From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Monastic Vows
We have recounted some of our reasons, and in passing, have confuted the objections of our opponents. We have collected all of this, not only for our opponents, but even more so that godly minds would know why they ought to disapprove of hypocrisy and false monastic worship, all of which Christ overturns with this one saying: “In vain they do worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:9). Therefore the vows themselves, along with the observances of foods, lessons, chants, vestments, sandals, and cinctures, are useless services in God’s sight. Let every godly mind know with certainty that these views are simply pharisaic and condemned: that these observances merit the forgiveness of sins, that because of them we are accounted righteous, that we obtain eternal life because of them, instead of through mercy for Christ’s sake.
Holy men who observed this kind of life must have learned to reject any confidence in such observances, understanding that they received the forgiveness of sins freely, that for Christ’s sake through mercy they would obtain eternal life—not because of these services—because God only approves of services instituted by his Word, and that are used in faith.
Pulling It Together
May we all come to this understanding: that we despair of any way of life we may have imagined would save us. May we consider all our works as filthy garments, especially if they are performed as some hypocritical worship or service to God. Let us cast aside these false vestments, and hold fast to the promise of grace that we have in Christ alone through faith.
Prayer: Lord, I ask you again: help me to trust in you—only you. Amen.
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Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format.