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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law part 25

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2 Corinthians 13:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Good works are to be done on account of God's command and for the exercise of faith, witness, and thanksgiving. For these reasons good works need to be done. However, they are done in the flesh that is not yet entirely renewed, that inhibits the movements of the Holy Spirit, imparting some of its uncleanness. Yet, because of faith in Christ, these are holy, divine works, sacrifices, and acts under the reign of Christ, displaying his kingdom to this world. For in these activities, he sanctifies hearts and represses the devil. In order to sustain the gospel among people, he openly opposes the kingdom of the devil with the confession of saints, and in our weakness, declares his power. The dangers, labors, and sermons of the Apostle Paul, Athanasius, Augustine, and other teachers of the Church, are holy works, are true sacrifices acceptable to God, struggles through which Christ repressed the devil and drove him away from those who believed.

Pulling It Together

You are not yet perfect. You are weak. The old nature still clings to you, making your works, however well-intentioned, seem poorly executed and blemished. And as long as that is all you see, the devil is happy. So, understand this also: the power of God is at work in you and it horrifies that devil. Though your works are imperfect, because they are done with faith in Christ, are accepted by God and holy. This must boggle the mind of Satan. Surely, he cries, “Foul!” How unfair it seems to him that we do not receive the penalty of our imperfection. Instead, even the labors of ordinary Christians subdue the devil because they are not done in the power of those persons but in the power of God.

“Jesus Christ is in you.” We know it is true but we get distracted by our own performance. That is why we must always bring back to the memory of faith that the power of God is real and at work in our lives—especially in our weaknesses. That is when the Lord is strongest in us (2Cor 12:9). So, the next time you try and seem to fail, rejoice that Christ reigns over sin, death, and the devil, that he turns your seeming failures into victories. Get your eyes off of yourself, and keep your sights fixed on Christ.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me walk by faith instead of by sight. Amen. 

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