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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Human Traditions in the Church – part 17

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Colossians 2:20–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Paul writes that traditions have “an appearance of wisdom” (Col 2:23); and indeed they do. For good order is very becoming in the Church, and for that reason is necessary. Yet human reason, because it does not understand the righteousness of faith, is inclined to believe that these works justify people because they reconcile God. This is what the common people among the Israelites thought, and because of this opinion, ceremonies increased, just as they have grown among us in the monasteries.

Pulling It Together: I have enjoyed wearing the most comfortable jeans. But it seems that just a few months after I get them broken in, they wear out and I have to start all over. Who knows how many pairs of jeans I have worn out in my life? They felt good for awhile but eventually they began to expose me where I once was covered.

That is just how human religious traditions work. They feel good at first but then they leave you exposed. Just like my favorite old jeans, my favorite religious traditions eventually wear out and leave me uncovered. My old traditions had the appearance of wisdom, just as my current traditions do. They kept and keep me on-track in my religious life but they do not cover me. In other words, they cannot justify me or reconcile God. When these traditions become regulations that we imagine earn us favor with God, then we may discover that we have been wearing nothing at all.

Prayer: Cover me, O Lord, in your righteousness. Amen. 

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