Christians know that the gospel is to be preached to those who haven’t yet heard or believed it. Many are also learning that it’s to be preached to oneself continually. Luther agrees and adds that we also need to preach the gospel to Satan, especially when he comes preaching condemnation to us.
When the devil accuses us and says: “You are a sinner; therefore you are damned,”
Then we can answer him and say: “Because you say that I am a sinner, therefore I shall be righteous and be saved.”
“No,” says the devil, “you will be damned.”
“No,” I say, “for I take refuge in Christ, who has given Himself for my sins. Therefore, Satan, you will not prevail against me as you try to frighten me by showing me the magnitude of my sins and to plunge me into anguish, loss of faith, despair, hatred, contempt of God, and blasphemy. In fact, when you say that I am a sinner, you provide me with armor and weapons against yourself, so that I may slit your throat with your own sword and trample you underfoot. You yourself are preaching the glory of God to me; for you are reminding me, a miserable and condemned sinner, of the fatherly love of God, who ‘so loved the world that He gave His only Son, etc.’ (John 3:16). You are reminding me of the blessing of Christ my Redeemer. On His shoulders, not mine, lie all my sins. For ‘the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all,’ and ‘for the transgressions of His people He was stricken’ (Is 53:6, 8). Therefore when you say that I am a sinner, you do not frighten me; but you bring me immense consolation.”
Martin Luther, Works, vol 26, p36-37.
Whether from Satan, another person, or our own conscience, we’re going to receive accusation today. And the accuser will probably be right. We’re sinners. We’ve done it again. But let’s not fall into further sin by simply wallowing in our guilt, for God is a loving father who is eager to forgive because of the cross of his Son. When the sword of accusation is coming toward us, the gospel gives us strength to turn it around and run the accusation through. The more we’re reminded of the curse we deserve, the more we can be reminded of the blessing we have, for Christ took our curse upon himself. Because of the lovingkindness of God expressed in the gospel, any stinging reminders of sin can be instantly turned into comforting reminders of grace.
So, let’s preach to Satan that any reminder of our sin instantly becomes a reminder of the gospel. When you remember that you’re a sinner today, remember that you know the friend of sinners who died for you. We can go to him for fresh forgiveness and strength.