To have justice, mercy and to be humble requires the Gospel

Micah 6:1a, 6-8

Hear now what the LORD says: ...

With what shall I come before the LORD, And bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, With calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

“There is hardly any one passage in [Scripture] more generally misunderstood.” [John Newton]

The implementation of these verses cannot be undertaken without the gospel; this is why these verses are generally, more often than not, misunderstood.

In the words of Alistair Begg: "I think it is one of the misunderstood passages: because of how it is attempted without the gospel, because of how it may be proclaimed in place of the gospel, and because it needs to be understood that it is only possible by the gospel." He goes on: "By the gospel. Micah is not here charting a path as a means to acceptance with God. And I, for one, am really thankful. "

The following are taken from Alstair Begg:

Number one, “to do justly” —that is, to act in such a way that is the reversal of all that was taking place; that it means doing justly in accord with the will and purpose of God as he has both manifested it and as he has revealed it to us in Scripture.
[Number two] “To love mercy.” A heart attitude. If doing justly is the action, then loving mercy, or loving kindness, is the attitude of the heart.
[NUmber three] To “walk humbly.” In other words, to walk in submission to God’s will. In New Testament terms, it’s Romans 12:1 "to offer your body as a living sacrifice that is an acceptable form of worship to him."

On these verses Newton writes:
"1. “To do justly.” We are by nature attached to worldly goods, and wholly influenced by selfish principles. But faith in Jesus communicates new motives, views, and aims to the soul: it teaches us to have our treasure in heaven; to sit loose to the world; to be satisfied with that station and competence which Divine Providence has allotted us; and to love our neighbours as ourselves, because they are our fellow-sinners, and are capable of being called to a participation with us in the honourable relation and privilege of the children of God. Upon these principles the practice of justice is attainable, but upon no other; for though there are many characters honourable and blameless in the outward concerns of life, and in the judgment of men, there is no person upon earth who does or can love or practise justice in its full extent, till he has received the Spirit of Christ, and lives upon him by faith, for wisdom and strength from day to day.

2. “To love mercy.” None can truly love it but those who have tasted it. When your hearts feel the comforts of God’s pardoning love, you will de-light to imitate him. When you can truly rejoice that he has freely forgiven you that immense debt, which is expressed by ten thousand talents (Matth. 18: 24), you will have no desire to take your fellow-servant by the throat for a few pence. This sense of God’s goodness, and the continual need you find of his renewed mercy from day to day, will soften your spirit (if you are a believer), disarm and gradually weaken every proud thought that would plead for the exercise of anger and resentment towards those who have offended you. You will be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; you will put on (as the beloved of God) bowels of meekness (Col. 3: 12), long-suffering and compassion, forbearing and forgiving, if you have ought against any; because God, for Christ’s sake, has freely forgiven you. If you find this practice difficult, it is owing partly to the remaining depravity of your nature, and partly because you have had but a faint sense of his mercy. Pray for a more powerful manifestation of it, and you will do better; mercy will be your delight.

3. "To walk humbly." "Can two walk together except they are agreed?" Amos 3: 3. When Christ is your peace, you will delight in God; you will set him before you, commune with him, study to please him, and to keep all his commandments. This is to walk with God; and you will walk humbly, remembering how much you owe to free grace, and how far you fall short in your best endeavours. These considerations, impressed by the Holy Spirit, will humble you, will keep you from being high in your own esteem, wise in your own conceit, and from seeking great things for yourself. You will be habitually thankful when the Lord gives, content when he withholds, patient when he afflicts. You will confess yourself unworthy of the smallest mercies you possess, and acknowledge in your heaviest trials, that he has laid far less upon you than your iniquities have deserved.
This is the pattern we are to copy after, and this is the certain tendency and effect of his grace. A measure of this disposition is found in all who are Christians indeed. Yet we may take shame to ourselves that we are still so far defective in every branch of our duty. Let us stir up ourselves to greater diligence, watchfulness, and prayer, that we may obtain more lively, abiding, and transforming views of that which is our true good, that so we may be enabled to glorify our heavenly Father, and to adorn our profession, by doing justly, lov¬ing mercy, and walking humbly with our God."

[1] John Newton 1830 "No Access to God but by the Gospel of Christ."

[2] Alistar Begg 7 June 2020 "What God Requires Micah 6:1-8"


Posted: 21 Jun 2020