Daily Reform, Day 103
Galatians 2:14 & John 1:9-13
From the Reformer
The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian. I must confess that in times of temptation I do not always know how to do it. To divide Law and Gospel means to place the Gospel in heaven, and to keep the Law on earth; to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly, and the righteousness of the Law earthly; to put as much difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and that of the Law, as there is difference between day and night. If it is a question of faith or conscience, ignore the Law entirely. If it is a question of works, then lift high the lantern of works and the righteousness of the Law. If your conscience is oppressed with a sense of sin, talk to your conscience. Say: “You are now groveling in the dirt. You are now a laboring ass. Go ahead, and carry your burden. But why don’t you mount up to heaven? There the Law cannot follow you!” Leave the ass burdened with laws behind in the valley. But your conscience, let it ascend with Isaac into the mountain.
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We generally think of this as a request that God’s purposes would be accomplished on earth, just like they are in heaven. We may not think about what this petition specifically means. If we do, I suspect it is in terms of the earth being a better place for us to live. God must be interested in this too but I wonder if Jesus had more in mind when he taught us to pray this way.
What if we applied this petition to ourselves in the area of sin? Our sin. Not the other guys’ sins. It is easy enough to think, Sure. Thy will be done. Make me sin no more! But again, there must be more to it. After all, God knows we sin. And we know it too. Hopefully, you try to live up to God’s grace by keeping his commands. It goes without saying that you will fail in the effort. You will sin. So with that knowledge in mind, can we apply the petition to the fact of our sin?
God’s will is that we have eternal life with him. So when you sin, and the righteousness of the “earthly” Law accuses you, and the devil then urges you to give up your pie-in-the-sky belief, pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven, under God’s gracious Gospel, you are forgiven. His will in your sinful life on earth is that the righteousness of his grace would always outshine the accusations of the Law, which if you only listen to it, will keep you in the dark. May his will be done as you keep your conscience exposed to the light of the Gospel truth that you are not birthed by the will of the flesh but by the will of God. (John 1:13)
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers