2 Corinthians 6:1-10
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
So Satan, the Slanderer, comes along just like He did to our Lord, saying, “If you are the Son of God...” There was no doubt for Our Lord. But we are a far cry from Jesus aren’t we. So the Slanderer comes encouraging our doubts, twisting God’s Word, fanning the flames of our fear into faithless folly. And we fall victim. We don’t believe God’s declaration. We doubt His Word. And by doing so we call God the Father and Christ our Lord a liar. Repent.
Sonship was yours in Baptism. When you doubt that what is your only recourse? What is your only armour against the Adversary’s attacks? Christ’s Absolute Absolution. His declaring to you through your pastor what the Father said of you in Baptism. This spiritual game changer happens every week at the beginning of the Divine Service, or for sins that really plague you, that you can’t shake, that cause you to doubt God’s declaration of you, you need to hear it in a private session where God’s Absolution is for you and you alone. No doubts. No Satanic temptations. Just God’s pure grace. His raw naked love for you healing your hurts, covering your shame, strengthening and armouring your conscience against the Slanderer’s accusations, made false by your Saviour’s taking them all on Himself.
The Absolute Armour of Absolution. Christ calling you what you are in Him. His brother. His Father’s Son. His and His Father’s beloved. The One whom His Father is exceedingly pleased with, wildly benevolent toward, and slavishly indulgent of His child to a fault!
But you and I know about sin. Especially the sins others have done to us. As Christians we wish to love them. We desire to forgive them. But over time, given repeated sins from same person against us the pain, heartache, hurt, and resentment build up. Our attitude toward them falters. It becomes less than we know it should be. It ceases to be gracious, or forgiving, and it becomes resentful and angry. Malice grows in our hearts. We no longer wish good things for them. Instead, we want nothing to do with them. We want to block the pain in our lives, prevent it, so we try to cut them our of our lives. But if we are unsuccessful at blocking them out of our lives and they continue their hurtful behaviour toward us without change we eventually desire them to not even have God’s gracious mercy.
Knowing that this is who we are, that this is how we react to those who constantly sin against us, we wonder how can God not react that way too? So it is our natural state, hardwired into us, to doubt His Word daily, that we call Him a liar, that we act as though He is a fool who knows nothing about the realities of life on earth. And we ask how can He be exceedingly pleased with us? When we cut others off for their sins against us? When we can even desire eternal damnation for them, how can He not do the same to us?
Because He is God. He is holy. He is not like us. He withstood every temptation of the devil. He does not desire the death of the wicked, nor their eternal damnation. His desire is that all would turn from their way and live. He has resisted the Adversary in all things so that His sacrifice can be complete and total, sufficient to pay the penalties that every sin deserves. But in love for you He will force no one to be saved. In love for you He will honour your rejection of Him and allow you an eternity without Him. He is not like us.
Instead He clothes His enemies in His Father’s glorious love in Baptism. By Absolution He dresses us again when like angry toddlers we throw His fine robes on the floor. His absolute absolution dresses us in Christ Himself. It puts us in Him so that we are not merely sons of God, but the Son of God, the beloved, with whom He is well pleased.
That absolution, that declaration of Sonship, is armour against the Adversary. For you and I do not need to fight Him with God’s Word for we are clothed in God’s declaration. And the Word of God in the flesh already stepped forth onto the battle field to fight for us. He already withstood the assaults of the Adversary. He already fought the fight. He is already victorius. He has already accomplished your salvation.
“The old satanic foe has sworn to work us woe. With craft and dreadful might he arms himself to fight. On earth he has no equal. No strength of ours can match his might. We would be lost rejected. But now a champion comes to fight, Whom God Himself elected. You ask who this may be? The Lord of hosts is He, Christ Jesus, mighty Lord, God’s only Son, adored. He holds the field victorious.”
Do not depend upon your ability to defend yourself from that slandering, tempter, our adversary, Satan. Do not even attempt it. Flee to Christ. Look to His cross. Know that you are a sinner. Repent and cling to your baptism. And when you doubt it, when you can’t believe God’s Word, when you need armour from Satan’s temptations be clothed with the armour of Holy Absolution. Be clothed in Christ’s declaration to you through your pastor that your sins are forgiven: both the things you do and fail to do and even the wicked desire to doubt God that lurks in you.
Your sins are covered over. Gone. They do not matter to Him because God speaks. You are His Son, the beloved. He is exceedingly pleased with You.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON