Martin Luther on Sin

“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands.”

Martin Luther

For more posts on sin, follow these links:

What is Sin?

Saint and Sinner? Really?

How Do We Know Our Sins are Forgiven?

12 Steps for Sinners

Sin Has Consequences

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What is Sin?

I’ve heard sin described in different ways.  Obviously, whenever we disobey one of God’s laws, we sin. Sin has been called “missing the mark.”  The literal meaning of the Latin word for sin is “curved in on itself.” So sin is being self-centered, considering only our own wants and needs.  In a recent sermon, my husband described sin as our “condition.”  That’s a bit different, but I liked it.  Because of the original sin that we’re born with, sin is simply our condition, no different from any other physical disease or abnormality we deal with.

For example, I have slightly high blood sugar.  That is my “condition.”  Last year I took a Prevent Diabetes class, hoping to control it.  For an entire year I learned about what I could do.  I lost weight, added exercise to my daily routine and began to eat healthier foods.  I was convinced that my hard work would have the results I wanted — lower blood sugar!  Unfortunately my recent tests revealed that my blood sugar levels remained the same.  My efforts did have some effects — it is certainly better for me to weigh less, exercise and eat a healthier diet–but they couldn’t change my underlying condition.  It is evidently hereditary and I can only hope to hold it in check.  I’ll never get rid of it.

The same is true of sin.  It’s part of our DNA.  Sinners are simply what we are.  We can study the Bible, pray and attend worship services.  We can do good deeds and serve others.  All of these things will make us healthier spiritually, and maybe even physically…. but, will they change our condition?  No.  We’ll still be sinners, no matter how hard we try.  We just can’t be saved on our own, and we can’t look down on other sinners, because we’re all in the same fix.

So, what is the solution?  Well, admit our sin and our helplessness to change it.  Give thanks that we have a Savior and so we don’t have to take care of the “sin condition” on our own.  Then in thanks and gratitude, do those healthy, spiritual things that will lessen the effects of our sinful natures;  things that will help us and help others.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-15

For further discussion on sin, you can go to these posts:

Freedom from Tyranny + Freedom from Sin

Saints and Sinners

Saint and Sinner? Really?

Katelyn’s Question #3

What is the basic moral nature of mankind?

This is a continuation of the following posts:

Is There a God? If So, What is God Like?– Or Katelyn’s Question #1

Katelyn’s Question #2

 

Sin is the basic human nature.  The term “original sin” is used to describe the tendency to sin which is born into all human beings.  This sin is inherited from Adam and Eve, because they ate from the tree of knowledge, against God’s command.  When Adam rebelled, his nature and that of all of mankind after him became sinful.  Romans 5:12 says:

“…sin entered the world through one man.”

Everyone was born with a sinful nature, but Romans 5:19 says:

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

The answer to original sin is redemption and salvation.  Through Jesus, the Son of God, all Christians, and those to come have been redeemed, or saved from sin.  Jesus was sacrificed on the cross to deliver us from sin.  There is no other way to overcome sin than by the power of the Holy Spirit, a power that is received when one becomes a child of God.  Christians are to not only recognize their sinful nature, but repent and ask for forgiveness of their sins.  Proverbs 28:13 says:

“Whoever conceals their sin does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

Original sin is something all humans are born with, and it brings the consequences of ignorance, death and suffering.  Man is only saved from sin by the grace of God.  The Bible provides many verses that speak of redemption and remind Christians that their sins are forgiven through the death of Jesus.  Isaiah 44:22 says:

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.  Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”

 

Extravagant Love

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at this feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.  Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”  Luke 7:36-38

These verses were part of our Sunday School lesson last week.  The point of the study was that we are not only to love Jesus, but to love him extravagantly, like the sinful woman in the story.  The Pharisee was offended by the woman’s actions.  He thought to himself,

“If this man were a prophet, he would know who was touching him and what kind of woman she is –that she is a sinner.”  Luke 39

He didn’t realize that he also was a sinner, and in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.  No matter how “good” we are, we fall far short of God’s standards.

Some of the questions from the study were very challenging to me, so I thought I would share them here.

  • In what ways could we express extravagant devotion to Jesus today?

Those in class listed things like prayer and helping others.  However, if the key word is extravagant, then shouldn’t we not only pray, but pray constantly and fervently?  Shouldn’t we not just give to the church and to the needy, but give sacrificially?

  • With whom do you relate more: Simon the Pharisee, who knows the Bible and is very active for God, or this woman, who is recklessly abandoned to love Him?  Explain.

Most of us wanted to say we fell somewhere in between.  This is a hedging way of saying, we’re not really there yet.  In honesty, we probably fall closer to the Pharisee on the spectrum of devotion to Jesus.  This is something we need to admit and work on.

What about you, dear reader?  Is your love for your Lord and Savior extravagant?

Stinkin’ Thinkin’

It seems to me that there is a lot of what a friend of mine once called stinkin’ thinkin’ going around these days.  We humans are unfortunately prone to believe what we want to believe whether it’s logical or not.  A young lady I once worked with refused to read a book I suggested  because the scientist who authored it did not accept the theory of evolution.  She said she believed in evolution, and didn’t want to read anything that was contrary to her belief.  Well, okay!  Nothing like closing your mind to other opinions.  I think this kind of reasoning is what’s behind so much of the anger and hate among people today.  We’ve decided that not only are the people we disagree with wrong, they’re BAD.  Only a BAD person would disagree with certain things.  There is no need to consider other opinions because the one we hold is right and all others are bad. The fact of the matter is we’re all BAD and the correct name for that is SINFUL.  But that’s another thing we don’t like to mention these days.  We prefer to say we just make mistakes.

If you’re wondering what got me on this rant — and I admit, it is something of a rant– here it is.  My daughter, who recently had a baby, has been telling me about some of the “dos and don’ts” of pregnancy and young motherhood.  She says, no pregnant lady these days would dare to be seen in public with a cigarette or a glass of wine;  she would be surely censured for not caring about her unborn child.  People she doesn’t know well have come to her and said, “You’d better be breastfeeding!  It’s what’s best for the baby!”  A clerk in the baby store told her, “Don’t use a crib that’s been passed on to you — those things are dangerous and have been recalled!”  Now some or most of things are correct, however here’s my question …. why does a nation that allows abortion practically up until the moment of birth care so much?  If you can abort your child, why does it matter if you smoke, drink, bottle feed or use unsafe equipment?  Isn’t that also the mother’s choice?  Why is an unborn child, or a newborn for that matter, worthy to be protected so vigorously if you want it, and destroyed if you don’t?  What kind of illogical stinkin’ thinkin’ is this?  If anybody can explain it to me, please do.

All Photos

I don’t think people who are pro-abortion are bad, but I think they’re misguided. They’ve been convinced that in order to be “politically correct” they should be okay with abortion. After all, women deserve to have “control of their own bodies.”  I think they’ve closed their mind and denied a reality they don’t want to look at. I know that many women have abortions because it is the easiest thing to do;  they may be afraid, alone or desperate and abortion fixes the immediate problem.  I sympathize with their plight; but we need to help  them to make a good choice instead of encouraging them to opt for an easy way out. We all need to examine our opinions carefully instead of blindly accepting the dictates of our culture. Rant over.  Get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

 

This Is Our Time – Book Review

This review is longer than usual because this book deserves your attention.

Trevin Wax is a well-known evangelical millennial and after reading this book, I can see why.  He manages to take modern day situations and show how they relate to God’s word.

Starting with the introduction, Trevin engrosses the mind and engages the thought process by telling us that our neighbor is not where the battle is, but rather the battle is with the lies that are told by the powers and principalities that engage us daily through the media. There are 8 chapters in the book.  The first 4 deal with the habits that impact us on a day to day basis.  The last 4 are based on the larger myths that animate our society. Every single chapter holds a wealth of information that opened my eyes to things that I have been doing and not even been aware that I was doing them.  I enjoyed this book so much that I am going to give a chapter by chapter review.

Chapter 1 deals with how our cell phones, internet practices, and even our friends can lead us to have a formed opinion instead of an informed opinion of ourselves, by narrowing our information intake to model our “Christian beliefs.” This constant affirmation of our views leads us to the myth that our “beliefs” are always right.

Chapter 2 is about our interaction with movies, TV shows, etc.  As most of us realize, a lot of the things we watch are fictional but the constant immersion into this alternate reality can pervert our true reality.  Often, these movies and shows tell us the lie that our fulfillment is found not in God but in emotional and material things.

Chapter 3 – This chapter addresses how we use society’s goals to map out our future.  Often, doing that leads us on a faulty path away from God.  God’s word leads us on a true path with a glorious ending.

Chapter 4 – Our all-time favorite myth of all, shopping and material things can make us happy.  We have turned our year into one shopping event after another.  Instead of being thankful for what we have in November, we are planning to buy more on Black Friday so we can be happier.  Ads that target our longing to be accepted through the labels we wear, the car we drive or the newest electronic gadget have turned shopping into a substitute “Religious” experience.

In these first four chapters, there were several quotes that stood out.

“The primary myth the smartphone tells you every day is that you are the center of the universe.”

“Desensitization is not a sign of spiritual progress but of sensual dullness. Do not confuse the ability to be unfazed by depictions of sin with spiritual maturity.”

“True courage is not deciding for yourself what is “right and wrong” but seeking to discover what truly is right and wrong – for yourself and everybody else.”

“The lie is not that you wouldn’t be okay without it.  The lie is that you’re going to be happier with it.

“The American Dream is about shopping for happiness.  The Kingdom Dream is about experiencing joy in God.”

Now onto the last four chapters.

Chapter 5 – Here the Author reminds us that we are not “at home” on this Earth.  We forget that this is not where we will spend our eternity but it is only where we spend a short tie in the span of our lives.  We, as Christians, have become too much “of the world” and have failed to remember to just be “in the world.”  This chapter also delves into the trap of politics, where sometimes politics become so central to us it becomes our alternate religion.

In Chapter 6 Trevin deals with the thought that we look at marriage as the pinnacle of our relationships, instead of making it the foundation of our lives. He does a great job of delving into common fallacies that pervade our societal beliefs and shows how each and every one of them steers us wrong and why.

Chapter 7 – Another common myth – Sexual freedom is a sign of a mature society and a sign of our freedom.  We have gone from a society and culture where sexual restraint was a sign of maturity into believing that sexual relations are a sign of maturity.

Chapter 8 This chapter is titled “As the World Wobbles” I admit I was confused as to what the content of this chapter would entail.  After reading the chapter, the title fits perfectly. We, as a society, go back and forth with “the world is ending” to “the world is better now than ever.”  Read this chapter for more information on this.

The final four chapters of the book sum up the worldly myths we encounter daily.  Below are my favorite quotes from these chapters.

“So, if you want to put down roots somewhere, put them in the soil of a church.  After all, the gates of hell are shaking not because of an election but because of Easter.”

“All marriages are broken, but what makes a marriage is they are broken together.

“Staking your identity in sexuality or pinning your hopes for happiness on sex is too low of a goal for a human being made in God’s image.”

“We can’t be faithful in our own time if we’re always longing for another.”

As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe it would make a great small group study.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Read it, Study it, Learn from it.  I sure did.

Purchase the book at the link below – You will not be disappointed

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/this-is-our-time-P005789993

 

Saint and Sinner? Really?

Yes, we Lutherans believe that we can be sinners (duh, of course) and at the same time saints, as part of Christ’s body the church.  This is one of the great mysteries of the faith, and part of our justification through the death of Jesus on the cross. We have been freed from the penalty of our sin.  Isn’t this reason enough to repent every day?  Shouldn’t we try to live up to the gift we’ve already been given?

You know you're a Lutheran when... you are saint & sinner and okay with that. #lutheran #humor