Our Heritage and Inheritance
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
We do not simply sin by mistake or weakness; we also sin on purpose. We’ve all known what we were doing and have done it anyway. We’ve sinned with full knowledge, repeatedly. We’ve heard the voice of the new man in our minds, telling us to stop gossiping, but we’ve also noted how our friends were hanging on our words, looking at us with admiration, and we wanted to keep it going. So we’ve suppressed the good. We’ve embraced the evil. We’ve harmed not only our neighbors but also ourselves. We’ve enslaved ourselves to sin and let it rule over us.
How dare we say that we have fellowship with Christ while we walk in darkness? We lie and do not practice the truth. If we are ruled by sin, we do not have fellowship with Christ. We are not His brothers. We are the sons of devil who do the work of the devil. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit. When Jesus tells us to abide in the Word, it is not simply an admonition to know right doctrine. It is an admonition to live by His Word, to obey His commandments, to love what He loves and to hate what He hates.
We Lutherans are proud of our heritage. It is a good thing to be faithful to the Word of God. But do not say, “But we have Luther for our father and we love the Gospel and have never been slaves to anyone.” You have been slaves to your flesh and your heritage. You have twisted the Gospel into an excuse to sin and dared God to notice. He notices. He is not amused. He does not think it is cute or somehow your rightful liberty. He hates gossip. He hates drunkenness. He hates lustful eyes and evil thoughts. God threatens to punish all who break His commandments. So repent. Let every mouth be stopped. May the law bring knowledge of sin to us sinners.
You have enslaved yourself to sin, but you do not belong there. Repent. Turn from your sins. If the Son sets you free by being sin and guilt in your place, by suffering your punishment in your stead, being declared guilty so that you are declared innocent, by dying and rising again for you, then you will be free indeed. You might sin, but you will not be cast aside. You are not a slave, but a son. He restores you to fellowship with the Father and even restores the marriage bed because He still loves you, no matter what you’ve done. You are a son, and you remain a son forever.
So confess your sins. He is faithful and just. He forgives your sins. He cleanses you from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His Word is not in us. So if you say you have not sinned, you go back to eating with the pigs like the prodigal son until you wake up and find the Father waiting for you. Otherwise, if you insist, you die and go to Hell. But if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just. He forgives sins. He restores fellowship. His accusations are taken from you and placed on the Son, the One who became your Brother and has declared you to be God’s child forever: forever innocent, forever holy, forever His. You walk in the light just as He is in the light, for He is the Light. You have fellowship with Him and with one another in the blood of Jesus which cleanses you from all sin. Thus you abide in His Word, in His Gospel. You are truly His disciples, His children, His Bride, and even His friends.
This is the Word of the Lord that endures forever. “We are justified by His grace as a gift received by faith.” This is the truth upon which the Reformation is founded. If Martin Luther has left us a legacy, let it be this and nothing else. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.