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To my Jehovah’s Witness friend,
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“I wish to know the condition of your heart, whether you have at last come to loathe your own righteousness and desire to rejoice in the righteousness of Christ and to be of good cheer because of it.  For in these days the temptation to presumptuousness is very strong, particularly in those who strive with might and main to be righteous and godly and do not know of the altogether immaculate righteousness of God which is freely given us in Christ.  As a result of this they are searching for something good in themselves until they become confident that they can pass muster before God as people who are properly adorned with virtuous and meritorious deeds, – all of which is impossible.  While you were with us, you held this opinion, or rather this error, just as I did.  For my part, I am still wrestling with this error and am not quite rid of it yet.

Therefore, my dear brother, learn Christ – Christ Crucified.  Learn to sing praises to Him and to despair utterly of your own works.  Say to Him: Thou, my Lord Jesus, art my Righteousness; I am Thy sin.  Thou hast taken from me what is mine and hast given me what is Thine.  Thou didst become what Thou wert not and madest me to be what I was not.  Beware of your ceaseless striving after a righteousness so great that you no longer appear as a sinner in your own eyes and do not want to be a sinner.  For Christ dwells only in sinners.  He came down from heaven, where He dwelt in the righteous, for the very purpose of dwelling in sinners also.  Ponder this love of His, and you will realize His sweetest consolation.  For if we must achieve rest of conscience by our own toil and worry, for what purpose did He die?  Therefore, you are to find peace in Him by a hearty despair of yourself and your own works.  And now that He has received you, made your sins His and His righteousness yours, learn also from Him firmly to believe this, as behooves you; for cursed is every one who does not believe this.”  (See Galatians Chapter 3).

My friend, please don’t seek righteousness through your own works, but seek the perfect righteousness that can only be found by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

In Christ our righteousness,

Scott Diekmann

The quoted text was written by Martin Luther in a letter to his acquaintance friar Spenlein in 1516.  Quoted from The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel by Dr. C.F.W. Walther, (St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 1986) 109-110. 

Luther calls Spenlein "brother."  While I don't consider Jehovah's Witnesses fellow brothers in Christ, the Bible tells us to love them and reach out to them, that the Holy Spirit would open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. (Acts 26:18)