by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. —Isaiah 53:6
Every one has turned to his own way. By adding the term "every one," he descends from a universal statement, in which he included all, to a special statement, that every individual may consider in his own mind if it be so; for a general statement produces less effect upon us than to know that it belongs to each of us in particular. Let "everyone," therefore, arouse his conscience, and present himself before the judgment seat of God, that he may confess his wretchedness.
Moreover, what is the nature of this "going astray" the Prophet states more plainly. It is, that every one has followed the way which he had chosen for himself, that is, has determined to live according to his own fancy; by which he means that there is only one way of living uprightly, and if any one "turn aside" from it, he can experience nothing but "going astray."
He does not speak of works only, but of nature itself, which always leads us astray. For if we could by natural instinct or by our own wisdom, bring ourselves back into the path, or guard ourselves against going astray, Christ would not be needed by us. Thus in ourselves we are all undone unless Christ (John 8:36) sets us free; and the more we rely on our wisdom or industry, the more dreadfully and the more speedily do we draw down destruction on ourselves.
And so the Prophet shows what we are before we are regenerated by Christ; for all are involved in the same condemnation. "There is none righteous, none that understandeth, none that seeketh God. All have turned aside, and have become unprofitable. There is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psa. 14:3). All this is more fully explained by Paul (Rom. 3:10).
And Jehovah hath laid on him. Here we have a beautiful contrast. In ourselves we are scattered; in Christ we are gathered together. By nature we go astray, and are driven head-long to destruction; in Christ we find the course by which we are conducted to the harbor of salvation. Our sins are a heavy load; but they are laid on Christ, by whom we are freed from the load. Thus when we were ruined and, being estranged from God, were hastening to hell, Christ took upon him the filthiness of our iniquities, in order to rescue us from everlasting destruction; This must refer exclusively to guilt and punishment; for he was free from sin (Heb. 4:15; I Peter 2:22). Let every one, therefore, diligently consider his own iniquities, that he may have a true relish of that grace, and may obtain the benefit of the death of Christ. —Commentaries
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.