I believe you are closer than you might think in answering your own question. “Are we not always sinning, and often even not repenting by not seeing that it was a sin? How can anyone be saved then if any sin will condemn us all over again?” The answer to these questions of yours is this: repent. We are always sinning, because we are sinners. Also, as sinners, we are not repentant because we do not realize or want to recognize any of our sins. For this we must repent.
This is terrifying, indeed, but this is not all there is. We must remember that the converted man has two distinct natures (or wills): the old man & the new man. Another way of putting it is: sinner & saint. The Latin is “Simil Justus Et Peccator.” You and I are simultaneously sinner and saint. We possess two diametrically opposing wills. One (old man) is completely contrary to God and His will. The other (new man) is completely in conformity with God and His will.
What does this mean? Romans 7 is the perfect expression of what I think your are trying to ascertain in your questions. There is a bitter battle that rages within in the baptized believer – the Spirit against the flesh (The saint against the sinner.) St. Paul knew this battle all too well, hence Romans 7. Saints never sin! Sinners do. Saints detest sin. Sinners embrace it. You are both. Repent and believe this and you are on your way to understanding better your dilemma.
When you sin that is your old man. He is an unbeliever. He rejects the good that God gives through Jesus Christ. This man must be killed, drowned to death everyday. This feat occurs every time you remember your baptism. Yes, you are baptized! You, the sinner, are drowned. You are baptized because you are a sinner. You come to know that you are a sinner by the Law of God that is written on your hearts and preached to you from God’s Holy Word. Showing you your sins, the Law calls you to repentance. You are shown that you cannot save yourself. In fact, the Law shows you that you condemn yourself by your sin. Holy Baptism, then, serves as the means of execution for the old man in you. “It [baptism] indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires…”
As one who is baptized, you are not left to bob about as a dead man. That would just be cruel. You are resurrected by God to new life through those holy waters. The Old Adam having been drowned “a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” You are forgiven, washed clean of all your sins. You become a saint through Holy Baptism. End of story!
Seriously, end of story! When you are baptized you are made a perfect child of God. The Old Adam, the sinner, is drowned. He is defeated. Crazy, I know, but it is true. The sinner, however, is a wickedly good swimmer. He doesn’t yet realize his time is up. Like a chicken with his head cut off, he runs around wreaks havoc, but the reality is that he is powerless and impotent. He is dead. He is overcome by the finished work of Jesus for you on the cross. Jesus has had the final
Now, how does all this bring comfort to you in the midst of your terrors? You are a poor miserable sinner, utterly corrupt. True. But more than that you are a forgiven repentant sinner, completely justified. Sins committed and forgiven can no longer be held against you. Nevertheless, because of your two natures, the battle will continue for you till your last breath or Christ returns. You will sin and when you sin you are condemned to hell, but at the same time, in Jesus Christ, having been connected to Him in Holy Baptism, you are forgiven and restored to eternal life. Your sins are His and His righteousness is yours. Repent and believe the Gospel. Jesus for you
has the final word everyday.
One more thing to remember. Repentance is not a one time thing nor is it a transactional act. That is to say, you are not forgiven when you know your sins and are sorry for them. It doesn’t work like this: you sin, you repent, you are forgiven, you sin, you repent, you are forgiven (lather, rinse, repeat). Rather, to repent is a state of being. “You are repentant.” This means the Word of God has its way with you. When you are confronted with the Word of God you are changed, conformed to the image of Jesus. You die to self and live, move and have your being in Jesus, the Word-made-flesh. In other words, when preached the Law you say, “I am the man!” Then when preached the Gospel you say, “I am the man!” When you are repentant you have a “change of mind.” Your Old Man, having been killed by the Law and drowned daily in the remembrance of your Baptism, no longer condemns you. Therefore, you have nothing to fear. Your New Man, having been resurrection with Christ by the forgiveness of your sins received in Holy Baptism, is free to live and sin no more.
The tension between Old and New Man is a cross to bear, but look to Christ and His cross and remember that He is your final victory. You are now a saint in the forgiveness of your sins for Jesus’ sake. That will never be taken from you. Remain in His Word and Sacraments and you will have life and that to the fullest – a life in Christ.
Rev. Dustin L. Anderson, Pastor
Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church
What a great question! First of all, let me say that having a life of abuse can lead a person to despair and even a loss of faith! I thank God that His Spirit still resides in you as witnessed by your confession of faith in Jesus Christ!
As for reconciling the treatment of women, I believe you may have special insight into what I am about to tell you.
First of all, as Christians, we can never be understated in our belief that God has not changed between the Old and New testaments. If you look at the Old and New Testaments, you will see that God loves His people. You will see that God’s people sin against Him and you will see that God both judges and forgives His people. Those who have faith in Him are saved and those who don’t are lost. When God sent His only begotten Son, He didn’t do it to make a new religion, but rather to fulfill it. We only know God on account of Christ, and ” Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.(Heb 13:8). ”
As for the treatment of women, this explanation can be as long or short as you want it. I will try for a short answer first.
The truth is, how women were treated during the Old Testament Times and In the New Testament times is a reflection of sinful people treating each other badly. When God created the first woman, He did it because nothing was good enough, nothing was special enough to be the partner for the man He has created. It was because of that, God created a new creation. He made a woman to be a special and unique creation different from the man, yet totally compatible with Him. I don’t need to be a woman to say that “BEING A WOMAN IS AN AWESOME, AND SPECIAL BLESSING FROM GOD!” How can I say that without being a woman? Because I believe women were created by God, and God doesn’t make crummy things.
Moving on: Being “embattled in feminism” is tough. Too often, Feminism wants to tell women they are the same as men. The trouble with that interpretation is it doubts the beauty and majesty of the creation known as “woman”. It robs her of her uniqueness and it denies God His creative power in creating something special when He made women. Men and women are special creations of God. He designed us to love and respect one another. I am afraid you know all too well that people do not live up to their calling to do this when they do harm (physical, emotional, sexual) to you and others. Christians are called to ” Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Heb 13:3).”
I am sorry that you have been mistreated and I pray your assailants come to repentance for the evil they have done to you. So you see, the problem isn’t being a man or a woman… the problem is sin makes everyone suffer. (some more than others)
So when you look at the treatment of women in the ages past, please see it through the eyes of one who has been mistreated yourself. Know that it is not by God’s design that this happened to you or any other woman. Rather see that in a world filled with fallen and broken sinners, we are often victims of people sinning against both men and women.
Right now is a good time to see that distancing yourself from Christ is not the right thing to do. He is the God of the fallen and broken. He is the only true comfort that hurting people can find. God bless you as you nurture and grow in your faith.
I pray I have shed some light on this.
In His service and in yours,
–Rev. Brandt Hoffman
While there is no “official” Bible translation in the LCMS (we are free to choose a translation for use in our congregations), we have decided that for official publications: such as the Lectionary, Small Catechism, Hymnal, etc. we will currently use the ESV. A few years back the Commission on Worship conducted a Comparative Study of Bible Translations. You can view the study here:
Personally I tend to stick to the ESV and occasionally look at the NASB, HCSV, and NKJV. More and more, however, I am looking at these translations only after translating from the original languages.
Matthew Lorfeld, Pastor
Messiah Lutheran Church
La Crescent, MN
Interesting question. I believe the Holy Scriptures give us an example of the answer you are looking for.
In Genesis we see that Abram and Sarai were married even though Sarai was barren (Genesis 11:26). At no time did God chastise them for this. The same is true in the Gospels when we see Zechariah and Elizabeth. God not only withheld chastisement of them because of their inability to have children, they are referred to as being ” righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” (Luke 1:6) Does this mean they were sinless? No. It means they were faithful. Unfortunately, being faithful does not mean that all married couples will be able to have children according to God’s plan for marriage.
As we contrast this to your question about homosexual people, we can also discern two irrefutable facts:
1.The institution of marriage (man and woman) is neither the cause nor the flaw in barrenness. Sin is the reason our bodies and minds do not function properly.
2. Where the barren couples were not accused of sin because of their barrenness, people engaging in homophile behavior are accused of sin. (Rev. Fisk is clear on that point).
It’s important not to confuse the institution of marriage with the effects that a fallen and broken world has on it.
In His service and in yours,
–Rev. Brandt Hoffman