A New Twist on the Sanctification Issue
Well, as I continue to hear from folks on the issue of sanctification, the latest disturbing thing I’ve run into is that some are suggesting that since Christians are in Christ they really need not give any thought at all to striving to live according to the Ten Commandments since Christ was good for them. Some are saying that for a pastor to talk about how Christians live according to the Commandments in the sermon is inappropriate, particularly after he has preached the Gospel. The most disturbing comment I’ve read of late is the suggestion that a good way to drive home the Gospel’s amazingly good news is to tell people, "Even if you get worse, you can still count on going to heaven, because of Christ." What a dangerous thing to say or suggest.
All this kind of talk flies directly in the face of the Lutheran Confessions, which properly explain the Holy Scriptures. Here is what Martin Luther had to say about some of these things in the Smalcald Articles:
42] On the other hand, if certain sectarists would arise, some of whom are perhaps already extant, and in the time of the insurrection [of the peasants] came to my own view, holding that all those who had once received the Spirit or the forgiveness of sins, or had become believers, even though they should afterwards sin, would still remain in the faith, and such sin would not harm them, and [hence] crying thus: "Do whatever you please; if you believe, it all amounts to nothing; faith blots out all sins," etc.—they say, besides, that if any one sins after he has received faith and the Spirit, he never truly had the Spirit and faith: I have had before me [seen and heard] many such insane men, and I fear that in some such a devil is still remaining [hiding and dwelling]. 43] It is, accordingly, necessary to know and to teach that when holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them [they cast out faith and the Holy Ghost]. For the Holy Ghost does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] not present. For St. John says, 1 John 3, 9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, … and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the truth when the same St. John says, 1, 8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Smalcald Articles, Part III, Article III, lines 42-45