Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sin boldly! -- in context...

I came across this quote that is often quoted out of context. Many people will be familiar with this quote of Luther's... or at least part of it. "Sin boldly!" And then people rationalize it to mean they can do whatever they want. But Luther writes this quote at the end of a letter to Phillip Melanchthon. Here is the last paragraph.
If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner.
Luther, M. 1999, c1963. Luther's works, vol. 48 : Letters I (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 48 (Vol. 48, Page 281-282). Fortress Press: Philadelphia
This text is not really about getting to do whatever we want to do... But it does I think speak to our knowledge of who we are. Don't think we have to be perfect for God to save us. God saves us true sinners. And we will continue in our sin because we are not yet fully and completely righteous. But read in the light of other writings of Luther, and especially in the light of Scripture, we do not just continue in our sin as if nothing has changed.

Christ lays our life bare. We die to the old rationalizations that we have built up around us. We know that we are sinners. We have fallen short of what God desires, but we should rejoice, because if we are "mighty sinners," then we are exactly the type of person that God is out to save... and transform. Do not fret if we continue to sin. Return to God and believe and rejoice in Christ even more.


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