Andrew Hughes | Category: The Christian Life
While a Christian will rightly experience conviction of sin by the Spirit, Satan will often simultaneously seek to direct this consciousness and sensitivity towards sin down a road towards condemnation and despair. Have you felt that? Do you feel it now? I know I have. It can take your breath away, deplete all energy, and suck all the life right from you. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by—drowning in-- your sin?
A Word from Luther
Commenting on Galatians 1:4, Luther offers the following words of delight to a soul in despair:
Therefore let us fortify ourselves with these and similar statements of Paul. When the devil accuses us and says: “You are a sinner; therefore you are damned,” then we can answer him and say: “Because you say that I am a sinner, therefore I shall be righteous and be saved.” “No,” says the devil, “you will be damned.” “No,” I say, “for I take refuge in Christ, who has given Himself for my sins. Therefore, Satan, you will not prevail against me as you try to frighten me by showing me the magnitude of my sins and to plunge me into anguish, loss of faith, despair, hatred, contempt of God, and blasphemy. In fact, when you say that I am a sinner, you provide me with armor and weapons against yourself, so that I may slit your throat with your own sword and trample you underfoot. You yourself are preaching the glory of God to me; for you are reminding me, a miserable and condemned sinner, of the fatherly love of God, who ‘so loved the world that He gave His only Son, etc.’ (John 3:16). You are reminding me of the blessing of Christ my Redeemer. On His shoulders, not on mine, lie all my sins. For ‘the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all,’ and ‘for the transgressions of His people He was stricken’ (Is. 53:6, 8). Therefore when you say that I am a sinner, you do not frighten me; but you bring me immense consolation.”
Discovering Gospel Joy
Luther reminds us to turn to the cross; take refuge in the Gospel. Satan is merely reminding you of the glory of the cross.
If your hands aren’t raised in joy after reading Luther, let me venture to add one other reality taking place that can bring delight to your soul when in despair. This despair is often a perverse morphing from the righteous recognition of sin and conviction that the Spirit brings. So, when you begin to despair, take joy that you find sin shameful. Take joy that it doesn’t bring you ultimate satisfaction. Take joy that you even care about the sin! This is evidence of the Spirit... evidence of grace. When you see it this way, this will enable swift repentance and a righteous delight.
When you feel such an assault, here are 2 suggestions:
(1) Meditate on Romans 8:31-34 and
(2) Reflect on these words from Before the Throne of God Above:
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
 Luther, Martin: Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan (Hrsg.) ; Oswald, Hilton C. (Hrsg.) ; Lehmann, Helmut T. (Hrsg.): Luther's Works, Vol. 26 : Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4. Saint Louis : Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1963 (Luther's Works 26), S. 26:36
The purpose of our church blog is to serve the overall mission of our church: to delight in the beauty of God's greatness,