Friday, June 13, 2008

A misunderstanding of a Lutheran idea

One of the great, classic, Lutheran ideas is that of "simul justus and peccator" - simultaneously saint and sinner. We are probably quite familiar with this - it is the truth that while I live on this earth - even while I believe, I will still end up sinning. It will happen - thus it is my duty to repent - indeed, as the first of the 95 theses teach, my entire life will be one of repentance.

But here is the problem, the place where we can misunderstand things. This isn't an excuse to sin. This isn't a shrugging of the shoulders and saying, "Eh, to err is human after all." That's not the point. This is not an excusing of sin, but meant to be a reminder of how pervasive sin is in our lives, how much it can dominate. It is a reminder that we will always have to struggle against our sinful nature as long as we live.

I don't think we teach that as well as we ought. I think we can tend to minimize sin. We forget how seductive it is, how it starts to shape and twist our lives. This Sunday's Gospel text is Luke 6:36-42 - be merciful as your Father is merciful, judge not, lest ye be judged, forgive and you shall be forgiven. Sin is a monumental impact in our lives, and we are to struggle against it.

And how can you tell sin's impact in your life? Do you like to judge and look down upon others? Do you like to condemn - that is do you wish that they would be punished, that they would get their just deserts? Is forgiving hard for you, do you cherry pick whom you give to, and only when it seems profitable to you (even if that profit is only to make you feel good)?

That's sin, sin rearing its ugly head, sin trying to dominate all aspects of our lives. And it needs to be fought against, it needs to be struggled against - and it needs to be repented of. Come let us fix our eyes, not on the wrongs done us, not on how things aren't how we wish they were, not on our bitterness or hurt, but let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who by going to the Cross is able to pour out the Father's mercy upon us, and indeed, able to make us merciful, both now and for eternity!

1 comment:

Paul McCain said...

Well said, Pastor. I've noticed once again a resurgence in the Lutheran blogosphere of mistaken notions about the life of Christian sanctification.

There are a group of converts to Lutheranism who, freed from the legalism of American Evangelicalism, think that the law has no place in their lives as regenerate Christians.

I've seen the devastating consequences of this antinomian approach to Christianity.

We are to be zealous for good works, precisely because we are covered in the righteousness of Christ.