Many Christians are burdened with the the untrue idea that we have to be perfect for God to love us.Of course we know this idea not to be true but it still feels like we have to live it out. It seems like all we remember are the times we have screwed up and not what Jesus has done for us. In response to this so many of us feel this dread when we think of God/Church/Jesus because we don’t feel like the super Christians we should be. Our lives aren’t what they should be because we are weighed down by guilt.
If there is anyone who knew something about guilt it was Martin Luther. Luther was a German monk who was converted out of Catholicism. In his monk days he would berate himself for the sins he committed but when he started studying the scriptures in order to lecture the University of Wittenberg he found that tht Bible taught he was saved by grace through faith. So Christians stand before God only because of what God has done for us! This is great news!
But this begs the question what should we do about our current state? We are forgiven but we are also sinful. What should we think about ourselves when we are caught up in sin? Here is what Luther says:
“A Christian is at once a sinner and a saint; he is wicked and pious at the same time. For so far as our persons are concerned, we are in sins and are sinners in our own name. But Christ brings us another name, in which there is the forgiveness of sins, that for His sake sins are remitted and pardoned. So both statements are true: There are sins, for the old Adam is not entirely dead as yet; yet the sins are not there. The reason is this: For Christ’s sake God does not want to see them. I have my eyes on them. I feel and see them well enough. But there is Christ, commanding that I be told I should repent, that is, confess myself a sinner and believe the forgiveness of sins in His name. For repentance, remorse, and knowledge of sin, though necessary, is not enough; faith in the forgiveness of sins in the name of Christ must be added. But where there is such faith, God no longer sees any sins; for then you stand before God, not in your name but in Christ’s name.” – Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian
The great news is that wherever you are, if you have faith in Jesus your sins are forgiven and God sees you as perfect. Therefore it would be wrong to come away from reading this passage of Luther’s remembering your own sin more than what the saviour has done for you! The first step in overcoming sin is to remember and take hold of who you are and what Christ has done for you. Only when you have remembered those things will you be able to deal with your sin under grace.
Are you perfect in your own strength? No. But God has made you perfect through the death and Resurrection of his son. Therefore live in response to what he has done.
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