Tag Archives: Repentance

Willful Intent

When a person sins against his conscience, that is, when he knowingly and intentionally acts contrary to God, as, for instance, an adulterer or any other criminal, who knowingly does wrong, he is, while consciously persisting in his intention, without repentance and faith and does not please God. For example, while a person keeps the wife of another man, it is manifest that he is void of repentance, faith, and holiness.

-Martin Luther

I think sometimes as Lutherans we point towards the grace of God to the point of our detriment. While it is faith alone that saves and not works, at times we put so much emphasis on it that sin is given a pass. We have our sins that perhaps out of habit we repeat over and over with maybe a prayer for forgiveness after the fact. I am not speaking of sins which we struggle with daily for we all have sinful natures that cause us to act out in a way that is unholy without intention and we feel greatly sorry after the fact. No, what I am referring to are those sins that we willfully do with the full foreknowledge that it is a sin before the fact that we commit it. I think it’s fair to say that many Christians, myself included, have at times committed the grievous error with the thought that we can just repent afterwards.

If I have the intention of getting drunk, rather than getting drunk by simple negligence, and then in the following weekend I intend to get drunk again, then it stands to argue that I am not actually repentant and my prayers for forgiveness are simple talk. Do you see the difference? In one situation I am drunk by intention and in the other I am drunk by my own stupidity. Both are sinful and abominable actions, but only one probably will carry with it true remorse and repentance. The other will simply go through the “Christian” motions to appease himself and those around him rather than have true contrition.

This holds true for any sin(s). It does not matter if it is theft, lust, drunkenness, violence, or anything else. If anyone is intentionally partaking in anything that is contrary to the word of God and willingly continues doing  so, then it is suspect that any claims of repentance and faith are merely just talk and show. To struggle with sin (drunkenness, homosexuality, etc.) is one thing, but to continually indulge in that sin is no struggle. It is a willful and intentional middle finger to God.

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Unintentionally more Christian than Christian?

I’ve once heard it said that Christian movies are like porno: The budget is low, the acting is bad, and you know how it’s going to end. So I was pleasantly surprised when I watched a horror movie last night that I felt made a better Christian movie than most Christian movies. There was no mention of Jesus and no prayer which is why I say unintentionally Christian.

So then how is it a Christian film? First let me give you the basic plot. Five people who have committed horrible sins are trapped in an elevator. One of those people is the Devil and he is tormenting them before he kills them and they spend their eternal fate in Hell. I don’t want give away any spoilers but it had one element that most Christian movies completely lack. The movie ended with confession and the forgiveness of sins. When is the last time you saw a Christian movie end like that? I don’t know about you, but in my experience, the moral of most Christian movies is that if you pray and have faith in Jesus, you’ll get a new truck, your team will win the big game, your infertile wife will become pregnant, etc. Basically, everything that’s going wrong in your life will end up happy and good. That’s a problem with Christian movies. They are usually all law. You do this and God will bless you in this life. But that’s not gospel. That’s why I feel this movie was unintentionally a better Christian movie than most Christian movies. Because even though there is no mention of Jesus Christ, the gospel is actually implied. There is repentance, there is confession, and there is forgiveness of sins. The movie didn’t accidentally beat me over the head with law like most Christian movies, but it did succeed where most of them fail, even if unintentionally.

If you’d like to watch this movie, it’s called Devil. Please keep in mind that it is rated R and its primary goal is to frighten you. Though somewhat tame for a horror movie, it does have its share of blood and violence as well as some strong language in places.

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The abuse of grace

As Christians, we have been given the greatest gift anyone could ever hope to receive; the grace of God.  There is no greater or more merciful gift than this.  So, why is it that we so often treat it as a simple wad of used toilet paper?  Have we become so desensitized that we do not recognize sin?  Do we forget that God does not work on a sliding scale?  Somehow we take up righteous causes fighting against the great evils of abortion and homosexual marriage and yet we trivialize our own sins which are just as egregious.  “Jesus Christ,” the Christian man shouts at his friend as he stubs his toe.  “Why the f*** did you leave that there!?”  According to the law, this man has just committed blasphemy and murder in his heart, whether he intended to or not.  “That f***in’ b******!” he shouts at the car who just cut him off, forcing him to dangerously slam on his brakes.  Let us not forget the woman whom he looks at lustfully or his neighbor’s fancy BBQ grill that he wishes he had.  Covetousness and lust.  These and all other manner of sins should grieve the Christian the moment they enter his heart, but more often than not, they pushed to the side.  Out of sight, out of mind as it goes.

Every Sunday he goes to church and corporately confesses his sins.  There, his part is done.  He is absolved.  Go Jesus!  But the life of a Christian is that of perpetual repentance and forgiveness.  This is why we should study the scriptures daily.  So that daily we can be convicted of our sins.  So that daily we can be repentant of our sins.  So that daily we can know the forgiveness that is Jesus Christ.  So that daily we can go to bed with a clean conscience knowing that Jesus Christ paid for our sins.  The Christian needs this because though he can never atone for his sins himself, he is not given a license to sin.  Nowhere in scripture does it say, “Sin freely that grace may abound!”  In fact, Romans 6 says just the opposite.  To willfully continue in sin is to say that Christ is not in us.  Though we are simul iustus et peccator, that is simultaneously sinner and saint, when we do sin, we should be deeply grieved and troubled by it.  We should be repentant.  And then, we should look to our baptism and remember that Christ has forgiven us all of our sins, even these ones.  And we should rest easy knowing this and try not to abuse what has been given to us.

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