August 21

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  Mark 7:20-22

Whether people believe it or not, no agony, pain, or burden could be worse than feeling all of the evil that lies within themselves.  The evil they don’t feel is even greater and worse than the wickedness they do sense.  For if people were able to feel all of their evil, they would get a taste of what hell is like.

So when the all-powerful God disciplines us in his mercy, he only shows us our lesser evils.  He knows that if he shows us all of our wickedness, we would be ruined and would die in an instant.  According to the author of Hebrews, God shows us some of the evil within us as a part of the fatherly instruction or discipline: “He punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:6).  By showing us our lesser evils and disciplining us, God wants to drive out the greater evils so we will never have to see them.  As Proverbs sys, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).

Isn’t it true that devout and faithful parents experience more suffering, grief, and distress when their children become thieves or are otherwise bad than if their children were wounded?  Faithful parents would much rather severely discipline their children than allow them to become bad.

What prevents us from feeling all the evil within us?  God has established matters so that people won’t die by seeing the evil in their innermost selves.  So God is the one who hides our wickedness form us.  He wants us to see it only through the eyes of faith.

Martin Luther, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional

Edited by James C. Galvin

Timeless insights from one of the most important people in church history. Resounding across the centuries, Martin Luther’s prolific writings as a pastor, theologian, scholar, Bible translator, father, and more, remain powerful and richly relevant. Faith Alone is a treasury of accessible devotionals taken from Luther’s best writings and sermons from the years 1513 through 1546. This carefully updated translation retains the meaning, tone, and imagery of Luther’s works such as this gem:

Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. Faith should be first. It is faith—without good works and prior to good works—that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone. —Martin Luther

Through daily readings, Luther’s straightforward approach challenges you to a more thoughtful faith. Read one brief section a day or explore themes using the subject index in the back of the book. Faith Alone will deepen your understanding of Scripture and help you more fully appreciate the mystery of faith.

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