Monday, January 31, 2011

Daily Devotions from the Heidelberg --- What is Your Motivation?


Our Deepest Motivation


1) Heidelberg Catechism

8 Q. But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?

A. Yes, unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God.

2) Scripture

Ephesians 5:8-10: for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.


Are people really unable to do any good? Q&A 8 of the catechism seems hard to believe at first, until we start to think about it. If a person does not belong to the Lord, then his motivation for doing good is not to please the Lord. Only a Christian is motivated by the desire to please the Lord. Therefore, we would say that non-Christians can do good things, but never from a right motive. Unbelievers never do anything out of love for their triune Creator, the Lover of their souls, for whom they were created.

Without this motive of pleasing the heavenly Father and the Son whom he sent, people are corrupt at the very spring of their being, that is, in their deepest motivation. I was recently watching a documentary on the Olympics. The question was asked, What motivates an Olympic champion? Every former champion interviewed admitted that their motivation was selfish---to please themselves in some way. No one answered that their goal was to glorify and please their heavenly Father. How different was Jesus’ motivation! He said, “He who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29).

The main thing Q&A 8 is trying to show us is that no one can come to Christ without the working of the Holy Spirit. People don’t seek the true God because of sin, which causes us to put self ahead of Jesus. Because of our sinful nature, “no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:11b). Apart from God’s Spirit, all people are doing exactly what Adam and Eve did in the garden --- running away from God and hiding from him. Apart from God’s Spirit, people are not seeking God and coming to him to receive mercy and pardon through the sacrificial work of his Son.

However, know this: If you desire to come to the triune God for forgiveness and fellowship, then this is a sign that you have been born again. The Holy Spirit has done, and is doing, something wonderful in your heart. He is changing your deepest motivation from living for self to living for the Father and the Son! The Spirit through the gospel has done, and is doing, what you could never do on your own: changing your heart even at the level of your motivation, so that as children of the light you try to discern what is pleasing to your Father and Lord Jesus Christ!

Discussion: What should motivate a person to do good? Do non-Christians live their lives with the desire to please the Lord? What was Jesus’ motivation, and how should we be like him?

Prayer Starter: In your prayer thank the Lord for working in your heart, so that you seek to please him. Pray that the Spirit will continue to give you a new motivation. Pray for non-Christians you know who are running from the Lord --- that instead they might run to him.

Hymn for Lord's Day 3

Savior from Original Sin

To the tune ARISE (Come, You Sinners, Poor and Needy or Based on Lord’s Day 3, Q&A 7 and 8 (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 13-20). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
In the garden our first parents
lived with God in light and love.
Adam was our representative
for the children yet to come.

v. 2
In the garden he was tested
seeing if he would obey.
He rejected God’s most holy word,
chose to live in his own way.

v. 3
Adam’s sin affects each person,
born with sin, by guilt oppressed.
We will flee his holy presence,
if our sin is not confessed.

v. 4
Adam’s fall corrupts our nature,
gives to us orig’nal sin.
Poisons springs of all our motives,
we refuse to live for Him.

v. 5
Who can save from guilt, pollution,
the effects of Adam’s sin?
Christ will be our representative,
if we will believe in Him.

v. 6
Who will bring us to Lord Jesus?
It is not our fallen will.
‘Tis the Holy Spirit brings us
to the Father’s grace, goodwill.

v. 7
Born from heaven by the Spirit,
we confess our Jesus, Lord.
God our Father, Christ our brother,
we’re the fam’ly of our Lord.

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