We all tend to minimize our sinfulness. We look at the wrongs we have done and do everything we can to try and justify our actions. Doing this, however, fails to take full ownership of our sins. As Christians, we often admit that we need forgiveness, but we still do not like to acknowledge that our sins are utterly deplorable. We want to talk about sin and forgiveness, but we do not like to admit that we are indeed sinners. Deep down, we think, “surely we are not like many other people who are real sinners.” However, thinking like this makes us like the Pharisee, who scoffed at the tax collector–utterly in denial of the reality of his sin.
Martin Luther once wrote a letter to Melanchthon entitled, Let Your Sins Be Strong, where he addresses several different topics, including the tendency to downplay our sins. Luther says, “God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”
We must stop trying to diminish the sin we have committed in order to maintain dignity. We must let them be strong and look at them in all their wretchedness. We must see our sins as they mock God and refuse to obey Him in all His Holiness. Taking ownership of our sins is the only way we can bring what is ours to Him and say, “I need you to bear my punishment for these. There is nothing anyone can do to atone for these sins. Jesus, you are the only one.” His response to this request is, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Thanks to the cross, no sin can separate us from His love, for His sacrifice is entirely sufficient.
Today, let us consider the words of Martin Luther: “Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard, for you are quite a sinner.” Let us not try to justify our sins, for self-justification warrants nothing but death, but no sin can prevail against Christ’s justifying blood.
My sins are mine; I know them well.
They mock at God and damn to hell.
But by His blood, I am set free.
He paid my debt at Calvary.
God, be merciful to me, the sinner! – Luke 18:13