“A Wonderful Way To Remember The Reformation”
Taking an honest and thorough self-examination is an exceedingly hard thing to do. This, however, is a huge part of our Christian lives. May Christ show us how to keep on doing this rightly, and also how self-examination can be a very wonderful way to remember the Reformation.
Sin Is Dangerous
The first part of our scripture text says that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Confessing our sins would be so easy for us except for our human pride. Our pride always wants to tell us that this or that sin we’ve committed is not really a sin. “Other people are just as bad if not worse than we are,” we like to think. Then our hearts become filled up with denials or excuses which gloss over our sins.
Scripture, though, has an entirely different answer for us, and it does not gloss over our sins. It says that if we deny our sins we are deluding ourselves and the truth is not in us. If the truth is not in us then the only thing left is lies. Anyone who denies his sins is lying to himself and most of all he is lying to his all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-loving God. Besides being liars we are also being cowards because we are running away from the truth. Until you are willing to face up to cold, hard reality, you will always be running away from yourself and your sins. The Bible makes it perfectly plain that both liars and cowards will end up in the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.
Martin Luther once said that something even as small as a penny can block our way to heaven if we let it. The smallest sin has that same possibility for us. If we do not face up to the truth about our sins, we erect a barrier between ourselves and our God which could become such that it destroys our faith in Him. The person who does this sets himself outside of God’s grace. From this preserve us, heavenly Father.
God Forgives And Cleanses
Our Scripture verse, however, goes on to give us the other side of this coin. It says that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Yes, if we face up to the truth about our sins, God will act according to His faithfulness and justice. He is indeed faithful because He holds true to His promises. He has said that because of Jesus’ earthly life, suffering and death and empty tomb, He remembers our sins no more.
When we repent of our sins we experience His sweet grace which He gives us in His Word and sacraments. His grace blots out our record of sins against Him because His grace enables Him to make good His promise to forgive us. And He is also just to forgive us because Christ has paid for our sins, and we by faith lay claim to Christ’s payment and His promise of forgiveness. Our sins are indeed covered by Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
But besides forgiving our sins, God also cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He does this by sending us His Holy Spirit. This Spirit lives in our hearts and tells us that God has cast our sins out of His sight. The Spirit also conforms our hearts, minds, and wills so that they agree with Christ more and more day by day. If we keep on letting God work in our hearts, then we will see greater and greater joy, peace, cleansing, and true righteousness happening in us until we meet God face to face in eternal life. This grant us, dear Father in heaven.
How then can this Scripture text help us to remember the Reformation which proclaimed salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ? It does so by exhorting us to face up to the reality of our sins, and thereby to receive the benefits of God’s richest, most wonderful grace. Then let us ask the Holy Spirit to remain in our hearts and empower us to do all this and serve God with everything we have.
–Submitted by Gregory Kesterson, a member of Berea Lutheran, Sioux
Falls, So. Dak.