A Jagged Contention: The Holy Church?

Now that Christ reigns, there is in fact no more sin, death, or curse—this we confess every day in the Apostles’ Creed when we say: “I believe in the holy church.” This is plainly nothing else than if we were to say: “I believe that there is no sin and no death in the church. For believers in Christ are not sinners and are not sentenced to death but are altogether holy and righteous, lords over sin and death who live eternally.” But it is faith alone that discerns this, because we say: “I believe in the holy church.” If you consult your reason and your eyes, you will judge differently. For in devout people you will see many things that offend you; you will see them fall now and again, see them sin, or be weak in faith, or be troubled by a bad temper, envy, or other evil emotions. “Therefore the church is not holy.” I deny the conclusion that you draw. If I look at my own person or at that of my neighbor, the church will never be holy. But if I look at Christ, who is the Propitiator and Cleanser of the church, then it is completely holy; for He bore the sins of the entire world.

– Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians 1535. Luther’s Works, American Edition, vol. 26. Concordia Publishing House, 1963. Pg. 285


Often you will hear people say the church is full of hypocrites. Is this an accurate statement? How do you respond? How do Luther’s words help us think more accurately about the sinners we find in the holy church?