A Jagged Contention: Sin and the Christian

“What the apostle actually says in this text [Romans 6:12-14] is that sin shall not be able to dominate Christians. It is absolutely impossible that a person who is in a state of grace should be ruled by sin. A pilgrim traveling on a lonely road, when attacked by a highway man, escapes from him at the first opportunity. He does not want to be overcome and slain. Christians are pilgrims through this world on their way to heaven. The devil, like a highway robber, assaults them, and they go down before him because of their weakness, not because they meant to go down. To a true Christian his fall is forgiven because he daily turns to God in daily repentance with tears or at least heartfelt sighings for pardon. If a person allows sin to rule over him, this is a sure sign that he is not a Christian, but a hypocrite, no matter how pious he pretends to be.”

-CFW Walther, Law and Gospel: Thesis XVIII, pg.  320.


How does Walther’s view of sin in the Christian life work with the idea that we are simultaneously sinners and saints? Is there a danger in saying that one is forgiven because of “repentance with tears” or “heartfelt sighings?”  How are we to understand the continual nature of sin in the life of the Christian?

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