Q39: What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A: The duty which God requireth of man is obedience to his revealed will (Mic. 6:8).
I. This question begins the second section of the catechism.
A. The revealed will for us is Scripture.
B. Saul and others in the Bible received God’s will through various other agencies.
1. Even Israel’s king was reproved for disobedience, for ultimately he was God’s subject (1 Sam. 15:22).
a. Duty required: obedience, all men, rulers and those ruled.
b. What to be obeyed is the voice of the Lord (1 Sam. 15:1), i.e., the revealed will of God.
c. Excellency and eminency of obedience: God delights in it, everything yields to it, and even the fat of sacrifices is nothing in comparison (1 Sam. 15:22).
II. The warrant for the duty required: God.
A. God is our Creator. Man has no being without God (Acts 17:28; Heb. 1:3), and can do nothing without Him; therefore he owes Him his whole being and every action.
1. God and His glory is the chief end of all our actions (Rom. 11:36).
B. God is our Lord, Master. To call Him “Lord” and to not act in subjection is to mock Him (Lk. 6:46).
C. God is the supreme Lawgiver (Ja. 4:12). All rational creatures have the law imprinted (Rom. 2:14-15).
D. God is our gracious benefactor. The benefits God gave to Israel aggravated their guilt of rebellion (Isa. 1:2). The deprivation of benefits were threatened for the neglect of duty (Deut. 28:47ff).
III. The properties of the required obedience.
A. Sincere: from the heart (Rom. 6:17), upright before God (Ps. 18:23). Hypocritical obedience may please men, but not God who searches the heart.
B. Readiness: make haste to obey (Ps. 18:44). Jonah sinned in not readily complying. Abraham commended for doing so (Heb. 11:8).
1. “I offer my heart to You, O Lord, promptly and sincerely” (Calvin).
C. Constant: God is immutable and we must be unchanging in our obedience (Ps. 119:44).
D. Universal: have respect unto all of God’s commandments (Ps. 119:6; Ja. 2:10-11).
E. Absolute: God’s commandments supersede all others (Acts 4:19).
F. Tender: do not even come close to sinning (1 Thess. 5:22; Jude 23). Have a heart afraid of sin, even of the thought.
G. Perfection: God requires perfection (Matt. 5:48), and has accepted Christ’s on our behalf.
1. Summary: all true and acceptable obedience flows from a right principle, that of faith (Heb. 11:6) and love (Jn. 14:15). Faith unites to Christ, obedience is the fruit, and love is the spring.
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. In whatever state man is in he owes obedience to the will of God, for the creature is never free of the Creator.
2. Duty is measured by God’s revealed will and not our imaginations.
3. All men should examine the will of superiors, church (Acts 17:11) or state, to see if such are against the will of God. The state can be disobeyed, while yet remaining in subjection (Acts 4:5-10, 19-20).
B. Use, of testing.
1. Exposition of Micah 6:8: “show you,” i.e., revealed will; “what is good” (cf. Deut. 10:12-13), good in itself for us and pleasing to God; “do justly,” to render to all what is their due; “love mercy,” be kind, compassionate, merciful towards all; “walk humbly with God,” in all of life keep heart sincerely humble before God, esteem Him, His laws, and His determinations without complaining
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. As you stand in the creature-Creator covenant relationship you are bound to keep the law or will be subject to its penalty for transgression. Flee to Christ who has perfectly fulfilled the law in the place of those who trust in Him, or bear its penalty.
2. Saints. Since we owe this duty to God, let us endeavor to do His will in sincerity, with constancy, in tenderness, always looking for acceptance with God through the merits and mediation of Christ alone. Let us also be excited to yield this obedience, knowing that whatever God requires He promises to provide the ability and strength to perform (Ezek. 36:27).