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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Monastic Vows part 27

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2 Peter 1:3–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Although our opponents now moderate their praises about perfection, they actually think otherwise. Under the pretext that they are observing precepts and counsels, they sell merits and apply them on behalf of others. So, they actually believe that they have excess merits. If this is not claiming self perfection, what is? Again, their Confutation claims that the monks endeavor to live more nearly to the gospel. But they are ascribing perfection to human traditions if they think that living more closely to the gospel means not having property, being unmarried, and obeying the rule in clothing, meats, and similar trifles.

Pulling It Together

Does our virtuous lifestyle add anything to faith? To be sure, we are to furnish our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, and brotherly and godly love. But can these qualities gain us salvation when we already have that promise from God himself? No. Rather, because God has already given us his great and precious promises of the forgiveness of sins, justification, sanctification, and eternal life, we are to supply our faith with characteristics appropriate to godly life. We have been filled with the Holy Spirit, so we ought to live as those who have a divine nature. This is what God expects of us (Luke 7:10) but living in this way does not give us any more merit than the perfection given us by Christ. So, a Christian lifestyle cannot provide us with superfluous merit to use for financial gain at the expense of the gullible.

Prayer: Help me to trust in your merit, Lord, above all else. Amen.

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