October 31st¬†marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and the birth of the Reformation. Luther’s insistence that Martin Lutherbeing made right with God was accomplished solely by faith in Christ and not the performance of righteous deeds faced opposition on two fronts. The religious leaders of his day scoffed at the idea that scoundrels and miscreants could attain a righteousness equal to, and in fact superior to, those who dedicated years of their lives in service and ministry to the church. Others argued that if all our righteous acts of service count for nothing, we may as well do as we please, living lives of selfish indulgence.

In his commentary on Galatians, Luther responds to his critics: “Let the scoffers slander us, let them spare us not. But we must not on their account keep silent. We must speak frankly in order that afflicted consciences may find surcease. Neither are we to pay any attention to the foolish and ungodly people for abusing our doctrine. They are the kind that would scoff, Law or no Law. Our first consideration must be the comfort of troubled consciences, that they may not perish with the multitudes.”

Have you ever had to carry the weight of a troubled and afflicted conscience? I know I have. If even my best deeds are like filthy rags, imagine what my worst deeds must be like! Who could ever stand in the presence of God, accused even by our own consciences as we are? Those who trust in Him can! The author of Hebrews writes “Let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting Him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”¬†Have you ever tried to clean your hands with a dirty rag? No amount of dirty rags will ever clean us up. We need the pure water of Christ and His blood to cleanse us. Drop the rags and take a seat. Christ stands before you wrapped in a towel, holding a basin of pure water. Let Him clean you and your troubled conscience. Place your faith in Christ alone and like Martin Luther you can proclaim, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.”