Tag Archives: Law

Salvation through ignorance?

The other day I was on a message board reading a thread about the special needs people and sinning. More specifically, it was in regards to people with mental disorders/conditions and if they are sinning because they are unable to help it. I think one of the comments summed up the general consensus of that thread.

“If they don’t know what they’re doing, then it isn’t sin”

Though no scripture was quoted to back this up, I suspect they probably got it from Romans 7.

7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

I don’t think you can quite get to what that quote was saying from scripture, though. You see, if you follow the reasoning that if something isn’t sin if the person doesn’t understand that it’s sin, then there is no reason to ever for any reason to preach the Gospel to those who haven’t heard it. Why should we ever let anyone hear the gospel if they don’t know what they are doing is sin if they can be saved by lack of knowledge? I think it comes back to that age of accountability thing. If you claim children are saved until a certain age, then you have to explain why. And then if you have people who have mental deficiencies, you have to make allowances for them as well. They don’t know they are sinning so they are in fact sinless.

The road starts branching to many paths and as these paths branch off, Christ is needed less and less. We can ignore the command to preach to Gospel to all the world because now all the world doesn’t need it. They are saved in their dumbness.

This is not what the Gospel teaches. There is only one path to salvation. You’ll lack of understanding doesn’t make your sin any less sin. It’s still there. Roman 7 continues to show us that our sin is still there, even if we don’t know it.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

 

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What do you want?

I recently listened to the first episode of Fighting for the Faith I have in a long time. I didn’t stop because I grew tired of the program or anything. I just didn’t have time. Sorry, Chris Rosebrough, but when you have a wife and two small children, it’s difficult to fit in a daily two to three hour show. Anyhow, the episode was called Rosebrough’s Ramblings on Coram Deo. At the twenty-five minute mark, he starts discussing Romans 6. In this, he mentions how he was in class with Dr. Rod Rosenbladt and how when the gospel was preached, he was still in his old Nazarene mindset. So he went to Dr. Rosenbladt and said, “You’re saying if I’m saved by grace, I can do whatever I want.”

I’d like to take a moment to point you towards the banner at the top of the page. You’ll notice a quote from Augustine.

Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.

I’ve had that banner up there for quite sometime, since I started the site, really. I just always loved the quote and it made sense, but I never really quite thought about what exactly it meant until I listened to this episode of Fighting for the Faith.

Dr. Rosenbladt replied, “Well of course. Now that you’ve been set free from sin, death, and the devil, what do you want to do?”

And suddenly, it was all so clear to me. I realize that there is a difference between doing what you want and doint what you feel like. Ever notice how actually doing what you want leaves you sense of pride or accomplishment while just doing what you feel like can at times leave you feeling pretty low? I want to help those in need. I feel like drinking all the booze. One of those will probably leave me feeling pretty good about myself. The other may leave me a little disappointed the next day. Romans 7:15 helps to explain.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

When we are in the grace of Christ, all we want to do is what is good. Now, we may feel like doing some pretty awful things from time to time. We may even do some pretty awful things from time to time. But we don’t want to do them. Instead, we want to do what is good. This is where the third use of the law comes into play. It helps to shape the Christian to do what is right.

So as a Christian under the grace of God, by all means, go forth and do whatever you want.

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The Things We Get Away With

The other day as I was reading the Smalcald Articles, I came across a verse that struck me as pure truth. It was from the Third Part, Article II, The Law. Specifically it states:

Here we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit. All this failed because of the evil that sin has worked in humanity. For by the Law some people were made worse sinners, those who are hostile to the Law because it forbids what they like to do and commands what they do not like to do. Wherever they can escape punishment, they do more against the Law than they did before. Those are the unrestrained and wicked, who do evil wherever they have the opportunity.

Does the bolded portion not hold true for most? One does something they know is sinful. Uncaught, they are more at ease to do it again when the opportunity arises, sometimes going deeper into sin than previous event. I’m sure we’ve all done it in some form or another. Perhaps in minor seemingly insignificant sins or maybe even in sins that pose a danger to others. Nonetheless, it’s a frightening, yet provoking thought. What do we get away with? Do we even always realize that we’re attempting to get away with something we shouldn’t? Matthew 7:3-5 seems appropraite here.

3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

To see past the logs, so to speak, is difficult when one keeps tripping on them.

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Hypocrites; All of Us

There’s an old adage that states that the one who preaches the hardest against something is probably the one most likely doing it. If the news is to be believed, than this is more often than not true. It seems all to often one who espouses the evils of drugs is discovered to snort cocaine with alarming regularity. The one who condemns alcohol winds up in the hospital for alcohol abuse. Adultery is called out for being abhorrent by those who they themselves are in adulterous affairs. Famous preacher Ted Haggard preached vehemently against homosexuality while having sex with other men. It seems as though there is no end to the hypocrisy spewed forth from the gullet of men who are supposed to be a paragon of righteousness. How can we trust anyone?

It’s tragic in the way we fall into sin. It’s enticing grasp pulls us further down the hole though we know it is wrong. I pose that perhaps the reason these people preach so hard against the very thing that they do is because they fight an inward battle that they are losing and that perhaps the words they preach are more for themselves then the very audience they give it to.

Romans 2:15 English Standard Version (ESV)
15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

Because the law is written on their hearts, though they feel they cannot help but do the wrong that they do, they know that what they do is evil and wicked and strive to fight against it, perhaps thinking that by vocally condemning it to the world that they themselves will be able to resist and conquer. I suppose the real tragedy of it is all is that they are all too afraid to confess their sin until they are caught, though I’m sure that could be said to say the same for most of us. It’s so dark and evil that most people desire to hide it and who could blame them. I suspect most people have no desire to expose their shame to the world. So the fight the battle internally.

Before we condemn the hypocrite in front of us, remember we do not know the struggle they suffer. Yes, they need to be called to repentance, but I’m willing to bet that each of us is a hypocrite in our own little way, even if it’s not on such a grand stage.

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Don’t Blame the Fire Truck

I’m not of the band wagon to claim that everything that can have bad side effects are sinful. In fact, I consider many of the so-called sinful things to be a gift from God to be used in enjoyment. Take alcohol and tobacco, two absolutely wonderful gifts that are not sinful in and of themselves but can be used in such a way to bring upon great sin. Let’s look at tobacco. A well crafted cigar or pipe full of fine tobacco in celebration or grand occasion is an absolutely wonderful thing. The flavors and the smells are something of great delight and enjoyment and should be fully appreciated when one partakes in such a moment. If one, however, smokes half a pack of cigarettes daily, then it should be reasonable to believe that the individual is merely smoking to appease his addiction and in the process is actively destroying his body. Since the smoker more than likely know that his smoking is causing detriment to himself and quite possibly others, then one could argue that he is sinning due to the harm that he knowingly inflicts.

Alcohol, is a little more straight forward. While some churches insist that any alcohol is a sin going so far as to serve grape juice at communion and completely ignore the fact that grape juice is a very recent invention, alcohol in and of itself is not sinful. Nay, it is in fact one of the greatest earthly gifts to enjoy. There is nothing quite like having a relaxing evening with a glass of whiskey on the rocks or enjoying some quality beers with friends of dinner and/or discussion. I myself love the taste of a good whiskey or gin and find full flavored beers to be one of the finest pleasures around. It is one of the great socializers that has helped may fine things to happen throughout history. The protestant reformation. The Lord’s Supper. The United States Constitution. Community fellowship. But what about all those bad things that happened with alcohol? Promiscuity. Death. Violence. That one time the United States invaded Britain (it happened, and failed hilariously). Well, you see, that’s where the sin lies. The Bible is very clear that drunkenness is a sin and if you’ve ever seen a drunk, it’s pretty easy to tell why. If you’ve never seen someone drunk, just imagine a person getting overly emotional about the importance of voting and you’ll get the idea. Suddenly, this great and wonderful gift has become sinful because of our abuse. And it doesn’t always happen intentionally. Sometimes, one drinks too much without realizing it. I know I’ve had my share of moments. It’s nothing to be proud of, even if you do have a good laugh about it afterwards.

Like tobacco, like alcohol, like a host of other things, there’s a line where you go from enjoying the wonderful qualities of a gift to abusing that gift to your detriment. And when your usage becomes a detriment, then perhaps it’s no longer a gift because you’re putting it to sin. To use one last illustration, imagine your son has been begging your for a toy fire truck for his birthday for the longest time. So you buy him the fire truck and his eyes just light up. He’s thrilled that he got just what he’d been wanting. He plays with it all the time and creating such joy all around him with it. Then, one day, he picks up his toy fire truck and hits his sister in the side of the head with it and gives her a concussion. You reel back in shock and horror as you realize this wonderful gift has now been misused to the detriment of another. It’s not that the toy was sinful but that person in whose care it was abused the use of the toy. What once brought great enjoyment has now brought great harm.

Don’t blame the fire truck because someone abuses it. The fire truck was meant to be enjoyed.

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The question of sin (4 of 4)

In this final installment of the series, The Question of Sin, Greg cuts to the heart of the matter and lays his cards out on the table.

Eilers Pizza

I remain in full unity with the doctrines of God as we believe, teach, and confess them in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). While I have been advocating some things with which many (not all) in the LCMS do not agree, and I believe the one study on gender dysphoria published by us is greatly lacking, there is no doctrine of the LCMS with which I am in disagreement.

That I have some disagreement with my church body is not unusual. If you can find two LCMS pastors who agree on the practice of every teaching, even as they confess the same doctrine, then I’ll let you buy me a pizza to tell me about it.

In going public with my condition and my arguments, concern was expressed that I might lead some into sin, and that I might announce that transitioning is a fine and dandy thing. I have…

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The question of sin (3 of 4)

Eilers Pizza

God’s Word, which is my preferred term for the Holy Bible, makes clear what is and is not the Lord’s will for our lives. As my very first seminary professor continually reminded us, when we are not clear on something it is due to our weakness and not from God’s being indistinct.

Smoking can get people, um, smoking. Since God’s Word does not speak to it, most of Christianity leaves it in the arena of personal decision. When I would teach religion to middle-schoolers, I would make two columns on the whiteboard and have the kids list the positives and negatives of smoking. The negatives side contained the typical things like cancer, emphysema, addiction, and expense. The positives side? It was blank. When they wanted me to write, “It tastes good,” I would, but then I would make arrows to all of the negatives. Of course, I did not want…

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‘I never knew you — depart from me’

Such a powerful and important blog post. Let it serve to us as a great reminder. May this be of benefit to those of us who stumble and forget.

Churchmouse Campanologist

Matthew HenryAlong with the instruction to build our spiritual houses upon rock, another passage in Matthew 7 from the Sermon on the Mount which bears close scrutiny is our Lord’s teaching on who will be turned away from the kingdom of heaven.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

It is in the three-year Lectionary. One can only wonder about the sermons preached on it. Any number of clergy — as well as congregants —…

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Dear America, What Happened To One Nation Under God?

I was writing another post for today that was going to be titled “A Nation of Rebels.” However, after reading this, I think this sums up my thoughts quite nicely. Perhaps I shall rework my original post for later. I do not know, but for now, read this wonderful thing.

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Law of the Land

Today is a day that no doubt frustrates many Christians. On this day, homosexual marriage became law of the land. I have my own personal views on what constitutes as an actual marriage and the government is not part of it. My opinion, however, is neither hear nor there. What’s is here and there are the new battles we face as Christians. Hopefully, everyone is prepared. I cannot imagine that people didn’t see this coming. As Christians, we shall face persecution of which most of us have never seen in America and we must be able to stand strong in the faith as we will be increasingly labeled as hateful and bigots for having a differing view.

Sin has flaunted herself in public for as long as time can remember and it has always been the parents job to do what is right so that their children may not fall into sin. But sin is a foul temptress who lures us all with precious little sweets and blinds us to the consequences. So we give sin a pass. And then we give her another pass. And suddenly, sin doesn’t seem so bad. In fact,  she’s quite nice to you. She invites you over to dinner, helps you out when you’re in trouble, and brings you up when you feel down. But that’s the thing with sin. She may be very giving, but she’s also very needy. As soon as you do not give her what she wants, she lashes out against you, calls you vile, reminds you of all the “nice things” she did for you. And this is how you repay her?

Sounds an awful lot like an abuse relationship, doesn’t it? Well, like so many people in an abusive relationship, we stay with them for their sake. Because we care for them. Because we love them. Because Christ loved them. We’ll get kicked, stepped on, slapped around, insulted, etc., and we won’t file for divorce. Instead, we’ll stand up and tell them the truth. We won’t lie to placate them. We won’t bury our heads in the sand. We’ll tell them the truth with love and compassion because we care for them. Just like Jesus Christ who is in the most abusive relationship of all: with us.

Sin doesn’t always wear nice leggings and a corset. Sometime she bakes cookies. When she invites you over for cookies and games, go and have fun. But if she asks you to support her ideals, call her out for what she is. For yourself. For your children. For your neighbor. She may hate you for it. But then again, she may thank you.

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