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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law part 156

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Galatians 4:9-11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Moreover, Scripture has predicted that the righteousness of faith would be obscured in this way by human traditions and the doctrine of works. Therefore, Paul often complains (Gal 4:9; 5:7; Col 2:8, 16-17; 1 Tim 4:2-3) that even at that time there were those who, instead of the righteousness of faith, taught that men were reconciled to God and justified by their own works and own acts of worship, and not by faith for Christ’s sake. By nature, people think that God ought to be appeased by works.

Reason only sees a righteousness of the law, understanding it in a civic sense. Accordingly, there have always existed in the world some who have only taught this carnal righteousness, to the exclusion of the righteousness of faith. Such teachers will always exist. The same happened among the people of Israel. The greater part of the people thought that they merited remission of sins by their works, accumulating sacrifices and acts of worship. The prophets, contrary to and in condemnation of this opinion, taught the righteousness of faith. The occurrences among the people of Israel are illustrations of those things which would occur in the Church.

Pulling It Together

It is human nature to imagine that we can buy our way out of problems. The person caught speeding, therefore, pays the court to keep the offense off the books so that insurance rates will not increase. So, when we sin, we naturally think that we can cover our offenses with good works and sacrifices. There is only one sacrifice that satisfies the Father. Our task, if we may call it a task, is to trust Christ, who is our sacrifice (Heb 10:10). There is nothing we can do; there is no buying out the judge. We are guilty. Yet if we know God, indeed, if we have been known by God, we need not go back to the old ways of paying for our sins. For Christ has paid the price for our sin (1 Cor 6:20)—once and for all (1 Pet 3:18).

Prayer: Knowing you, O Word of Truth, help me to trust in your forgiveness of sin. Amen.

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