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Daily Reformation, Proverbs 1:20-33

From the Reformer

The greatest sins committed against God, are the violations of the first table of the law. No man understands or feels these sins, but he that has the Holy Ghost and the grace of God. Therefore people feeling secure, though they draw God’s wrath upon them, yet flatter themselves they still remain in God’s favor. Yea, they corrupt the Word of God, and condemn it; yet think they do that which is pleasing and a special service to God. As for example: Paul held the law of God to be the highest and most precious treasure on earth, as we do the gospel. He would venture life and blood to maintain it; and he thought he wanted neither understanding, wisdom, nor power. But before he could rightly look about him, and while he thought his cause most sure, then he heard another lesson, he got another manner of commission, and it was told him plainly, that all his works, actions, diligence and zeal, were quite against God. Yet his doings carried a fair favor with the learned and seeming holy people, who said, Paul dealt herein uprightly, and performed divine and holy works, in showing such zeal for God’s honor and for the law.

But God struck him on the ear, that he fell to the ground, and heard, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? As if he should say, Saul, even with that wherein thou thinkest to do me service, thou dost nothing but persecute me, as my greatest enemy. It is true, thou boastest that thou hast my word, that thou understandest the law, and wilt earnestly defend and maintain it; thou receivest testimony and authority from the elders and scribes, and in such they conceit and blind zeal thou proceedest. But know, that in my law I have commanded, that whoso taketh my name in vain shall die. Thou, Saul, takest my name in vain; therefore thou art justly punished. Whereupon he said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Mark, this man was a master in the law of Moses, and yet he asked what he should do.

—Martin Luther, Table Talk

Pulling It Together

“I’m right and you’re wrong” is one of the common errors of the churchman. His self-rightness has caused thousands of churches to divide, leaving hurt and humiliation in the wake. He will insist on being right even if damned and base it on scripture. Truth be told, too often it is a church tradition that is not based on the word of God but upon a cultural interpretation of a verse or even a phrase taken out of context. Paul, or rather Saul, was “right” and backed it up with scripture and it took God blind-siding him to spin him round the right direction. What will it take to turn you?

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

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