Sin is a concept which has often held me captive.
I struggle with the fact that although I am saved through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, I can’t break free of the grip of sin.
Shouldn’t I be able to resist temptation? Shouldn’t I be able to choose right over wrong every.single.time? Shouldn’t I be able to take the following verses, hide them in my heart, and always, always follow the “way out”?
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. I Corinthians 10:13
How many times will God forgive me? Won’t he eventually get tired of my sin? Will he be so disappointed with His child that he will turn away from me? Will I ever be good enough for his grace? How can I look myself in the mirror and not see a dirty, sinful, waste of skin? Is that what God sees when He looks at me?
My favorite historical theologian, Martin Luther, also struggled with the concept of sin.
As a monk, he struggled with the same notion that I struggle with– that although we know better and strive to make the right choices for God, we fail.
As a failure to the flesh, Luther looked for every possible way to “work” himself free of the burden of sin. He followed every sacrament of the Church (he was a Catholic monk, after all) and attempted to submit to every requirement of grace that the Church presented. He even admitted to extreme fear of and anger at God, in whom he saw no possible way to achieve redemption. After all, to Luther, God judged all from a throne of righteousness that was so far out of the reach of humankind that nothing could save us except mercy, which the God he understood may or may not give.
It wasn’t until a fellow monk encouraged Luther to read the New Testament for himself that Luther discovered the path to freedom.
Within the New Testament, Luther found freedom in the blood of Christ. He realized that nothing, nothing, NOTHING else can free us from the bondage of sin except a belief that the Lamb of God was sacrificed on our behalf.
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17
Luther discovered the truth that would underlie everything else that he would do, including taking on the Catholic Church for the incredible amount of hypocrisy and faithlessness he saw there– sparking the Protestant Reformation.
What Luther discovered is a simple truth– that nothing we DO can achieve grace. Nothing we DO can put us before a righteous God who will forgive. Nothing we DO will ever be good enough.
It’s all about justification by faith alone– that faith in the sacrifice of the Son is what provides our righteousness, our redemption, and grace from the God who sent his son to be tortured and die with the sin of the world on him.
When I sin, I fall short of the glory. When I sin, I separate myself from the holiness of God, yet Christ took my sin and freely justified me. All I have to do is believe it.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-24
When I feel unworthy, when I want to DO something to prove to God that I am truly sorry and want to turn from my sin, I have to remember that God already DID it for me.
I am free in Him through his son’s death on the cross. When he looks at me, he sees a child redeemed.
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
Share with me: What is the hardest part of being a Christian to you? What theological or Biblical ideas do you struggle with?
**If you’ve never seen the movie Luther starring Joseph Fiennes, I highly recommend it.