…my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great and hard-boiled sinners. You must not, by no means, make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our helper only when we want to be rid of imaginary, nominal and childish sins. No! No! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, and from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in a grand total… Dr. Staupitz [Luther’s mentor] comforted me on a certain occasion when I was in the same hospital and suffering the same affliction as you, by addressing me thus; Aha! you want to be a painted [meaning having a good external appearance] sinner, and accordingly, expect to have in Christ a painted savior. You will have to get used to the belief that Christ is a real Savior and you a real sinner. For God is neither jesting nor dealing in imaginary affairs, but He was greatly and most assuredly in earnest when He sent His own Son into the world and sacrificed Him for our sakes.       

-Martin Luther, (in a letter to his dear contemporary George Spalatin after learning of counsel Spalatin had given someone which proved to be sinful advice—which Spalatin was then heart-broken over).  

 

The above account reminds me of a story former Presidential (Nixon) aide Chuck Colson shares (who now heads Prison Fellowship—which reaches inmates and their families across the globe in 112 countries with the Gospel of Jesus Christ).  Colson re-counts of a man approaching him after he had finished up a speech.  The man was considerably offended by Colson’s portrait of each of us as sinners as Colson tells it and decided he’d take Colson to task.  Colson heard the man out and responded, “I have more in common with Adolf Hitler than Jesus.”

We need pardon no less than Hitler needed it.

King David understood this—he prayed to the Lord after his adultery covered up by a carefully executed murder:

 1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!  

 3For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.   (Psalm 51:1-3, ESV)

If God forgives any of our sins he forgives the worst of them.  Jesus wasn’t given up as the peace child on account of our trivial or minor offenses—no—it was for our real offenses.  Trivial sin is our idea—each and every sin is serious and grave business with God.  If you took your smallest infraction it would have been quite enough to require the payment of God’s very own Son.

In other words—there are no misdemeanors with God—only felonies. 

Is the prayer of your heart as David’s was? 

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!  

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