A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Refreshing Words About Christ’s Grace from Martin Luther

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


Galatians 3:6-7 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? (7) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.

I was very encouraged by these comments of Martin Luther and wanted to send them on to all of you to think on this weekend. Abuse loves to lay legalism upon us. Luther explains the words of the Apostle Paul about the free, gracious nature of the gospel:

Paul places the emphasis upon the two words: Abraham believed. Faith in God constitutes the highest worship, the prime duty, the first obedience, and the foremost sacrifice. Without faith God forfeits His glory, wisdom, truth, and mercy in us. The first duty of man is to believe in God and to honor Him with his faith. Faith is truly the height of wisdom, the right kind of righteousness, the only real religion.

This will give us an idea of the excellence of faith. To believe in God as Abraham did is to be right with God because faith honors God. Faith says to God: “I believe what you say.” When we pay attention to reason, God seems to propose impossible matters in the Christian Creed. To reason it seems absurd that Christ should offer His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper; that Baptism should be the washing of regeneration; that the dead shall rise; that Christ the Son of God was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, etc. Reason shouts that all this is preposterous. Are you surprised that reason thinks little of faith? Reason thinks it ludicrous that faith should be the foremost service any person can render unto God. Let your faith supplant reason.

Abraham mastered reason by faith in the Word of God. Not as though reason ever yields meekly. It put up a fight against the faith of Abraham. Reason protested that it was absurd to think that Sarah who was ninety years old and barren by nature, should give birth to a son. But faith won the victory and routed reason, that ugly beast and enemy of God. Everyone who by faith slays reason, the world’s biggest monster, renders God a real service, a better service than the religions of all races and all the drudgery of meritorious monks can render. Men fast, pray, watch, suffer. They intend to appease the wrath of God and to deserve God’s grace by their exertions. But there is no glory in it for God, because by their exertions these workers pronounce God an unmerciful slave driver, an unfaithful and angry Judge. They despise God, make a liar out of Him, snub Christ and all His benefits; in short they pull God from His throne and perch themselves on it.

Faith truly honors God. And because faith honors God, God counts faith for righteousness. Christian righteousness is the confidence of the heart in God through Christ Jesus. Such confidence is accounted righteousness for Christ’s sake. Two things make for Christian righteousness: Faith in Christ, which is a gift of God; and God’s acceptance of this imperfect faith of ours for perfect righteousness. Because of my faith in Christ, God overlooks my distrust, the unwillingness of my spirit, my many other sins. Because the shadow of Christ’s wing covers me I have no fear that God will cover all my sins and take my imperfections for perfect righteousness. God “winks” at my sins and covers them up. God says: “Because you believe in My Son I will forgive your sins until death shall deliver you from the body of sin.”

Learn to understand the constitution of your Christian righteousness. Faith is weak, but it means enough to God that He will not lay sin to our charge. He will not punish nor condemn us for it. He will forgive our sins as though they amount to nothing at all. He will do it not because we are worthy of such mercy. He will do it for Jesus’ sake in whom we believe. Paradoxically, a Christian is both right and wrong, holy and profane, an enemy of God and a child of God. These contradictions no person can harmonize who does not understand the true way of salvation. Under the papacy we were told to toil until the feeling of guilt had left us. But the authors of this deranged idea were frequently driven to despair in the hour of death. It would have happened to me, if Christ had not mercifully delivered me from this error.

We comfort the afflicted sinner in this manner: Brother, you can never be perfect in this life, but you can be holy. He will say: “How can I be holy when I feel my sins?” I answer: You feel sin? That is a good sign. To realize that one is ill is a step, and a very necessary step, toward recovery. “But how will I get rid of my sin?” he will ask. I answer: See the heavenly Physician, Christ, who heals the broken-hearted. Do not consult that Quackdoctor, Reason. Believe in Christ and your sins will be pardoned. His righteousness will become your righteousness, and your sins will become His sins.

Luther, Martin (2011-03-24). Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (Kindle Locations 1228-1258). . Kindle Edition.


  1. Katy

    Paradoxically, a Christian is both right and wrong, holy and profane, an enemy of God and a child of God. These contradictions no person can harmonize who does not understand the true way of salvation.

    This made me cry. I have been pondering how I am both blind (evidenced by my inability to avoid abusers) and at the same time, discerning. I am BOTH! In the flesh I am easily swayed by reason, until I am at death’s door. But when I cling to my faith I am able to discern good from evil with precision.
    This paradox !

    • MeganC

      I love that, Katy. I teared up on this part, as well. xo

  2. Love it, Jeff! Must be “take on legalism” weekend. I just addressed it in a post on victim blaming.

  3. MeganC

    So encouraging . . . Thank you, Pastor Jeff.

  4. Because of my faith in Christ, God overlooks my distrust, the unwillingness of my spirit, my many other sins. Because the shadow of Christ’s wing covers me I have no fear that God will cover all my sins and take my imperfections for perfect righteousness.

    This is pretty extraordinary Jeff: I was going to make a post quoting this exact passage from Luther’s commentary on Galatians myself, but you beat me to it. I’m reading it in hard copy at the moment.
    It’s incredible how much understanding Luther had arrived at in those early days of the Reformation. I think because he had been so steeped in legalism and works righteousness when he a monk, he knew more starkly than many others the difference between the righteousness that comes by faith and the pseudo-righteousness that comes by works.
    That pseudo-righteousness is not righteousness at all, it puts you on mouse-wheel of psychological torment trying to eradicate or cleanse your sins in your own strength. The harder you try, the more sin erupts and magnifies

    • Jeff Crippen

      Barbara – maybe you could do a post from Luther for next weekend. His commentary is filled with this stuff, and I have thought the very same thing that you mentioned, namely, how amazing it is that he so clearly saw these things. Everyone in those days (early 1500’s) was so brainwashed by the “church” and its false gospel teaching that it had to be the Spirit of God that burst through in Luther’s mind and heart. And then to stand so alone against such power. Very amazing.

      There are some real lessons in Luther’s life for abuse victims. Luther was abused big time with all the tactics that abusers still use today. They kept telling him “so you, one mere man, think that you are right and everyone else is wrong!” But he knew it wasn’t just him. It was the Word of God, and Christ therefore stood with him.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Didn’t Luther also say something about divorce for abuse? It was something like he believed that was God’s view but didn’t know how to prove it from Scripture. (Not having the aid of David IB or Barbara. Heh. 🙂 )

  5. Brenda R

    Words of life that calm the soul. Meditating on them opens the heart for the Spirit to fill. Jesus gave us so much. I have often felt that knowing that I had sinned and holding to the grief of it was a bad thing. I see now that there is good in it. My heart cries out for Jesus in repentance and he say Yes, I was crucified for this one.

  6. Barnabasintraining

    You can just imagine what effect such words of pure grace/gospel had on law/works besotted souls in despair.

  7. Finding Answers

    […..insert net-speak for dry-eyed weeping…..]

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