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In an extraordinary letter from Martin Luther to his friend Philip Melanchthon, Luther admonishes him, “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”
At first glance, that advice doesn’t seem to ring true. But in order to understand Luther’s advice, we need to look more closely at the context of what he’s saying. Luther wasn’t prescribing sinning as an action. Instead, he was owning up to the fact that we should be courageous in spite of our sins, setting aside the fear that God will withdraw his grace from you. His letter amounts to a reminder: No matter what you’ve done, if you are in Christ, grace is always stronger than sin. Even if you sin 10,000 times a day, our sins would be powerless in the face of God’s overwhelming mercy.
This isn’t to say that living rightly doesn’t matter. Paul was quick to address this when he asked. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may increase? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it” (Romans 6:1).
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to imitate Christ, to love God and love our neighbor. But let’s face it, as long as we’re alive in the world, we’re going to fall into sin. But we shouldn’t let the fear of this eventuality overwhelm us so that we lose sight of God’s faithfulness. Instead, confess your sin to God, and believe in his grace all the more. Karl Barth put it this way: “Scripture prohibits us from taking sin more seriously or even as seriously as grace.”
Every Christian knows that it’s not good to sin. But many believers need to be reminded of how to deal with sin once we fall into it. What’s the answer? Confess your sins fully before God, ask earnestly for forgiveness, approach the throne of grace with confidence, and trust boldly that his grace is ready, waiting and will be more than enough.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.