Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cannot and Try

I think I have finally figured out what it is that ultimately gets someone labelled a "soft-antinomian" today.  It is the assertion that one cannot fulfill the Law of God perfectly and completely.  This is the teaching that is so offensive that it must be denigrated and derided.

Unfortunately, it's the truth.

You're not going to be perfect in this life.  You will remain sinful as long as you are in the sinful flesh.  And everything you do will be tainted and tinged and flawed.  Even your righteous deeds as filthy rags.  And you will never be able to address God as one who is unlike all these other people - you will always be the sinner who needs mercy... which is okay because Jesus comes to the sinners and washes, cleans, forgives, and raises them.

But here is where the complaint about obedience comes in.  Since we are now in Christ, shouldn't we obey?  Of course we should.  In fact, we are bound to bring forth good works - God will work His good through you.  Yet, we still in this life remain unprofitable servants. (AC 6)  This is not a matter of perfection.

And this is where the matters hinge.  Some people are afraid that if we don't assert that we CAN, that means that we won't even TRY when it comes to the realm of good works.  This is because these folks do not understand warfare.

We are engaged in spiritual warfare.  We are engaged in a battle against ourselves, the world, and Satan.  And it's a doozy - with might of ours could naught be done.  This is why we need Christ to be our champion, to win for us salvation.

Day by day, as we live in this warfare, we will come up across things against which we will lose - but in warfare that doesn't mean you stop.  It means you fight all the more desperately.  Consider an image: Let us say that five armed men break into my house attempting to murder my wife and family.  I would not be able to stop them - I could not do so.  The command to protect my family given to me by God in my vocation as father and husband would be impossible to do... but I'd sure try.  And I'd try hard.  And I'd fail hard. 

We are fighting a constant battle against sin and death in our own lives, and we are going to go down hard.  We are going to die.  Our strength will fail.  That's just the way it is.

"But what of Christ and His strength!  Don't we get His victory?"  Yes, it is ours now, but now only dimly as though a mirror.  It is only later, at that happy then that we will see it face to face.  Strangely, when my attacks failed and one of my home invaders ended my life, that would be when I'd see the Victory of Christ - not in my earthly victory, but in the life of the world to come, where my wife and children would be safe as well.  Doesn't mean I'd fight less here and now - but Christ's good for me far surpasses even my failed.  For all the saints, who from their labors rest!

Too often we want to make Jesus a tool for life here rather than life itself, and life everlasting with Him.  We want to live by possible theory tossed out by Jules in Pulp Fiction - that we are just in an evil world and Mr. 9mm is the Shepherd protecting our righteous backside -- where Jesus is a tool that we in our righteousness use for our own benefit.

That's not the truth.  We are sinners, we are tyranny, but we do try hard to be the Shepherd.

And we fail.  Often.  Never going to come a service where I won't need the confession and absolution before the service -- well, at least until I'm at the eternal service. 

And that's okay.  That's actually for my good.  God's Word will show me my sin and then show me my Savior, and rather than fretting over what I can and can't do, my failures and my so-called success, I learn to live in what He has done for me and what He will bring me to.

We have victory now - but we will experience it and see it and know it in full only in the Last Day.  Let no one rob you of that hope my tricking you into expecting perfect obedience now!

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