This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
1 Timothy 1:15
It is an easy thing to see what others do and to lay blame, point the finger, and criticize. It is also an easy thing to look at another’s faults without also seeing one’s own. This habit is common to all sinners. We notice what others do or do not do that is not to our liking, and we immediately make judgments. We compare ourselves with others, using our own criteria as the measuring stick.
God works differently. St. Paul the Apostle writes that, “There is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11). He judges all the same with the same judgment—guilty as charged, having fault, condemned (Romans 3:23).
This means, that before God, as the Bible says, “There is none righteous” (Romans 3:10). All of us are in the same boat. One is not better than another. Nor is one worse than another. There are only sinners here.
But the Good News is that, because of Christ, God does not hold that damning, condemning, judging sin against you. Though everyone stands before God a sinner, on account of Christ, that very same sin which condemns no longer condemns. Christ has born that judgment for you. He did this on the cross when He was crucified. There, He took away your sins that they no longer have the last word over you (Romans 6:14). You still struggle with them, and with judging others as more sinful than yourself, but in light of God’s Law, all are humbled (or will be), either at the present, or in time to come. Thus do we learn that it is not what we say of others that is final (nor of what others say about us), but what God says. This and this alone is of lasting significance.
If God calls you a sinner, so you must be. If God declares you forgiven, so also must you be.
Therefore, instead of denying the truth as God so readily reveals through His Holy Word for your salvation, believe it. Believe that you are a sinner as God makes known to you through His inescapable Law. See yourselves as God sees you according to His Word.
Also, and especially, believe yourselves to be as God declares you to be on account of Jesus-forgiven, blessed of God, God’s own child. All this apart from what you have done or have not done. All this because of Jesus (Romans 4).
“Do not permit your sins to be merely sins; let them be your very own sins. That is, believe that Christ was given not only for the sins of others but also for yours. Hold to this firmly, and do not let anything deprive you of this sweet definition of Christ, which brings joy even to the angels in heaven: that Christ is, in the strictest of terms, not a Moses, a tormentor, or an executioner but the Mediator for sins and the Donor of grace, who gave Himself, not for our merits, holiness, glory, and holy life but for our sins.” (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p38).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me faith to believe that your Son’s death covers all of my sins. Help me not to doubt or despair Your grace in Christ towards me, an undeserving sinner, because of the sin that I know or feel. Strengthen my confidence in You. Amen.
Filed under: Confession & Absolution-The Office of the Keys, Devotions, Justification & Sanctification-The Christian Faith & Good Works, Law & Gospel-Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth | Tagged: forgiveness, Gospel, Judgment, sinner |