Skip to content


“Do you think that the words of Scripture mean nothing when they say that the Spirit who dwells within us jealously longs for us? But He gives us more and more grace. Therefore, He says: ‘God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.’ Submit then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:4-8).

Some commercials make outrageous claims. “Lose twenty pounds in two weeks with no exercise.” Yeah, right. How about this one: “When the pieces of money in the chest do ring, quickly the souls out of purgatory spring.” You don’t buy it? Neither did Martin Luther. In 1517 his ninety-five theses challenged the idea of being able to mitigate God’s displeasure with money or deeds. “The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4). His position was firmly grounded in God�s Word. Thus a line was drawn between those who desired to be faithful to God’s Word and those whose desire was something else.

Remission of sins and everlasting life come only through God’s Word. Compromise that Word, water down that Word, change that Word, and eternal life is in jeopardy. For Luther that was not an option. Of God’s Word he said, “Here I stand! I cannot do otherwise. God, help me.” That is the true spirit of the Reformation–holding fast to the Word and allowing nothing and no one to come between us and the salvation won for us by Christ.

In the same Reformation spirit we want to guard against those things that would threaten our possession of the salvation won for us by Christ. That definitely includes false doctrine, but we also need to have our “ninety-five theses” against the perils to salvation that arise within us.

What are some of these? How about–

Worldliness. Really, worldliness? Don�t we all know that we are to first seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness? Of course we do. So, that is not really a problem, is it? Who do we think we�re kidding?! Think of how much time, energy, and resources are put into things. Compare that to what we invest toward our family’s drawing closer to the Lord–such as family devotions and prayers. Do the scales balance out?

Superficiality. People can have a head knowledge of what the Bible says and even be very active in church, but is it really in their hearts? Remember how it was for Luther? He spent years going through the motions until the gospel was finally truly in his heart. From then on he was filled with an unquenchable joy and love for his Savior. He became a man who was a powerhouse for the Lord and who was ready to go and stand before the Diet of Worms even if there were as many devils in the city as there were tiles on the rooftops.

Pride. Quite possibly the most unnatural and unpleasant of all activities is to freely and completely admit our weaknesses, our failures, and our sins. It is natural to deny that we did anything wrong and to defend our actions. “I didn�t mean it.” (Does that make the hurt vanish?) “You shouldn’t let that bother you.” (It’s your fault you’re hurt.) We readily blame something or someone else. “I can’t help it, I’m tired.” (My tiredness absolves my behavior.) “It’s not my fault. That’s the way I am.” (Grandpa was that way, my dad was that way, and that’s how I am. Get used to it.) Or, we could go a different direction: “Hey, I know I’m not perfect, but I think I do pretty well.” (Aren’t you glad I’m not treating you worse?)

Stand Fast In The Word

Whether it’s by denial, defense, excuse, or blame-shifting, it is all part of the process of hanging onto at least a shred of self respect, a little ego, while trying to avoid embarrassment. At what cost, though?

“Do you think that the words of Scripture mean nothing when they say that the Spirit who dwells within us jealously longs for us?” Does God talk just to hear Himself talk? No! The Holy Spirit has made our hearts His temple, and He means it when He says that He jealously longs for us. He doesn’t want to share us with the world. Our souls have been bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t want us hanging on to the world or making eyes at the world. We belong to Jesus now. We need to act like it, and things like worldliness, superficiality, and pride deserve no place in our lives.

“He gives us more and more grace.” We can’t make it on our own. We can’t even get a clue on our own. That’s why He comes to us in grace to enlighten us. “God resists the proud. . . .” Don’t expect Him to welcome us so long as we are holding on to our pride. ” . . . But He gives grace to the humble.” Our humility is His objective, for it is only when we are humble that we are ready for His Good News. The Word goes on to say, “Submit then to God.” We follow Him unconditionally, no matter where He leads us.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” How do we draw near to the Lord? It is through His Word. Only His Word produces repentance–humbly, honestly, completely admitting our sins and owning our guilt. We trust in God’s mercy. Renewal comes as the Lord removes every sin entirely. It is through the power of His grace in Word and Sacrament that we are moved to yield, to draw close–yes, to embrace our Savior.

Allow nothing and no one to come between you and the salvation Christ has won for you. Stand fast in the Word and keep the spirit of the Reformation alive!

–Pastor Delwyn Maas