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Daily Reformation, Isaiah 55:1-9

From the Reformer

But you say: How can I trust surely that all my works are pleasing to God, when at times I fall, and talk, eat, drink, and sleep too much, or otherwise transgress, as I cannot help doing? Answer: This question shows that you still regard faith as a work among other works, and do not set it above all works. For it is the highest work for this very reason, because it remains and blots out these daily sins by not doubting that God is so kind to you as to wink at such daily transgression and weakness. Aye, even if a deadly sin should occur (which, however, never or rarely happens to those who live in faith and trust toward God), yet faith rises again and does not doubt that its sin is already gone; as it is written: “My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with God the Father, Jesus Christ, Who is the propitiation of all our sins.” (1 John 2) And: “For if we sin, we are Thine, knowing Thy power.” (Wisdom 15) And: “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.” (Proverbs 24) Yes, this confidence and faith must be so high and strong that the man knows that all his life and works are nothing but damnable sins before God’s judgment, as it is written: “In thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 143); and he must entirely despair of his works, believing that they cannot be good except through this faith, which looks for no judgment, but only for pure grace, favor, kindness and mercy, like David: “Thy loving kindness is ever before mine eyes, and I have trusted in Thy truth” (Psalm 26); and: “The light of Thy countenance is lift up upon us (that is, the knowledge of Thy grace through faith), and thereby hast Thou put gladness in my heart” (Psalm 4); for as faith trusts, so it receives.

—Martin Luther, Treatise on Good Works

Pulling It Together

“You will not go to heaven if you sin after receiving Christ.” Luther said that statements like this are made by those who put their trust in works, in their own abilities. David said that a righteous person falls down and gets back up again. Though he fail, he will avail himself of God’s mercy anyway. Dom Augustin Guillerand said, “God will know how to draw glory even from our faults. Not to be downcast after committing a fault is one of the true marks of sanctity.” Though you deserve judgment, you are offered grace. Take it. When you have done something dark and wicked, forsake those ways and return to the light of the Lord.

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

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