Martin Luther on Sin

“Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want.”

Martin Luther

For more Martin Luther quotes see:

Martin Luther Quote on the Psalms #2

A Quote from Martin Luther

Martin Luther on Hope

The Devil’s “D” Words

This is from a Bible study I wrote years ago and it seems to fit with our topic this month.

DECEIT–Satan always seeks to deceive us, and often his falsehoods sound good. “When he lies he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

DOUBT–The devil questions God’s Word and His goodness. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

DIVERSION–Satan draws our attention the wrong things and makes them appear more attractive and appealing than the right things. “For God knows that when you eat of it (the fruit) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:5-6

DISCOURAGEMENT–Satan uses our problems and difficulties to depress us and make us give up. He tried this with Job. “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

DELAY–Someone once said “if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” He tries to make us put off doing what is good, so that we never do it at all. “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” ….If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:13-17

DIVISION–We are stronger together, so Satan seeks to separate us from other believers. In his letter to the Roman church, Paul says: ” I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ…” Romans 16:17-18

The result of all these “D” words is another one: DISOBEDIENCE— and we all know what that leads to:

“For the wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23a

Thankfully that’s not the end of the story–

but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23b

Satan may deceive, divert, discourage, delay and divide, but he will not defeat us. God has the last word. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

For more about disobedience see:

It Started in the Garden

,Grieving the Spirit

Against You Only

A Thousand Tongues

O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing was used in a recent worship service I attended. It was one of the more than six thousand hymns written by Charles Wesley and was originally titled “For the Anniversary of One’s Conversion.” Part of any conversion experience is the realization that we are sinners, and we can’t stop sinning. The only remedy is a Savior, and Wesley recognizes and proclaims that truth in this well known hymn.

In May 1738, Charles Wesley was suffering from pleurisy, and during this time he was plagued with doubts about his faith. On May 21st, he attend a Bible study where he listened to a number of testimonies. He was deeply moved by this experience and considered it to be the moment that he turned to Christ.

Eleven years later, he wrote a 18 stanza poem about his conversion. It is thought to be inspired by Peter Bohler, an influential Moravian leader, who said “Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ Jesus with all of them.”

For more hymns by Charles Wesley see these posts:

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Rejoice!

Deeper by Dane C. Orland — Book Review

Subtitled, “Real Change for Real Sinners”, this book is about the process of sanctification. At first, I found it a bit simplistic — but that is actually the author’s point. We all need to go back to the basics in order to grow. Real, positive growth happens when we go deeper and deeper into the basics that we may have known for years.

The first step, if we’re growing in Christ, is to know what Christ is like. Then we need to despair — despair of being able to save ourselves on our own. We have to see and admit the sin that is always with us. When we collapse into the love of Christ, we are united with Him. We’re transformed, and our future is no longer bound up in the sinful Adam –we’re a new creation in Christ. All of this is the necessary foundation that leads to the dynamics by which believers change. We have been acquitted, or justified and are now reconciled with God.

The author then turns toward the question of how we practically, absorb the truth of our salvation into our daily lives. He focuses on two tools which he considers most important — the Bible and prayer. Our relationship with Christ must be nurtured and fed.

So, yes, this is a book about basics, and the most basic instruction is this — Look to Christ. We need to reminded, and to follow His teachings and example every day.

VERDICT: 5 STARS.

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

For more book reviews see these posts:

Pure In Heart by J. Garrett Kell–Book Review

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger–Book Review

Every Which Way to Pray by Joyce Meyer–Book Review

More About Sin

In a previous post I shared a quote about sin from my devotional. Here’s another. The author is W. C. Gannett (1840-1923), a Unitarian minister:

“Yes, this sin which has sent me weary-hearted to bed and desperate in heart to morning work, that has made my plans miscarry until I am a coward, that cuts me off from prayer, that robs the sky of blueness and the earth of spring-time, and the air of freshness, and human faces of friendliness,–this blasting sin which perhaps has made my bed in hell for so long, –-this can be conquered. I do not say annihilated, but better than that, conquered, captured and transformed into a friend: so that I at last shall say, ‘My temptation has become my strength! for to the very fight with it I owe my force.'”

It reminds me of some of the things Paul tells us in his letters:

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sin can separate us from Christ, but it doesn’t have to! When we rely upon God to resist temptation, we become stronger, and closer to Him– and when we fail, we remember that we are clothed in His righteousness.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

Resisting Temptation

In Sunday School this past week, we sang the hymn, Yield Not to Temptation. Horatio R. Palmer (1834-1907), an American musician, wrote it shortly after the Civil War. One day while working on a music theory exercise, the idea for this hymn suddenly came to him in a burst of inspiration. He quickly wrote it down, and very few edits were needed.

Or course, this hymn reminded me of the monthly theme. Sometimes we sin unwittingly, but often we are tempted (sometimes over and over) until we finally give in. We fail to turn to our real source of strength –God– for help in resisting sinful desires. This hymn is a bracing reminder that we are not alone in our struggle with Satan.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

For more about temptation see these posts:

Pure In Heart by J. Garrett Kell–Book Review

Grade Yourself

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I implore you– Part 2

Free From Sins

My husband, who is a pastor, has a favorite kind of “call and response” he has taught the members of our congregation. It goes like this:

Question: What do sinners do?

Response: They sin.

We are sinners and no matter how hard we try, we will continue to sin. It’s our nature. However, we can be freed from the burden of our sins when we given them to Jesus. He can do what we cannot. I am reminded of this hymn by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889). Listen and give your sins to the only One who can carry them for you.

For more hymns about the way Jesus frees us from sin see:

Just As I Am

An Uncertain Life

,Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Wash Away Your Sins

The church I attended recently used the hymn, Today Your Mercy Calls Us” as their processional at the beginning of the service. It goes along beautifully with the theme this month. How wonderful it is to know that our sins have already been washed away. Listen and give thanks.

For more hymns see these posts:

Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus

Children of the Heavenly Father

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Who is Worthy?

Recently the 4th and 5th chapters of Revelation have come up several times on different occasions, so I decided to do a lectio divina reading of those two sections of scripture. What stood out for me in chapter 5 is this phrase …. “Who is worthy….?”

There is great anguish in heaven because nobody is found worthy to open the scroll that will describe the fate of the world. The reason no one is worthy is simple and can be boiled down to one word — SIN. This is a motif that is repeated over and over in the Bible.. For example is Psalm 14:

“They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” Psalm 14:3

And Romans 3:23

“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The Jewish people believed that if they could keep just the Sabbath perfectly three times in a row, the Messiah would come. They couldn’t do it. He came only through the grace and mercy of God.

You’re not worthy; I’m not worthy; but thankfully there is One who is: Jesus, the Lamb of God. He took away our sins and set us free to be children of God. He holds the world in His hands. Thanks be to God! Amen!

For more about the book of Revelation see:

Revelation

Worthy Is the Lamb

Perhaps Today

The Redemption of Bobby Love by Bobby and Cheryl Love–Book Review

This memoir is a story of sin and grace.

The Redemption of Bobby Love: A Story of Faith, Family, and Justice

The sin — Bobby Love’s true name is Walter Miller. As a young man Bobby became a thief. He graduates from small time theft to robbing banks, and is eventually arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison for armed robbery. When his first request for parole is denied, he escapes, and spends 40 years hiding his true identity.

The grace–Bobby, through hard work and a changed attitude, marries, has children, coaches Little League and teaches Sunday School. He hopes his past is behind him, but the toll of living a lie is high, and eventually the law catches up with him. To avoid revealing the end of Bobby’s story, I won’t say more. However, I will say that Bobby’s life is changed through his faith in God, which reminds me of something William Barclay once said, “no one can make a bad man good except Christ.” That’s true of all of us because we are all sinners, and anything good we are able to accomplish comes about through the action of the Holy Spirit within us.

VERDICT: 3 STARS. This was an easy read, but not very deep.

For more spiritual memoirs see:

Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey–Book Review

In My Grandmother’s House by Yolanda Pierce–Book Review

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken–Book Review