Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Mirror

You wake up after a restful nights sleep. One of the first things you invariably do is take a look in the mirror. You generally don't look like you did when you laid down for the night as your ruffled hair and sleepy eyes testify. Martin Luther uses the analogy of the mirror when talking about the ten commandments and how they show that we all fall short of the glory and righteousness of God. It shows us our sin.

God's Law is so important - in fact crucial - in showing us our need for the cross of Jesus Christ and his payment for our sins. When witnessing it is so important to present the Law, for otherwise the Gospel is a cure for an illness most don't even know they have. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18). Presenting the law makes the Gospel necessary, truly showing the love of the Father.

The ten commandments can be a simple way of imparting God's Law to unbelievers. Most think they are a good person. Go ahead, ask ten of your unbelieving friends if they think they are good (unfortunately your saved friends may give the same answer). Nine out of ten will likely say they are good. Go through the commandments with them, show them the measure isn't whether or not they are good when compared to fellow man, it is whether or not they are good according to God's standards, the moral Law, embodied in the ten commandments.

God will judge them on that last day - will they be guilty? A just judge would find a criminal guilty, and God IS just, and will provide justice through punishment in hell. Eternity in hell is a just punishment for crimes made against an infinite God. The Good News is that He provided a way for all to have their sentence fulfilled - the ability to come to him washed clean in the saving blood of His son Jesus Christ. Each person has to come to this realization that they have sinned against a just and holy God. They can exercise their free will by asking God to save them from the wrath to come, repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus as their only savior, the only one provided by the Father. The Holy Spirit will work faith in them, and they will receive salvation.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the biggest sinner of all?


Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Hi Ron,

Nice post. It is true: without the mirror of God's Law we do not truly realize our need for God's salvation in Christ. Sadly, even when looking into the mirror of the Law, we still resist seeing ourselves as we really are. We still manage to imagine that we are OK and only need to work on our image a bit. Like the rich man who wanted to follow Jesus, (Matt. 19) we imagine that we have honored our parents, loved our neighbor, never killed anyone nor stolen nor committed adultery. Yet when we looked honestly into the mirror we see that ruffled hair and sleepy eyes are only the surface of our image and that looking more deeply we are really rotten to the core. Most of us have not shot or stabbed anyone, yet we have been agry without cause and held a grudge. Most of us have only rebelled in small ways against our parents and their guidance and so we imagine that we have honored them. Most of us have not defiled the marriage bed by directly going to bed with someone other than our spouse and therefore do not see that even looking selfishly upon our spouse is adultery.

Thus the image we see in the mirror can often be that of the Pharisee who looked upon the tax collector and thanked God that he was not like him. Thus we may look upon our mirrorred image and be glad that we are not like our unbelieving friends, thanking God that we are "confessional Lutherans."

You are absolutely right about what the Ten Commandments show us. We, too, are unbelievers who need the Holy Spirit to work saving faith in us. We, too, need to be taught by the Holy Spirit that repentance is more than being sorry for our sins, but is the condition of being turned from ourselves to Jesus, seeking Him His life through Word and Sacrament.

Yes, you are right, we unbelievers do need to realize that we have sinned against God and are without hope. We need to be converted daily, hourly, even moment by moment, to trust in the saving merit of Christ crucified. We need to be stripped bare with Jesus on the cross, with all our naked sinfulness exposed, so that we realize that our will is not free, but must be set free by the truth so that we do not seek to be holy by our works righteous view of our own beliefs and be turned instead to the will of God by which Jesus suffered and died for us, the enemies of God.

Then we will not imagine that we have done anything good, but will trust in the one who is good. Then, rather than thanking God that we are not like our unbelieving friends, instead will humbly and joyously partake of the means of God's grace and strengthened and renewed by them we will invite our friends to come and kneel with us to receive God's gifts of grace, too.

If we really want to be "good witnesses to our friends" we need to stand beside them when we hold up the mirror. Then they will see that God truly does save sinners, because they will see that He continually saves us.

Keep up the good posts!

Shelly Rayedeane said...
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