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You Will Trample the Lion and the Dragon. Invocabit 2018.

February 20, 2018 Leave a comment

serpent trampledInvocabit—The First Sunday in Lent

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Matthew 4:1-11

February 18, 2018

You Will Trample the Lion and the Dragon

 

Iesu Iuva

 

You really had a lot of nerve. Now you’re surprised that you have enemies who are waiting for you to fall.  You tell yourself that if they just knew how good your intentions are they wouldn’t be angry.  But you forget what you stood up and claimed in front of the altar of God.  Twice, most of you.

 

Do you renounce the devil?  Do you renounce all his works?  Do you renounce all his ways?  Do you believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?  Do you desire to be baptized?  And the second time they asked, “Do you acknowledge the gifts God gave you in your baptism?”  And you said, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.”

 

You were the one with the nerve to claim to be a son of God.  You were the one who claimed to be free from the devil’s power and no longer destined for the eternal fire prepared for him and all who follow him.

 

So now he tests you, like a thousand degree furnace tests a bar of metal.  And the whole world of people that has given their allegiance to Satan tests you too.  Let’s see if you’re really a son of God, or if you’re really just like us and just putting on airs.

 

“To tempt” in the biblical sense is “to test,” the way you might test a car on empty highway with no police around.  With the pedal to the floor.  To see what it can do, what it can take, how it will hold up under stress.

 

The world tests you because it wants to prove to itself that God’s Word is not true; it wants to prove that it’s not going to be judged.  Your flesh tempts you because it doesn’t want to be affixed to the cross, pinned there, unable to break free, until it suffocates.

 

And the devil tests you.  He never sleeps.  He never stops.  He is a lion hunting gazelles.  When he isn’t pouncing on the unwary, he stalks.  He hides in the grass, motionless, watching.

 

Then, suddenly, he’s with you.  Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, Jesus told Peter on the night of His arrest (Luke 22:31).  Now he has you in his sieve and shakes you to find out if there is any wheat with the chaff, if you are a son of God.

 

And what are the results of this testing, this temptation?  What remains of you after the lion has pounced on you?  Did you, like Samson, tear the lion in pieces (Judges 14) by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Or like the boy David, did you catch him by his beard and strike him and kill him (1 Sam. 17:35)?  Did you overcome the Philistine giant?  Did you show yourself to be a son of the Most High?

 

No.  No you did not.  You were tested in your claim to be a son of God, and you were found wanting.  The rooster crowed.

 

Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:3)  A son of God knows this and is free.  A son of God knows that life is more than food and the body is more than clothing (Matt. 6:25).  He serves God, not earthly possessions.  He trusts in God, not in food, drink, house, clothes, cars, money.

 

But when the devil tested to see whether you would trust God when the cupboard was bare, you bowed down to your stomach.  You acted like a slave, not a king, not a son of God.  You were willing to be unfaithful to the Lord whose name you bear if it seemed like your income was threatened, like a comfortable life would be denied you or your children.

 

And other times, you acted as if you were more spiritual than God.  Your Father called you and appointed you to a place in His kingdom, to serve certain people.  [But when the devil tempted you not to fulfill your calling and use the means He had given you to carry it out, you liked the devil’s way better.  You neglected the Word and the Sacraments and said, God can give Me His Spirit another way.  You said, “God will make His Word bear fruit,” and you neglected to work to spread that Word, to teach it diligently to your children, to do everything in your power to not cause people to stumble over His Word.]

 

And when your Lord told you He must be rejected and killed in Jerusalem, and then rise from the dead, and when He told you that you also would have to be rejected by the world and die, you didn’t listen.  You thought He was being metaphorical.  He is the Son of God, and sons of God don’t get killed by the world.  They conquer the world.

 

So Satan whispered to you every time the world opposed you for Christ’s sake, every time the world opposed another Christian who faithfully confessed Jesus and His Word, he whispered, “The world is not being conquered.  You must be doing it wrong.”  And you listened to Satan.  You wanted to gain the world—for Jesus, of course—so you lived your whole life trying to never offend anyone with Jesus’ Word.  All this I will give you if you will fall down and prostrate yourself before me, said the adversary Satan to Jesus.  But this hasn’t turned out to be true for the Christian Church in our country.  We haven’t gained the whole world. The world just walks all over us.  By agreeing not to offend anyone in Jesus’ name, you have bent the knee to the prince of this world, in the hopes that he would give the world to you.

 

Instead, he only laughs at you.  You have been tested, and you have failed the test.  There are so many circumstances under which you will abandon your God.  But a true son of God, in whom God is well-pleased, trusts God and never departs from Him.  That is why God counts him worthy to be called His Son and to inherit eternal life with Him.

 

The one who conquers the devil and his tests will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the unbelieving, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.  (Rev. 21: 7-8)

 

A son of God conquers the devil and does not depart from God.  And the devil’s tests reveal that you are not by nature a son of God.  Your inclination is to depart from God, like Adam your father, like Eve your mother, like the devil himself.

 

When Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit, he was wet baptism in the Jordan River.  When He was baptized, a voice came from heaven: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (Mt. 3:17).  How many of you who are fathers have ever felt that way when you looked at your son?  How many of you children ever felt your father’s approval that way, that your Father was well-pleased with you?

 

But then Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to be tested by the devil.  At the end of forty days and forty nights of fasting, when Jesus was weak with hunger, the lion pounced on Him.  Just like you are tempted as a baptized Christian.  He tested Jesus to see whether he would still be the Son of God when he was famished and weak, or whether he would break as every human being had in thousands of years.

 

But unlike us, Jesus passed the tests.  Jesus believed the Word that had been spoken about Him from heaven, that He is the well-pleasing, beloved Son of God.  And the devil’s tests only proved Him to be God’s Son.  He did not trade in His inheritance for a few loaves of stones made into bread, but was fed by the words that came from the Lord’s mouth.  Those same words came from His mouth in the time of temptation, and they defended Him.  He did not test God to prove that He was His Son by doing an unnecessary miracle.  He patiently held to God’s Word as His rock while the howling storm of temptation tried to pull Him away.

 

And when the devil showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory, and promised to give Him the world in an easier way, Jesus despised both the devil and the glory of the world.  A king does not pay homage to His slaves, much less to his enemies.  A Son of God does not fall down and worship the devil.  He trusts in the Lord, God His Father, and seeks the glory of His Kingdom.

 

Jesus did not seek that glory for Himself.  He was seeking it for the people of the kingdoms of the earth, who are held under Satan’s power and deceived by his lies.  Jesus knew that Satan must be overcome if people are to inherit the kingdom of God and be His sons.

 

So that is what He came to do.  When He was baptized with John’s baptism of repentance, Jesus was announcing Himself to be a sinner.  Since Jesus was not a sinner, and since it would be a lie to receive a baptism of repentance if you have no sin, what was Jesus doing?  He was receiving sin, becoming sin, so that He might take it away, pay for the sins of all people, and make them sons of God.

 

When the devil presented him with a different way to reign over the earth, Jesus spoke to the devil like he was a dog or a slave: Get out, Satan.  Our Lord was not afraid of Satan, because Satan, although he is stronger than human beings is nothing compared to God.  And God has now become a human being.

 

Jesus knew what this meant.  It meant warfare with Satan.  It meant a life of suffering.  It meant hatred from the world, and the worst death it could give Him.  It meant enduring God’s condemnation and the suffering we have earned for turning away from God, falling from God.

 

But He despised the devil and embraced the war.  He did it to conquer Satan, to break His back.  At His temptation He proved Himself to be the Son of God.  But He also showed Himself to be our conqueror, our victor.  He was victorious over Satan’s temptations for us.  And when He tasted death and God’s wrath on the cross, He entered into battle with all our falls and sins and destroyed them too.

 

Jesus is our victory over Satan.  None of your falls excludes you from being God’s Son, because the well-beloved Son of God destroyed them on the cross.  Your falls are not your own.  God says they have passed away, departed.  They lie in the grave with Jesus, and you have emerged from the grave with Jesus.  And when sin shows up, and you fail to conquer the devil, you plunge them into Jesus’ wounds, into His grave, into the waters in which you died with Him.  And you come out with Him again, a Son of God and a conqueror.

 

Because Jesus has conquered Satan, here at His temptation and finally at the cross, you will also conquer him.  You will tread on the lion and the cobra.  You will walk on Satan’s back, as he and the world have walked on yours.  You will overcome his temptations through faith in the Son of God.

 

Not that you can do it through hard work and positive thinking.  Not you, but Christ who lives in you will do it, because He already has destroyed the devil’s power.  He has taken away your sin and made it His own.

 

He will stand with you when you are tempted, with great pity.  For we do not have a high priest [ch. 5:2; Isa. 53:3]who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been [See ver. 14 above]tempted as we are, ch. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5; [ch. 7:26; John 8:46; 14:30]yet without sin. (Hebrews 2:15).  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 2:16). 

 

Let us draw near to our Lord’s altar, where He will give us mercy, His body and blood that have removed the record of our falls and have made us sons of God and more than conquerors through Him that loved us.  Let us draw near to Him and remember His bitter suffering and death for our sins at His table.  Then let us go forth as the sons of God we are, ready to fight and conquer the devil, the world, and our flesh.

 

With might of ours can naught be done, Soon were our loss effected…

But for us fights the Valiant One, Whom God Himself elected.

Ask ye, who is this?  Jesus Christ it is,

Of Sabaoth Lord,  And there’s none other God.

He holds the field forever. 

 

The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

 

 

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The First Battle of Jesus’ Reformation. Invocabit, The First Sunday in Lent, 2017. St. Matthew 4:1-11

 

temptation-of-christInvocabit, the First Sunday in Lent

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Matthew 4:1-11

March 5, 2017

“The First Battle of Jesus’ Reformation”

Iesu Iuva

 

You have been hearing this year about the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, how God revealed to the world again the truly good news of Jesus after it had been buried under teachings of men and demons.  Martin Luther was the human instrument through whom God accomplished this.

 

But what happened with Luther was only one act in the play.  Reformation began long before this.  The stage was set for it in eternity.  The drama began when God spoke this threat to the serpent in the garden: I will put [hostility] between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.  (Gen. 3:15)  When Jesus came out of the Jordan River, still wet from being baptized, the table was set, and the drama began.

 

Jesus came into the world to bring about reformation.  He didn’t come to reform a corrupt government, or even to reform a corrupt religious establishment. He came to destroy the root of the world’s corruption—to dethrone the fallen spirit that had set himself up as the world’s god, and to set free the people God made to bear His own image and likeness. Jesus was here to bring about a reformation of the world, make the world into a temple, where people would worship God in every thought, word, and action, with every breath.  This worship of God, this obedience of God, comes through faith in the true God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

 

All the evil we see in the world—cheating and lying, hatred and killing, immorality, dishonoring God—all of it comes from unbelief, non-trust in the true God.

 

So Jesus entered the world, as God had promised long before, to crush the serpent’s head, make people free from his corruption, and bring about reformation.  To bring them to faith in God & release them from worship of Satan, belief in his lies.

 

He was conceived in the womb of Mary through the Holy Spirit, born in the Bethlehem stall.  For the next few decades we hear little about Him, until He appears at the Jordan River to be baptized with the crowds who were confessing their sins that those sins might be washed away.

 

When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and the Father’s voice sounded from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  (Matt. 3:17)  Jesus’ reformation began in earnest.  Jesus had come to the Jordan with no sins to confess.  Nevertheless, He was baptized with the sinners.  The only-begotten Son of God was baptized as a sinner because He had taken the burden of humanity, its sin and its redemption, upon Himself.

 

Then in the Gospel for today, Matthew chapter 4, we hear how the Holy Spirit brought Him to the first battle of His work of reforming the world.  “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  (Matt. 4:1)  Any reformer of any kind has to fight.  If you want to reform a corrupt city government, you will have a fight on your hands from the corrupt politicians who are in power and all the people who benefit from the corruption.  When Luther tried to reform the practice of granting indulgences, he was quickly attacked by the powerful bishops, including the Pope, who profited from the sale of indulgences.

 

Jesus came to reform something much bigger than a city government or even the Church; He came to reform the whole world.  He had to have a confrontation with the ruler of this corrupt world—the devil.

 

But what Jesus experienced as soon as He was baptized happens to everyone who comes after Him.  When you brought your little ones to be baptized into Jesus, you were bringing them to be baptized into His fight with Satan.  As long as you are a Christian and lay claim to the benefits of your baptism, to peace and union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to the forgiveness of your sins, you can’t avoid a fight with the devil and all who are his.  You must suffer his attacks, and you must fight. You must be tempted.  When the fight ends, when the temptation ends, so does your salvation.

 

The Holy Spirit leads Jesus into this fight, and to prepare Him for it, He lets Jesus fast for 40 days.  Jesus is weak almost to the point of death when the devil appears to test Him.  And the tests the devil brings are all temptations to presumption, to pride.  “You are God’s Son,” Satan says.  “Since you’re God’s Son, why should you have to starve out here in the desert?  40 days of fasting?  How unreasonable your Father is to make things so hard and painful for you!  You shouldn’t have to deal with the irritations and humiliations that human beings have because of their sin and unfaithfulness to God when you’re righteous!  The angels should carry you around!  Why doesn’t Your Father let you show Your glory so that these people give you the honor that is due you?”

 

Later Jesus would teach His disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”  The Small Catechism, the handbook of Christian faith and life Luther drew from the Scriptures, explains that part of the Lord’s Prayer in this way, “We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice.  Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we would finally overcome them and win the victory.” 

 

We usually think of temptation as the devil trying to persuade us to commit grave moral lapses.  Of course he does that.  But the heart of all the devil’s temptations has to do with faith.  Despair is when the devil convinces us that we cannot be saved, that we cannot believe that God has forgiven our sins.  The other, “false belief”, refers to presumption, false confidence, where our faith rests not on God’s promise but on ourselves—our past good works, our past experiences of being close to God, our feelings.

 

The devil tries Jesus with presumption and false belief.  “You are God’s Son.  Why should you have to hunger and be meek and suffer?  Shouldn’t your Father honor you and give you glory and rewards instead of this humiliation?”

 

Then he lets loose a barrage of flaming arrows at Jesus in his third temptation, in a desperate attempt to get Jesus to fall, like all other human beings have before.  “I know that you have come to take possession of the world,” Satan says.  “You are the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed king.  The Scriptures say you are going to rule all the nations.  Well, here, have a look at them.  You can take possession of them all, right now.  They’re yours.  I’ll give them up.  Just give me my due.  Fall down and worship me.  No one will ever know.  I won’t make you fast for 40 days or suffer humiliation like your Father is doing to you.  It will be quick and easy.”

 

We have to give the devil his due, the saying goes.  This is an evil world, and things don’t go so smoothly for us when we don’t play by its rules.  Christians often give the devil his due too.  We often believe that there is no other way to survive.  (Examples)

 

But Jesus gives Satan—nothing.  Nothing except God’s Word from the Scriptures, which silences his lies and expose his fraud.  Satan is driven off, beaten.  The first man in history has refused his offers and been faithful to God.

 

Jesus could easily have overwhelmed Satan with His power and glory.  He could have done that without coming to earth.  But that wouldn’t have helped us.  Using His divine, almighty power to destroy Satan would have meant destroying all of Satan’s servants as well.

 

Instead Jesus came to reform the world and crush Satan not with overwhelming power but with faith in God and the obedience that comes from faith.  Jesus trusts His Father and accepts His will, even when that will means being humbled and suffering for our sins.  By this humble faith and trusting obedience to His Father, Jesus bruises Satan in this first battle, and finally bruises his head, crushing it in the dust, when He fulfills His work on the cross.  By His perfect faith and obedience to His Father, Jesus earns God’s favor, His grace, for all of us.  By His righteousness, Jesus earns the forgiveness of our sins before God.  God looks at the human race and sees not our rebellion and falling before Satan, but Jesus resisting and overcoming him.  He sees Jesus in perfect trust and obedience giving His holy life, shedding His innocent blood to atone for all of our transgressions.

 

Jesus’ humble trust in the Father, His rock-like holding to God’s Word despite all temptations, all appearances that seem to contradict it, is the example of how our lives are to be lived.  The love and humility He showed in willingly bearing this suffering in the wilderness, when He by rights did not have to suffer at all, is our example of how much God wills that we give of ourselves for our neighbor’s good.

 

But even more, Jesus’ victory over Satan in this first battle, and His final victory in His death and resurrection is our shield and defense in our battles against Satan.  When we are tempted to despair of God’s mercy, we claim Jesus’ obedience all the way to the cross as our own.  God has promised and pledged that it is ours in our Baptism.  We claim it, invoking the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit placed on us in Baptism.

 

The work of reformation that He began here is also our defense against false belief.  When the devil says, “Avoid suffering.  It doesn’t matter.  No one will know,” we hold to the Scripture and lay hold of Christ, who suffered this temptation and the agony of the cross for us.  We say, “I do not belong to you, but to Him who died and was raised to reform this world and me and make me a new creation, a Son of God.”

 

Or should Satan press me hard, let me then be on my guard.  Saying Christ for me was wounded, that the devil flee confounded.    Amen. SDG

The Way of Escape. Trinity 9, 2014. 1 Cor. 10:6-13

burial9th Sunday after Trinity

St. Peter Lutheran Church

1 Corinthians 10:6-13

August 17, 2014

“The Way of Escape in Temptation”

 

Iesu iuva!

 

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.  1 Corinthians 10:12

St. Paul wrote the epistle reading to the congregation of Christians in the Greek city of Corinth.  It was one of the centers of trade in the Roman empire, a wealthy city famous for its loose morals.  Its streets crawled with sailors in search of wine and prostitutes.

 

The Corinthian church was a small outpost of Jesus’ kingdom in a teeming metropolis of paganism.  All around her the worship of idols and the sexual immorality that was part of the worship left its stain on nearly every social interaction.  They were surrounded by temptation.  As you might expect, the power of the world surrounding the church had left its mark on Christ’s bride.  The Corinthian church had fallen into a number of sins.

 

We also are a small outpost of Jesus’ kingdom surrounded by a pagan world.  We too are surrounded by temptation, and this temptation has left its mark on us.

 

God provides the way of escape in temptation—Jesus Christ, who put sin to death in His flesh.

 

Jesus teaches us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation” in the 6th petition of the Lord’s Prayer.  In the Small Catechism we are taught to say:

What does this mean? 

God tempts no one. 

We pray in this petition

that God would guard and keep us

so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature

may not deceive us or mislead us

into false belief, despair,

and other great shame and vice.

Although we are attacked by these things,

We pray that we may finally overcome them

And win the victory.

 

There are two chief temptations that always try to deceive and mislead us.  These two temptations are false belief or false security and despair. 

  Read more…

For us Fights the Valiant One. Invocabit Sermon 2014. Matthew 4:1-11

temptation-of-christ-1896 ilya repinInvocabit (First Sunday in Lent) + St. Peter Lutheran Church + St. Matthew 4:1-11 + March 9, 2014

“For us Fights the Valiant One”

IESU Iuva!

 

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.  The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?”  Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”  Job 1:6-7

 

Like he’s pacing.  Restless.  Never satisfied.

 

Yet he dares to come into the presence of God with the other angels.  He appears at the side of the Son of God in the wilderness while He is weak with hunger.

 

He enters Paradise and speaks through the snake to the mother of all the living.  He goes away for awhile, but he returns.  He always returns.  Always when you’re not ready.

 

He grabs Peter’s throat and tempts Christ with his beloved disciple’s voice just moments after Peter had confessed unto salvation by the Holy Spirit.  “Get behind me, Satan;” almost the exact words Jesus speaks to the devil here in the temptation in the wilderness.

 

He enters into Judas as Jesus is instituting the sacrament of His body and blood.  He can even show up at the Lord’s Supper to tempt and drag the soul of one of the twelve to damnation.

 

He can and does and will continue to do so.

 

We don’t know it’s him when he comes.  He comes when we don’t expect it.  He comes where we don’t expect him—in the holy places.  When we’re engaged in God’s work.  When we’re tired and most defenseless.  When we aren’t paying attention.

 

And what he has to say sounds so good.  So often it’s dressed up in Christianity.  He says things that sound like what Jesus says.  The woman anoints Jesus with perfume at Bethany and the disciples say, “Why wasn’t that perfume sold and the money given to the poor?”

 

Often we don’t know we’re being led into sin until we’ve fallen.  He lobs some easy temptations at you to make you feel secure, like you can handle it.  “Did God really say you can’t eat from any of the trees in the garden?”  “No, of course not.  We can eat from all of them except the one in the center of the garden.  That one we can’t eat or even touch it, or we will die.”  “Tell these stones to become bread.  Jump down from the temple.”

 

And then after you’re off-balance and thinking this is a snap, he shoots a flaming arrow into your heart.  You forget all about God’s Word and all you can see is the object of your desire.  Maybe it never tempted you before, but now it feels like it’s all you’ve ever wanted.  Now it becomes more clear who you’ve been having a nice chat with, but he doesn’t seem so bad.

 

“You will not surely die.  God knows that when you eat it you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

 

“All this I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.”

 

“No Lord!  Rejection, shame, death?  This will never happen to you!  Don’t say such things!”

 

With human beings we can have compassion and be gracious to them even when they serve the devil.  We were all once enslaved to sin, and Jesus came to set us free.  Jesus does not permit us to hate or despise our human adversaries.

 

But there is no dialogue with the devil.  If you try to reason with him you have already lost.  If he tempts you to sin or to despair, and you try to reason your way out, you have lost.

 

The only help is the Word of God—to hold on to it and not discuss with the devil.  His name, “Devil,” means “slanderer.”  He slanders God and you.  He will convince you that black is white.  Just look at our world today, what we call good and evil.  The devil tempted Jesus to doubt that He was the son of God.  He will easily convince you that sin is not sin, that you are not saved, that forgiveness is not for you.  That baptism is plain water, the supper mere bread and wine, the bible man’s word.  That insistence on pure doctrine is petty, arrogant, unimportant.

 

There’s only one response to Satan.  Not to discuss with him, but to hold God’s Word, meditate on it, and confess it.  And to renounce Satan.

 

When the Israelites came into the promised land, God told them not to make a covenant with the people, not to try to convert them, not to try to keep the gold of their temples and idols and reuse them for something else.  The people in the land were devoted to destruction along with their idols.  There was no compromise and no discussion because God knew that the people would be led astray to idols, not the other way around.

 

That’s how it is with Satan and all his works and all his ways.  God doesn’t command us to kill non-Christians.  We are supposed to let them injure us if that is necessary.  But He doesn’t say, “Have a dialogue with the doctrines of Satan.  Tolerate his teaching and his practices.”  The only way to deal with Satan is to renounce him, no matter where he speaks.  We don’t renounce and hate his servants or those who fall and serve him, like Peter did.  But we don’t excuse sin, any sin.  We have to hate it and treat it like it is—an abomination that will destroy us.

 

+But we have relied on human wisdom to be Christians.

 

+We have focused on bread.  Tested God and said, “Is he among us or not?”  And then when he gave us good things, like He gave the Israelites, we did what they did—forgot that it was the Lord who did it all.  Miraculously delivered us to be His people.

We have wanted to be like everyone else, another nation pursuing its own goals instead of a holy nation, the people of God.

 

+++Jesus renounced Satan once and for all.  He is the Holy One, and the holy nation are those who are born again into Him.

 

++He overcomes Satan.  He renounces him and has nothing to do with him.

 

+He ransoms us from Satan with his obedience to death.

With his blood.

 

+He fights for us with His Word (Luther’s hymn)

Not through our willing not to sin do we overcome Satan

 

We take refuge in Him and believe His word of justification.

 

+We take refuge in Him to protect us from Satan’s tricks and deceptions.

In hearing His Word.

In prayer.

 

Without this we are led astray and Satan uses us as his instruments against Christ and one another.

 

This has happened to us far too much!  Lord, have mercy!

 

We meditate on Christ’s passion and we come to Him for forgiveness, help, and healing at His table.  In His passion, in His body and blood, we share His “no” to Satan and his victory over him.

 

Amen.

 

The peace of God…

 

SDG

Sin Raging Within–A Good Thing for Christians

August 30, 2013 2 comments

christ-on-the-mount-of-olives-1819_jpg!BlogLuther, Lectures on Galatians (1535), trans. Philip Watson.

http://lutherdansk.dk/1%20Galatian%201535%20-%20old/index.htm

On Chapter 5: 19 (“Now the works of the flesh are evident…”

These things sufficiently declare who be the true saints indeed, and which is to be called a holy life: not the life of those which lurk in caves and dens, which make their bodies lean with fasting, which wear hair, and do other like things with this persuasion and trust, that they shall have singular reward in heaven above all other Christians; but of those which be baptized and believe in Christ, which put off the old man with his works, but not at once: for concupiscence remaineth in them so long as they live: the feeling whereof doth hurt them nothing at all, if they suffer it not to reign in them, but subdue it to the Spirit.

This doctrine bringeth great consolation to godly minds, that when they feel these darts of the flesh, wherewith Satan assaileth the spirit, they should not despair: as it happened to many in the Papacy, which thought that they ought to feel no concupiscence of the flesh; whereas notwithstanding Jerome, Gregory, Benedict, Bernard, and others (whom the monks set before them as a perfect example of chastity and of all Christian virtues) could never come so far as to feel no concupiscence [or lust] of the flesh. Yea, they felt it, and that very strongly. Which thing they acknowledge and plainly confess in divers places of their books. Therefore God did not only not impute unto them these light faults, but even those pernicious errors which some of them brought into the Church. Gregory was the author of the private mass, than which there never was any greater abomination in the Church of the Yew Testament. Others devised monkery, wicked worshippings and voluntary religions. Cyprian contended that they which had been baptized of heretics should be rebaptized.

Therefore we rightly confess in the articles of our belief, that we believe [there is] a Holy Church. For it is invisible, dwelling in Spirit in a place that none can attain unto, and therefore her holiness cannot be seen: for God doth so hide her and cover her with infirmities, with sins, with errors, with divers forms of the cross and offenses, that according to the judgment of reason it is nowhere to be seen. They that are ignorant of this, when they see the infirmities and sins of those which are baptized, which have the Word and believe it, are by and by offended, and judge them not to pertain to the Church. And in the meanwhile they dream that the hermits and monks [and such other shavelings] are the Church; which honor God only with their lips, and worship Him in vain, because they follow not the Word of God, but the doctrines and commandments of men, and teach others to do the same. And because they do certain superstitious and monstrous works, which [carnal] reason magnifieth and highly esteemeth, therefore they judge them to be saints and to be the Church; and in so doing they change and turn this article of faith clean contrary: ‘I believe [that there is] a holy Church’ etc., and in the stead of this word ‘I believe,’ they put in ‘I see.’ These kinds of righteousness and holiness of man’s own devising, are nothing else but spiritual sorceries wherewith the eyes and minds of men are blinded and led from the knowledge of true holiness.

But thus teach we, that the Church hath no spot nor wrinkle, but is holy, and yet through faith only in Christ Jesus: again, that she is holy in life [and conversation] by abstaining from the lusts of the flesh, and by exercise of spiritual fruits; but yet not in such sort that she is delivered from all evil desires, or purged from all wicked opinions and errors. For the Church always confesseth her sins, and prayeth that her faults may be pardoned (Matthew 6:12); also she believeth the forgiveness of sins. The saints therefore do sin, fall, and also err: but yet through ignorance. For they would not willingly deny Christ, forsake the Gospel, revoke their Baptism, etc., therefore they have remission of sins. And if through ignorance they err also in doctrine, yet is this pardoned; for in the end they acknowledge their error, and rest only upon the truth and the grace of God offered in Christ, as Jerome, Gregory, Bernard, and others did. Let Christians then endeavor to avoid the works of the flesh; but the desires [or lusts of the flesh] they cannot avoid.

It is very profitable therefore for the godly to feel the uncleanness of their flesh, lest they should be puffed up with some vain and wicked opinion of the righteousness of [their own] works, as though they were accepted before God for the same. The monks being puffed up with this opinion of righteousness, thought themselves to be so holy because of their holy kind of life, that they sold their righteousness and holiness to others, although they were convinced by the testimony of their own hearts, that they were unclean. So pernicious and pestilent a poison it is for a man to trust in his own righteousness, and to think himself to be clean. But the godly, Woman reaching to garment 1140-165because they feel the uncleanness of their own hearts, therefore they cannot trust to their own righteousness. This feeling so maketh them to stoop, and so humbleth them, that they cannot trust to their own good works, but are constrained to fly unto Christ their mercy-seat and only succor, who hath not a corrupt and sinful but a most pure and holy flesh, which he hath given for the life of the world. In him they find a sound and perfect righteousness. Thus they continue in humility; not counterfeit and monkish, but true and unfeigned, because of the uncleanness which yet remaineth in their flesh: for the which if God would straitly judge them, they should be found guilty of eternal death. But because they lift not up themselves proudly against God, but with a broken and contrite heart humbly acknowledging their sins, and resting wholly upon the benefit of the mediator Christ, they come forth into the presence of God, and pray that for his sake their sins may be forgiven them; God spreadeth over them an infinite heaven of grace, and doth not impute unto them their sins for Christ’s sake.

This I say, to the end that we may take heed of the pernicious errors of the sophisters touching the holiness of life, wherein our minds are so wrapped, that without great difficulty we could not wind ourselves out of them.

Wherefore, do you endeavor with diligence, that ye may discern and rightly judge between true righteousness and holiness, and that which is hypocritical: then shall ye behold the kingdom of Christ with other eyes than [carnal] reason doth, that is, with spiritual eyes, and certainly judge those to be true saints indeed which are baptized and believe in Christ, and afterwards in the same faith whereby they are justified, and their sins both past and present are forgiven, do abstain from the desires of the flesh. But from these desires they are not thoroughly cleansed; for the flesh lusteth against the spirit. Notwithstanding these uncleannesses do still remain in them to this end, that they may be humbled, and being so humbled, they may feel the sweetness of the grace and benefit of Christ. So these unclean remnants of sin do nothing at all hinder, but greatly further the godly; for the more they feel their infirmities and sins, so much the more they fly unto Christ the throne of grace, and more heartily crave his aid and succor: to wit, that he will adorn them with his righteousness, that he will increase their faith, that he will endue them with his Spirit, by whose [gracious leading and] guiding they may overcome the lusts of the flesh, that they may not rule and reign over them, but may be subject unto them. Thus true Christians do continually wrestle with sin, and yet notwithstanding in wrestling they are not overcome, but obtain the victory.

This have I said, that ye may understand, not by men’s dreams, but by the Word of God, who be true saints indeed. We see then how greatly Christian doctrine helpeth to the raising up and comforting of [weak] consciences; which treateth not of cowls, shavings, rosaries, and such-like toys, but of high and weighty matters, as how we may overcome the flesh, sin, death, and the devil. This doctrine, as it is unknown to the justiciaries [and such as trust in their own works,] so is it impossible for them to instruct or bring into the right way one [poor] conscience wandering and going astray; or to pacify and comfort the same when it is in heaviness, terror, or desperation.

The Monster of Uncertainty Invocabit Sermon 2013. Matthew 4

February 21, 2013 3 comments

jesus tempted

Invocabit

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Matthew 4:1-11

February 17, 2013

Jesu juva!

 

 Beloved in Christ,

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Introduction:

Temptation by the devil

Being alone

 

Forsaken by other supports

 

Uncertainty…Did God say?  Is God with me?  Am I pleasing to God?

 

Fortifying self with God’s word—catechism [review during Lent]

 

“Baptized for this moment.” [LCMS theme]

 

  1.  Theme:  Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
    1.  The Word of God gives us our lives in this world.
    2. The Word of God gives us eternal life in Christ.

 

 The Word of God gives us our lives in this world.

God will preserve our lives

1st article

Our callings: identity/ lives given to us by God through His Word/ Commandment [ie…Honor your father and mother.  Husbands, love your wives.  Wives, submit to your own husbands…etc.  Table of Duties in catechism]

Certainty that our work, etc. is pleasing to God.

Certainty for life in the Church

 

Order: Church is built by Word and Sacrament.  Pastors have the highest office in the church.  Yet the pastoral office, instituted by Christ, is ministry       of      service.  Church life regulated by the Word of the Lord, by love that submits itself to the brother where God leaves us free.

 

Worship: Preaching of the pure Gospel.  Right administration of the sacraments.  Freedom  in ceremonies for the sake of the edification of the church (ie not freedom to do whatever we want, but freedom to do what best serves the preaching of the Gospel…including concern that the hearers understand, but also concern that our use of freedom does not undermine the true unity of the Church in doctrine and administration of the sacraments.)  The Word of the Lord gives us Divine Worship; it gives us the Gospel, Holy Baptism, Absolution, Christ’s body and blood, prayer, Scripture.  We don’t create worship but receive it through the means of grace; then the fruits of faith–prayer, thanksgiving, giving, serving…etc. are generated in us by the faith given by the Spirit.

 

Preservation of the Church…the Lord’s Word builds church and preserves it.  The Lord gives the church.  We work in the Church, but the Lord preserves it and makes it grow.

Certainty in prayer–given in the Word that commands us to pray and promises that we will be heard.

 

A good conscience–given through the Gospel and Sacraments by Holy Spirit

 

 

 

The Word of God gives us eternal life in Christ.

 

“The monster of uncertainty”…not being sure about the Word of God is unbelief.

The devil works to get us into a position where we violate our conscience and do what we believe to be wrong, or what we are uncertain about.

Willful sin destroys faith.  But where the devil can’t put our conscience to sleep, he works to make us uncertain all the time–inventing sins, constantly telling us that for one reason or another we are not allowed to take hold of the comfort of the Gospel of Jesus for ourselves.

 

Jesus our substitute

 

His    Baptism…He takes our guilt

Temptation…He overcomes in our place

Death…He atones for our sins.

 

 

 

Jesus our Priest

 

Sacrifice

 

Intercession

 

 

 

Our brother

 

Tempted as we

 

 

 

Conquered for us.

 

 

 

 

His promises are our defense and certainty.

 

Word (Scripture passages, Catechism)

 

 

 

Holy Baptism

 

 

 

Absolution

 

 

 

Sacrament of the Altar

 

 

 

Their use in prayer (certainty)

 

 

 

Our teacher. (sensei?)

 

 

 

Teaches us faith and prayer through temptation

 

 

 

Teaches us combat with Satan.

 

 

 

 

 

The author and finisher of our faith.

 

 

 

He has completed our reconciliation with God.

 

 

 

He will bring to completion the good work that He began

 

Your personal salvation

 

The Church’s salvation.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The Word gives us our lives/callings in this world.

The Word of Christ gives us everlasting life when our consciences are uncertain, proclaiming Christ who is God’s “Yes” to us.

 

 

 

The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

 

 

 

Soli Deo Gloria

 

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