“Who can understand his errors?” Psalm 19:12
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 5:21-30
With every commandment—the bare letter is nothing, compared with the whole stupendous meaning and severe strictness of the rule. The commandments, if I may so speak, are like the stars. When seen with the naked eye, they appear to be brilliant points; if we could draw near to them, we should see them to be infinite worlds, greater than even our sun, stupendous though it is. So is it with the law of God. It seems to be but a luminous point, because we see it at a distance, but when we come nearer where Christ stood, and estimate the law as he saw it, then we find it is vast, immeasurable. “Thy commandment is exceeding broad.” Think then for a moment of the spirituality of the law, its extent and strictness. The law of Moses condemns for offence, without hope of pardon, and sin, like a millstone, is bound around the sinner’s neck, and he is cast into the depths. Moreover, the law deals with sins of thought,—the imagination of evil is sin. The transit of sin across the heart, leaves the stain of impurity behind it. This law, too, extends to every act,—tracks us to our bed-chamber, goes with us to our house of prayer, and if it discovers so much as the least sign of wavering from the strict path of integrity, it condemns us. When we think of the law of God we may well be overwhelmed with horror, and sit down and say, “God be merciful to me, for to keep this law is utterly beyond power; even to know the fulness of its meaning is not within finite capacity. Therefore, great God, cleanse us from our secret faults—save us by thy grace, for by the law we never can be saved.”
For meditation: “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” (Exodus 19:8)—we should admire the spirit of the Israelites, but not their self-confidence. Only one slip-up spells condemnation (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10). Praise God for his Son who came to fulfil the law perfectly (Matthew 5:17) and then to die in our place to save us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13).
Sermon no. 299
12 February (1860)