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There is a lot of theological talk in the world these days. Words like original sin, love, and repentance are bandied about by many directed at Christians. Of course these words mean something different to actual Christians than they do to those who use them in the world. So, original sin is not that inherited nature that chafes at God’s commands and wants to go his own way, but rather some inherent hatred of those perceived to be different.


Love is not what the Bible defines it to be: the action of keeping God’s commands, as St. John wrote: “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to [God’s] commands” (2 John 6). Love is simply accepting whatever someone says needs to be accepted because they accept it. Repentance is not returning to the Lord and His will in contrition and faith, but checking your privilege or some other popular thing today.

There are other words, too, that are used in this way. Words like Pharisee and hypocrite. These words have specific meanings in the Bible. The Pharisee or hypocrite is one who play acts, who covers up his sin by a show of goodness or righteousness and pretends and acts as if he has it all under control. But the world uses this against Christians to point out that Christians are not perfect. I don’t know any Christians who thinks he’s perfect, who doesn’t know they are in need of a savior from their sin. Are they perfect in this? No. But that’s the point. That’s why we come to church, why we hear God’s Word read and preached, why we study it in Bible Class and meditate on it at home with our family.

And so when these theological words are used, the Christian automatically agrees because the Christian understands them biblically, and recognizes that it is indeed godly to be a sinner who is repentant and loves. And so the Christian hears them and demurs. The Christian steps back, considers his life in light of the commandments of God, and turns to the Lord in contrition and faith.

And that’s the point of the world using these words. That’s why the world trots out these words and flings them in our face. They equivocate the meanings, knowing that Christians will do just that. So these theological words are not used to further the conversation, to come to a meeting of the minds, to reconcile one to another. These words are used to silence Christians. They are used as weapons to get Christians to step back and shut up.

This is a tool of the devil. The devil wants nothing more than Christians to be silent. He desires nothing more than for our consciences to burdened so that we don’t enter the fray. He delights in nothing else than a Christian who begins to doubt his own place in God’s kingdom because of how the world sees him. For he prowls around like a lion seeking someone to devour.

Here’s the point I’m making: The world is not on your side. The world delights in the fall of Christians because the world is the devil’s domain. He has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. And so we are not citizens of this world and its kingdom. We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, a better city, up above, not made with hands. We have a hope not of this world, a hope that is never failing and never fading because it rests upon the Word and promise of God, established in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and given to us through Word and Sacrament.

The world and all its might will try to take this away from you. It will try to convince you of its own ideas of original sin, love, and repentance. But God and His Word is your shield and sword. It is your defensive armor to deflect all the attacks of the world and all the flaming darts of the devil.

Therefore, cling to that word and hope. Do not be swayed into silence or retreat because of these attacks. As in the days of Nehemiah, we must rebuild and fight at the same time. Our fight is not an offensive battle. That battle has already been won through our Lord’s atoning death on the cross. Our battle is a defensive battle, one of standing our ground firm in the faith, not giving in, but contending for the faith once delivered to the saints, always being ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, clearly stating what we know to be true because of God’s Word.

Indeed, we are all sinners in need of a savior. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are all sick and in need of a physician. But this need is not defined by the world. It is defined by God. It is written in His Word, so that it may be definitely known and firmly believed.

So, stand firm, resolute in your conviction. Let your life and conversation reflect the resurrection of Jesus Christ for all sinners, drowning out the rage of this world’s angry mobs. And listen to the Word and promise of God. For this promise is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. And thus do the angels rejoice over you who repent in this way, of real sin as defined by the Bible.

The Rev. Jason Braaten is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Tuscola, Ill.

Be Informed

Momentous decisions are being made impacting religious liberty. Focus on the Family Vice President and Washington observer Tim Goeglein and moderator Kip Allen discuss the events today on Free To Be Faithful” and you can hear it all by clicking here!

 

Be Equipped

Wondering why religious freedom is so important, especially today? Check out a recent Issues, Etc. interview with Emilie Kao of the Heritage Foundation.

 

Be Encouraged

“The peace that comes with such faith is truly freeing. It removes the anxiety of fending for one’s self and frees Christians to focus on their neighbors — both the weak and the strong, both those who love and those who hate. The eye of faith that looks to God in heaven enables an ever clearer and more loving view of the neighbor on earth.” – Rev. Jonathan Lange

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