From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Human Traditions in the Church
This is also how human reason understands the discipline of the body and fasting. Their purpose is restraint of the flesh, but reason thinks of them as services which justify. Thomas [Aquinas] writes: “Fasting avails for the extinguishing and the prevention of guilt.” These are the words of Thomas. Thus people are deceived by the illusion of wisdom and righteousness in such works. Additionally, people try to imitate the lives of the saints, for the most part imitating the outward exercises without their faith.
Pulling It Together
Human righteousness tends to look down its nose at those not religious in the same way. It is always watching to see what others are not doing so that it can compare all it does. These are, of course, outward things like ceremonies, rites, fasting, and manner of dress. If such things are regulated, one may easily determine if they are being righteous. More important to the self-righteous, one may also easily determine if others are not being righteous.
We are so easily deceived. It is not the outward things that matter. We may justify ourselves to other people because of our religious practices. But God knows the heart (Luke 16:15). God’s ways are not like our ways (Is 55:8). So we should not be surprised that outward disciplines are not at all important without faith toward God in the heart. This requires enough humility to admit that one is a sinner in need of the Savior.
Prayer: I thank you, Lord, that I am a sinner whom you love. Amen.
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WELL Worship Notes – WELL stands for Worship, Explore, Learn, Live! Kids learn to worship by being in worship with the community of faith. These reproducible pages feature Luther's Small Cat and are designed to engage young worshippers (Grade 2 and above) in what is happening in the worship service. Children can answer questions, color, and learn why we do what we do when we worship God. There is a different page for each season of the church year (six pages in total). Click here for sample page.