He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee. – Micah 6:8 a.
People are all inquisitive by nature, especially concerning the things of God. Our natural knowledge of God from the creation of the world and the evidence of His power and Godhead encourage us to seek Him out and identify Him with confidence. Unfortunately, Holy Scripture writes that the most we can do is “feel after Him,” as a blind man finds his way around an unfamiliar room (Acts 17:27).
In our natural state, we neither know who the true God is, nor how we are to secure salvation for our souls. We cannot possibly identify the mind of the Lord, or figure out how He regards us from this level of sinful ignorance. The only place to which sinful man can turn to find true knowledge of God and of our salvation is in His revealed Word.
Even we Christians, who have been made “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15), are to continue to look to the Word of the Lord for His continued counsel and guidance. The prophet Micah revealed the Lord’s will to His people of old, namely, that they show their repentance, not with elaborate sacrifices or expensive offerings, but with a change of heart and a faithful demonstration of a new character, what John the Baptist called “fruits meet for[showing forth] repentance” (Matthew 3:8). “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).
With regard to our lives of sanctification, we Christians continue to fall short of God’s glory; we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. But, as God reveals to us in His Gospel, He does not require any sacrifice or offering on our part to expiate, to pay the price for our sins. This expiation was “once-for-all” (Hebrews 1);10) accomplished by the one, ever-effective offering of His Son upon the tree “of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). What’s more, the Lord does not grant us forgiveness on the condition that we change our behavior and do justly, but has forgiven us and the whole world through the perfect, substitutionary, sinless obedience and sacrifice of Christ Jesus, received “by faith without the deeds of the Law” (Romans 3:28).
What the Lord requires of us is that we show our “faith” (James 2:18 c), our penitence, by our works, by our actions, that our repentance is not just expressed by our words, but demonstrated and expressed by our conduct, by our behavior, by our entire life. Always look to the revelation of His grace and mercy in the written Gospel of your Savior for strength, comfort, and endurance, so that you do not fumble around in the darkness of spiritual despair. The revealed will of the Lord concerning our free reconciliation, justification, and salvation should motivate us “to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8 b), so that all can see that He is our true Father and that we are His true children.
PRAYER – Yes, Lord, I am a sinner, and my sin is inexcusable. I know Thy Law, and still I transgressed it. I sin daily. I want to be perfect, but I have failed again and again to be perfect. Where shall I turn for comfort? I flee to Thee, my gracious and merciful God in Christ Jesus! Comfort me again and again with Thy words of truth: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Assure me again and again “that there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared” (Psalm 130:4). Help me each day through “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 b), that I may more and more “abhor that which is evil [and] cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9 b), to show my great gratitude for all that Thou hast done for me through my only Savior. Amen.
“How can I thank Thee, Lord, for all Thy loving-kindness; that Thou hast patiently, borne with me in my blindness? When dead in many sins and trespasses I lay, I kindled, holy God, Thine anger every day.
It is Thy work alone, that I am now converted; o’er Satan’s work in me, Thou hast Thy pow’r asserted; Thy mercy and Thy grace, that rise afresh each morn; has turned my stony heart, into a heart new-born.
Grant that Thy Spirit’s help, to me be always given; lest I should fall again, and lose the way to heaven; that He may give me strength, in mine infirmity, and e’er renew my heart, to serve Thee willingly.”
(TLH) – Hymn 417, 1, 2, 5.