Christianity 201

February 4, 2016

Let Your Sins Be Strong…

Today we pay a return visit to Deb Wolf who writes at the devotional blog Counting My Blessings. The header we gave today’s post is meant to be provocative. Deb’s title, below clarifies it a little. Be sure to click through (on the title below) and look around the blog. (Her version of today’s post has some graphics!)

You are Free to Sin Boldly

You’ve heard the quote from Martin Luther, “Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.”

I woke up the other morning with the words “sin boldly” on my mind.

Not your typical opening thought for the day? Not mine either. I believe it was God’s nudge for me to write about this to start the discussion on—freedom to.

For two weeks I’ve looked at the freedom I have “from.” Now it’s time to look at the freedom I have “to.” Freedom to be who I am created to be. Freedom to plan my calendar. Freedom to love big. Freedom to live.

And part of living in this sinful world is well . . . sin.

So, when I woke up thinking “sin boldly” it seemed a good place to start. I am free to sin boldly.

You are too.

Wait a minute. What exactly does that mean?

I’ve read several articles from teachers whose students use Luther’s quote as an excuse to do as they please and disobey. Is that it?

Paul said, “Some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for Him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.) Romans 3:5


Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Romans 6:1–2

But you and I do continue to live in sin. No matter how hard we try, we’re going to sin.

I have times when my motives are far less than honorable. When my attitude stinks. When I’m tired and cranky and selfish. Times when I do the right thing because I’m supposed to not because I want to. Okay, that’s enough. I’m starting to squirm here.

Let’s take a look at Luther’s actual quote found in – A Letter from Luther to Melanchthon, written August 1, 1521

“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… 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.” ~Martin Luther

“We will commit sins while we are here…”

Hmmm. Yes, we will.

I believe Luther’s point is this—we’re not going to get it right!

While we are here we will commit sins, but does that mean we should sit in a corner all day with our Bibles in our laps avoiding life and people to protect ourselves from sin.

Absolutely not.

1 Comment »

  1. The attitude that allows one’s freedom to sin is most agregious to God. To start with, Martin Luther is not the authority on the Word of God…the Spirit is. Too frequently Bible scholars, in their wisdom, have resorted to the interpretations of others and have departed from examination of the Word and from the truth as revealed through the Spirit who is to the source of enlightenment.

    The point is often made that being fallible creatures mankind cannot help but sin allowing believers to embrace their “freedom” to do so. Peter wrote that “His divine power [the Holy Spirit] has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) That is, we need not sin. Further Paul wrote, “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man, to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”(Romans 8:3-4; See also Galatians 5:6-7) The believer is reminded that he is to work out his own salvation through fear and trembling so that “he might become blameless and pure without fault.(Philippians 2:12, 15)

    There seems to be a common understanding that the believer is “free to sin.” This is not so! All, starting with the household of God, will be judged for the things done in the flesh whether good or evil. Will we sin? Yes! Can it be forgiven? John makes it clear that repentance and confession can result in forgiveness. (1 John 1:9) The believer must be led by the Spirit. He must be obedient and it is through “obedience” that he will gain “eternal” salvation. (Hebrews 5:9) The result of being led is that he will become a “son of God.” (Romans 8:14) If he lives according to the sinful nature he will die. He must put to death the misdeeds of the body if he is to live. (Romans 8:13) You are correct in stating that we cannot help but sin, but the Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ in the believer, will not sin and will provide escape from temptations and recourse for those who do.

    The “freedom” through which you promote escape from sin’s penalty, is freedom from the jurisdiction of the Old Covenant’s authority over sin and the consequences of sin while subject to it. The one who confesses Christ’s lordship is also given the Spirit and right to the jurisdiction of the New Covenant, a covenant of the Spirit. It is through Christ living in one that the believer will be given enlightenment, leading, and empowerment so that he is able to satisfy the New Covenant and avoid sin. (Hebrews 9:15) The New Covenant is a covenant of the Spirit. Paul taught that “If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:18) The believer is not under the Covenant of the law, but he is under the covenant of the Spirit and he is not to sin.

    Although there are a great many references to the need to walk in the light and under the leadership of the Spirit, these are being ignored as spiritual educators hang onto the teachings of Martin Luther, John Calvin, etc. and set the Word aside.

    The Lord’s own teaching should give cause for concern: “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.” (John 8:34-35) A son is the one who is being led. Also, He revealed in His Revelation that it is those who “overcome” who will be allowed entry into His holy city, the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:7)

    There is a great deal more to be said on the issue of one’s supposed “freedom to sin” and the wise will examine it seriously from the Word of God rather than the word of man. Those who opt for such freedom will be surprised one day.

    Comment by Russell Young — February 5, 2016 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

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