From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Monastic Vows
Here they present an example derived from the Law about the Nazarites (Num 6:2f). But the Nazarites did not take their vows with the opinions which, as we have said, we condemn in the vows of the monks. The rite of the Nazarites was an exercise or declaration of faith before people that did not merit the forgiveness of sins before God, nor justify before God. Just as circumcision or the slaying of victims would not be an act of worship now, so the rite of the Nazarites should not to be presented now as a service of worship, but ought to be judged simply as an adiaphoron. It is not proper to compare monasticism, devised without God’s Word, as a service that should merit the forgiveness of sins and justification, with the rite of the Nazarites, which had God’s Word, but without the purpose of meriting the forgiveness of sins. It was an outward service, just as other ceremonies of the Law. The same can be said concerning other ceremonies prescribed in the Law.
Pulling It Together
Our works, actions, and lifestyles do not make us right with God. Jesus Christ justifies us before God. This is why faith alone in the grace of God alone merits his forgiveness and salvation. Faith in what he has done—or more precisely, faith in him—because of his grace toward us must remain our focus. As soon as we begin to shift away from faith in him to faith in ourselves, in our works and services, we immediately rob God of glory, while placing our trust in the human instead of the divine. If one must fast, retreat, or perform some act of devotion, let him do so—but not imagining that it is a service to God that earns salvation.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for keeping your promise to give us your Savior. Amen.
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