Martin Luther has the oft misunderstood quote, “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [bold].” The meaning on its surface seems like, at best presumptuous, and at worst, an awful lie. But let’s look at the greater context in his letter to Philip Melanchthon:
“If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here we have to sin. This life in not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. . . . Pray boldly-you too are a mighty sinner.”
The radical message of grace is that when we sin (and that is WHEN), we sin with boldness knowing that we cling with more boldness and strength to the grace and mercy of God found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The message of grace is a radical call to abandon any preconceived notion of our own righteousness and to fully embrace the righteousness found solely in Jesus Christ. Read Paul’s words to the Romans:
“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4 (HCSB)
What a message! There is NO condemnation. You are FREE! Sin boldly, pray boldly and walk according to the Spirit! You no longer need to be weighed down by the expectations of yourself, others, or your culture. Your new life in Christ liberates you to boldly serve Christ as your serve others and worship Him. What amazing good news that is!