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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law part 44

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2 Corinthians 3:12–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Our adversaries ascribe justification to love because they teach and require the righteousness of the law everywhere. We cannot deny that love is the highest work of the law. Human wisdom gazes at the law and seeks justification there. Consequently, the scholastic doctors, great and talented men, also proclaim this as the highest work of the law, and attribute justification to this work. Deceived by human wisdom, they did not look upon the uncovered face of Moses, but just like the Pharisees, philosophers, and Mohammedans they saw the veiled face of Moses. But we preach the foolishness of the gospel that reveals another righteousness, namely, that because of Christ as propitiator, we are accounted righteous when we believe that for Christ's sake God has been reconciled to us.

Pulling It Together

It makes sense that doing good deeds and being religious would cause God to love us and forgive us for our efforts. If God commands it, then there should be the reward of his favor. Yet, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (1 Cor 3:19, NASB). Perhaps it would be helpful to think about this matter on a more elemental level. If a child is commanded by his father to take out the trash, and he does this chore, should he expect the reward of his father’s love? No. His father already loves him. He is simply expected to do as his father commands. We see that God’s love is already disposed toward the world. That is why he sent his Son to fulfill the law and reconcile us to himself (John 3:16).

This is difficult for people to understand, because they think about the matter in terms of human wisdom and religion. We need to consider it from the divine perspective. After being in the presence of the divine majesty on the mountain, Moses’ face shone with the brilliance of God’s glory. When he descended to the Israelites, he veiled his shining face. So long as we look upon the law of Moses in this veiled, human fashion, the glory of God will be obscured. When people turn to the Lord instead of depending upon their own righteousness, the veil of the law is removed and the glory of the Lord is seen. This is foolishness to the religious but it is, nevertheless, the wisdom of God’s gospel. This glorious wisdom, for those who will look beyond the veil, is that the righteousness we could never achieve through our own wisdom and effort, God has accomplished through his Son and has freely given to those who believe such foolishness.

Prayer: Loving God of righteousness, help us see clearly by looking beyond the veil of the law to behold your glory. Amen.

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