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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Another mode of justification is handed down by the scholastic theologians in which they teach that we are righteous through the habit of love which is infused by God. They teach that, aided by this habit, we observe the law of God outwardly and inwardly, and that this fulfilling of the law is worthy of grace and of eternal life. This teaching is plainly a doctrine of the law since it is true that the law says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might,” (Deut 6:5) and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Pulling It Together
God wants us to live lives that reflect his own holiness and are in keeping with the regeneration that comes to us through faith. Yet neither the inclination nor the fulfilling of the law makes us worthy of his grace or of eternal life. First, we cannot fulfill the law’s demands. For who loves the Lord with a whole heart? Second, even if we could fulfill the law’s demands, our personal holiness does not merit God’s grace. He gives his grace freely (Eph 1:6) and it is by his free gift of grace that we are justified (Rom 3:24). So, yes, love the Lord your God and your neighbor too, as best as you are able through the power of God at work within you. Always remember when you fail to do so, it is also his power that calls you back to dependence upon his grace and forgiveness.
Prayer: Help me to live a righteous life, Lord, while I depend upon you for righteousness. Amen.
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