Our devotional reading for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost comes from a sermon in Law and Gospel by C. F. W. Walther.
Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.
As Christians, we confess that we are simultaneously sinners and saints. We give thanks for the salvation Christ has brought and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. However, we also know all too well that we daily war against the old Adam of our sinful nature. Today’s reading from Romans reminds us that even though we cannot fulfill the Law and we do not deserve salvation, God in His incomparable mercy and grace has saved us all!
While the Law was written on the hearts of [Adam and Eve] before the fall, it did not serve the purpose of making them God-fearing. For man had been created godly and righteous in the sight of God. The only reason [Adam and Eve] had the Law on their heart was that they might know what was pleasing to God. No special commandment was needed to inform them on that point. They simply willed whatever was God-pleasing. Their will was in perfect harmony with the will of God. This situation changed after the fall. . . .
Romans 3:20: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” This is the reason for this remarkable statement: Paul is saying that at the present time the sole purpose of the Law is to reveal people’s sins, not to remove them. Instead of removing them, the Law increases sins. For when evil lust arises in our heart, the Law calls to us: “You shall not covet.” That causes us to regard God as cruel for demanding what we are unable to accomplish. Thus the Law increases sin. It does not kill sin; rather, it makes it alive.
Romans 7:7–13: “What shall we say? That the Law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” This is the most horrifying feature of our condition: that by nature we do not recognize original sin in us. We imagine that when evil lusts arise in us—as long as we do not exactly delight in those lusts—God will not charge them to our account. . . .
In addition to Christ commanding that the Gospel be preached to every creature, He at the same time commanded that forgiveness of sins should be preached to all people. This is what we call the Good News: “All that is necessary for your salvation has been accomplished. When you ask, ‘What must we do to be saved?’ please remember that all has been done. There is nothing more to do. All you have to do is believe that everything has been done for you—and you will be saved.”
Devotional reading is adapted from Law and Gospel, pages 430–31, 186 © 2010 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.