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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law part 72

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Matthew 19:16-22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Where Jesus said, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matt 19:17), we must understand that one cannot keep the commandments or please God without Christ. The first commandment in the Decalogue itself states, “showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exod 20:6), adding the most liberal promise of the law. But this law is not observed without Christ. For it always accuses the conscience which does not satisfy the law, and therefore, flies in terror from the judgment and punishment of the law. “For the law brings wrath” (Rom 4:15). People observe the law however, when they hear that God is reconciled to us for Christ's sake even though they cannot satisfy the law. When faith apprehends Christ as mediator, the heart discovers peace and begins to love God and observe the law. It knows that because of Christ as mediator, it is now pleasing to God, even though the rudimentary fulfilling of the law is far from perfect and very impure.

Pulling It Together

The rich man wanted to know what good deed he as yet lacked so that he could earn eternal life. Having boasted that he had kept all the commandments, he nonetheless felt that he still lacked some fine deed. For all of his religious pluses, he knew that he was still deficient. Jesus knew that he had actually failed to keep the first commandment, so he told the rich man to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor. Because he loved his wealth more than God, the rich man turned away from Jesus.

This is the point. Unless you turn to Jesus, the law will not be fulfilled no matter how religious you think that you are. As long as you think there is something you must do, perfection, justification, and peace will seem just out of reach. We must always remember to stop looking in the mirror, to turn around and see Jesus, the fulfillment of the law (Rom 10:4).

Prayer: Help me to turn away from myself, Lord, and follow you. Amen. 

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The Wise Economy of Your Life, Balancing Your Time & Money shows how to practice the principles of God’s economy as revealed in the Scriptures, leading to wise “spending," and creating more freedom and versatility in your life. This study booklet is intended as a basis for group discussion and contains a list of Scripture verses to supplement each chapter.


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