Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7
How can we become whiter than snow when sin remains in us and sticks to us? Because of our sins, we are never as clean and holy as we should be. But we have received God’s Word, which is also pure. And through baptism and God’s Word, we have received Christ’s blood, which is absolutely pure. Because of the purity we receive in faith through Christ, we can certainly say that we are whiter than snow. We are purer than the sun and stars, even though sin still sticks to us. Our sin is covered by the purity and innocence of Christ, which we receive when we hear and believe God’s Word. We should keep in mind, though, that this purity comes completely from outside ourselves. In other words, Christ clothes us with his own perfection.
If we look at Christians apart from Christ and see them as they really are, we would notice how much they are contaminated by sin. Even if they were fine people, we would see not only that they’re thoroughly contaminated, but also that they’re covered over with a thick, dark film of sin. If someone tried to separate us from Christ and take away our baptism and God’s promises, we would no longer have Christ’s purity. We would be left with nothing but sin.
So when someone asks you, “If sin always sticks to people, how can they be washed so clean that they are whiter than snow?” you can answer, “We should view people, not as they are on their own, but as they are in Christ.”
95 Theses are reproduced in their entirety, with an introduction and explanatory notes to aid readers in discerning the significance of Luther’s call to reformation.
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.