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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law part 114

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Luke 11:2–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

“I feared all my works” (Job 9:28, Vulgate). “If I wash myself with snow, and cleanse my hands with lye, yet thou wilt plunge me into a pit” (Job 9:30). “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov 20:9). “ If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). In the Lord's Prayer the saints ask for the forgiveness of sins, so even the saints have sins. “He will by no means clear the guilty” (Num 14:18; Exod 34:7). “The Lord your God is a devouring fire” (Deut 4:24). Zechariah also says, “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord” (Zech 2:13). “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it” (Isa 40:6). In other words, the flesh and the righteousness of the flesh cannot endure the judgment of God. 

Pulling It Together

Our sin leaves us indebted to God. This is why Jesus tells us to pray, “Forgive us our sins.” Matthew uses the word “debt” (Matt 6:12), making it clear that we owe God for our moral failure. No one is exempt; all people owe God. But we cannot pay our debt. Our sin nature, our natural being, cannot stand before the glory of God. We cannot work off our debt either, since the righteousness of the flesh will not endure God’s judgment (Rom 3:20). If anything, we should fear and distrust what we consider our good works. Without faith in Christ, these good works will burn with all the other “bad works” that we have done. We cannot cleanse ourselves. All we can do is avail ourselves of the mercy of God, praying, “Forgive us.”

Prayer: Father, thank you for hearing me when I pray, and forgiving me when I ask. Amen. 

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