But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:23
After coming to faith, no one should think that sin can be taken lightly. Sin is truly sin, whether it is committed before or after one comes to know Christ. God always hates sin. Every sin is a mortal sin – a sin that leads to death. – as far as the act itself is concerned. But it’s not a mortal sin for the believer. Christ the Reconciler atoned for sin by his death. For unbelievers, not only are all of their sins mortal ones, but even their good works are sins. As Paul says in Romans, “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
The philosophers make a fatal error when they classify sins according to the acts themselves rather than according to the person who commits the sin. Believers have the same sin and just as great a sin as unbelievers. But the sin of the believers is forgiven and not credited to them. The sin of unbelievers, however, is retained and counted against them. For the believer, the sinful act is a that can be easily forgiven. For the unbeliever, the sinful act is a sin that leads to death. This is not because of the difference in the sin itself a if the believer’s sin is less and the unbeliever’s sin is greater. It is because of the difference in the person who committed it.
By faith, believers see that their sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ. Christ offered himself for their sin. So they remain righteous in spite of their sin, although they have sin and continue to sin. But unbelievers remain unrighteous. Although believers aren’t free from sin, they know that their sin isn’t credited to them because of their faith in Christ. This is the wisdom and the comfort of true believers.
The Ninety-Five Theses is a text that everyone knows, most refer to, but few actually read, writes Stephen Nichols. Nevertheless, it is such a crucial text that it deserves to be read widely. Toward that end, Nichols has prepared this edition with an illuminating introduction, explanatory notes, and several illustrations. Martin Luther has left a legacy that continues to enrich the church through his writings. . ., writes Nichols. All of this may be traced back to the last day in October 1517 and the nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door.