From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Now, let us reply to the objection that we stated above. The adversaries are right in thinking that love is the fulfilling of the law; and obedience to the law is certainly righteousness. But they make a mistake in thinking that we are justified by the law. Since we are not justified by the law, but receive forgiveness of sins and reconciliation through faith for Christ's sake, and not for the sake of love or the fulfilling of the law, it necessarily follows that we are justified by faith in Christ.
Pulling It Together: Love and other obedience to the law would indeed be considered as righteousness—if we kept the law. Because people did not keep the law, the promise of grace was given. This promise was also meant for those who were as yet distant (Acts 2:38-39). The promise is for us. For we too have been unable to keep the law. Thanks be to God that the promise is also for us.
It is well and good to point to the law, but to only consider the law—to take aim at it as a means of righteousness—is to miss the main issue, which is God’s grace toward us. However, the gospel turns us in the right direction, leading us away from a dependence on the law and our ability to keep it. It orients us to the promise of God’s grace toward sinners. Before we can keep even one bit of the law, there must be faith in Christ by whom we are reconciled to God. We must first obtain the forgiveness of sin and be empowered by the Holy Spirit before we love and otherwise keep the law. Otherwise, the keeping of the law is a futile religious endeavor.
Prayer: Thank you, Everlasting God, for building your Church on the foundation of your promise of grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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