Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Plead Christ, not your own merits

Let us remember this [the righteousness apart from works] well in our personal trials, when the devil accuses and terrifies our conscience to bring it to the point of despair. He is the father of lies (Jn 8:44) and the enemy of Christian freedom. At every single moment, therefore, he torments us with false terrors, so that when this freedom has been lost, the conscience is in continual fear and feels guilt and terrors.

I say, when that great dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil, the deceiver of the whole world, who accuses our brethren day and night before God (
Rev 12:9-10) comes to you and accuses you not only of failing to do anything good but of transgressing against the law of God, say: 'You are troubling me with the memory of past sins; in addition, you are telling me that I have not done anything good. This means nothing to me. For if I either trusted in my performance of good works or despaired because I failed to perform them, in either case Christ would be of no avail to me. Therefore whether you place before me my sins or on my good works, I do not care; for I put both of them out of sight and lean solely upon the freedom for which Christ has set me free. This I know to be useful to me! Therefore I shall not render Him useless to me, which is what would happen if I either presumed that I shall attain grace and eternal life because of my good works or despaired of my salvation because of my sins."

--Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Freedom in Christ

Reason does not see how great a matter this [Christian freedom] is (Gal 5:1); but when it is spiritually considered, it is enormous and infinite. No one can grasp with any thought what a great gift it is to have, in place of the Law, sin, death, and a wrathful God, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, eternal life, and a God who is perpetually propitious and full of favor toward us. The papists and all hypocrites boast that they also have the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, a propitious God, etc.; and they also lay claim to freedom. They also promise this to others, but all these things are empty and uncertain. Truly these things are a service of corruption. In temptation they vanish in a moment, because they depend on human works and satisfactions, not on the Word of God, nor on Christ. Therefore it is impossible for them to know what freedom from sin, etc., really is.

By contrast, our freedom has Christ as its foundation, who is the eternal High Priest, who is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Therefore the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and life, and freedom that we have through Him are certain, completed, and eternal, provided that we believe this. If we cling firmly to Christ by faith and stand firm in the freedom with which He has made us free, we shall have those unspeakable gifts. But if we become secure and drowsy, we shall lose them. It is not in vain that Paul commands us to be vigilant and to stand fast, because he knows that the devil is busily engaged in trying to rob us of this freedom that cost Christ so much, and to entangle us again in the yoke of slavery through his ministers.

--Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thoughts on the Unpardonable Sin

Since people in the Group found this helpful in dealing with the Unforgivable Sin, I thought I'd post it here.

1. Blasphemy, by its very definition, must be spoken out
loud. "Blasphemous thoughts" are thoughts that would be blasphemy if uttered. No matter how nasty a thought may be, thoughts cannot be blasphemy unless they are uttered. Even if the thoughts somehow could be blasphemy,...

2..... Jesus says in the very statement in which He speaks of the Unpardonable Sin that ALL blasphemies will be forgiven, whatever their content- but that THE blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be. It is obvious from this that since THE blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not included in "ALL blasphemies," it must be something very different from merely saying something nasty about God (again, thinking something nasty about God, if it is not uttered out loud, cannot be blasphemy in the first place). It is unique.

3. Since Jesus says categorically that He will never, under any circumstances (the Greek says mh ouk, an intensifier that means "No way, Jose!") cast out anyone who comes to Him, it is obvious that nothing that does not prevent a person from wanting to come to Jesus can be the unforgivable sin.

4. It follows from that that a person who wants to be forgiven cannot have committed the unpardonable sin. If you recall, Hebrews makes that very point: a person who has committed the unforgivable sin cannot be restored to repentance.

5. In any event, "pop up" thoughts are not sins of any kind, which means that regardless of their content, they do not need forgiveness. And it is in the nature of OCD that if we fear that "pop up" thoughts come from us, it will "feel" to us like they do. That does not change the fact that if we hate the thought, it either a) is an OCD thought, in which case it is not even a sin; or b) since we hate and fear the thought, we have repented, cannot have committed the unpardonable sin, and are forgiven.

I'm afraid you just can't get around it. Even if a thought you hate or that you wish you hadn't had is sinful, no matter what the origin, all you have to do is to accept Jesus's forgiveness and you have nothing to be afraid of. You have repented. Then, whatever else may happen, you may be certain, first, that you have not committed the unpardonable sin; and secondly, that you are forgiven.

If its OCD, it's not a sin; if it's a sin, it's forgiven- and if you hate the thought, that is proof that you have not committed the unpardonable sin.

Any way you look at it, if you're worried about having committed the Unforgivable Sin, you have no reason to be.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Christian and the Law

Just as the wrath of God cannot terrify us since Christ has set us free from it (Gal 5:1), so the law, sin, etc., cannot accuse and condemn us. Even though the law accuses us and sin terrifies us, they still cannot plunge us into despair, because faith, the victor over the world (1Jn 5:4), quickly declares: 'Those things have nothing to do with me, for Christ has set me free from them.' So also death, which is the most powerful and horrible thing in the world, lies conquered in our conscience through this freedom of the Spirit. Therefore the greatness of Christian freedom should be carefully measured and pondered. These words 'freedom from the wrath of God, from the law, sin, death, etc.,' are easy to say. But to feel the greatness of this freedom and to apply its results to oneself in a struggle, in the agony of conscience, and in practice, is more difficult than anyone can say. "Therefore one's spirit must be trained as a remedy against spiritual depression, so that when it feels the accusation of the law, the terrors of sin, the horror of death, and the wrath of God, it will drive out of sight these gloomy scenes and replace them with the freedom of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, life, and the eternal mercy of God. Although the feeling of these antagonists may be powerful, one must be sure that it will not last long. As the prophet says, 'In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you' (Is 54:8). But doing this is extremely difficult. "Therefore the freedom that Christ has achieved for us is easier to name than it is to believe. If it could be grasped in its certainty by a firm faith, no fury or terror of the world, the law, sin, death, the devil, etc., would be so great that it could not swallow them up as quickly as the ocean swallows a spark. Once and for all this freedom of Christ certainly swallows up and abolishes a whole universe of evils, the law, sin, death, the wrath of God, finally the serpent himself with his head (Gn 3:15); and in their place it establishes righteousness, peace, life, etc. But blessed is the man who understands and believes this."
--Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians