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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Justification, part 13

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1 Timothy 1:12–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

It is also both false and dishonoring of Christ to teach that men do not sin who do the commandments of God without grace.

Pulling It Together

An external religion does not earn the grace of God. Therefore, anyone merely keeping appearances, even if they strive to keep the commandments, is still in sin. Such people, as fine and decent as they may be, are trusting their own efforts. Anyone can keep some of the law some of the time, particularly the so-called second table of the law. But without the Holy Spirit and grace in our hearts, we will never keep the first table. We will never love God with our whole hearts unless we have faith through God's grace. Furthermore, when the Spirit of grace is within us, we then come to understand that we cannot keep the law nearly so perfectly as we once imagined. We understand what poor sinners we really are and that it is impossible to be saved without faith in the merits of Christ. Augustine wrote plainly of this matter in Of the Spirit and the Letter: “Man is not justified by the precepts of a good life, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” That person greatly dishonors the Lord who thinks he makes himself sinless and holy when “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1Tim 1:15).

Prayer: Increase my faith, Lord, and save me from myself. Amen. 

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