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From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 130
Part III, Article XIII. How One is Justified before God, and of Good Works.
I do know not how I would change in the least what I taught previously and constantly about this, namely, that by faith, as St. Peter says, we receive a new and clean heart, and that God will and does deem us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our mediator. Though sin in the flesh is not yet altogether dead and gone, he will not punish or remember it.
Pulling It Together
Faith is the passive receiver. It does not grab or make wild efforts that get in the way, as though flailing its limbs trying to grasp the unreachable. Faith does not seize; it simply receives what is given. Human reason and effort cannot make itself clean or create a new heart and reborn life. However, these things are available by God’s grace, and may be received through faith. Afterwards, you will look the same and quite often act the same. But you are not regarded the same by God. Where once you were dead, you are now filled with his Spirit. Where you were filthy and unrighteous before, you are now cleansed and holy. All of this happens, not because you got busy and cleaned up your ways, but because you received the good gifts of God, given to you by grace, only through faith, for Christ’s sake.
Prayer: God, who alone knows my heart, cleanse it for Christ’s sake. Amen.
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