Yesterday, after preaching from Galatians 1:1-5, I sat down and read Martin Luther’s comments on verse 4, “who gave himself for our sins.” They are too good to keep to myself, so I want to share some of them with you:
“The genius of Christianity takes the words of Paul ‘who gave himself’ for our sins as true and efficacious. We are not to look upon our sins as insignificant trifles. On the other hand, we are not to regard them as so terrible that we must despair. Learn to believe that Christ was given, not for picayune (petty) and imaginary transgressions, but for mountainous sins; not for one or two, but for all; not for sins that can be discarded, but for sins that are stubbornly ingrained.
“Practice this knowledge and fortify yourself against despair…when the memory of past sins assails the conscience. Say with confidence: ‘Christ, the Son of God, was given not for the righteous, but for sinners. If I had no sin I should not need Christ….
“‘Because my transgressions are multiplied and my own efforts at self-justification rather a hindrance than a furtherance, therefore Christ the son of God gave Himself into death for my sins.’ To believe this is to have eternal life.”
What Luther is teaching is what in our day is called “preaching the gospel to ourselves.” If we are going to grow in joy, peace, and holiness then we must learn to preach the gospel to ourselves on a regular basis.
Some ways for us to do this consistently are to memorize and meditate upon gospel rich phrases and passages; pray them and personalize them; and learn songs that exult in the glory of the gospel. At all costs fight for your faith in the gospel! Believe it’s promises for they are true!
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.