Let Your Sins Be Strong

Attempting to minimize our sin is something we all have a tendency to do. We look at wrongs we have done and do everything we can to try and justify our actions, but this is not taking full ownership of our sins. Many times, as Christians, we admit that we need forgiveness, but we still don’t like to admit to the fact that our sins are utterly deplorable. We like to talk about our sin and forgiveness, but we do not like to concede that we are truly sinners. Deep down we think surely we are not like many other people who are real sinners. Thinking like this, however, makes us like the Pharisee, who scoffed at the tax collector–utterly in denial of the reality of our own sin.

Martin Luther once wrote a letter to Melanchthon entitled, “Let Your Sins Be Strong,” addressing several different topics, including the tendency to downplay our sins. Luther says, “God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”

We must stop trying to weaken the sin we have committed in order to maintain dignity. We must let them be strong, and look at them in all their wretchedness. We must see our sins as they mock God and refuse to obey Him in all His Holiness. Taking ownership of our sins is the only way we can bring what is ours to Him and say, I need you to bear my punishment for these. There is nothing anyone can do to atone for these sins. Jesus, you are the only one. His response to this request is, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Because of the cross, there is no sin able to separate us from His love, for His sacrifice is sufficient.

Today let us consider the words of Martin Luther: “Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.” Let us not try to justify our sins, for self-justification warrants nothing but death, but against Christ’s justifying blood, no sin can prevail.

My sins are mine I know them well
They mock at God and damn to hell
But through His blood, I am set free,
He paid my debt at Calvary.

God, be merciful to me, the sinner! Luke 18:13

D. Eaton

Understanding Justification: The Necessity of Double Imputation

The Illustration

Double Imputation

His mom had laid out the situation. The room was to be clean by 4:00 p.m. If he completed the job on time, his mom would buy him movie tickets so he could go out with his friends. If he did not finish on time, he would be grounded for a week. At 4:00 p.m. he had not even started to clean the room, and he was grounded. What was astonishing was what he did when he finished serving his time. He walked up to his mother and said, “my punishment has been paid, now give me my movie tickets.” The request was absurd. Even though the penalty had been paid, he never fulfilled what was required to receive the reward.

The Explanation

We have all come into this world under certain requirements. We are called to live a righteous life. If we accomplish it, there is blessing, and if not, there is cursing. The problem is that Adam was unsuccessful, along with everyone who came after him. You and I have failed to inherit eternal life and have merited nothing but wrath. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

No one had been successful until Jesus took on flesh and walked among us. He came, lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law. Then he went and died for our sins. He took our sins upon himself on the cross, becoming a curse for us. He bore the wrath that we deserved, but bearing our sins is not all he did. If it were, we would be like the young man asking for the reward after our punishment had been paid but having no claim to it. This shortcoming is why it is so important to understand that our justification involves two imputations: for those who have faith, our sins are imputed to Christ, and his righteousness is imputed to us.

Righteousness is more than guiltlessness. As our representative, Jesus not only bore our punishment and forgives us of our sins, but he also earned the reward by fulfilling what needed to be done. His righteousness is counted as ours. Because of this, we are not simply sinners who can no longer be punished. Instead, we are counted as those who had fulfilled the law, and we become co-heirs with Christ. Even now there is an inheritance being kept for us: one that can never perish, spoil, or fade.

When we stand before the Lord one day, we will have no merit of our own. We will stand and say, “it is because of what the Lord Jesus did in my place that I am declared righteous.” It is true that we will grow in righteousness as believers here and now, but the righteousness we attain in this life will never be the basis upon which we have a right standing before the Lord. Like Abraham, it is through faith that we are declared righteous, and it will always be Christ’s righteousness.

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.-Romans 5:19

D. Eaton

The Gospel As Seen in the Sacrifice of Isaac

storm-sunset-cross-black-waters-as-sun-sets-over-sea-45353570And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” – Genesis 22-13

As Isaac watched the knife which was lifted by his father be plunged into the ram that had been caught in the thicket, what could have been going through his mind? As he watched as the altar was set ablaze to finish the burnt offering, the thought of his replacement must have astonished him.

Only moments early he had been bound and laying on the altar. Not only him but the future existence of the children of God. As Isaac watched his replacement, he watched for us all as God shows him that there is one who will come to bear our scorn.

The ram obviously being a shadow of Christ who was to come, finds us bound upon the altar of the wrath of God, bound in the sense that we loved our sin, and wanted to continue in it. As it is with all those who are under the law, the dagger of God’s justice was raised above us, waiting until His sovereign and unstoppable hand plunged it down.

But while we were still sinners, fighting against His authority and grace, He began to untie us. Our hearts of stone He began to soften as we lay in defiance of Him. With the hammer of His word, He then destroyed the bonds of false philosophies and empty arguments which held us captive, and He continued His work until we, being freed, crawled off the altar. As we stood in astonishment, God Himself in Christ crawled upon the altar freely without bonds. He lay there perfectly still, as God the Father plunged the dagger of His justice upon His only Son.

By faith the children of God, look on in amazement as we claim the merits of His blood, completely undone by the fact that all of this has been done for us. Had God left us upon the altar to strike us with His justice, He would have been perfect in His holiness and impeccable in His goodness. But He did not do it, not because we were worthy but because He loves us as the Father loves the Son; eternally without beginning and without end.

-D. Eaton