Catechism Insight – Doctrinal Standard WSC #39

Doctrinal Standard #39

  • Q. What does God require of man?
  • A. God requires man to obey His revealed will.

Memory Verses

  • “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:22b–23a, ESV).


  • Study Passage: Luke 11:27-28
  • Support Passages: John 3:36, 14:15, I John 2:3-4, Acts 5:29, Romans 13:1-7, II Thessalonians 1:6-10, Hebrews 13:17
  • Bible Story: I Samuel 15


  • When teaching our child about the importance of obeying God’s Law we must be careful not error in teaching moralism instead of biblical Christianity. To understand the difference between the two we must understand the difference between the Law and Gospel and how they relate to one another in the life of an individual.
  • There are three uses of the Law of God: the civil, pedagogical, and normative use. We will briefly discuss the pedagogical and normative use to better understanding how it plays a part in the life of a believer.
  • The catechism states that God requires man to obey his will (law) but what we also understand is that scripture teaches that all mankind is unable to keep the commands of the Lord.  Therefore God’s Law has a “pedagogical use (usus elenchticus sive paedagogicus), it shows people their sin and points them to mercy and grace outside of themselves” (Lems). While God’s law revels his will and standards for mankind it also brings individuals to the realization that they are in need of the gospel. What man is unable to do according to the Law, Christ did in their place by living a perfect life to the Law and paying the ransom for their sins by dying on the cross. God’s Law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ works together in the life of an individual to bring about saving faith.
  • Many people have a limited view of the Law of God and believe that it’s only purpose is to point people to Christ and then should be left alone. This couldn’t be further from the truth. God’s law is perfect and holy. God’s Law has a “normative use (usus didacticus sive normativus). Which means this use of the law is for those who trust in Christ and have been saved through faith apart from works” (Lems) [1]. The law cannot save people because people are unable to keep it. But God’s law does direct the behaviors of those who are part of the family of God. The law is what helps guide believers in becoming holy as God is holy. The commands of the Lord are an essential part in the sanctification process of a believer.
  • The distinction between moralism and biblical Christianity is rather simple but can often be overlooked if not careful. Moralism teaches that man ought to live a life of good moral character by continually doing what is right. While there is nothing wrong with this statement in itself, the serious error of moralism that it never presents the gospel message. Moralism never addresses the problem that man can never be good enough to be accepted by God. Moralism is a self righteous religion found in many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.
  • For a relevant case study on moralism in Christianity refer to a blog post on our website titled Veggie Tales and Moralism.

Discussion Questions

  • What does God require of man?
  • What is the problem with God requiring man to keep his commands?
  • Do you think God knew about this problem before he commanded people to keep his laws? Explain.
  • If God knew that man would not be able to keep his commands why did he give them?
  • How did God fix man’s problem in keeping his laws?
  • Are Christians still commanded to keep God’s law? Explain

[1] Lems, Shane. Three Uses of The Law,

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