Faith in Your Sin: Thoughts Provoked by Luther

Luther says that “absolutely no man can ever discover or comprehend his wickedness, since it is infinite and eternal.” If sin is such that it infects us in the deepest sense, and we have completely and totally fallen and corrupt natures, then we cannot even know of the gravity of our sin. Indeed, even in not fully understanding our sinfulness, we perpetuate our sin. He continues, that the “knowledge of sin comes only through the Word of God.” If this is true, then the only way that we can truly know our sinful state is the direct revelation of God in the Scriptures. And if it is only by this revelation that we come to know our sinful state, then this revelation must be believed. Luther continues that “this hereditary sin is so deep a corruption of nature that reason cannot understand it. It must be believed because of the revelation in Scriptures.”

If this is the case, we only come to know our sinful state through “faith.” Is this a radical statement? We are sinful, and only through revelation do we come to know this. However, we must also believe this revelation as truth in order to truly understand our state. Then it seems that before we are able to trust in Christ by grace through faith, we must also believe that we are sinful, but it appears that this also must come by grace through faith. If this is correct, then the last remaining stronghold of self-sufficiency is finally and utterly destroyed. We accept that trust in Christ comes by grace through faith, but we must also accept that even what we thought we could do on our own (know our own sinfulness) comes also by grace through faith! Does this not mean that our entire redemption comes solely through grace? Our salvation, from start to finish, comes through grace alone. Does our fallen nature even resist and rebel against this very concept? Is this easy to embrace?

...for through the Law comes knowledge of grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Rom 3:20, Eph 2:8).

Read: Louse, Bernhard Martin Luther's Theology: Its Historical and Systematic Development, 248-57.
Martin Luther
November 6, 2006


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