God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ Luke 18:13
One of the tendencies we can often fall into is trying to minimize our sin. We look at wrongs we have done and do everything we can to try and justify our actions, but this is not taking full ownership of our sins. Many times, as Christians, we admit that we need to be forgiven, but we still don’t like to admit to the fact that our sins are utterly deplorable. We like to talk about our sin and forgiveness but we do not like to admit that we are really sinners. Deep down we think surely we are not like many other people who are real sinners. Thinking like this, however, makes us like the pharisee who scoffed at the tax collector–utterly in denial of the reality of our own sin.
Martin Luther once wrote a letter to Melanchthon entitled, “Let Your Sins Be Strong,” addressing 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 justify the sin we commit 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 be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Because of this, there is no sin that will be able to separate us from Him, for His sacrifice was fully 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 against Christ’s justifying blood, no sin can prevail.
My sins are mine I know them well
They mock at God and damn to hell
But through His blood I am set free,
He paid my debt at Calvary.