Westminster Skeletons (1): 70 Teaching Outlines on the Shorter Catechism

At the end of this blog post you’ll find links to a booklet containing approximately 70 teaching outlines covering the whole Westminster Shorter Catechism. There are a number of good commentaries on this historic document. However, I could find little to help me move from these commentaries to simple and memorable teaching titles and outlines, or “skeletons” as they used to be called. My attempt to remedy this is found in these pages.

1. While many catechisms are dealt with individually, I have grouped some together to increase teaching efficiency.

2. Most outlines are on the same page as the catechism(s). However, where this is not possible, I have put the catechisms on one page and the outline on the facing page for ease of use.

3. I provide a “sermon” title for each catechism, the text of the catechism, and then a teaching outline with headings in bold. The catechism words are italicized and gathered under the relevant heading. Sometimes I may underline a catechism word or phrase to emphasize the connection with the heading. Occasionally I will add a couple of words in brackets for extra clarification.

4. There is plenty of white space for note-taking.

5. I’ve put links to the document in pdf and Word format. Feel free to use the Word document to adjust to your own particular teaching situation. I’m not bothered about having my name attached to these, but if you do use my name, just be sure to clearly distinguish your contribution from my own work.

May God use this teaching guide to bring these historic documents to life; instructing the head, igniting the heart, and impacting lives for His glory and our enjoyment.

Westminster Skeletons (1): Teaching Outlines on the Shorter Catechism (pdf)

Westminster Skeletons (1): Teaching Outlines on the Shorter Catechism  (Word)

UPDATE: Here’s a link to Teaching Outlines on the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Stop Trying and Start Trusting


Do you remember the time you first realized you were saved by grace alone. Do you remember the joy, the laughter, the exhilaration of embracing salvation through faith in Christ? Do you remember the relief, the liberty, the freedom you experienced when you realized that God was offering you a salvation that had zero contribution from you? Do you ever wonder where that joy has gone? What happened to that exhilaration that spiritual high? Do you ever wish you could get it back again? Are you asking, How do I recover the joy of my salvation? Paul has a surprising answer for us in Romans 4:1-12.


In general terms we can summarize the first three chapters of Romans as follows:

  • Chapter 1. The Gentiles are guilty
  • Chapter 2. The Jews are guilty
  • Chapter 3:1-19. Everyone’s guilty
  • Chapter 3:20-31. Get from deadly guilt to healthy joy through faith in Jesus.

Paul got us from deadly guilt to healthy joy by introducing us to seven characters (see previous sermon). But how do I stay joyful? How do I restore my joy? How do I increase my joy? Paul answers by introducing us to two other characters, Mr Abraham and Mr David.

What can we learn from Mr Abraham?


Paul attacked opponents of justification by faith with what they thought was their strongest argument: Abraham (1). Jewish teachers regarded Abraham as perfectly righteous by his own works. Paul conceded that if the Jews were correct, then Abraham had a reason to boast (and therefore all who follow his example do also). But Paul rejects that hypothetical (2), arguing his point by appealing to what the Old Testament said about Abraham.

Abraham believed God (3)

When it comes to salvation, everyone believes. We just vary in what we believe. Some believe in themselves: their riches, wisdom, goodness, or pedigree. Some believe in the church or religion. Some believe in science. Some believe in an idol. Some believe there’s nothing to believe in. Everyone believes; we just differ in what we believe in.

What about Abraham? He believed God (Gen. 15:6). It’s as simple and straightforward as that. He put no faith in anything or anyone other than God. God was the sole and only object of his faith. It wasn’t God +, or God *, or God-, or “God but…” It was God completely, totally, simply, and exclusively. It wasn’t just faith in God’s Word but faith in God personally and relationally. He didn’t just believe there was a God but believed in (into) God.

The literal translation of “believed” in Genesis 15:6 is “kept on Amen-ing.” Abraham kept on believing, kept on considering as reliable, kept on trusting the Trustworthy.” This was not a new faith but a new exercise of a faith begun in the past (Gen 12:1-4; Heb. 11:8).

God justified Abraham (3)

Just as Gen 15:6 was not the first time Abraham believed, it was not the first time Abraham was justified by faith. It was the first time Abraham’s faith in God’s promise of a Seed was revealed in the Bible (Gal. 3:16). It was the first time God openly attested his justification. Whenever that first moment of of “God-alone-faith” connected Abraham with God, something miraculous happened. The whole of God’s righteousness transferred irrevocably to Abraham’s account. God declared Abraham just, righteous, perfect, and accepted. That wasn’t a lie because God actually credited Abraham’s account with his righteousness. That’s the “it” in this verse. The “it” was not Abraham’s faith but what Abraham’s faith was in: God’s righteousness.

God justifies all believers (9-12)

We’ll come back to David’s experience in verses 6-8 in a moment, but let’s jump down to Paul’s application of the Abraham story in verses 9-12. Anticipating that some Gentiles might say, “Well this gracious salvation is only for the circumcised,” Paul reminded them that Abraham believed and was justified before he was circumcised and therefore a massive encouragement to the uncircumcised (9-11). But the Jews were also to learn from Abraham’s example not to put their faith in their circumcision but to follow the faith of Abraham in God alone (12).


There are only two ways to be saved (4-5). Working for God or not working for God. Wages or gift. God owes us a debt or God pays our debts. Deserved or undeserved. Works or faith. Justifying ourselves or justified by God. Rewarded or redeemed. Which is the happiest way? It also happens to be the only way.

Believers have the whole of God’s righteousness. As soon as you believe, the whole of God’s righteousness is transferred to your account and it’s an irrevocable transfer. When God counts you righteous, he’s not lying.

Any other Old Testament character to support this?


Paul then turned to the experience of David not only to further assure the Romans of salvation apart from their works but to experience the blessed joys in this way of salvation

Just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (6-8).

Paul encourages his readers to enter into four blessed joys:

  • The blessed joy of Christ’s perfect character and conduct being counted as ours (6).
  • The blessed joy of not contributing one good work to our salvation (7)
  • The blessed joy of getting all our evil works forgiven and covered (7)
  • The blessed joy of God not counting our evil works against us (8)


Quadruple your joy at the beginning of each day. Before you start the day, follow Abraham’s example to feel David’s experience. Nothing you do or fail to do can increase or decrease your righteousness account.

Quadruple your joy at the end of each day. As you close your eyes, reflecting on the days successes and failures, let faith in Christ give you joy in Christ. Nothing you did or didn’t do, increased or reduced your account.

Quadruple your joy when you fall and fail. Don’t wait until you feel better or do better, but believe and be justified as soon as you sin. Let faith determine your feelings rather than feelings determine your faith.

Quadruple your joy when you remember past sin. For some of us, when we look back on our lives, we remember a particularly sinful time or moment and shame steals our joy. If anyone was vulnerable here, it was David, and yet he used four joys to overwrite the pain of that memory.

Quadruple your joy when you feel worthless. Maybe childhood or domestic abuse has made you feel you are worth nothing. Perhaps it’s bullying at school. Maybe it’s that you are not as clever or gifted or successful as others. Or could be you feel lonely and forgotten.

Quadruple your joy when you are dying. Whether thinking about our death or actually dying, death scares us. Sometimes it’s fear of the process, but sometimes it’s fear about whether we’ll go to heaven or hell when we do die. Every thought about whether we are good enough drains joy and fills with fear. Every thought about whether Christ is good enough fills with joy and drains fear.



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Stop. Stop trying and start trusting. Trying harder is hard. Trusting harder is easy. Please don’t take another step of life until you stop trying (even 1%) and start trusting (100%).

Restore. Restore joy to your faith by restoring your faith in Jesus. The more you try to find joy in what you’ve done, the less you will find joy in what he’s done (and vice versa).

Practice. Practice joy-restoring faith this week. As soon as you sin, remind yourself, you have not lost one ounce of God’s righteousness in your account. You are as righteous after you sin as before you sinned. See how much joy that gives you.

Prayer. Joyful Savior, you save joyfully to give us a joyful salvation. Please restore the joy of my salvation by helping me to follow Abraham’s example of faith and David’s experience of joy.


1. What was your greatest joy when you were first saved?

2. On a scale of 0-10, how would you rate your present level of joy in your salvation?

3. What has reduced your joy and what have you tried to restore it?

4. What is justification? See Heidelberg 60-64 and Shorter Catechism 33.

5. How much of God’s righteousness is yours right now?

6. Which of David’s four joys is your greatest joy?


Teach me to pray: The Door


Children, have you ever been afraid to ask your Dad for something? Let’s just say it’s an iPhone. You really want it, in fact, you really need it. But you’re scared to ask. You’re scared because you’re afraid of how your Dad may react. Will he ignore you? Will he be angry at you? Will he call you discontented and never satisfied with the Tracfone he’s already given you? Will he say, “Have you any idea how much an iPhone costs? How did you ever think we could afford that right now?” You’re afraid to ask because of the way your Father may say “No!”

Or, if you’re a really wise child, you will be afraid to ask because you’re not sure you’re ready for it. You’ve seen the damage iPhones have done to other kids and you’re afraid that might happen to you too if you get one. What if your Dad’s too busy to really think through the dangers and lets you one without preparing you for it? You’re afraid to ask because of the way your Father may say “Yes!”

Both fears—the fear of how your Dad will react and the fear of how you will react—paralyze your knocking and silence your asking. Similar fears can come into our prayers, as we wonder about “What can I ask my heavenly Father for?” You have a need or a desire but you’re afraid to ask God for it because you’re scared about how he may react. Or you’re scared that he may give you what you ask for and it may turn out to be a bad thing for you.

Jesus knew our fears about prayer and therefore gave us Matthew 7:7-11 to remove our fears of a painful “No” and a painful “Yes.”


Last week we heard the Lord knocking on our door (Revelation 3:20). This week we are knocking on the Lord’s door. Last week’s door-knocking expressed the Lord’s desire to fellowship with us over supper. This week’s door-knocking expresses our desire for the Lord’s help in our daily lives.

“What can I ask my heavenly Father for?”
“Well, what do you ask your earthly father for?”


If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children (Matt. 7:11).

Earthly fathers are “evil”

The best earthly father is still a sinner. All fathers were born in sin, lived lives of sin, still sin, and will sin for as long as they live. In that sense, they are “evil.” Two of the ways in which that “evil” can appear in connection with providing for their children is in self-centeredness and impatience.

Like all people, earthly fathers struggle with the selfishness and self-centeredness that makes them live for themselves rather than their wives and children. They can be reluctant to spend money on their children, money that could be spent on themselves and their interests.

Earthly fathers can also battle impatience with their children’s requests. “If my son asks me one more time for a puppy, I’m going to murder a puppy!” “If my daughter asks me again for a new iPhone to replace her Tracfone, I’m going to flush her phone down the toilet!”

Earthly fathers know how to give good gifts

Yet, despite the innate sinfulness of our earthly fathers, in general they know how to give good gifts to their children. That doesn’t mean they give them everything they want, but rather they give them gifts that will do them good rather than harm. They don’t always get that right. Sometimes they give what they thought was a good gift, but it turns out to be harmful. Sometimes they hold back giving something because they fear it will harm them, but their fear is unfounded.

In general though, God has given earthly fathers an instinct to give good gifts to their children. Fathers on the whole, are able to deny themselves to provide for their families, and they patiently bear with their children’s direct and subtle requests for gifts. Their default is to give, to give good, and to give when their children ask. As Jesus observed” “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?” (10). The instinct to give good gifts to their children is God-given and God-like.


Fathers, let’s confess our sin. Admit that we are not perfect. Acknowledge that our selfishness and impatience sometimes gets the better of us. Confess, even to our children, that we are sinners and that we don’t reflect our heavenly Father.

Children, let’s praise our Father for our father. Although the best father is a sinner, yet, we shouldn’t focus entirely on his negatives and failures. Praise God for every time they sacrificed themselves for our good, gave up money they could have spent on themselves to spend it on you, and considered your requests with patience, grace, and generosity. If your Father was more evil than good, more selfish than unselfish, more impatient than patient, then you were not treated right. If you got a stone when you asked for bread, a serpent when you asked for fish then that was evil and wrong. If you got evil treatment from your father when you should have got good gifts, then God abhors that distortion of his order and his image. He is the father of the fatherless (Ps. 68:5).


How does this help me with prayer?


How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matt. 7:11).

Our heavenly Father is good

However good our earthly father is or was, our heavenly Father is much better. He is the most unselfish and patient Father we could ever imagine. Everything he does is for the good of his children. He has never run out of patience with his children’s requests. He is perfect in every way without any shadow side. He has perfect goodness meaning he is the most generous person anywhere. He has perfect wisdom, meaning that he knows exactly what will do the most good to each of his children. He has perfect power, meaning he not only wants to give good gifts, he can do it too. He has perfect patience, meaning we can bring the most ridiculous requests and the most repeated requests and he won’t be angry with us.

Our heavenly Father knows best how to give the best gifts

Our heavenly Father’s gift-giving expertise means that he gives the right gifts, in the right quantity, to the right child at the right time, and it always turns out right. He has such a perfect Fatherly instinct that he knows what to give before we know what we need (Matt 6:8). He has never given a gift he regretted. He’s never made a mistake in giving the wrong gift to the wrong child. He’s never given too much or too little. He’s never given at the wrong time. He’s never run out of patience with our requests. He’s never given one child a stone when he asked for bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish. He is the perfect Father with the perfect fatherly instinct. His default is to give, and to give good gifts. He’s constantly looking for opportunities to give. He doesn’t just know how to give good gifts, he actually gives them.


Let’s praise our heavenly Father. Let’s thank him for giving us so many good gifts throughout our lives. Praise him for never giving too soon or too late. Let’s thank him for giving us bread when we asked for a stone, and fish when we asked for a snake. Praise him for not giving what would harm us. He is a good good father who gives good good gifts to his bad bad children. Praise him for his default, his instinct, which is to give good gifts to his children

Let’s ask our heavenly Father. The aim of this passage is to encourage us to ask our Father for anything we need or want knowing that he is not looking for a reason to say “No!” but rather he’s looking for a reason to say “Yes!” It’s not a promise that God will give us whatever we want. It’s a promise that if we bring our requests to him for whatever we want that he will give us what’s good for us and will protect us from any gifts that would harm us. With that confidence we can ask, seek, and knock (7-8). We can come to his door and knock on it whenever we want, for whatever we want, with confidence that God will sort out the good from the bad and make sure that he will only give us what is good for us. Some people want verses 7-8 to be a blank check that we can fill in with whatever we want and God will always cash it. That not only ignores verses 9-11 but is also terrifying. I’d be so scared to ask God for anything if I didn’t have the confidence that he would sift my requests into good and bad, helpful and harmful, and only give me the good and the helpful.



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Receive the Gospel. Our Father gave us the best gift possible when he gave us His Son (John 3:16). He sacrificed his only begotten Son for the good of all his adopted sons and daughters.

Ask for the Holy Spirit. Luke’s account reveals that Jesus defined the best gift as the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). He is the best gift because he brings God to us as our Savior, Sanctifier, Leader, Encourager. We can never have enough of the Holy Spirit and God can never give enough of the Holy Spirit. Ask for the Holy Spirit every day this week and see what happens.

What is prayer? Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies (Shorter Catechism 98)

Prayer. Giver of every good and perfect gift, help me to ask for anything knowing you will give only good and perfect gifts.


1. What kinds of reactions did you get when you asked your earthly father for something?

2. How do you deal with the mixture of good and bad in your earthly father?

3. Can you think of a time your dad gave you something that turned out to be harmful?

4. How does the perfection of our heavenly Father affect your prayers?

5. When did God refuse a request that you eventually saw was for your good?

6. How will you know if God answers your prayer for the Holy Spirit this week?


The Pleasure of Contentment



Almost everything that we buy today comes with warnings on it, whether it is something electronic or mechanical or even a child’s toy. But there’s one thing in this world, probably about the most dangerous thing in the world, that does not carry any warnings. The dollar.

Money can be a good friend. It gives comforts and opportunities to us and our families. It supports churches and charities as they minister to the spiritually and financially poor. Money can be such a good friend, it’s no wonder we desire its company in our lives. But as Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 6:8-10, the love of money is our worst enemy. How do we make money our friend not our foe?



Here’s a synthesis of Shorter Catechism 80-81, and Larger Catechism 147-148 as they summarize and simplify the Bible’s teaching about this commandment:

The tenth commandment requires:

  • Full contentment with our own condition
  • A right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor and all that is his
  • So that our desires and actions concerning him/her tend to and further their good

The tenth commandment forbids

  • All discontentment with our own estate
  • Envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor
  • And all excessive desires for anything that is his

Why so short compared to the catechisms’ answers on all the other commandments. Because the tenth commandment addresses what’s at the root of all other sins. This is why the Heidelberg Catechism says that this commandment requires “that not even the slightest thought or desire contrary to any of God’s commandments should ever arise in our heart. Rather, with all our heart we should always hate all sin and delight in all righteousness.” As Kevin DeYoung writes, “The command not to covet is actually the practical summation and heart-level culmination of the other nine commandments.”

This commandment is not just about the love of money but about all excessive and disproportionate desires for any kind of gain: a better house, car, wife, family, body, face, popularity, grades, etc. But for the purposes of this sermon we are going to focus on the love of money because it’s the most common expression of covetousness. All that we say, though, can be applied to all other excessive and disproportionate desires. We can desire the right things at the wrong times, for the wrong reasons, and to the wrong degree.

Why is the love of money so dangerous?



For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (10).

It does not say that money is the root of multiple evils; it is the love of money that’s the root of multiple evils. Just having money is not evil. Even having lots of money is not evil. Later in this chapter Paul guides the rich in how they are to manage and view their money and he doesn’t tell them to give it all away (1 Tim. 6:17-19). You can be extremely wealthy and not sin regarding money. You can be very poor and sin much more regarding money than a rich person. A poor person may have far greater love of money than a rich person.

It is not just being rich that Paul says is evil, and neither is it even the desire to have money that is evil. If that was so, then who could live in this world? Who could function? Because there is a natural desire, a God-given desire to earn money, to fund provisions for ourselves, our families, and the Church of Christ. So again, it is not just the desire for money that is evil. You can desire money without sinning. It is a certain kind of desire, a certain kind of longing, and a certain kind of love for money that Paul says is the root of all kinds of evil.

It is a loving of money above everything else. It is a loving of money that puts money number one in our priorities. It is a loving of money that will make us pursue it at all costs. It is a kind of loving of money that will make us try to get it by fair means or foul, by good means or bad. It is a love of money that dominates and overwhelms. It is that kind of love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil. If Paul had his way, money would come with government health warnings.

“I am a great temptress.” “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation” (9). Some temptations come so obviously; but financial ones come so stealthily, so beautifully dressed, so innocently, so excusably. If only we could see behind them: I am a temptress, I am a seductress.

“I trap.” “Those who desire to be rich fall into…a snare” (9). If we knew that we were about to walk through a forest in which hunters had set traps and snares everywhere, how carefully, how slowly, how gently, how gingerly we would go. Paul warns that the love of money puts traps everywhere; traps that can grab us, damage us, and injure us. Yet how thoughtlessly and carelessly we walk!

“I fool.” He says it leads “into many senseless and harmful desires” (9). “Foolish” here means irrational and illogical. He is saying, “If only people could see how irrational and illogical this love for money is. It looks reasonable, it looks logical, it looks normal. But, no! It’s irrational; it’s illogical if only you could see what it is doing to you.

“I injure.” Paul does not only speak of foolish lusts but also “harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (9). He says, “You think that this money is raising you up, promoting you, and making you big and high. No! If only you can see it’s drowning you, it’s taking you down, it’s suffocating you, it’s sucking the oxygen out of your life and you are slowly dying.”

“I can make you an unbeliever.” Paul mourns that “through this craving some have wandered away from the faith” (10). Paul doesn’t say, “They decided to leave the faith.” No, they “wandered.” They began slowly moving away from the faith. It wasn’t anything dramatic or obvious. It was slow, almost casual, but inch by inch, turn by turn, they left the faith. When the love of money takes over, it takes our faith away. The dollar has turned more people into unbelievers than any false religion.

“I impale.” Due to the love of money some have ” pierced themselves with many pangs” (10). It’s a picture of someone crucifying themselves. Every ill-gotten dollar, though it was thought to bring comfort, pleasure, and happiness, is actually turned into a sharp and painful knife. Talk about self-harm!

Remember, we are using the excessive love of money as an example of any excessive desires. It could be the desire for popularity, marriage, sex, popularity, position, etc.


Listen to the dollar. Imagine if the dollar said all these things before we wanted it, before we got it, and as we thought about how we’re going to use it. It would cry out, “I tempt, I trap, I fool, I injure, I drown, I create unbelievers, and I impale.” That would make a difference in our desire for it, what we do when we are given it by God, and how we use it (Luke 12:15; Eph. 5:3-5; Col. 3:6, Rom. 1:28-31; James 4:2-3; Ps. 73:2-3).

Look at “Where are they now?” pictures. Look up the pictures of those who were rich and famous 10 or 20 years ago. If that’s what the love of money does to our bodies, what does it do to our souls? If we could see our hearts, we would see multiple spears, arrows, and knives sticking out of them. The love of money gives us some things, but takes away everything worth having.


These are dangerous weeds. Any weedkiller?



But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content (6-8).

Paul not only issues warnings about the weed of money-love, but also provides us with two weedkillers, one that is more passive (contentment) and the other more active (godliness). When you put them together you get a blessed formula: godliness + contentment = great wealth

The passive weedkiller: contentment (6-8)

There is nothing wrong with praying for an outward sufficiency (Prov. 30:8). But, Paul is especially advocating an inner sufficiency, an inner contentment, regardless of our finances. Paul is combating materialistic preachers who taught “gain is godliness” (5).

Paul says, “NO! You’ve got this upside down and back to front. Godliness equals gain.” Contentment can be fertilized with thankfulness for what God has given you and for what he’s given to others. But the best fertilizer for contentment is meditation on our departure from this world. “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” I think it was John Piper who said, “There are no U-Haul trailers behind hearses.” We come in to this world empty and we leave this world empty. Label everything and everyone “Nothing in, Nothing out.” When John D Rockefeller died, his aide was asked how much he left behind. “He left it all behind.” How much will you leave behind? “Everything!”

An active weedkiller: godliness (11-12)

Passive contentment kills the leaves and the stems of covetousness, but it’s vigorous godliness that reaches the roots. “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life.” What active and aggressive imperatives. We flee by pursuing, fighting, and grabbing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. These aren’t just practices, they are a person. They are a description not just of moral virtue but of Jesus Christ (Ps. 63:5; John 6:35).

Only another love can get to the deepest roots of the love of money, and that’s love for Christ. Christ-love uproots money-love. That’s why Jude tells believers living in the midst of apostasy, “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). Love God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit for a triple treatment of money love.

Each of the commandments reveal and reflect God’s character. The tenth one reveals God as the one who is perfectly satisfied and content in himself and calls us to find our satisfaction and contentment in him.


Contentment is the key to godliness. The tenth is the last commandment but is at the root of all the others. Contentment is therefore they key to pleasure. Being content with God, with God’s worship, with God’s leaders, with God’s timetable, with God’s love, with God’s friendship, with God’s provision, with God’s Truth. The more contentment we practice, the more obedience we practice, the more pleasure we’ll experience. Christ is all.



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My hopes for this series on the ten pleasures were:

  • New view of God’s law: We’ve seen its minute detail and its ethical beauty
  • New view of our sin: We’ve sees sins we never saw before and we’ve seen sin we’ve ignored.
  • New view of obedience: We’ve seen obedience as a way to joy and happiness.
  • New view of God: God wants us to be happy and has provided the law to help that.
  • New view of Jesus: How awesome his sinless life, how awful his punishment for our sins.
  • New view of salvation: We’ve seen how precious justification by faith (not works) is.
  • New view of apologetics/evangelism: The Christian life is the happiest life.
  • New view of heaven. Heaven will be a place of perfect obedience and therefore of perfect pleasure.


The Pleasure of Truth



The Democrats complain about “disinformation” while the Republicans complain about “Fake news.” Everyone feels the pain of a society in which lies abound and truth is rare. This lack of truth creates a crisis of confidence as we can’t find anyone we can trust or rely on. We don’t know what to believe or think or how to act. In frustration, we cry out, “What is truth?” and “Where is truth?”



The ninth commandment, like many of the other commandments, highlight one of the the worst sins in the category. But being a false witness in court does not exhaust this commandment. It’s just one of the more serious examples in this category of moral evil.

Each of the commandments reveal and reflect God’s character. The ninth one reveals God as the God of truth. He is the creator, preserver, promoter, lover, and blesser of truth. Conversely, he is the sworn enemy of lies and the father of lies, the devil (John 8:44). We are called to receive and believe God’s truth and also to reveal and reflect it in our lives. If we do, we will be as blessedly confident as God is.

What is truth?



We start by looking at what the Reformed confessions and catechisms teach about what this commandment requires and forbids. Here’s a synthesis of the Heidelberg Catechism 112, Shorter Catechism 77-78, and Larger Catechism 144-145 as they summarize and simplify the Bible’s teaching:

The ninth commandment requires the

  • The preserving, maintaining, and promoting of
    • Truth
    • And of our own and our neighbor’s good name,
      • especially in witness bearing (matters of judgment and justice)


All situations that involve judgment as to what the truth is: courts, tribunals, church discipline, family discipline, marital disputes.


  • Appearing and standing for the truth
  • Speaking the truth, and only the truth (heartily sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully)


  • Giving false evidence
  • Suborning false witnesses
  • Appearing and pleading for an evil cause
  • Passing unjust sentence
  • Calling evil good, and good evil
  • Rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous (and vice versa)
  • Forgery
  • Concealing the truth
  • Undue silence in a just cause



  • A charitable esteem of our neighbors
  • Loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name
  • Sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities
  • Freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces
  • Defending their innocency
  • A ready receiving of a good report
  • Unwillingness to accept an evil report concerning them
  • Discouraging talebearers, flatterers, and slanderers


  • Speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, tale bearing, scoffing,
  • Rash and harsh censuring
  • Misrepresenting intentions, words, and actions
  • Thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others
  • Denying the gifts and graces of God
  • Aggravating smaller faults
  • Hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession
  • Unnecessary discovering of weaknesses
  • Raising or receiving false rumors and evil reports
  • Stopping our ears against just defense
  • Evil suspicion
  • Envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any
  • Rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy
  • Breach of lawful promises
  • Holding our peace when iniquity calls for either a reproof or a complaint to others
  • Speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end
  • Whatever hurts our neighbor’s good name



  • Love and care of our own good name
  • And defending it when need requires
  • Studying and practicing of whatever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.


  • Doing whatever injures our own good name
  • Neglecting such things as are of good report
  • Thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others
  • Denying the gifts and graces of God


We live in a world of lies. Weep and mourn over the loss of truth, our contribution to that loss, and the impact upon our world, our institutions, our families, our relationships, and our psyche.

Worship the God of Truth. We don’t need to ask “What is truth?” because Jesus said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who leads us into the truth (John 16:13).

Tell the truth no matter the cost. We will all be confronted with choices in our lives, where we have to choose between truth and money, truth and family, truth and our business, truth and friends, truth and church. At such times we need to hear this commandments authoritative voice.


Looks like telling the truth is not much fun. How is it a pleasure?



There is a lie at the core of every enslaving addiction. It doesn’t matter what kind of addiction it is – drink, drugs, food, porn, spending, people-pleasing, people-critiquing, control, digital technology, etc. – lies are at the heart of them all. That’s why Jesus said to religious addicts, ”You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). The only way to deliver addicts is to rip out these lies and replace them with truth. Here’s a sampling of the lies that addicts tell; and a sampling of the truths that can root them out and replace them.

Lies About God

Lie: God is not Good. He’s just being a spoilsport in forbidding this sin. The sin is good and God is bad.
Truth: God is good to all and does good to all. His law is an expression of his goodness (Ps. 145:9; Rom. 7:12).

Lie: God is not all-seeing. He can’t really see me when I do this.
Truth: God sees all people, all things, all events, at all times (Ps. 139:1-16; Prov. 15:3)

Lie: God is not judge. He will not call me to account for this.
Truth: We will give account for every deed done or not done, in public and in private (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 2:16)

Lie: God is not Savior. I’ve sinned too much for God to save me. There’s no point in even trying to be saved.
Truth: Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. (Rom. 10:13; 1 John 1:9; John 6:37)

Lie: God is not enough. God will not satisfy me as sin does.
Truth: There is more than enough in God to satisfy the hungriest and thirstiest soul (Ps. 63:3-5; John 7:37)

Lies About Self

Lie: I don’t have a problem. I mean I sin, even quite a lot, but it’s not an addiction.
Truth: Whoever commits sin (lit. continues to practice sin) is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:16; John 8:34).

Lie: I’m not as bad as others.
Truth: Our standard of comparison is God’s Word, not other people (2 Cor. 10:12).

Lie: It’s not harming me.
Truth: Every sin hardens our hearts (Heb. 3:13) and ultimately ends in death (James 1:15).

Lie: I cannot change and I cannot escape.
Truth: God always provides an escape route and he can give real freedom to anyone (1 Cor. 10:13; John 8:36).

Lies about Sin

Lie: This habit makes me happy.
Truth: Maybe, but it’s a very brief and fleeting happiness that leaves a bitter taste (Heb. 11:24-26).

Lie: This helps me forget my past.
Truth: The most important thing is for God to forget your past (Heb. 8:12).

Lie: Now is not a good time to stop.
Truth: Now is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).

Lies About Others

Lie: Those condemning me and trying to stop me are my enemies.
Truth: Those who try to stop you sinning are actually your best friends and they’re doing you a great kindness (Prov. 27:6; Ps. 141:5).

Lie: It’s my parents’/abuser’s/husband’s/wife’s fault.
Truth: When Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the snake, God blamed and punished all of them (Gen 3:14-19; Ezek. 18:20). The soul that sins, it shall die.

Lie: This doesn’t affect others.
Truth: Do you need a Bible verse for this? Just ask those around you what the truth is.

Whatever you are addicted to, try to find the lies at its heart and then attack them with God’s powerful truth. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”


Target lies. Who are you telling lies to? What lies are you telling? How are these lies ensnaring and enslaving you? Identify these lies, zoom in on them, see their danger, then drone them with truth.

Tell the truth. I know someone who was abused as a child by his parents. For years he denied it, minimized it, excused it, explained it away, and above all, tried to forget it. He was getting sicker and sicker – spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally. Telling himself the truth about what happened was initially extremely painful, but was the catalyst for long-term healing. He now helps others who have been abused and continually reminds them, “The truth will set you free.”


I want freedom but truth sounds like hard work. What if truth promised you peace as well?



Peace of conscience

Twice in my life I’ve had major decisions to make about whether to tell the truth or cover up the truth. The first time it was a Christian denomination. The second time was a Christian institution. Both were cases that involved the sexual abuse of Christian women and both times the majority of Christians involved decided to choose the easier path of covering up the truth with lies. Going along with each cover-up would have been the easier path: less confrontation, less fighting, less stress, less anxiety, less sleep, less friends, less loss. But it would also have meant less peace of conscience.

Therefore, by God’s grace alone, I chose the path of telling the truth. Whatever else I lost – my ministry, my reputation, my security, etc – I did not lose my peace of conscience (Acts 24:16). Someone once said, “Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.” It’s also what feels so good when everything else feels so bad.

What a joy to have such peaceful conscience, a conscience informed by truth that that can look forward to the resurrection and final judgment with hope. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Mr Honest arranged for Good-conscience to meet him at the Jordan to help him over to “the other side.” We hope we will be able to do the same when we close our eyes for the last time. As an old Puritan said: “There is no pillow so soft as a good conscience.” A good conscience can sleep in thunder.

Peace of mind

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). Two slices of peace (7,9) sandwich the meat of verse eight. If we don’t eat the meat of verse 8, we won’t have the peace sandwich (7,9). If we let what is false, offensive, dishonest, filthy, ugly, and loathsome into our minds, we might as well sign up for a course on how to be hyper-anxious. The catechism teach us that the ninth commandment requires the “studying and practicing of whatever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.” Think about these things,” commanded Paul. “Concentrate and focus on these subjects, form rigorous thinking habits along these lines.” It’s not an option. It’s a command for our good.


Educate your conscience. Educate your conscience with the Law of God. Martin Luther said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.” Also, educate your conscience with the Gospel, so you can enjoy perfect and permanent peace (Heb. 10:22)

Educate your mind. The original meaning of ‘educate’ is ‘to lead out.’ We are not to be passively led about by others, but we’re to actively lead our minds into what is true and good for personal peace.



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Children: Remember, every lie makes the next one easier.

Teens: Objective truth exists. “Your truth” and “my truth” do not exist. You’ve got the Truth, now give the Truth.

Parents: Disciple with truth and discipline according to Truth.

Liars: Remember Peter’s triple lie and triple forgiveness that led to triple usefulness. But also remember the warning in the last chapter of the Bible (Rev. 22:15)

Discipleship: Discipleship is about knowing, believing, speaking, and living the Truth in such a way that others want to know, believe, speak, and live the Truth.

Worship: God desires that we worship him in Spirit and in Truth because God is truth (Jn. 4:23). Psalm 119 is one long praise of the God who is the Truth. What a relief in a world of lies.

Jesus: Our Savior is the perfect embodiment of this commandment. Knowing that we would lie from the moment we are born (Ps. 58:3; Jn. 8:44), he came as Truth in a world of lies, and not only lived a Truth-FULL life but died so that we who are lie-FULL may be forgiven.

Prayer: God of Truth, give me Truth and truthfulness so that I can give the Truth to those who desperately need truth freedom and truth peace.


The Pleasure of Giving



What do you think would make you happier? Getting a million dollars or giving away a million dollars. Probably most of us would say “Getting a million dollars.” But Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35). Giving makes us happier than getting. How? How can giving make us happier than getting?



Each of the commandments reveal and reflect God’s character. This one reveals God as the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17) and calls us to reveal and reflect God as givers of good and perfect gifts. If we do we’ll find profound pleasure in giving just as God does.

This looks like an easy commandment to obey.



We start by looking at what the Reformed confessions and catechisms teach about what this commandment requires and forbids. Here’s a synthesis of the Heidelberg Catechisms 110-111, Shorter Catechism 74-75, and Larger Catechism 141-142 as they summarize and simplify the Bible’s teaching



  • Truth, faithfulness, and justice
    • in contracts and commerce
    • between man and man


  • Theft, robbery, man-stealing, and receiving anything that is stolen.
  • Fraudulent dealing, false weights and measures, removing landmarks.
  • Injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust.



  • Giving and lending freely,
    • according to our abilities,
    • and the necessities of others.



  • A provident care and study to
    • get, keep, use, and dispose these things
    • which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature
    • and suitable to our condition.
  • Frugality (prudence/moderation)


  • All abuse or squandering of his gifts.
  • And all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate.
  • Prodigality (outrageous extravagance)



  • A lawful calling
  • and diligence in it;


  • Unlawful callings
  • Idleness
  • Wasteful gaming



  • Avoid
    • unnecessary lawsuits,
    • suretiship (taking legal liability for another’s debts)
  • or other like engagements.


  • Vexatious lawsuits
  • Unjust disclosures



  • Endeavor, by all just and lawful means,
  • to procure, preserve, and promote
  • the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own.


  • Oppression, extortion, unreasonable interest rates, bribery
  • Buying up of commodities to enhance the price.
  • All other unjust or sinful ways of
    • taking or withholding from our neighbor what belongs to him,
    • or of enriching ourselves;



  • Defrauding ourselves of
    • the due use and comfort
    • of that estate which God hath given us.


Get lawfully: An honest dollar is better than a dishonest million.

Give freely: Not slowly, reluctantly, or transactionally but cheerfully.

Steward carefully: Steward your personal world and the physical world.

Work diligently: Laziness is stealing. A poor work ethic reflects our view of God.

Sue reluctantly: Enter into legal obligations and disputes with extreme care.

Love financially: Ask, “How can I help others towards financial success?” (1 John 3:17-18).

Enjoy thankfully: God enjoys giving us gifts and therefore we should enjoy receiving them (1 Tim. 6:17)


I can enjoy thankfully but how do I get joy in the other areas?



“It is more blessed to give than to receive” goes against all our culture tells us. Let me help you believe and act upon it by giving you eight reasons why it is more blessed to give money than to get it. All God’s laws are given to enhance and elevate our lives, so obeying this one will not spoil or ruin our happiness but rather increase it.

Giving Exhibits God’s Heart

And although God’s gifts are unprecedented, unrepeatable, and unbeatable, we are still called to copy God’s giving, to be mini-pictures of his infinitely large heart. What a privilege and honor to be his image bearers in this way. The larger our hearts, the larger the picture we paint of God’s character. What do people think of God when they think of the way we use our money or work?

Giving Illustrates God’s Salvation

At the heart of the gospel is sacrificial self-giving. That’s why when the apostle Paul wanted to encourage the Corinthians to give more, he pointed them to the person and work of Christ ( 2 Cor. 8:9). When we give sacrificially, painfully, and lovingly, we draw a small-scale picture of the gospel message.

Giving Trusts God’s Provision

The biggest deterrent to giving is fear, the fear that if I give away too much, I won’t have enough for this or that. When we give sacrificially, above and beyond what is comfortable and easy, we express our faith and trust in God to provide for us and our families. Cast your crumbs upon the water and enjoy seeing multiple loaves returning (Eccl. 11:1). It is such a delight to see God fulfill his promise of provision when we obey Him.

Giving Widens God’s Smile

The Lord loves “a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7). It delights him to see his people gladly opening their hearts and hands to provide for the needs of his church and indeed of all his creatures. Nothing makes a Christian happier than knowing that she’s made God happy, and happy giving means a happy God.

Giving Advances God’s Kingdom

Think of what blessing results when we fund the mission of Christ’s church. We are paying salaries of ministers and missionaries; we are funding resources for outreach, evangelism, and discipleship. But above all we are investing in the spiritual and eternal welfare of people from every nation, tribe, kindred, and tongue. Our dollars are changing homes, relationships, countries, and even the eternal destiny of many souls. Although most of us can’t trace the impact of every dollar we donate, God traces it, and I believe that in heaven He will reveal all the lives our money has touched through the years and even bring us together with those who have been blessed by our giving—and those who have blessed us by their giving.

Giving Promotes God’s Sanctification of Us

Giving promotes not only God’s work through us but also God’s work in us, our sanctification. Giving money, especially when it pains us, is work that requires much self-denial and self-crucifixion. Every act of giving weakens and breaks our sinful and selfish nature, empowering God’s work of grace in our hearts. Yes, dollars leave our pockets, but sin also leaves our hearts. And that’s a great deal. Priceless actually.

Giving Praises God’s character

Giving in a right spirit is an act of worship. It is rendering God a tribute of praise. It is saying, “You gave me everything, and here is a small expression of my gratitude and praise for all your good gifts. It is only a token, a sample of what I really feel, but you know the heart that lies behind it.” David sang, “What shall I render to the Lord / For all his benefits toward me?” (Ps. 116:12).

Giving Increases our Happiness

“But, but,” you say, “it sounds as if God gets all the benefits from my giving. What blessing do I get from it?” If the previous seven reasons don’t make your heart overflow with joy, here’s one more that should do it. God has baked blessing into giving, as even secular research is confirming. Here are some findings from recent research:

  • Giving away a tenth of our income improves personal finances: “Researchers compared tithers to non-tithers using nine financial health indicators, and found that tithers were better off in every category.”
  • Spending money on someone else makes you happier: Students who were randomly assigned to spend money on others experienced greater happiness than those assigned to spend money on themselves.
  • Spending money on shared experiences produces more happiness than selfish purchases: Money spent on doing things together produced more happiness than buying things
  • Giving increases health and well-being: It gives a sense of meaning, increases physical activity, strengthens social bonds, improves immune function, and even slows down aging.
  • Giving increases love for and from others: Giving connects people and cultivates a sense of community.
  • Giving money or time to charity increases subjective well-being: The emotional return as much as is enjoyed by a doubling of household income
  • Volunteering reduces depression: Such giving of time also increases longevity, raises mood, improves time management skills, and enhances relationships.


Get joy from God’s joy: We can get great joy in the way giving makes God happy. He rejoices when his character is exhibited, his Gospel is illustrated, his provision is trusted, his love is exercised, his kingdom is advanced, his people are holier, and his character is praised.

Get joy from your heart: We can get joy in how God’s blessing on giving improves our finances, changes our spending purposes and patterns, increases our health and psychology, grows love for others. improves our emotions, and reduces depression.



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Parents: Be open with your kids about your finances so that you can disciple them in their finances and teach them how to honor God.

Teens: Give to God from the first income you get. It does not get easier the more you earn.

Young Married: Save 20% of your income rather than budgeting to spend 100% of income. This will give you margin for the inevitable surprises and build savings for family and retirement.

Lazy: You are stealing glory from God, money from your employer, and joy from yourself.

Wealthy: Enjoy without guilt and give without resentment.

Seniors: How are you stewarding your assets? There are many Christian organizations, like the Barnabas Foundation that can help you apply this command in your death.

Thieves: Remember the thief on the cross gave nothing but got full salvation (Luke 23:33-43)

Discipleship: Watch out for new Financial discipleship program from Pastor Jean.

Prayer: Giver of every good and perfect gift, give us your giving heart so that we can give with more heart and so get more for our hearts.


1. What makes it hard for you to give to God and others?

2. When have you found pleasure in giving?

3. In what ways did the width of this command surprise you? Which of the seven practices are you strong in and which are you weak in?

4. How does this command apply to your stewardship of the environment?

5. How did this sermon change your view of God?

6. How will this sermon change your work ethic, financial planning, giving?