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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles – part 105

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Romans 7:21–25

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

This repentance continues until death in Christians, because it contends with sin remaining in the flesh through the entire life.  Paul testifies in Romans 7:14–25 that he battles with the law in his extremities, etc. Yet he does so, not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Spirit that follows the forgiveness of sins. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins and causes people to be truly pure and holy.

Pulling It Together

How often have you wished to do what is right, but find yourself unable? Within yourself, in your “inmost self” (RSV) or soul, you want to do right, but discover you cannot do so in your outward parts. We are all like Peter, who insisted he would lay down his life for Jesus, yet over and over denied knowing him. So Jesus, who cannot deny his great love for us, must lay down his body for us. The law prompts us to do right, but we cannot, for the flesh is weaker than we care to admit. So, God’s Spirit, who really is alive within us, has us do something more wondrous than doing what we intended to do. When we cannot keep the law, we are empowered to do something far greater: believe. At this point, multiple times a day, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the word to have faith in Christ—not in ourselves, our abilities, or our bold resolve that we will lay down our lives for him. His Spirit helps us when we have failed yet again (Rom 8:26). These moments come often but we should not despair, for in our weakness and failures, Christ is strong (2 Cor 12:9). This is why Paul boasts of his own weaknesses (2 Cor 12:5), for to do so is to boast of Christ’s strength. Human power results in death but God’s grace is sufficient to save you to eternal life.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, and be strong in me through faith in you. Amen.

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