Scripture Text: Psalm 51:3–5
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Original Sin
The adversaries approve of the second article concerning original sin, but in such a way that they, nevertheless, criticize the definition of original sin, which we incidentally mentioned. Right away, His Imperial Majesty will discover that the writers of the Confutation were lacking not only in judgment but also in honesty. Where we simply desired to examine those things which original sin includes, they framed a discriminatory interpretation by craftily distorting a statement that has nothing in it which in itself is wrong. As a result, they say that to be without the fear of God and without faith is actual guilt. Therefore they deny that it is original guilt.
Pulling It Together: Lutherans teach that original sin is actual sin, not merely the inclination to sin. The result is that we are naturally without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with all the lusts of this life. Lutherans do not say that original sin is these specific things, but that these things are sinful outcomes and evidences of the corruption that is within us from the outset. The sins we commit indicate a deeper problem. The very first sin one commits points to that deeper, original corruption of being. Original sin is not a specific sin such as not fearing God, or not trusting in him, or desiring unlawful things. It is not the commission of a particular sin but the depraved condition, the diseased state of the natural person, that is itself sin.
Therefore, “we confess that we are in bondage to sin.” Our depravity is not just in the thinking, saying, and doing of wrong things; nor is it only in leaving them undone. We are enslaved to such behavior from the start because we are “brought forth in iniquity”—all of us. This corruption of our nature is hereditary (Rom 5:12).
Prayer: Thank you, God, for meeting my sin and guilt with your boundless mercy and grace. Amen.
Sola Scriptura: The Norm of Faith is a study about how the Word informs and guides our understanding of what Scripture says. In other words, what the Bible means based on what it does. In terms of how we come to articulate our faith and our doctrinal teachings, to speak of Scripture as the "norm" of faith means that it is the standard against which our theology and proclamation are measured.
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