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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Monastic Vows
We speak more briefly about these subjects because it is sufficiently clear that monastic vows are not a price to be paid for granting the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. This is evident from those things which we said earlier about justification, repentance, and human traditions. And since Christ calls traditions useless services, they are in no way evangelical perfection.
Pulling It Together: As we are not made impure by physical things that enter us from the outside (Matt 15:17–20; Luke 11:41; Acts 10:15), so we do not purge our impurity by doing physical things (Rom 2:25–29). Impurity is a heart matter; so is purification. Perfection does not result from a series of things we do that finally adds up to a sufficiency that results in either sanctification or salvation. Holiness is not a matter of works any more than is eternal life. Righteousness and life everlasting are the result of a foreign action—something done to us by another, not something we ourselves do. Anyone who believes otherwise, who imagines that new life, the Christian life, is accomplished through services performed by this flesh, does violence to Easter itself. Christ arose so that those who have died with him through faith, buried in Christian baptism, may live the resurrected life with their risen Lord. We are made pure and perfect for God through faith in Jesus Christ, the One he sent to work on us from the outside-in.
Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O Lord. Amen.
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A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is written in easy-to-understand language but is a 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. Click here to see the Table of Contents and a sample session.