If you are going to be one… be a real one. If you are going to be one…be a strong one.
When preachers preach to you a set of watered down laws or principles for living, they are robbing from you what is rightly yours…a death resulting in the realization that you are a full blown sinner with no hope of ever cleaning up your act towards righteousness.
When a preacher holds out for you some examples of people who have cleaned up their act, who are not engaging in particular sins, and who are now doing all the things that God expects of them (though imperfectlty), he is setting you up for not falling.
“What are you talkin’ about Martin!?” “Preachers are supposed to help you straighten out your life and get back on track!”
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong…wrong!
Preachers aren’t responsible for you making a success out of your life. That’s your job (if you want it). A preacher might be able to give you some helpful tips or good advice in a particular area or point you in the right direction (not in a sermon), but that is not job #1 of the preacher. Job #1 of the preacher is to preach the full council of God that God’s Word might slay you and raise you again.
When the preacher doesn’t take sin all that seriously and believes that it is something that we can get a handle on if we try hard enough, or pray hard enough, or read our Bible hard enough…then he (or she) will be trying to reduce you to a 2nd Class Sin-i-tizen.
This will keep that old Adam or old Eve alive and kicking and will lower your status from a 1st Class Sinner to that of someone who really isn’t doing all that bad….at least compared to Joe and Mary Schlumpmeister… whose lives are REAL trainwrecks!
This is what Luther’s infamous letter (Sin Boldly) to Melancthon was all about. Luther said, in essence, quit worrying about guarding yourself from sin, Philipp, and live! Be a real sinner…because you have a real Savior!
Luther wasn’t advocating that anyone go out and commit sins, he was saying that you already do, and that by staring at your navel and focusing on your performance, you don’t make yourself better…but worse, for you are no longer free to serve your neighbor in love but instead are consumed with the self.
So do the best you can in life, work hard at your vocation, listen to God’s Word and partake of His sacraments, and know that there is no hope in what you do or don’t do for righteousness sake… because you are a 1st Class Sin-i-tizen.
But also know, that you are exactly the kind of person that He came for. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”