Lutheran Mythbusting: “I’m forgiven, it doesn’t matter what I do.”
Pastor Weedon does a great job refuting a cherished myth among many Christians, unfortunately, too many Lutherans. tonight’s Bible Class. He writes:
We’re in Jeremiah, and did chapter 9 last night. Eleanor sometimes visits our class. She had the most disturbing comment to report this evening: some fellow Lutherans had actually said to her “I’m forgiven so it doesn’t matter what I do.”
THIS IS NOT LUTHERAN. This is purely devilish.
The first of the 95 must ever be remembered: When our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to repent, he meant that the entire life of the Christian should be repentance.
Which is to say, the entire life of the Christian, powered by the forgiveness of God, is an ongoing war against the sin that remains in our flesh. There is no peace treaty with that sin because of forgiveness. The exact opposite.
You have a house infested with poisonous snakes and you make a treaty of peace with them? Heck no! You go after them with a vengeance each time one shows its ugly head. You do so in the joyful confidence that the final victory WILL be yours, not theirs!
It is absolutely true that this battle continues to our grave. The evil desires continue to pop up from our corrupted flesh and will. But the grace of the Holy Spirit is given us for this battle to wage on.
Do we do it perfectly? Of course not! We literally LIVE from the forgiveness of our sins. But because we do, we’re snake hunters. We watch for the wretches to show up and then we attack with a vengeance. We know they mean us death, and so we bring them to death. We most certainly do NOT feed them, coddle them, or excuse them with saying: “But I’m forgiven, so they can stay.”
I had always turned to the Apology’s repeated assertions about the impossibility of faith existing outside of repentance, but Pastor Curtis pointed out that the Smalcald Articles are even clearer. Read for yourself III:III:40, 43-45. Luther is utterly clear.
“In Christians, repentance continues until death. For through one’s entire life, repentance contends with the sin remaining in the flesh. Paul testifies that he wars with the law in his own members (Romans 7:14-25) not by his own powers but by the gift of the Holy Spirit that follows the forgiveness of sins [Romans 8:1-17]. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins and works to make a person truly pure and holy. . . . So it is necessary to know and to teach this: When holy people—still having and p 277 feeling original sin and daily repenting and striving against it—happen to fall into manifest sins (as David did into adultery, murder, and blasphemy [2 Samuel 11]), then faith and the Holy Spirit have left them. The Holy Spirit does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so it can be carried out, but represses and restrains it from doing what it wants [Psalm 51:11; Romans 6:14]. If sin does what it wants, the Holy Spirit and faith are not present. For St. John says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning … and he cannot keep on sinning” [1 John 3:9]. And yet it is also true when St. John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” [1:8].
Source: Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions, Edited by Paul Timothy McCain, 276-78 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005).
Rant over. And thanks to Eleanor for bringing the matter up – for it surely is a wound that needs addressing on the body of Lutheranism.