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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Repentance part 65

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Matthew 5:13–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Therefore we must accept the forgiveness of sins by faith before we do the works of the law, although, as we stated above, love does follow faith, because those who are born-again receive the Holy Spirit, and accordingly begin to keep the law.

Pulling It Together

Either we are justified and made righteous by Christ or we must be made holy and forgiven in some other way. If we believe that we must keep the law in order to be forgiven by God, then we are saying that justification, righteousness, and forgiveness are not matters over which Christ has any power. We would be saying that these are things we must work out with human will and power—that eternal life is our own hands and that Christ died for no reason. But we confess the very opposite.

This is not say that we do not believe in doing good works. We should do good works so that God is honored and glorified in our lives. However, let it be clearly stated: we do not believe that our good works justify us, make us righteous, or merit God’s forgiveness—let alone save us to life eternal. As has been said before, we are to do good works because the Spirit motivates believers to do these things. Our devotion and deeds do not make us righteous but they are the result of having been made righteous for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: Make me salt and light, Lord Jesus, so that your Father is glorified. Amen.

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