Our culture’s logic says, “We can change!” Christians like us believe it’s possible to change and not be sinners anymore. But in Galatians chapter 2, Paul wrote:
But if I build up again the very things I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I’m a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I’ve been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Notice, Paul’s goal was to rebuild what he once tore down, not to improve himself. Rebuilding proved he was a sinner, it did not make him not a sinner.
Martin Luther, like many before and since, said we cannot not sin. That’s the bad news: not that we sin, but that we’re sinners. But thanks be to God, we’re not only sinners. By God’s grace through faith in Christ, we are both sinners and saints. Both/and, not either/or. All of the above.
Paul might’ve liked Brene Brown’s rule: “If you screw up, you clean it up.” Try doing that this Lent and for the rest of your life. Let God worry about changing you. (Spoiler: God already did). Just clean it up. Rebuild it.
Thanks be to God.
Pastor Clark Olson-Smith
Saint Paul Lutheran Church
715 South Third Street
Clinton, IA 52732
(at the foot of the south bridge)