Martin Luther had a deep sense of his own sinfulness. For years he was so tormented by his depravity that he came to hate God for his own painful inability to live up to God's standards.
Though perhaps few now have the same deep sense of depravity that tortured Luther, we are all aware of our shortcomings. Deep in our hearts, we know we miss the mark. We are sinners.
Our behavior seldom reveals our private reality. We know the rules, and we can usually play by them. But we have a secret awareness of the depth of our sinfulness. Only we know how hard it is to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
There's just no way to put a happy face on our moral condition. As the apostle Paul says so concisely and accurately: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
What in the world are we to do?
At perhaps the lowest point in his spiritual life, Luther came to a realization that shook him to his core: we can do nothing to save ourselves. Only in Christ is there freedom. Only in Jesus Christ are we made right with God.
Thanks be to God that being aware of our helplessness delivers us straight to Christ!