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Walther on Trinity 7 – Mark 8:1-9

by pastorjuhl ~ July 13th, 2010

A true Christian is a new person; he is a person whose heart, state of mind, intellect, and all powers the Holy Ghost has converted and transformed. This change shows itself chiefly in a new attitude toward sin. First of all, he wants to know what God’s Word calls sin. He hates and fears every sin, even the least of sins, be it a sin in deed or in words or in bearing or in thoughts and wishes. Whenever he awakens in the morning, his greatest concern is to guard himself against every sin in the course of the day lying head of him. Though the sin may appear ever so small and excusable, whenever he is tempted in the course of the day, he thinks with Joseph: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God” (Gen. 39:9)?

One important sign of true Christians is that not only do they not want to become rich or merely obtain something through sin. They would rather suffer the greatest loss than burden their conscience with something sinful. If, for example, they were given counterfeit money, or something faulty was fraudulantly sold them, they do not seek to make their loss good by returning it as quickly as possible; they prefer to suffer the loss rather than commit sin. If in a certain case merely a doubt exists as to whether they can make a profit without sinning, they are not satisfied with that probability. Either they must be absolutely certain, or if not, they chose to forget about the profit without conferring with flesh and blood. As their advisers they do not seek those who have a free and easy conscience; they consult those who are earnest in such matters and sharpen conscience — not to mention that they should secretly hate them because of their pitiless earnestness (as often happens with false Christians).

In the matter of earthly gain true Christians proceed on the principle: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul” (Matt. 16:26)? If by shrewd speculation they could gain the whole world, but burden their conscience just a bit, or if by a sin easily justified before men, they could avoid a great loss, they view the matter as a trap which had been laid for them by the world, flesh, and Satan; they flee from it as from the gaping jaws of hell.

That is why the world considers Christians fools and madmen. But what of it? In eternity we will see who was the wisest. I fear many a hypocrite will then wish that he could hide his gain to which sin clings like an indelible stain from God’s eyes. Sinful gain will hang like a heavy stone around his neck. It will draw him down forever in to the abyss of hell, the portion of all hypocrites. On the other hand, he who for God’s sake refused even doubtful gain and joyfully suffered loss for conscience sake will in eternity see it turned into eternal riches.

However, my friends, not only would a true Christian decline the most tempting gain, not only would he suffer the severest loss rather than sin, but he would also do that rather than be deprived of some spiritual blessing.
If we want to see quite clearly how wise Christians are because they sacrifice the temporal for the spiritual, we must cast a glance into eternity. Whoever here denies himself spiritual things rather than temporal will see the results of his sparse sowing in the harvest of that world in all eternity. On the other hand, whoever gladly sacrifices temporal for spiritual things will find each self-denial, even the least, which he here exercised, as capital which God deposited for him, for which God pays him eternal interest in heaven. Wherein this interest will consist no eye has yet seen, neither ear heard, nor is entered into the heart of man. But it will be greater than can be measured, more than can be paid, more precious than can be compared with anything earthly.

All of you therefore who have preferred heavenly for earthly things and for that reason have journeyed through this world like pilgrims, be on your guard that your heart is not snared by earthly things. Hold on! The journey is soon over and then for poverty for Christ’s sake will follow riches, for renunciation enjoyment, for humility and contempt honor and majesty.

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