societies, if they are
under the direction of the consistory. There should be much more
interest shown in the old truth, but many would rather roam the
streets. Let the young people's societies grow, but only in searching
the truth, and in approving the old doctrine, so that it may not be
taken away from us. Be grounded in the fundamental doctrines of the
truth, and never forget that man by nature is dead in sins and
trespasses, and that he must be born again. It may be that God will use
it as a means to dwell in your hearts so that you may walk in the
ordinances of the Lord.
    This means for all our boys and girls in general, that they must
walk cautiously. Do not visit the places of vanity. Snares are laid
there. Do not say, "What is wrong with this or that performance at the
theater? It was very instructive." Rather notice the company you are
in. One thing leads to another. Do not expose yourselves to the
slippery places of vanity. Consider what happens there. You can see
what the fruits are each time you hear young people confessing their
sin before the congregation. The crown is taken from their heads, for
the rest of their lives. Let us beware of sin, for it causes so much
pain, grief and sorrow. What is more, our secret sins are recorded
before God. When you are seeking the way of marriage, first bow your
knees and say, "Lord, although I am unconverted, grant that I may walk
in Thy ways, so that I shall not regret it later." Sometimes you can
tell your troubles to someone whom you trust, but it is better to bring
all your problems to God's throne of grace.
    Many married persons have a secret sorrow. When the marriage is
planned and your heart is engaged, do not give it to another in the
false hope that it will end well, for it will not end well. Let us be
honest before God and man. Confess honestly to yourself how matters
stand when you are going to be married. Test yourself whether there is
true love in your heart, for only the tie of true love can help carry
the burdens of an entire life together. Do not think the path of
married life is strewn with roses. The form for marriage states so
truthfully that married persons, by reason of sin, are subject to many
troubles and afflictions. Adversities are sure to come, through
sickness and cares, troubles and sorrows. But if husband and wife are
one, they can bear the circumstance together. When children are born,
they will not say, "It is too much, the burden is too heavy." Remember
that children are a heritage of the Lord, and they who practice birth
control bring God's judgment upon themselves. Let our women walk
carefully. Let them learn what God's Word teaches them, namely, that a
meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God.
    Oh, may arguments and trouble depart from married life. If we are
willing to submit to the truth and yield to the Word of God, peace will
come into our homes. Do you know of a sweeter peace than that which God
gives in our families between father, mother and children? I am not now
speaking about the people of the world, but about our congregations. We
sometimes learn from outside sources that children cannot get along
with each other. When that point is reached, the parents suffer much
pain and grief and no remedy can be found. What is the reason? It is
because we do not want to esteem others better than ourselves and
especially that we do not want to submit to the Word of God. Be
persuaded of this, parents. Lead your children in such paths that they
learn to live in harmony with each other. Keep your children from mixed
marriages. Let not the desire to become great in the world be the
motive for your so-called good marriage. Let it be our concern that our
children walk in the ways of the Lord. God cares for our marriage,
because it is His institution, and therefore He will hear our
petitions. "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy
paths." But the most important thing is, as the Catechism says, that
both our body and soul are temples of he Holy Ghost. Indeed, in a
broader sense, it is true that God dwells in the midst of the
congregation and of the visible church, where His Word and sacraments
are administered according to the institution of Christ, and where
discipline is exercised. With some liberty I may say, although there
are many shortcomings, God still dwells among us.
    Therefore, children, while you are in your youth, take counsel with
your parents, with your minister, with your consistory, that they
instruct you. Let the Word of God make an impression upon your
consciences, that you may turn away from sin. May the Lord protect you
on all sides. If you are married, do not lightly seek a divorce. It is
better to tell your troubles to the Lord. May He grant you the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit in your heart. Then God will sanctify you
from all sin and enable you to walk carefully before Him.
    If we can look the whole world in the face, there are in our hearts
the thoughts of evil, and especially of this sin against the seventh
commandment. In this we are guilty, every one of us. What is it we
need? To be washed and cleansed in the blood of Christ. It is this that
God works in the hearts of His people. He Himself says in His Word, "I
am the Lord that; does sanctify you." The Lord Himself draws His people
out of the servitude of sin, and delivers them from unrighteousness.
Thus a sincere desire is wrought in them to keep all God's
commandments. They are placed as it were, in the presence of Him Who
knows the heart. This causes them to confess their transgressions with
sincere sorrow, and truly to strive for the mortification of sin in the
active exercise of sanctification, so they may keep themselves holy in
both soul and body. In their heart is that holy race after perfection,
if that they may apprehend, says the apostle Paul, that for which also
they are apprehended of Christ. But even the holiest men while in this
life, have only a small beginning of this perfect obedience. Therefore
God's people bow in deep humility before God because of all the unholy
affections and workings in their hearts, with the sincere desire that
body and soul be made the temples of the Holy Ghost. This abasement
keeps God's people from self-exaltation, but enables them to find a
foundation upon which God's law is perfectly glorified, namely in
Christ. Perhaps you have thought at times, "How can such a one as
Manasseh, or the thief on the cross, or even David go to heaven? This
shows that you do not know your own heart. By grace God's children
learn to know themselves by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, Whose
work it is to convince of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. In His
strength the flesh is crucified and slain, so that they may walk
uprightly in God's commandments and rejoice in God.
    May we in all the grief and trouble that comes upon us and in all
cares that beset us, lose ourselves more in the Lord, and entrust
ourselves more into His fatherly hand. May He by the work of His
Spirit, write His law in our hearts as with a pen of iron, "Thou shalt
not commit adultery." This is to say, you must live holy and mortify
your members which are upon the earth, putting away your fleshly
desires, and seeking that spiritual marriage which Christ performs with
His church. He is the Bridegroom and His church is the bride. In this
marriage, this holy union of faith with Him, God's children receive the
remission of sin, the purification of their hearts and deliverance out
of troubles; but also the preparation for perfect glory in that place
where they neither marry nor are given in marriage, and where they only
shall come who are bought by the blood of Christ. There they shall be
as the angels of God to glorify and praise the only Triune God and the
Lamb eternally. Amen.

Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2
(continued in part 16...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: krhc2-15.txt