From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Human Traditions in the Church
Although we thought that our opponents would defend human traditions on other grounds, we did not think that they would condemn the teaching that we do not merit the grace or forgiveness of sins by the observance of human traditions. Since this article has been condemned, we have an easy and plain case. The adversaries are now openly Judaizing, suppressing the gospel with the “doctrines of demons.” When it is taught that religious rites are useful in meriting the remission of sins and grace, Scripture calls such traditions “doctrines of demons.” For this conceals the gospel, the benefit of Christ, and the righteousness of faith.
Pulling It Together: We love a lie, especially when it seems like it just might be true. That kind of untruth seems to be especially attractive. The vast quantity of falsehoods that are shared in social media would be astounding, were it not for an understanding of our weak nature’s inclination to believe a lie. Someone will post an untrue story on the internet, and the next thing you know, that story is popping up in many more people’s accounts. They do not check to see if the article is true or even real; they just post it, seemingly without thinking, or worse, maliciously.
The devil has posted a lie. And people are too eager to believe it because it seems religious. So, it must be right. Right? Wrong. A lie is still a lie, even if it seems like the truth. Indeed, that sort of lie might be more insidious.
Satan wants us to believe in ourselves. Just work harder; pray more; confess more often; read the Bible; go to church; serve on another committee; do works of penance; tithe. Now, of course, all of these are fine things to do. That’s the trick of the lie. Make it sound religious. But if he can just get you to believe that these things earn favor with God, that doing them makes you worthy of his grace, then you have fallen for the ultimate lie. You have become a believer in yourself instead of in God.
This is the lie that was spread in the garden and is still being shared today. Basically the lie states: Do not believe what God said; believe in what you can accomplish. You can be good on your own. Grab that fruit and take a bite!
But Jesus has told us the truth. He is the truth (John 14:6). Christ came to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15), not to tell them to save themselves. Hear his word. Believe.
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to not fall for the lie but instead, to hear your word and believe. Amen.
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Sola’s Word of Life series is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Meant for use in small group gatherings, each of the six sessions in Dwell in My Love is based on a primary Scripture text, with intentional time for reflection. There are questions, prayer, faith sharing, and mini evangelism case-studies. The series would be helpful for those involved in starting a Bible study fellowship, house church, or mission congregation. It can also be used by established congregations to aid in establishing a small group ministry.