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There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus . . . ”. We all want to be accepted. Certainly, we want to be accepted by each other; most especially, we want to be accepted by God. One of the first books on theology that I ever read was titled “I’m O.K., You’re O.K.” The title tells it all, I’m afraid. The basic premise of that author’s writing was that we all are quite acceptable in our sinful condition. God accepts me “just as I am”, and I should be willing to accept all others, just the way you and they are, just the way that the author supposed that God accepts me. The premise is impossible. Nevertheless, being accepted by others and by God is one of the most basic of all human needs, right smack in the middle of psychologist Maslov’s heirarchy of human need. Remember how you pray the Lord’s prayer? “Hallowed be Thy name,” you say. God’s name—not man’s. Here’s what God has taught us through Luther’s Small Catechism: “To be sure, God's name is holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may also be holy for us. How is this done? When the Word of God is taught clearly and purely and we, as children of God, lead holy lives in accordance with it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven!” You see, the standard according to which we walk, live our lives, is measured not according to the Burger-King standard. Such a walk, or life, leads to an inevitable end that is not pleasant at all. It’s not our way, but God’s way that matters. Measured up according to the standard of right and wrong that He has revealed to us in His holy Word, we must all admit to falling short of God’s glory.
When I was a kid, I had a little, plastic cross that had on it the words, “He died for me.” He “who was without sin” became sin for all of us, and suffered death on the cross. It’s true, then, that God accepts you fully and does not condemn you. He doesn’t accept your sin, can’t live with that in His kingdom that does not end. No, your sin had to be punished, covered forever. Jesus became the sinner, so that in His own body of flesh He might live the life that we could not; but not for himself alone. He lived it for us—that holy, sinless life. He was the image of God that we could never be on account of our sin. In exchange for your sin, which He took upon himself to the cross, Jesus has given you His own righteousness to wear in life, and into death. We Lutherans call this doctrine “Justification”. It means that our most important goal—heaven--is reachable, but only by means of God’s gracious gifts through His son, Jesus. This is the faith that causes you to rejoice and praise God, with the saints on earth, and those who have gone before into heaven. May our gracious God keep your hearts and minds, through faith, in Christ Jesus, to life everlasting. Amen

Pastor Sauls