Lead me not into temptation; I can find the way myself. – Church marquee Forbidden fruit creates many jams. – Church marquee
Hundreds of years ago, one of the great church fathers, Martin Luther, patterned his whole day around ensuring that he didn’t sin. He was terrified that if he sinned, he would lose his salvation. Every evening he’d wrack his brain, trying to remember if he did something, said something, or thought something sinful.
Have you ever done that? It’s pretty miserable just to think about, isn’t it? If you believe that by sinning you can lose your salvation, tons of questions come up. How many sins do you have to commit to get booted out of the family? Or is it qualitative? Is there a “badness scale” of sin on which we can rate ourselves? Where is murder? Rape? Suicide? Adultery? Child abuse? Lust? Stealing? What about laziness or procrastination? How do we know if something is really a sin or not?
And the ultimate question (let’s be honest) is who gets to decide this stuff and why? (Don’t ask me to decide. I wouldn’t know where to start.) Thankfully, Paul has an answer:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
Paul lists all of the things he could possibly imagine that might separate us from the love of God. Then, just to make sure he’s covered it all, he finishes with, “nor anything else in all creation.” In other words, nothing can separate us from God’s love.
Luther, too, eventually realized that being born into God’s family meant that God had ascribed Jesus’ righteousness to him based on what Christ had done for him. He only needed to receive and embrace the finished work of Christ in faith – period. It was God’s work, and not his that kept his salvation secure. That’s a powerful truth that can protect your head from a lot of unanswerable questions!
Righteous God, I humbly and joyfully embrace the fact that I am born into Your family and no sin can erase my salvation. Awaken me to the truth that my salvation is all about You, not me. Amen.
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