3/4/2020 8:43:49 PM
First Things - March 4, 2020 - A Little Lesson
This Sunday, we will use The Conclusion of the Ten Commandments as our Confession of Faith. Can you still recite it?
What does God say about all these commandments? He says, "I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
What does this mean?
God threatens to punish all who transgress these commandments. Therefore we should fear his anger and not disobey what he commands. But he promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore we should love and trust in him, and gladly obey what he commands.
Why des the Bible and Martin Luther say that God does two very different things – that he threatens to punish sinners AND that he promises grace and every blessing to the same sinners?
The reason is that every believer is really two people in one, both sinner and saint at one and the same time. Consider what Paul tells the Ephesians
You were taught…to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Notice that Paul talks about the old self and the new self. Every believer has an old self – or sinful nature, that’s the term for it that Paul uses in Romans 7:18. That sinful nature hates God and loves to sin. We can never completely or permanently get rid of our sinful nature.
But every believer also has a new self. That new self loves God and hates to sin.
Because we have both a sinful nature (SN) and a new self (NS) inside of us, there is always a battle going on in us. When the sinful nature wins the battle, we sin. When our new self wins the battle, we do what God wants.
But Paul tells us to put off our sinful nature and to put on our new self. It's like he's talking about socks - take off your old, smelly socks and put on clean socks. What's he talking about? How do we do that? We put off our sinful nature when we hear the message of God's Law. That message which shows us that we have disobeyed God and deserve his punishment weakens our sinful nature. And we put on our new self whenever we hear the message of God's Gospel, the promises of what has done, what he does, and what he will do for us. The message of the Gospel strengthens our new self. And with a weakened sinful nature and a strengthened new self, we can love and obey our Lord more and more each day.
How terrible it is to realize that we are and always will be sinner and saint. For we want to be just saint. But how wonderful it is that the Lord our God, through the Law and the Gospel, helps us to be more-saint and less-sinner.
And it's even more wonderful to realize that when our Lord comes again, he will change us, take that sinful nature out of our bodies so that we will only want to do what he wants, all the time. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.