That will help to explain the strange "Z" word listed in the title of this post.
That being said, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for good quotes of a distinctly "Lutheran" flavor that encourage prayerful consideration and a deeper study of God's Word, His Sacraments, Christ's Church, and our Lutheran Confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).
Plus, it certainly helps me personally in my on-going journey away from American Evangelicalism toward being a steadfast Confessional Lutheran. Here's the latest...
Paul in Romans 7 expresses the struggle every baptized believer endures, who wrestles with habitual sin. "I think I need to go to confession, but I am terrified of telling this to the pastor." You are right! Private Confession & Holy Absolution are exactly what the Lord would have for you. And as a penitent myself, I understand the fear associated with the idea of going to confession. Yet, I would counsel you to look at this Sacrament as the precious gift from God that it is.
The last thing the world, the devil, and your flesh want you to do is audibly confess your sins to the one sent by God to loose (forgive) your sins. The unholy trinity does not want you to claim your sin as your own so as to have it forgiven. And because they don’t want you to confess your sins, they stir up fear within you. They do this by introducing doubt into the promises of God. "Did God really say?" The unholy trinity appeals to the core of your fallen nature. They arouse unbelief. According to the fallen flesh, no one believes God’s Word & Promises. But all is not lost. To overcome this unbelief God gives you His Spirit & Word. He sends you the beautiful feet of His pastors to remind you of His Gospel promises and to actually deliver everything Jesus is for you.
The Sacrament of Confession & Holy Absolution is a gift of unimaginable comfort, especially for habitual sins. In the confines of the confessional, all your darkest sins are called what they are before the pastor so that the pastor, in the stead of Christ, can intimately forgive you, by name, with God’s Holy Name -- the very name spoken and given to you at your baptism.
Does confessing your sins hurt? Yes, but only because the flesh, the old man, the sinner in you is being crucified to death so that a new man may arise to live in God’s grace and love for Jesus’ sake. The comfort that comes from Confession and Holy Absolution is the certainty that God forgives you all your sins, every single one of them, no matter what they may be, even homosexuality.
The habitual sins of which Luther speaks of in the Smalcald Articles are those sins that are held outside the forgiveness of sins. That is to say, to persist in sin without any concern or care with what you are doing. Faith cannot survive without the reception of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus sake. You are not that man! Consider King David, he committed sin after sin, because sin breeds sin, that is until it is confronted and killed by the Law of God, which says, "You are the man!" Then, repentant faith says, "I have sinned against the Lord." It is that man, who is then absolved with the Gospel, "The Lord also has put away your sin…" You are the man and you know it! More than that, your sins are put away, they are forgiven in the bloody cross of Jesus. Believe it and receive it. The fruit of the cross, the forgiveness of all your sins, is delivered to you superabundantly through the means of your baptism remembered, Holy Absolution heard, and Christ’s body and blood eaten and drunk. None of these are dependent on you, but come from outside of you by grace in the beautiful feet of those who are sent to deliver them to you.
The thorn you bear is difficult, but the grace of Christ is greater! He is ever for you and so are those pastors sent by Him. There is no greater joy that a pastor has than to forgive sins in Jesus’ name, no matter what they might be.
-- Rev. Dustin L. Anderson
I just love that!
Unfortunately, even though I know who it's from thanks to my notes, I don't know where I saw it and can't link to the source (I'm guessing it was from the Worldview Everlasting website).
Now, since this is a topic that so many of us often struggle to understand even after reading something like that (I know I definitely do as evidenced by recent posts published here over the past week or two!), I thought I'd share a couple of Worldview Everlasting videos from Rev. Jonathan Fisk that should help to answer any remaining questions and fill in the blanks for us.
I'm reminded of Romans 6:1-2 that says, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" which eventually leads to Romans 6:15-18 that reads, "What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness."
We know God's will and we desire to serve Him, but we cannot overcome sin.
Even if we try, as we should, we will fail.
We cry out, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" There is only one answer: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Romans 7:21-25 (ESV) So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Personally, I think Romans 7 can be summed up by simply stating that our struggle with sin is not a past event; it is a present reality.
Jesus rescues us for we are helpless and wretched sinners and He is the Redeemer and Savior of sinners!
In a Lutheran layman's terms, though we know righteousness from sin, we continue to struggle, and we continue to sin, and we continue to repent on a daily basis, but God's infinite mercy means that He continues to forgive us and to restore us because of His Son, Jesus Christ, in Whom we have placed our faith and trust.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!