On Distinguishing: Part 2
While we are talking about the gift of discernment let me mention two more items.
First please wipe the idea of white guilt out of your brain. You, whoever you are, have real guilt for real sins against God and for which you stand under his judgment. Sins which you yourself must pay for, unless you are baptized into the payment that Christ made for you on the cross. Then your sins are remitted, and your very real guilt disappears in a sea of divine love and pardon.
But whether you are an unbeliever or a believer you always stand in need of absolution. You do not love God with your whole heart and soul and mind and strength. You do not love your neighbor nearly as much as you love and worship and coddle yourself. Moreover you expect others to do the same. To kneel before you as the central being of the universe. For in each of our hearts resides this opinion: There is me, and everyone else. Each day I will set out to gain what I want. Every day I will engage in conforming the world to my own image.
How does a pastor know this? Because Scripture says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23) And because you are a descendant of Adam and Scripture says, "In Adam we all die, but in Christ we shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22) The same Scripture says, "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9). Your sins are made manifest by your thoughts, your words, your deeds, your desires and your affections. And so "Be reconciled to God." (2 Cor 5:21)
But do not imagine sins, or confess corporate sins, or social sins, you will only be deceiving yourself and perpetrating a lie. Moreover don't kneel before any man, but only before God.
You must learn to distinguish.
Speaking of distinguishing you must also learn to distinguish between offense and defense. While Christians must never be the aggressor, they do have the the moral right to defend their lives; always, of course, in accord with the given statutes. That is what Lutherans believe.
But always distinguish, and remember again the admonition of St. Paul, ""Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature." 1 Cor. 14:20