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Since we will gather for worship and partake of Christ’s body and blood given and shed for the remission of our sins, it is indeed good and right that we examine ourselves in accord with 1 Cor. 11:28-29: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

We do so this week on the basis of God’s commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

Luther explains the meaning of this commandment in his Small Catechism: “We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in word and deed, and each love and honor his spouse.”

When we examine ourselves on the basis of this commandment, we might assume we have kept it if we haven’t cheated on our spouse and had an illicit affair, but Jesus points out that the commandment includes so much more.

Jesus said, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:32; cf. Mark 10:11-12). And Jesus explains that this commandment is also broken when we have sinful thoughts and desires: “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

The point is that we are guilty of adultery whenever we fail to live in full accord with God’s purpose and design in creation for the life-long union of one man and one woman unto one flesh (cf. Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7,18-25). When questioned about reasons for divorce, Jesus returned to God’s purpose and design in creation, saying (Matthew 19:4-6), “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

It is for this reason that numerous other sexual deviations are included in the prohibitions of Leviticus 18 and elsewhere in the Scriptures. Included in the list of abominations to the Lord are sexual relationships outside of marriage, incest, bestiality, homosexuality and anything which contradicts God’s purpose and design in marriage.

Wives also break this commandment when they fail to submit to the headship of their husbands, and husbands when they fail to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:22-33; cf. 1 Peter 3:1-7).

And should we take such sins lightly, God’s Word reminds us that they are damning. St. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; cf. Gal. 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 21:8).

Thus, we are guilty and condemned by this commandment of the LORD God not only if we have had an illicit affair or a sexual relationship outside of marriage; we are guilty if we have done anything contrary to God’s purpose and design when He created Adam and Eve and instituted marriage, whether that be desiring a woman sexually, viewing pornography, desiring or obtaining a divorce or even failing to live within the God-given roles of husband and wife in marriage.

Again, when we examine ourselves in the light of this commandment of God, we see our utter failures. We deserve nothing but God’s eternal wrath and punishment.

We remember that Christ Jesus kept this commandment perfectly in our stead. He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). And, He went to the cross to suffer and die and bear the just punishment for your sins and my sins against His commandments. “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … he was buried … he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

The Bible also tells us (1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2): “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness … If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Therefore, we who stand condemned by God’s Law flee to Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross that we might receive pardon, forgiveness and life eternal through faith alone in His name.

I ask you before God: Do you acknowledge that you have sinned? Do you confess and agree with God that you are guilty and deserving of his wrath and punishment? Do you believe God’s commandment is good and right but you are wrong, a sinner deserving of the torments of hell?

Do you trust that Christ Jesus has truly redeemed you from the curse of God’s law? That He fulfilled the law’s righteous demands and then took your sins upon Himself, along with the sins of the whole world, and suffered your just punishment when He died upon the cross? Do you believe that Christ paid for your sins when he died upon the cross and that he rose again in victory?

Do you also believe Jesus gives you to partake of His sacrifice for the sins of the world in the Sacrament – that He gives you His body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins?

As a fruit of your faith, do you truly desire and seek God’s help to amend your life and live it in accord with God’s Word, to flee from sexual immorality and to rid yourself of sources of temptation (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:18; Matthew 5:29-30).

If you are truly sorry for your sins and look to Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for pardon and forgiveness, I announce unto you the grace of God and, in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son….” Matthew 22:2 (Read v.1-14)

The chief priests and Pharisees, along with many of the Jews, rejected Jesus and would not trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins and a place in God’s eternal kingdom. God’s servants, the apostles and prophets, proclaimed to them the way of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus; but they made light of God’s gracious invitation and even mistreated and killed God’s servants.

With the parable of the king who made a marriage supper for his son, Jesus illustrated to his hearers how they were rejecting God’s gracious invitation to have part in His kingdom and partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb through faith in His own dear Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rev. 19:7ff.).

As described in Jesus’ parable, the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants were judged of God for their rejection of Christ Jesus. The city was destroyed and burned with fire, and its inhabitants were either killed or carried away captive. (This was done by the Roman armies in 70 A.D.)

The LORD God has also sent His servants out to invite others to have part in His eternal kingdom through faith in Christ. The Gospel has been preached, not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles around the world; and many, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through the Word, have heeded God’s gracious invitation. Through faith in Jesus Christ, they have received forgiveness of sins and will partake of the eternal joys of heaven.

They are clothed, not with their own sin-tainted righteousness, but with the perfect righteousness of Christ. It is only for the sake of Christ and His innocent sufferings and death in their stead that they are acceptable to God by faith and have a place in His kingdom (cf. Eph. 1:6ff.).

But, like the man who came without a wedding garment, there are also many who try to earn a place in God’s kingdom by their own sin-tainted works rather than simply receiving the righteousness of Christ which is ours through faith. Such, who attempt to partake of God’s eternal kingdom clothed in the spotted garment of the flesh rather than in the righteousness of Christ, will be cast out into the darkness and eternal torment of hell.

God’s gracious invitation goes out to all, but only the elect of God heed the Gospel call and trust in Christ alone for eternal salvation (cf. 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:3ff.; Acts 13:48). It is only by the grace of God that we who trust in Christ have heeded the Gospel invitation (Eph. 2:8-9).

We also need to beware lest we take that invitation lightly or begin to depend upon our own sin-tainted righteousness rather than trusting in the perfect righteousness of Christ our Savior.

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress; midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head. Bold shall I stand in that great Day, for who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully thro’ these absolved I am from sin and fear, from guilt and shame. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #371, Verses 1-2)

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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Since we will gather for worship and partake of Christ’s body and blood given and shed for the remission of our sins, it is indeed good and right that we examine ourselves in accord with 1 Cor. 11:28-29: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

We do so this week on the basis of God’s commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13

When we examine ourselves on the basis of this commandment, we might assume we have kept it if we have not actually taken the life of another human being, but this commandment encompasses so much more.

Luther explains the meaning of this commandment in his Small Catechism: “We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.”

Thus, we are guilty and condemned by this commandment of the LORD God not only if we have killed someone; we are guilty if we have done anything to cause hurt or harm to our neighbor and if we have failed to do all in our power to help and befriend our neighbors in all their bodily needs.

Jesus said in His sermon on the mount: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:21-22).

1 John 3:15 says: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

Again, when we examine ourselves in the light of this commandment of God, we see our utter failures. We have had evil thoughts toward others, even wishing we could do them harm. We have hated others and been angry at others without just cause. We have called people names and said hurtful things about others.

And, have we ever turned away from one who is truly in need or neglected to do all in our power to defend our neighbor’s life and wellbeing? Have we done all in our power to defend the lives of the unborn and the old and feeble?

Jesus also said (Matthew 5:43-45): “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

We remember that Christ Jesus kept this commandment perfectly in our stead, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and even raising the dead. And He went to the cross to suffer and die and bear the just punishment for your sins and my sins against His commandments. As Bible says in Romans 5:6-8, Jesus gave His life and died for those (including us) who were still His enemies and living in sin and disobedience to God: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I ask you before God: Do you acknowledge that you have sinned? Do you confess and agree with God that you are guilty and deserving of his wrath and punishment? Do you believe God’s commandment is good and right but you are wrong, a sinner deserving of the torments of hell?

The Bible says: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10).

But the Bible also tells us that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).

Do you trust that Christ Jesus has truly redeemed you from the curse of God’s law? That He fulfilled the law’s righteous demands and then took your sins upon Himself, along with the sins of the whole world, and suffered your just punishment when He died upon the cross? Do you believe that Christ paid for your sins when he died upon the cross and that he rose again in victory?

Do you also believe Jesus gives you to partake of His sacrifice for the sins of the world in the Sacrament – that He gives you His body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins?

As a fruit of your faith, do you truly desire and seek God’s help to amend your life and live it in accord with God’s Word, to defend and preserve life and to love your neighbor as God has loved you?

If you are truly sorry for your sins and look to Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for pardon and forgiveness, I announce unto you the grace of God and, in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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