December 6, 2007 - Thursday in the First Week of Advent

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 14:1-3; 2 Peter 3:1-18

“Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?”        (2 Peter 3:11-12)

As Peter warned the church then, so now scoffers have come. As it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39), so it is today: Life goes on painfully normal, with so few living in the awareness that nothing really is normal, that time itself marches on toward a final, climactic, dreadful end.

Time being such, what manner of people ought you and I be? Holy conduct means conduct that is holy, full of holiness. It's the same with godliness — lives that are full of God. That's the sort of people we should be. And remember: What God commands in the law, He gives us in the Gospel.

He declares you holy, already, by His Word. That makes everything you do holy now, in His sight. “But I still sin!” Of course, you do. “But, so much of me is still unholy, ungodly.” Of course, it is. Therefore, with the last day fast approaching, grab onto His Word. Trust what He promises you every day in your Baptism. Believe in the Absolution your pastor speaks over you in the liturgy and in his sermon. Eat and drink Christ's Body and Blood often for the forgiveness of your sins. That's the holy conduct, the godliness that ought to be found in you in abundance, especially since you know how all things will end for this world.

Do not use the gospel as an opportunity for your sinful flesh (Galatians 5:13). Don't ever think, “I'm forgiven, so I can do whatever I want; I don't need to take seriously my sin.” Of course, you do! Left unchecked, un-repented of, sin will destroy your faith in the promise of the gospel. No one living in willful sin, living an impenitent life, can keep the faith. Such a life will only leave you with the dreadful fear that God is going to get you, and toss you into the fire with everything else on the last day.

But, the fire is not meant for you! Unbelief is not meant for you! For God took all your sins seriously the day He damned Jesus in your place, throwing Him into the fire of His wrath and judgment on the cross. That is why Peter adds, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Can't find any righteousness in you? Good! Don't despair. You're Worded in it, Washed in it, Fed with it. God now finds it all around you! Be diligent, then, to live properly. Pursue good works. Study the Law. But do that now, eagerly considering “that the Lord's longsuffering is salvation” — yours and mine!