Reflections: April 29, 2021
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
By Alfonso Espinosa
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The forgiveness of sins is not permission to sin. The Holy Spirit teaches us through Peter that we are not to go along with sin. Christians easily get confused. "But if we are daily to return to our Baptisms by confessing our sin, how can we not sin?" In other words, it sounds like God's Word is saying, "Don't sin!" AND "Confess your sins every day because you do sin!"
God's Word is not contradicting itself. We sin out of the weakness of our sinful nature. No matter how hard you try, you will feel the weakness of your flesh, because sin is always there and that means that you sin every day. This, however, is not the same as following sin and treating it as your master, because you have a new Master: Jesus! He has forgiven your sins. In other words, there is a vast difference between feeling, confessing, resisting, and battling sin on the one hand versus going along with sin, deliberately living in it, and permitting it to control your life. These two could not be more different.
If sin controls us, we excuse it and go along with it, saying, "That's just the way I am." If Christ controls us, then we hate sin, are in pain over it, and fight it, so that when we do sin, we never excuse it, but confess it. The difference is night and day. Thus, as Christians we listen to Peter and "abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul."
But how? Return to Christ who took your sin. Return to your Holy Baptism, when you died in Christ, so that when sin comes knocking on your door to tempt you, you can answer by saying, "That sinner doesn't live here anymore because He died with Jesus!" Then go forth following in Jesus, and when you do sin, don't laugh it off, but come running back to Jesus who on the Cross heaped it on Himself to cover it with His blood. Rejoice! You are a sojourner and exile as you travel through this world of sin. You don't belong to sin, you belong to Jesus and His Kingdom, so when you're tempted to sin, get back to your real Master! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
LORD Jesus Christ, in Your deep compassion You rescue us from whatever may hurt us. Teach us to love You above all things and to love our neighbors as ourselves; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA. He is also the author of two books: Faith That Sees Through the Culture and Faith That Engages the Culture.
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