By Rev. Eric Brown
“We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.”
It was an interesting reaction. Jesus said that being in His Word would set people free, and their response was to get all huffy and offended. We’re good Jewish people, and we’ve never been enslaved to anyone! Say the people who are conquered citizens of the Roman Empire. Say the people who celebrate the Passover every year; the meal celebrating the night when God rescued them from slavery in Egypt.
Before we shake our heads at how silly they are, we should pause and take stock of our own situation. After all, that’s what Reformation is about. It’s not the time where we celebrate that we’re right and always have been. It’s the time where we acknowledge that as human beings we are prone to sin, prone to wander. It’s the time where we acknowledge that God must continually reform His Church (and His people!) by the power of His Word and Spirit.
Jesus understood the fact that “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” Sin warps and twists us; it blinds us to where we can’t see our own hypocrisy. This is why the Holy Spirit shows us our sin with the Law of God: to make us see our own sin and know where we’ve spun up false stories about how great we are. The Spirit’s Law makes us to understand the shape of our sin. Now, what shape your sin takes, I don’t know – but I do know that it’s there. We all have our blind spots and cherished lies that we cling to; and the Spirit will hammer those with the Law and repent us.
And whenever the Spirit brings us to repentance, what does Jesus do? He keeps coming to you again and again in His Gospel. He keeps giving you His forgiveness over and over. He returns you to your Baptism. He declares you forgiven. He gives you Himself in His Supper so that you grow in faith in love, so that you are free indeed.
Understand the spiritual battle going around you. Satan will constantly try to blind you with your own self-righteousness. And if left on our own – well, with might of ours could naught be done. But for you fights the Valiant One, Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior. And He sends forth His Spirit to bring you to repentance and to forgive you. He is by your side with His good gifts and Spirit, and this is how He reforms you. Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word!
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.