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Psalm 32

 

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (ESV)

Declared So

Tuesday of Lent 2

3 March 2015

Why do we so struggle with repentance? Why do we prefer to hide our sin and try to shove it under the rug? Why is it we strive mightily to cover our own shame, rather than face it? I believe in many cases, it is because we don't really believe that God's promise to declare us righteous for the sake of Christ is true. We don't believe that God will stand by His word and promise to us. Christians sometimes live like Jehovah's Witnesses or Unitarians because they live like the eternal Son of God did not produce a salvation for the sins of the whole world by His suffering and death. Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarians do not and cannot believe that Jesus could save the world, because they claim that He is not God. While we believe that he is God, we live like He is not God when we doubt that His substitutionary death could pay for the sins of the whole world, and especially our sins. We, who ought to revel in the divine mercy, spend far too much heaping up excuses for our bad behavior, finding reasons why our sin is acceptable, blaming it on somebody else or even on God Himself (Gn 3:12-13).

 

Why should we be ashamed to own up to our sin, when our heavenly Father has not been ashamed to face up to it in the person of His own Son. He endured the cross, scorning its shame (Heb 12:2), to bear our sins, every last one of them. Why should we hide our face from them, if He has not? Oh, I don't mean that we should revel in sin or delight in it; that would be a shame to Christ Himself. But we ought to face up to them in confession, as did all the great saints of the Bible, such as King David (Ps 32, 51, etc.). We should have no fear of such confession because we have a living God who has redeemed us with precious blood, which washes away all sin. If the One who has offered Himself for us is very God of very God, why should we have any doubt that what He has done for us in anything less than divinely perfect?

 

God has promised that what is His is also ours. He is righteousness and has declared us to be partakers of that same righteousness for Christ's sake. Unlike us, God does not keep His riches to Himself. He is a living God, and gives life to the dead. All power is His, and He gives strength to the weak. He declares His righteousness, and declares it ours. We who are sinners are no longer seen to be so because we are covered with a righteousness that is not our own. It is Christ's. This makes salvation easy, but only from our side. It requires nothing of us, because it cannot be received by works. This makes the divine righteousness open to all persons, no matter how enfeebled by death-dealing sin. No one is too far gone to receive the ultimately healing care of a God who declares righteous. Let's glory in His righteousness. He declares it ours.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"'[All] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith' (Rm 3:24-25).What is declaring righteous? Like the declaring of His riches, it is not only for God to be rich Himself, but also to make others rich. Or in regard to life, not only that He Himself is living, but also that God makes the dead to live. In regard to His power, not only that He Himself is powerful, but also that God makes the feeble powerful. So also is the declaring of His righteousness not only that He Himself is righteous, but that He also makes those who are filled with decayed sin suddenly righteous.

 

To explain "declaring" Paul added, 'That he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus' (Rm 3:26). Do not doubt that it is not by works, but by faith. Do not shun the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways: it is easy and also open to all people. Do not be disconcerted and shamefaced. For if He openly shows that He does this, and He, so to speak, finds delight and pride in it, how could you be dejected and hide your face from what your Master glories in?

 

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 7

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, keep us steadfast in Your word and promise that we may ever believe that you have declared us possessed of Your righteousness. Free us from our own shame and doubt that arise from our own weakness. Help us to live as children You have adopted into Your family the church. Amen.

 

For the people who serve the church at Concordia Publishing House, that they would continue to support the proclamation of the truth through publishing works faithful to holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions

 

For David McKeand, that the good Shepherd would bring him strength and healing

 

In thanksgiving to God for the gifts of His creation, that we might enjoy the fruits of the earth

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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