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Real Help for Hard-Boiled Sinners

November 3, 2008

Luther wrote a letter to friend Spalatin who had fallen into a great depression over his sin.

“Do not let your sin stick in your mind, but get rid of it. Quit your despondency, which is a far greater sin….It must surely be that heretofore you have been only a trifling sinner, conscious only of paltry and insignificant faults and frailties….Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins….you want to be a painted sinner and, accordingly, expect to have in Christ a painted Savior. You will have to get used to the belief that Christ is a real Savior and you a real sinner.”

And on another occasion Luther wrote, “Beware of your ceaseless striving after a righteousness so great that you no longer appear as a sinner in your own eyes and do not want to be a sinner. For Christ dwells only in sinners.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2008 4:18 pm

    These types of posts (articles on being a real sinner) run against the grain of the striving Christian.
    These writings awake the ‘old man’/’old woman’ in us to the righteousness and good works that we have, or are achieving, against the backdrop of lazy, or un-serious Christians in our midst.

    But they ought not to. They ought, when heard correctly, liberate us from that type of hypocritical, “religious”, nonsense.

    When we understand what the law really demands from us, and our complete inability to do it, more so our complete inability to even want to do it, then we can truly understand what and who we really are…sinners…hard boiled!

    But then the gospel…the forgiveness of sins is just that much sweeter!

    Awesome post!

  2. November 3, 2008 4:18 pm

    I like Luther’s letter to Melanchthon, which is similar:

    “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. 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 will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. 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.”

  3. November 3, 2008 10:44 pm

    Eric Nielsen,

    That too, is an awesome quote.

    We are indeed, quite a lot of sinners.

  4. November 11, 2008 10:02 am

    This was a very encouraging post for me today, as I have been overwhelmed by my failures lately…

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