Going Sane

Daily Reform, Day 215

Galatians 3:2 and Jeremiah 6:9-15

From the Reformer

Our opponents are not satisfied. They reply: “Granted that Cornelius was a Gentile and did not receive the Holy Ghost by the Law, yet the text plainly states that he was a devout man who feared God, gave alms, and prayed. Don’t you think he deserved the gift of the Holy Ghost?”

I answer: Cornelius had the faith of the fathers who were saved by faith in the Christ to come. If Cornelius had died before Christ, he would have been saved because he believed in the Christ to come. But because the Messiah had already come, Cornelius had to be apprized of the fact. Since Christ has come we cannot be saved by faith in the Christ to come, but we must believe that he has come. The object of Peter’s visit was to acquaint Cornelius with the fact that Christ was no longer to be looked for, because He is here.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

We try the latest diet but the old problems remain despite the latest fad or book. We feel down so we try to engage with someone who seems chipper but the old feelings persist. We try and try to do things that will make us feel better about ourselves but they do not work. Yet, we will inevitably try again. And we will fail as long as we are doing two things: 1. trying to fix the wrong thing, and 2. trying to fix it ourselves.

1. The wrong thing to fix is feelings. “I want to feel better.” How do you fix what you cannot identify? That is why it is called a feeling; it is subjective. What needs fixed is the thing that controls feelings. Fix that area of your being where peace may prevail in spite of what is going on around you.

2. You may have heard the adage, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Consider a new spin on that proverb: Insanity is hiring the same guy to fix things who has never been able to fix it before. You will never fix yourself.

This is essentially the news that Peter brought to the house of Cornelius. All the religious acts of his life were fine but they would never add up to salvation—no matter how much he did, how often, or for how many. Righteous deeds would not change the balance of righteousness for Cornelius—nor will your deeds for you. Peter’s message was that the Savior whom Cornelius awaited had come. He had been saved. And if already saved, he had no need to do anything to be saved. Cornelius believed that message. How do you think he felt when he believed someone else had done all the work for him? I imagine he felt like he had gone sane. He need not continue doing the same things and getting the same results. Jesus had done something different for Cornelius and gotten the desired result. Peace. With God. No matter how he felt.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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