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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles – part 68

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1 Corinthians 2:14–16

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 68

2. Again, that people have free will to do good and avoid doing evil, and on the other hand, to refrain from good and do evil.

Pulling It Together

People are able to choose to do some good but they are incapable of being good. Likewise, they are able to leave off from doing some evil, while remaining incapable of not being being sinners. This is rooted in original sin. People begin life dead in their sins, and continue through life in one after another outright trespasses against God’s will and Word. They are helpless to do otherwise. One example from the greatest commandment will suffice. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:6). Or perhaps you prefer the Greek version: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). You cannot do it without God’s help. Who loves the Lord with a whole heart? No one. We cannot perfectly love God, so we ask him in the liturgy for the grace to do so. The rebirthed mind of Christ comprehends sin and the need of God’s grace. The natural person is simply hell-bent on being good—or not.

Prayer: Help me see my need for you, Lord. Amen.

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