Monday, August 9, 2010

This Does Not Concern Me!

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther:

Let us remember this well in our personal temptations, when the devil accuses and terrifies our conscience to bring it to the point of despair. He is the father of lies (John 8:44) and the enemy of Christian freedom. At every moment, therefore, he troubles us with false terrors, so that when this freedom has been lost, the conscience is in continual fear and feels guilt and anxiety. When that “great dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil, the deceiver of the whole world, who accuses our brethren day and night before God” (Rev. 12:9–10)—when, I say, he comes to you and accuses you not only of failing to do anything good but of transgressing against the Law of God, then you must say: “You are troubling me with the memory of past sins; in addition, you are telling me that I have not done anything good. This does not concern me. For if I either trusted in my performance of good works or lost my trust because I failed to perform them, in either case Christ would be of no avail to me. Therefore whether you base your objections to me on my sins or on my good works, I do not care; for I put both of them out of sight and depend only on the freedom for which Christ has set me free. Therefore I shall not render Him useless to me, which is what would happen if I either presumed that I shall attain grace and eternal life because of my good works or despaired of my salvation on account of my sins.”

Luther, M. (1999, c1964). Vol. 27: Luther's works, vol. 27 : Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 5-6; 1519, Chapters 1-6 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (27:11). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

1 comment:

Dennis Peskey said...

If only Lutherans would make the effort to study Law and Gospel as completely as the Devil. He knows this Law is written in our heart and he also knows we can not keep this Law. How happy he must be when we diligently study our catechisms and learn the Ten Commandments. All the Devil has to do then is wait - wait for us to take our eyes off the Cross and focus on our efforts, our "goodness."

What the Devil knows best is the second use of the Law - the mirror. Whenever we feel we've done a good work, he hoists the full length mirror in front of us. Look long and deep into what you truely are urges the deceiver. Can what you do be good when what you truely are is so bad?

Look again and see the lack of love for your neighbor. We constantly sin against our neighbor and Satan revels in echoing King David's "against you, oh Lord, have I sinned." How can a righteous God look favorably upon such a sinful creature.

If we continue to look at the mirror, we will conclude with Mother Teresa that we have done no good works (or far too few.) We will feel the anguish of our sinful nature and begin to doubt the love God shows daily for us.

To this, our Lutheran nature replies all this is true - except for the love of God. This is not found in a mirror which reflects only our image. God's image shines best through his Son hanging on a Cross for us. This for us the Devil can not bear to watch or reflect. This Cross for us knows we are sinners; knows we fall short of good works; knows we only want to run away from God and hide. This is why Christ choose to lift high the cross so no matter how low the Devil trys to bury us, when we look up all we see is Christ for us pouring out forgiveness for us. The mirror is good and useful; but salvation is found only in the Cross.