The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel: Thesis XVIII

“In the fourteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the universal corruption of mankind is described in such a manner as to create the impression that even true believers are still under the spell of ruling sins and are sinning purposely” (C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel reproduced from the German edition of 1897 by W.H.T. Dau (St. Louis: Concordia, 1986), 3).

4 thoughts on “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel: Thesis XVIII

  1. I’m not exactly sure about mutti’s point, but it does seem to counteract Luther’s Heidelberg Theses as quoted recently in another post. But I think with regard to this thesis Walther has a very specific error in mind which he elaborates on. It depends on what one means by “ruling sins,” and “sinning purposely.”

    I think Walther’s definition is largely relegated to the horizontal realm of external actions. In that way, it would be wrong of a preacher to accuse his congregation of extortion and adultery *as if* they were actually scheduling orgies on Wed night after choir practice.

    The question is, is there really a difference between internal sin and external sin in regards to the use of the Law in preaching?

    Enlighten us Mike…

  2. Work always needs to be done when using the “sin boldly” comment. It is usually taken out of context. From what I can recall, Luther was describing a situation in which a decision had to be made in one’s vocation. Instead of worrying oneself into a useless piece of flesh, Luther urges one to take action, boldly, knowing that he lives in the grace of Jesus Christ.

    For now, I support Othniel’s explanation of this thesis. Romans 7 may be helpful here as well.

  3. I like your explainations. I was referring to several instances where Lutheran bloggers play fast and loose with God’s grace under the “sin boldly” banner. I can think of a few specific posts that have made me dislike this cliche.

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