12 January 2007

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Another Walther gem:

"A Christian who will not continually fight against sin, earnestly strive after the virtues that please God, faithfully watch over his heart and life, and always pray for new power and grace soon ceases to be a Christian.... Many are also lost when, after they have been converted by the grace of God, they do not cooperate with the Holy Ghost. They think that, having fought through the difficult battle of repentance, they immediately enter the harbor of peace. Believing that grace does everything, they are deceived into the sleep of security, although that thought of grace should fill them with a desire to be godly. They do not watch, fight, or pray. They do not work out their salvation with fear and trembling, and behold, they are lost." p. 259 (God Grant It)


Pablo said...

I disagree with Walther. You don't have to be constantly navel gazing and trying to rip sin out of your life. Instead you look to the Christ and the rest will follow.

ptmccain said...

Pablo, your statement contradicts Sacred Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions.

Here is how one of our Lutheran teachers explains things:

Our sanctification in this life will remain imperfect, sometimes showing a minus, sometimes a plus, but never reaching perfection. Scripture [Vol. 3, Page 31] admonishes us to grow, increase, abound, in sanctification, Eph. 4:15; in every good work, 2 Cor. 9:8; in the work of the Lord, 1 Cor. 15:58; in the knowledge of God, in all patience and long-suffering, Col. 1:11; in the love of the brethren and of all men, 1 Thess. 3:12; in the knowledge of what is excellent, Phil. 1:10; in doing what pleases God, 1 Thess. 4:1; and couples these admonitions to grow in holiness with the admonition to keep on putting off the old man, Eph. 4:22. It is clear that the sanctification of even the most earnest Christians remains imperfect in this life.44 The σάρξ remains in Christians throughout this life, Rom. 7:14–24; Heb. 12:1, 45 and for this reason their sanctification remains imperfect throughout this life. Paul describes the situation in these words: “So, then, with the mind” (the new man) “I myself serve the Law of God, but with the flesh” (the old man) “the law of sin,” Rom. 7:25.46 The dogmaticians express it thus: Iustitia fidei sive imputata perfecta sive consummata est, iustitia vitae sive inhaerens imperfecta, inchoata, non consummata. (Baier-Walther, III, 312.)47

Perfectionism, which teaches that complete sanctification is attainable in this life,48 cannot dwell in the Christian heart, which daily [Vol. 3, Page 32] asks for the forgiveness of sin. Rome goes so far as to teach that certain individuals merit more holiness than they need for themselves, the surplus going to those who need it.49 Scripture denounces perfectionism as a lie. 1 John 1:8, 10: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us …. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” See also Prov. 20:9; Job 14:4; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 7:18–24; Matt. 6:12. 1 John 3:9: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him”—the favorite prooftext for perfectionism—describes the Christian according to the new man who maintains the dominion over the old man. The Apostle distinguishes between “committing sin” (ἁμαρτίαν ποιει̂ν, 1 John 3:9) and “having sin” (ἁμαρτιαν ἔχειν, 1 John 1:8). Christians do not “commit sin,” that is, they do not permit sin to rule over them, to give it free reign; they “have sin,” but in the power of the new man, the offspring of God, they control sin. Speaking of the same matter, Rom. 6:14 declares: “Sin shall have no dominion over you; for ye are not under the Law, but under grace.”[Vol. 3, Page 33]
The fact that sanctification in this life will always be imperfect must not be put forward as an excuse for the neglect of sanctification. On the contrary, it is God’s will and the will of the Christian that he strive after perfection;50 he wants to be fruitful, not only in some, but in all good works.51 It is characteristic of the true Christian life and the will of the new man that he refrain from every sin. The Christian is eager to serve God in all good works. “I delight in the Law of God after the inward man,” Rom. 7:22. And when Scripture calls Christians “perfect” also with regard to their life (“Let us, therefore, as many as be perfect,” Phil. 3:15), it takes “perfection” in the sense of “striving after perfection,” Phil. 3:13–14: “Forgetting these things that are behind and reaching forth unto those things that are before, I press toward the mark.”52
The Christian who does not strive to serve God alone is perilously close to losing his Christianity. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” Matt. 6:24; “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple,” Luke 14:33 (the entire passage, Luke 14:25–35, belongs here). Unsparing self-denial marks the Christian life. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me,” Matt. 16:24. The way to heaven leads through “the strait gate” and the “narrow way,” Matt. 7:13–14. Only he can go this way who is willing to cut off his hand and foot and pluck out his eye, Matt. 18:8–9. The Apostle Paul describes the Christian as one who exercises self-control in all things, πάντα ἐγκρατεύεται, 1 Cor. 9:25, and points to himself as an example: “I keep under” (ὑπωπιάζω—buffet, maul) “my body and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway,” 1 Cor. 9:27.53[Vol. 3, Page 34]

William Weedon said...

Or, said more concisely, and by apostolic injunction: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Christ is in you? - unless you fail to meet the test." [2 Cor. 13:5]

This is no "navel gazing" but the very thing that also St. Peter called for when he also instructed:

"Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." [2 Peter 1:10,11]