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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Monastic Vows, Part 7

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Galatians 5:1–6

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

But it is obvious that monks have taught that their services make satisfaction for sins—that they merit justifying grace. What else is this than to diminish the glory of Christ and to obscure and deny the righteousness of faith? Therefore the vows commonly taken have been godless, and consequently, are void. For a vow taken against the commandment of God, is not valid. Even the Canon says that no vow should bind men to wickedness. Paul says, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4). Therefore, those who want to be justified by their vows are cut off from Christ and they fall from grace. For those who ascribe justification to vows attribute to their own works that which properly belongs to the glory of Christ.

Pulling It Together

To say that one may do something—anything—that could earn God's grace is an insult to the gospel of our Lord. The Lutherans pointed out this fallacy in the monasticism practiced at the time of the Reformation. Paul exposed the same sort of wickedness in his time when he taught against the slavery of circumcision, of the alleged necessity of keeping the law in order to enjoy God’s mercy and grace. However, there are the same claims made by human institutions in our own day. These also revile the good news of Christ. For there is nothing we might do, from merely thinking good thoughts to keeping strict religious practices, that makes God love us. He loves us for Christ's sake. Period. He imputes to us the righteousness of Christ because he chooses to do so, not because we make it happen. This is what Lutherans confess: that we are saved by faith through the grace of God alone. Nothing else must ever be added.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, open my eyes to the truth of your word alone. Amen. 

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