Daily Reform, Day 224
Galatians 3:2 and Matthew 8:23-27
From the Reformer
Our opponents regard faith as an easy thing, but I know from personal experience how hard it is to believe. That the Holy Ghost is received by faith, is quickly said, but not so quickly done.
All believers experience this difficulty. They would gladly embrace the Word with a full faith, but the flesh deters them. You see, our reason always thinks it is too easy and cheap to have righteousness, the Holy Spirit, and life everlasting by the mere hearing of the Gospel.
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
If faith were an easy thing, so many people would not fall from grace. (Gal 5:4) They struggle, as all do, with temptation and sin, and they fail. But they have not yet fallen from grace. This does not happen, as many suppose, when one does not withstand temptation, when one commits a sin. Heavens no. More faith is required after one commits a sin than when trying not to sin. It requires no faith at all to keep from sinning. Instead, this requires discipline (and that too requires God’s grace). But once one sins, the real storms begin, especially once one sins repeatedly. Then faith is very necessary but often hard to come by. It is made especially harder because keeping the faith requires nothing but faith. We imagine our lack of improvement is because we have not worked hard enough, so we increase the requirement of God’s grace. We reason, “If God is going to continue loving me, I had better work harder at being better. I had better row this boat harder!” But instead, as we try harder, we fail more, the result being that many give up and quit faith altogether.
Before you go that far, before you fall from grace, remember this simple solution provided by God. Live by the Spirit, not by the flesh. In simpler language, believe. When you fail in the temptation department, listen to Jesus again. When you sin, hear the Word of Christ once more. When you sin again, keep the faith; keep believing. But believe in the grace of God instead of in your ability to be religious. Do not row harder for the shore. Instead, stop rowing and cast anchor. Cast your anchor in Christ and you will weather the storms of faith.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with Luther in Galatians