Reciting the Catechism

“Yet, to the wicked, God says, ‘What is it to you to recite my statutes or to take up my covenant on your lips? For you hate training and you throw away my words after you.”

(Psalm 50:16-17)

When you remember that God is speaking to his covenant people, these words ought to make you shiver. Indeed, is it not true that unbelieving people sometimes recite the laws of God? Is it not true that many in the church can quote chapter and verse from the Bible or a Confessional statement but never put it to practice in life? Indeed, there are many who actively participate in the churches of God’s people who are reprobate and destined to the fires of hell for they take up the covenant without the slightest intent to fulfill the vows they are taking.

The second verse in this couplet drives the point even closer to home for Christians in traditions like my own, which actively catechize our children in the things of the faith. Some of our English translations will read “you hate discipline,” but in this context, “training” seems to be the better translation of מוּסָר (musar). It’s the idea of which Paul speaks when he instructs Christians to raise their children up in the “fear and admonition” of the Lord. This does not mean that God is chastising the youth for not liking their parent’s instruction or catechizing — all discipline seems harsh when you are undergoing it (though it is appreciated later — Hebrews 12:7-11). No, this word of rebuke is for those parents who themselves hate the discipline of their own children both in the home and in the church — who will not instruct their children in the ways of God because they themselves do not love the ways of God nor do they see a value of maintaining their own understanding of the catechism.

Indeed, how much of the confessing church this does describe even today. How sad it is that we again and again fall into the trap of living for ourselves rather than living for God and for His glory. Woe to those of whom these words describe.

Author: preacherwin

A pastor, teacher, and a theologian concerned about the confused state of the church in America and elsewhere...Writing because the Christian should think Biblically.

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